Monday February 7, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier†† Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Genesis 1:1-19)†† Gospel (St. Mark 6:53-56)
In the first reading today, we hear about the beginning of Godís creation. What is important to keep in mind with this whole passage is that it is about order. God starts, we are told, with the earth being a formless waste and darkness covering the abyss and the mighty winds sweeping over the waters. Of course, that point of the mighty winds sweeping over the waters is the exact same word as spirit, and so it is oftentimes translated as the Spirit hovered over the waters because the work of creation is done by God the Father through His Son in the Holy Spirit. It is through the power of the Holy Trinity that all of creation has come into being.
The waters, for the Jewish people, were a sign of chaos; they were not able to control the waters. And so you start with total chaos, everything is water, and God is going to bring order into the chaos. He begins with that which is completely generic: time and space. Then he continues with things that are going to be inanimate, and then He works His way up. So, starting with time and space, He then makes the waters, then He makes the ground, then He makes the sun and the moon to be up in the sky, and so on as He goes through the days. We see in this that there is an order to the way that God is creating Ė from the less perfect to the more perfect, the lesser to the greater, from the chaos to the order.
We also see what happens in the Gospel reading. We see these people who are sick, who are troubled with demons or whatever the problem may be. They are brought to the Lord, and all they needed to do was to touch the tassel of His cloak and they would be made well. Once again, you see that what the Lord is doing with these people is He is taking the chaos of their lives and He is re-ordering them. He is taking the sickness and He is healing it. He is taking demonic possession and He is exorcising it, so that once again peace and order will come into the chaos of the lives of these people.
The same is true for all of us. If we look at our lives, especially in this country, it is chaos, total and complete chaos. We get up in the morning and we run like a bunch of fools until we fall into bed at night. It is just going from one thing to the next and to the next. We like to think that it is somehow ordered, but if we really stop and look at it, it is not very orderly at all; it is just chaos.
If we are not praying, if we are not seeking the Lord, if we are not touching Him, we are not going to have any peace. We are not going to have proper order to our lives because He alone is the One Who can order them. What will happen, as anyone who prays knows, is that God will begin, just like He did with creation, to take the chaos and start bringing order into it. He starts bringing peace into the life. He starts with the larger things and the more generic things, and then He starts working His way toward the more precise things. But if we are willing to allow Him to do what He wants, He will order our lives and it will eventually get to the point where we do not need to worry about any of it. God will give us what we need only at the very moment that we need it. We do not have to plan ahead; we do not have to think about it; we do not have to worry about it. Our insides can remain at peace because they are in union with God. That is what the Lord desires for us.
The problem is that sin brings chaos into the order of our lives, just as it does into the order of Godís creation. All of the stuff around us, the media coming at us with sound bites every couple of seconds so that there is no way you can even settle on anything, you look at the TV set and there is a different image every four seconds so that there is sensory overload, it is all designed by Satan to bring chaos into our lives; and we Ė willfully, sometimes Ė are giving into these things, looking at things that we should not be, listening to things that we should not be, doing things that we should not be. It brings chaos, it destroys the order, it destroys the peace.
What God wants, even in the midst of all the chaos around us in this world, is for us to be at peace. He wants us to be properly ordered, and everything is there for us to do so. Just like the people in the Gospel, all we have to do is come to the Lord. As long as we are united with Him, we will be healed, we can be at peace, and we can have the order. But if we try to control it ourselves and we do what we want to do, all we are going to do is bring chaos right back into our lives.
So that is what we have to see. God has ordered creation, and we (of course, being creatures) are created; therefore, God has created the order within our lives, within our very being. That order is still there if we are willing to enter into it, if we are willing to overcome the chaos that we have brought into our own lives, and if we are willing to do it Godís way. When we do it His way, then we will find exactly what He created: peace and order. Then we can be content and then we will be fulfilled, because we will be achieving the very purpose for which we were created.
*† This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.