Thursday July 20, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Exodus 19:1-2, 9-11, 16-20b) Gospel (St. Matthew 13:10-17)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord tells us, Blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. What a gift it is that the Lord has placed into our hearts the grace to desire His truth, the grace to desire to know Him. When we look around in our society and we see so many people who have no clue and we hear the words of Our Lord once again when He says, They have closed their eyes so they cannot see, and their ears so they cannot hear, and that if they had opened their eyes and their ears perhaps their hearts would be touched and they would be converted, for whatever reason in God's providence He is allowing things as they are. And, for whatever reason in His providence, part of what He has allowed and what He has chosen is that we would know Him, that we would recognize His truth, that we would desire that union with Him. How blessed we are!
If you think about it in another context, you have all of the children of Israel out in the desert at Mount Sinai; Moses alone was called to the top of the mountain. Why did God choose Moses instead of somebody else within the people of Israel? Why did He choose Moses and not all the people? He chose them all, but Moses in a particular way. Moses was the only one who heard the voice of God. The people heard the trumpet blasts and they heard the thunder and they saw the smoke, but it was confusing and terrifying to them. To Moses alone was given the clarity to be able to hear the voice of God and to understand.
There is a similar mystery at work within each one of us, that the truth is there for anybody and for everybody, but God in His mercy has given each of us the grace to be able to respond to that truth and to desire it in the first place. If we ask ourselves, "Why you instead of somebody else? Why has He allowed you entrance into these mysteries when He has shut it out from so many of the people?" We do not know. It is a mystery, and it is a mystery of God's own providence. It is His choice. So it is not something that we can be arrogant about as though we could say, "Well, obviously I must have been better than everyone else, that's why God picked me!" We all know better than that. Remember, it is the least and the worst whom God chooses to be able to prove to the whole world that it is Him and not us that is at work. So dismiss the nonsensical idea that you were better than everyone else and that is why God picked you, and look at it in reality. As He said of Israel, It is not because you were the greatest of all nations, but because you were the smallest of all the nations, the weakest, the least. That is why God chose you. Well, the same is true for each one of us. It is because we were the least and the smallest and the weakest that God chose to reveal Himself to us. It is because we were the most insignificant that God has chosen to give us the grace to desire to find Him.
We need to respond now. It is one thing to be able to recognize the great privilege of being chosen, but now we have an obligation on the other side. If God has chosen us for this privileged task, then our response must be to seek to love Him, to know Him, to be united with Him, which means, of course, to get rid of sin in our lives and to have lives of prayer, to be united with God according to the truth and according to love. That is what He is seeking. He has placed that desire into our hearts, the knowledge that He is real and that His truth is absolute, but along with that must come the desire in the heart to be united with Him in love. That is what this is all about. Look at the privilege which is yours. Look at the grace which God has given you to even have an understanding of this truth and a desire for that union with Him. Now, when you see what a rare privilege it is, come before the Lord, sit before Him or kneel before Him, and ask Him what He wants from you as a response. What does He want in return? He has chosen you, now you have to choose Him. And in choosing Him, you have to make Him the top priority in your life and love Him with your whole heart and soul and strength.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.