Thursday July 14, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Exodus 3:13-20) Gospel (St. Matthew 11:28-30)
In the first reading today, as Moses speaks to God in the burning bush, he asks the question: If the Israelites ask Your name, what am I to tell them? Whom am I to say sent me? and the Lord reveals His Holy Name to Moses. His name is Yahweh – I am who am. He said, Tell them I AM sent you. This tells us something about the very essence of God. God is. Because God is eternal, He has no beginning and He has no end.
In eternity, remember, there is not a succession of moments or even of seconds. Therefore, there is no before and there is no after; there is no future and there is no past. Everything in eternity is present always, and so eternity is constantly present. That is a concept we cannot understand because we live in time. All we can do is look back or look forward. The present lasts but an instant for us, but for God the present is always. God simply is.
This is why Saint Paul would be able to say of Jesus: He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He does not change because He cannot change. That is a wonderful thing. It means that unlike us, who are constantly growing and changing (we learn new things and we do new things), this is not the way it is with God. God knows everything and He knows it perfectly. There is absolutely nothing lacking in God. God is absolute perfection. If there was something lacking in God, or if He changed in any way, then why worship Him? If He were imperfect, you may as well look in the mirror and worship yourself because you too are imperfect. Maybe He would be more perfect than we are, but He would still be imperfect and therefore He still would not be worthy of worship. But God is perfect. God is absolute. In God, everything exists.
Now more wonderful than all of that is that God is perfectly simple. This is why He wants us to come to Him with that childlike faith – because God is perfectly simple. So if we try to argue with God and try to convince Him and try to do all the complex things that we attempt, they do not work. First of all, we cannot change His mind because His Will is perfect. Secondly, it is by simplicity, by humility, that we draw ourselves to God and Him to us. We are not going to convince Him by any kind of rational argument because there is no convincing God since He is perfect. The truth is exceedingly simple. We need simply to strive for that simplicity.
Our Lord tells us to come to Him. We know His Holy Name. He wants us to come to Him because we are burdened. We are burdened far less by our daily work and far more by all of the things that weigh upon us. In this society that is so imbued with all of the noise and all of the sinful inclinations, all of us are burdened by it. So where do we go to find the load to be lightened, to find the help that we need? Only to the Lord. But we need to go in simplicity. We need to become like Him. That is why He tells us that we can take His yoke upon ourselves. His yoke is the Cross. Yet, at the same time, if we are willing to take up the Cross, we will find our burden lifted. We will take on His burden. But His burden is light; it is simple because it is pure and it is true and it is love. If we are willing to take His yoke upon ourselves, to carry His burden, He tells us that we will find rest, that we will find peace for our souls. There is great peace in knowing that you are doing what is right. There is great joy in being conformed to the truth.
That is what Our Lord has for us, and then, of course, the joy of eternity that follows where we will be able to glory in Him and in His Holy Name forever. We see that it is completely for us a win-win situation if we will simply allow ourselves to become like Him. He Who is Almighty is perfectly simple. That is something we need to learn, to shun all the nonsense this world tries to push at us, to stop trying to become like everyone else, and instead to become like the only one of whom it matters that we are like – and that is God. When we look at Who created us, when we look at Who sent us into this world, when we look at the vocation, the mission, which is ours and we ask ourselves, "Who sent me?" He has revealed Himself to us. He is the One Who sent us, and it is to do His work, to do His Will. We are to conform ourselves to Him so that we will become like Him. As we become like Him, we will become perfect. And in becoming perfect, we will be able to love perfectly forever.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.