Friday September 30, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Baruch 1:15-22) Gospel (St. Luke 10:13-16)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord, speaking about those who would preach the Gospel in His name, says, Whoever listens to you listens to Me. Whoever rejects you rejects Me. And whoever rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me. Now this is an important point because most of us would not want to say that we reject Christ and that we reject our heavenly Father. Yet how often we have rejected the Gospel that has been preached to us by the apostles and by the prophets, and we want to be able at the same time to acknowledge that we believe in the Lord. It is just like the people as they prayed in exile and they acknowledge: We have neither heeded the voice of the Lord, our God, nor followed the precepts that He set before us. And they went on: We did not heed the voice of the Lord, our God, and all the prophets whom He sent us, but each one of us went off after the devices of his own wicked heart.
This certainly sums up the situation of America, as well as the rest of the world right now, and even among those who want to call themselves Catholic. We have so many in the Church today who do not want to follow what the Church teaches. They want to do their own thing, and at the same time, of course, proclaim to the whole world that they are Catholic. All that it does is not only demonstrate the fact that they are not living the truth, but it undermines the faith because it shows to the rest of the world that it is acceptable to be Catholic and practice paganism, or whatever it might be, at the same time. This is something that is not acceptable.
We have to remember that all of the truth fits together, and if you remove even one piece, the whole thing falls apart. So if we want to say, “Well, I’m Catholic, but…” we are no longer fully Catholic. If there is one single thing that the Church teaches that we disregard, we are not fully Catholic and we are not living according to the way of God. We have chosen evil and we have chosen to go the way that our own hearts desire rather than to do what God wills. Now we like to be able to say, “At least I’m doing most of it, even almost all of it.” So what?
We are going to have to stand before God one day and He is going to be able to say to us, “Here is the truth that I revealed to you. You knew the truth; you knew what the Church teaches. What did you do? How did you live it?” What kind of justification are we going to give to God for refusing to do His Will when we knew that it was His Will? for refusing to accept the truth when we knew it was the truth? The only justification we are going to have is “Everyone else was doing it. I wanted to be just like everyone else.” If that is what we want, we can be where everyone else might be for eternity; and if they refuse to follow the dictates of the Lord, that will not be heaven. If somebody honestly does not know what the truth is, they will not be held responsible. But for those who know the truth, we will be held responsible for it.
So we need to look into our hearts and ask if refusing to accept what the apostles have preached is to reject Christ, and rejecting Him is to reject God the Father – because Jesus is the truth, God is the truth, and if we refuse to accept the fullness of truth we accept to refuse the fullness of Christ – is that what we really want to do? Is that what we want to claim? You see, even if we refuse to accept one part of Jesus, we are refusing to accept the fullness of Christ. And if we refuse to accept Him in His fullness, we have no part of Him. Then, as it said in the first reading: All of the curses that God enjoined on Moses, on the day that he led our fathers forth from the land of Egypt, have come upon us today because we refused to do God’s Will.
How often we try to justify our own sins or the sins of other people. We say things like “Well, at least it’s not as bad as…” So what? As bad as what? If we are not doing what God wants us to do, it does not matter if it is not as bad as what somebody else is doing; it is still wrong – it is still a sin – and we have chosen to go the way that our own evil hearts have desired. That is not an option when it comes to God because if we have chosen that then we have rejected the Word of God, and the Word of God is Jesus Christ.
We need to be exceedingly clear for our own selves what the ramifications are. If we do not want the fullness of truth then we do not want Him Who is the truth, no matter how much we say that we want Him. It is one thing to fall out of weakness; it is another to reject the truth. We need to pray for the grace to embrace the truth, and then once embraced, we need to live the truth.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.