Monday November 15, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Revelation 1:1-4; 2:1-5) Gospel (St. Luke 18:35-43)
We see in today’s Gospel reading a situation that is all too familiar. We hear about this man who is blind sitting on the side of the road and calling out to Jesus to have pity on him, and everyone around him is telling him to be quiet, just to stay to himself and quit asking for anything. But he called out all the more. And when Jesus responded, He asked the man what He could do for him. The man said, Lord, that I may see, and Jesus gave him his sight. Now the point that is all too familiar is that when somebody really wants to start to live the faith there will be many people who are going to be saying, “Just be silent. Just be like everyone else. Just be a typical Catholic,” which is a pretty tragic thing in our society because the typical Catholic is a Catholic for approximately one hour a week, and that is not very much. And so if somebody really begins to live their faith, there will be many, many people surrounding them telling them to be silent, telling them to knock it off, telling them just to stop what they are doing and go back to the way they used to be.
That is not an option. When we recognize Who Jesus is, we have to call out to Him and we have to ask Him, Lord, that I may see! What is it that we are trying to see? We are not physically blind. What we are trying to see is the truth of Who He is, the truth of His Church, and the truth of who we are. The truth of who we are is not a very pleasant thing for us to see because, of course, we like to run around thinking how wonderful we are. But the reality is that when God gives us the insight to see, we get to see our sinfulness, we get to see that we are not the end-all and be-all, that we are not the one around whom the world revolves. We see our dependence on God and we also get to see the fact that we were created to serve God and to glorify Him in the way we act, in the way we live.
So this is what we have to ask for. First of all, it takes an immense grace to ask because it means you have to want to see. If we are honest with ourselves, many of us really do not want to see. Many of us want to grope around blindly like everybody else because we fit in with the crowd. But when Our Lord sees the lukewarmness, shall we say, of the Bishop of Ephesus in the first reading, He condemns him and tells him if he does not get back to his first love that He is going to remove his lampstand. And so we need to be able to really want it and beg the Lord to be able to see so that we can live the faith in its fullness.
That means there are going to be people who are not going to like us very well. But then what happens is just like in the Gospel: When the man received his sight after being rebuked by all the people, suddenly they are praising God because of what had happened. The same will happen for us. It is not immediate. People, of course, will reject us and think we are weird and everything else. But when we get to heaven, there will be great rejoicing. And long before we get to heaven, Our Lord tells us that there is more rejoicing in heaven over one repentant sinner than over ninety-nine people who have no need to repent. I think we can say the same: There is going to be more rejoicing over one person who truly wants to see the fullness of the truth and live it than over ninety-nine people who just want to be mediocre Catholics, who really do not want the truth, who want to be able to keep their toe in the water but not necessarily immerse themselves in the fullness of Christ.
We have to choose Jesus. We are sitting along the side of the road, most of us, and the Lord is passing by. We have a choice. We can remain silent and just stay the way we are, or we can call out to Him. And it is not just making a feeble effort to call out and say, “Well, He didn’t hear my little whisper,” but rather it is to call out at the top of our spiritual lungs and beg for mercy, to ask Him to see and ask Him for the grace to be healed so that we will be able to follow Him, not follow Him from a distance, but to walk with Him, to follow the path that He followed and to be united with Him in all things. That is what He is offering to those who truly want it. But that is the challenge for us: We have to really want it and we have to call out to Him, Son of David, have pity on me!
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.