Tuesday July 19, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Exodus 14:21-15:1) Gospel (St. Matthew 12:46-50)
In the first reading today, we hear about the freedom of the children of Israel from the slavery in Egypt, how the Lord opened the sea for them and had them march right into the midst of the sea. The Egyptians followed them in and the Lord closed the sea upon them. As we look at this, we also understand from this that it is a prefiguration of other things that are going to happen, that is, the way God works is that things that have happened are similar to things that are going to happen.
So what we can see is that in the midst of our sinful society, the Lord, when He finally chooses to intervene, is going to give us a way out. But it is not going to be a simple way out. There are people who think they can run away from the whole thing and their life is going to be without a problem. That is not going to happen. The fact of the matter, as Our Lord makes clear in the Gospel, is that one who is brother and sister and mother to Him is the one who does the Will of His heavenly Father. There is our first indication of what we have to be about. We must be about doing the Will of God. It is the only way we are going to escape.
Now, escape does not mean to get out of the situation; escape means to go through it. Remember when they wanted to kill Jesus – He walked right through the midst of the people. With the Israelites, they did not just get transplanted across the sea; they had to walk out into the desert, they had to walk through the sea, and then on the other side they had to be out in the desert once again. It was not a simple matter of being plucked out and set someplace else. God gave them the means to escape, but they had to rely completely on Him. They had to seek His Will and do His Will.
So it will be with us. Whenever it is that God chooses to act in this world, number one, the only ones who are going to be saved through it are the ones who are intent on doing the Will of God. Saved, in this case, means either walking through the midst of it or being taken to heaven. It does not matter whether we live or die, as far as that goes. All that matters is that we are in the state of grace. If we die, so much the better because then we get to go to heaven. Who wants to stick around here any longer than they have to anyway? We need to be able to look at it with the proper perspective and understand that this is not going to be a simple matter.
The world is going to be chastised, sort of like what the Egyptians received in the Scripture today. When God opens up the way for His disciples to enter through, the world is going to follow them with the intent of destroying them. That is exactly what they want now. I think all of us have experienced that. Go out into the workplace and into the streets. If you are trying to do the Will of God, do people congratulate you and tell you what a wonderful job you are doing? Not normally. They are going to give you lots of grief and they are going to try to destroy you. That is not going to change. When the time comes that God intervenes, the world is going to try to destroy all of those who are going to follow the Lord.
It is going to take a huge act of faith on our part to walk right through the midst of it, knowing that God will protect us. But the protection of God is not, again, being set aside in some nice little place where we can sit back with our feet up and watch the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Rather, it is a matter that God is going to have us walk through the midst of it. We have to trust that He will keep us safe. Then as the world follows in hot pursuit with Satan in its lead, God is going to destroy them and the purification of this world that is going to take place will occur. But we have to make sure our faith is firm. That is what this is all about right now. As the evil continues to increase, it is merely for us a test. Are we going to remain faithful to God? Or are we not? Are we going to become like the world? Remember what the Israelites said: "Why did you bring us out of Egypt?" They wanted to go back into slavery! Why would anybody want to go back into slavery when they have freedom? It is because they were hot and they did not have food and they did not have water. It looked like it was better to be slaves than to be free.
And so when we look at what we might have to endure, we need to be very intent on doing God's Will. Otherwise, we are going to fall into the same trap and we are going to beg God to get us out of His camp and put us back into the camp of the world, which, of course, is led by Satan himself. That is not what we want. It is not what we need. We need to be absolutely intent on doing the Will of God so that when the time comes that intention will continue, that we will follow the Lord right through the midst of it all and we will find freedom, and that as we look upon what happens, we too will be able to sing with Moses and the children of Israel: "The Lord is triumphant and He has clothed Himself in glory."
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.