Friday June 3, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Reading I (Deuteronomy 7:6-11) Reading II (1 John 4:7-16)
Gospel (St. Matthew 11:25-30)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord tells His Father that what He has hidden from the learned and the clever He has revealed to the little ones. That is us. It is just like what we heard in the first reading today in the Book of Deuteronomy where Moses tells the people, It is not because you are the largest of all nations that God has placed His heart upon you, but because you are the smallest of all nations.
We have to realize that it does not matter how intelligent we are, what kind of position we hold, the reality of the matter is that in God’s eyes we are the most helpless, the least, the smallest, and so on. Thanks be to God for that, because if we were not He would not have chosen us. He will use the gifts that He has given to us. For instance, if He has given you profound intellectual ability then He will use that for His glory, but He is not going to give that to you simply so you can get caught up in your own arrogance because that would violate everything He is about. He Who is God came into this world as a slave, taking our nature and being born as a helpless little baby. He is not going to expect that we are going to be pounding our chests and thinking that somehow we are great, because that is not what He did. He has given us the example, Saint Peter said, to follow in His footsteps.
If that is the case, then we have to learn to love because that is what the whole thing is about. To love is to serve. That is what Jesus did and that is exactly what He calls each one of us to do. And love, Saint John tells us in the second reading, is not that we have loved God, but that He has loved us and He sent His Son as the expiation for our sins. So recognizing this and having our sins forgiven, the potential to love is fully present within us. All we have to be willing to do is humble ourselves and allow God to work in us, to give us His Spirit so that we can love, because God is love and love has to come from Him. It cannot come from us; it has to come from Him. All we can do is receive His love and then act upon it, but we can never be the ones to initiate it. Again, we see the humility that must be there on our part. We must come before Him, we must receive from Him, and in receiving then we will be able to give.
So we have to be little, we have to be humble, and we have to allow ourselves to be loved. That is a very, very difficult thing for some of us to do because we do not believe that we are lovable or we think we have to prove ourselves or we have to earn it or whatever it might be. When you are dealing with God, the more you try to prove how good and lovable you are, the worse it gets, because you cannot. All you can do is accept that God loves you because He created you to be loved. He loves you infinitely, and therefore we simply need to accept. It is not because we have done anything. It is not because we are so great. It is just because God is our heavenly Father Who created us and loves us. That is hard. It is so simple that it is hard for us, but it is the reality.
So we need to place ourselves before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, His Sacred Heart there wide open to us, pouring out the love that He has for us, and we simply need to receive, to allow ourselves to be loved. In that experience of being loved, then we in turn will be able to love. But that requires first that we recognize our littleness because the only way these mysteries are going to be revealed is when we are little – not because we are wise and clever, but because we are small. When we come before the Lord in humility, then and only then will we be able to accept the love that He has for us; not accept it intellectually (that we already know), but accept it in our hearts. Then it will be exactly what Our Lord came into this world to do. It will be Heart speaking to heart. It will be Love speaking to love. It will be the two, Jesus and His beloved – your soul, united to be one reality.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.