Friday September 2, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Colossians 1:15-20) Gospel (St. Luke 5:33-39)
Saint Paul, in the first reading today from his Letter to the Colossians, says a couple of things that are quite amazing. He tells us, first of all, that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Now, of course, Jesus is God. Each and every one of us is made in the image and likeness of God, so each one of us on that level is an image of the invisible God; but the fact of the matter is that Jesus is God and He is also man. In the person of Jesus and in His humanity, we can see most perfectly Who God is, that He has humbled Himself to come to us in a manner that we can grasp. Not that we can ever grasp Him fully we cannot even grasp ourselves fully. In fact, we can hardly even grasp a little bit of who we are, and we rather amaze ourselves over and over again (but not in a good way, unfortunately). If we cannot even figure out who we are, we are certainly not going to figure out fully Who He is. Yet, at the same time, in Him the fullness of deity dwells, the fullness of the Godhead. We can meditate upon His humanity, and by looking at His humanity we are in full touch with His divinity. That is what we have in the Blessed Sacrament: the fullness of the person of Jesus Christ, His humanity body, blood, and soul and His divinity. The fullness of His person is present right there and we receive Him into our own selves.
Then Saint Paul goes on to say that Jesus is the firstborn of all creation, even though he says that for Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, things visible and invisible; all were created for Him and all were created through Him. He is the creator of everything that exists and yet at the same time He is the firstborn of all creation. He is the uncreated God Who became a creature! The One Who created everything became created Himself. This, again, is a mystery that we will ponder for the rest of eternity, whether in heaven or in hell, I might add, because every one of the souls in hell is pondering the reality that they rejected the person of Jesus Christ. We will ponder Him in heaven, assuming we go the right direction.
This mystery of the Incarnation, the fact that God became man, is something that we will never be able to ponder to its fullness, which means in heaven there is always more. We will never, ever be bored. People have this weird idea: What are we gonna do in heaven? Sit around on a cloud and be bored. Nonsense. In heaven, there is only love and truth. We will never come to the end of either because God is infinite. And because He is infinite, the deeper we enter into the love of God and the deeper we enter into His truth, the more we are going to be filled with the fullness of His love and His truth, which means that at every single instant (even though there are not instances in eternity, but it is the only way we can understand it) we will be filled to our capacity with love and with truth; the mind and the will, the two faculties of the soul. We will be completely filled, completely satisfied, totally blown away by the beauty and the love and the truth, and then the next instant we will be completely filled once again. There will never, ever be one single instant of anything lacking in heaven.
Again, I remind you that in heaven there are no instances. There is no before or after; it is not like there are seconds or minutes like there are here; eternity is always present. Everything is in the present, but we cannot understand exactly what that is like, so we can only try to describe it by what we know. And so there will be nothing boring in heaven. There will never be one split second where there will be anything lacking within us because we will be filled to the fullness of our being with the love and the truth of God.
Saint Paul tells us that in Jesus the fullness of deity was pleased to dwell. Through His humanity, we come to His divinity. In Him, Who is human, the fullness of God dwelt. He is both God and man fully. Again, this is the mystery that we will spend eternity pondering with no boredom because there is no end. There is always more forever. That is the beauty God is inviting us into, and it is the beauty we already share because we are members of Jesus Christ. Therefore, we can already begin to ponder it within ourselves. We receive Him in Holy Communion, and so in and through the person of Jesus in us in Holy Communion the fullness of His person dwells. We can enter into that fullness and we can be united with Him. This mystery already is what we should be pondering in this world as we prepare ourselves for eternity because the more we ponder the mystery here, the more deeply we enter into His truth and into His love, because it is the more deeply we enter into His person. And the more we enter into that love and truth which is God, the more we are conformed to God and the more we grow in holiness and perfection; therefore, the more that we will not only be prepared for eternity but the more that we will be able to accept of the love and the fullness of the truth of God in eternity because the more we have of it here the more we will have for eternity.
What the Lord is inviting us to is this absolute and complete beauty, absolute and complete truth, absolute and complete love, not only for eternity but even now in the midst of this world that has become so ugly, a place where there is hardly any truth and hardly any love. He has invited us into the beauty, the truth, and the love which is Himself even now and to bring that beauty, that love, and that truth into the world so that not only would we be prepared for eternity, but through us that others will be as well; and therefore the glory that is given to God will be even greater because those who give Him glory will be many.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.