Monday February 28, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week of Lent
Reading (2 Kings 5:1-15ab) Gospel (St. Luke 4:24-30)
In the Gospel reading today, as Our Lord speaks to the people in His own hometown, He tells them, No prophet is accepted in his own native place. And as He explains to them the situation of how things were at the time of Elijah when he was sent to the widow of Zarephath in Sidon, and as it was in the time of Elisha the prophet when Naaman the Syrian was sent to him, the point that they understood very quickly is that the Lord was not going to work any great miracles in His own hometown. They were angry because they were looking for some sort of sign, they were looking for something for themselves, but they had no faith in Him. That was precisely the problem, and we are even told in another place that their lack of faith grieved Him and He was able to do almost nothing, not because He did not have the power to do it, but because they did not have the faith to allow it to be done. Then what happens is they get angry because it did not happen the way they wanted it to.
We see the same thing, actually, in the first reading with Naaman the Syrian. When Elisha the prophet tells him, “You just need to go and plunge seven time in the river,” he says, “But I thought he was going to come out and invoke the Name of the Lord and wave his hand over the spot and cure me!” He got angry because it did not happen the way that he thought it was supposed to, and he nearly rejected the gift of God because it did not fit into his own predetermined parameters.
If we have not learned by now that God does not do things our way, then we have a problem. There must be something wrong with our brains if we have not figured that point out yet. How many times have we tried to tell God how to do things, and all that we can suggest is that He just chuckles and says, “If you think that’s the way it’s supposed to be done, go ahead and try it. But it won’t work.” And it never will. We have to let go of our own ideas and we have to allow the Lord to work. That is not an easy thing for us because we do not want to be fooled by somebody who is not real, because we are afraid of being out of control and letting go of all the things. But really, when it comes right down to it, it is because we want to be able to reason everything out instead of using our faith.
The Lord makes very clear that it is about faith. The people sitting in the synagogue in Nazareth could reason things through, and when they reasoned it out, they got angry because it was not happening the way that they had reasoned it to be. It was their lack of faith that grieved Him. Now we live in a situation where there is an intense lack of faith. Lots of people run around invoking the Name of Jesus and speaking about Him, but it is all an emotional thing and there is little or no faith.
We need to be able to go beyond that. We need to trust in the Lord and we need to allow Him to work in our lives in whatever way He chooses to work in our lives – not in whatever way we choose to allow Him to work in our lives. There is a huge difference in there because if we put the parameters on things then we try to dictate to Him how it is that we are going to allow Him to work and He will be able to do little or nothing within us because we do not have the faith to allow it. So we need to let go. We need to let go of our predetermined ideas, we need to let go of the dictation on our part to God, we need to let go of the boundaries that we try to put on the Lord, and we need to allow Him to work, which means that we have to have faith, complete and total faith in the Lord to do what He wants to do. Trust Him and know that whatever it is that He is going to do is going to be completely outside of the boundaries that you had already thought of. It will be out of control, it will not be comfortable, it will not be the way that we assume it ought to be, but it will be the best.
If we are willing to do that, like Naaman the Syrian, to get rid of our anger because it did not happen the way that we thought it should and just do what God asks us to do, then we will see extraordinary things. The most extraordinary is that we will become saints, that we will do the Will of God. We will see wonderful things happening in our own lives if we are willing to get out of the way and allow the Lord to work.
And if we are not, then just like the people in His hometown, we will basically lead Him to the brow of the hill on which our lives are built and we will try to throw Him over because we really do not want it His way. We cannot have it both ways. If we want it our way, there is no room for Jesus; if we want it His way, there is no room for the self. It is one or the other. That is the choice, again, that we have to make.
So the Lord is looking for faith. He is looking for us to let go and trust Him and to allow Him to work within our lives. Put aside everything else and allow the Lord to work the way that He chooses to work, and watch the wonderful things happen.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.