Friday July 8, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier†† Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30)†† Gospel (St. Matthew 10:16-23)
Our Lord tells us in the Gospel reading that He is sending us out like sheep among wolves. Obviously, the competition is not a fair one. The wolves tend to devour the sheep, and the sheep have really no recourse. They have no defense to be able to fight against the wolves. Yet this is exactly what Our Lord tells us that He is doing with us. He tells us, therefore, that we have to be as shrewd as serpents and as simple as doves. The reason for that is very simple: Satan cannot stand humility. The one thing that he has absolutely no power over is humility.
Of course, this is something that does not come naturally to most of us. The arrogance and so on is so deep and so strong in most of us that the devil can play with us like a cat playing with a mouse. So we need to be able to pray for humility, and we need to work at humility. As we know, humility comes generally through humiliation. Personally, I do not know anybody who really likes being humiliated. We tend to try to avoid that at all costs, but we cannot because it is the only way to true humility.
Now we also have to realize what Our Lord is telling us. As we strive so desperately in our lives to make everybody like us and think how wonderful we are, listen again to the words of Our Lord: You will be hated by all. It does not sound like a real popular place to be, does it? But He lays out exactly what is going to happen for us if we are going to be His followers, that we are going to be handed over, that we are going to be persecuted. Yet He promises us that His Holy Spirit is going to be with us. The question is, do we trust?
Two of the most difficult virtues in all of the spiritual life to develop are the ones that He is asking us to use: trust and humility. We do not do well at either of them. And so we need to beg God for this grace so that we will know that He is with us. If we want to be as innocent as a dove, the best way to do it is to pray for the dove Ė the Holy Spirit Ė to fill us with His innocence because Satan has no power over God, and as long as God is in us, he [Satan] has no power over us. If we are trying to fight him by ourselves, he is going to have a field day because we have no power over him by ourselves; but in the power of Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit, the devil has no power over us.
We have all the tools right there at our disposal, but the problem is that most of us either do not know how to use them or we do not even know that we have them. And for some of us, we do not. If we do not trust and we are not humble then the tools are not fully there. Yet, the Lord is. If we are in the state of grace, He is right there and He will give us what we need if we trust Him. But that means He will put us in situations where we have to trust. He will put us in situations where we are going to be humbled. Are we going to continue to walk on that right path? Are we going to continue to trust Him?
We have seen over the last few days the story of Joseph and Jacob, and of how God brings everything around. It took years and years for that to happen. So too, in our own lives similar things will occur. It did not take just overnight for us to become as sinful and full of vice as we are, and it is not just going to be an overnight process for us to become virtuous either. But if we are willing to continue to pray, to continue to work, God will take care of all of it. If we will trust Him, He will provide for everything.
That is very, very difficult for us because we want to be in control. Control is the opposite of trust. We have to let go. We have to allow ourselves to be vulnerable in Godís hands. We have to trust Him and we have to be humble, to recognize how weak we are and how little we are so that God can be strong in us. These are things that we have to pray for because they are things that most of us do not want. We like the idea of being humble and trusting; we just do not like the idea of getting there. So we need really to pray for the grace to be able to desire it and to be willing to do whatever it is going to take so that we will be able to do Godís Will. In order to do Godís Will, we need the foundational virtues, and among those are humility and trust.
*† This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.