Thursday July 7, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Genesis 44:18-21, 23b-29; 45:1-5)
Gospel (St. Matthew 10:7-15)
Our Lord, as He sends His disciples out to preach, says they are to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. But even more, He tells them, Without cost you received, without cost you are to give. That is something we need to look at because the kingdom of God has been freely given to each one of us. Sometimes what happens is that if something is free we assume it is not worth very much and we tend to pay very little attention to it. But if something is quite expensive, then, of course, we will pay great attention to it because of its apparent value. So when we see that this kingdom has been given to us with no cost to us, it is very easy sometimes to hold it in contempt and to think it must not be too terribly important. Now in our heads we know the importance of it, but if somebody really looked at our lives, would they recognize how important it is by the way that we live? The cost, of course, for this kingdom was steep: It is the blood of Jesus. And so it did not cost us anything but it cost Him everything. Yet that cost was paid joyfully because He knew what He was doing and why. It was so that our souls could be saved, so He held nothing back for Himself in order to give everything to us.
Now the question is: Are we willing to do the same? Once we realize the cost that has been paid for us and we realize the importance of this kingdom that has been given to us, the natural reaction should be that we want others to be able to be part of that kingdom. We want others to be able to share in the same grace that we have been given, but all too often we do not do that. We do not bring it out into the world by the way we live. We do not talk to other people about it because we are afraid. At which point, again, we would have to say, “Just how important is it?” It is a funny thing that nobody seems too terribly afraid to talk about something completely ridiculous like a football team or a baseball team or a basketball team or a new diet or whatever it might be. Oh, if we find something we like, we will tell the whole world about it. But when it comes to Jesus, oh, we have to be silent because people might not like that. Too bad.
We have an obligation, if we love the Lord, to bring Him out into the world. It is just that simple. It would be like saying that you are completely in love with somebody and so you want to lock them in your house and not tell anybody that person is there and not let anybody know that you really love this person because they might not understand. No, if we truly love somebody we are going to let people know about it. How much should we love Jesus? How much did He love us? We need to be able to return a like kind of love for what He has given to us. So that is what we need to consider.
When we even look at it in terms of the first reading, as Joseph told his brothers about all these things that befell him, to be imprisoned and to be shackled and fettered and all the things that occurred: “Do not revile yourselves because all of this was part of God’s providence so that many could be saved.” Well, the same is true for us. Jesus has died so that many could be saved, but as Saint Paul asks, “How is anybody going to be able to hear the Gospel unless somebody tells them, unless somebody preaches it?” And as we know, we preach far more eloquently with the way that we live than by our words. Or sometimes we give away what was really in our heart with the way that we live, if our actions are not corresponding with our words.
We need to live the life that we profess, and we need to bring Jesus out into the world. By bringing Him into the world, others will recognize the same proclamation: that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. And when they recognize the gift that is being given to them through our intercession, through our mediation, then they too will be able to come to the Lord and they too will be able to bring that to others. That is the way this kingdom has expanded for the last two thousand years – and must continue to do so – through people who love Jesus and bring Him to others by their words and especially by their lives.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.