Recognizing the Signs of the Times
Friday October 21, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Romans 7:18-25a) Gospel (St. Luke 12:54-59)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord asks us why it is that we are not able to interpret the signs of the times. When we see the things that are happening in the world, as we see things continuing to increase in intensity as well as in number, all these various tragedies that are occurring throughout the world, why is it that we sit back and continue to try to explain it away? Why is it that we refuse to acknowledge what is happening in the world? It is a very simple principle: Because we do not want to deal with it, we do not want to change.
That is the mystery Saint Paul is talking about. He says, I want to do what is right and yet I do the evil that I do not want to do. And he talks about the sin that is in his members. Even though in his inner being he is absolutely enthralled with the law of God and wants to do what is right, he continually does what is wrong because of the sinfulness that is there. We see in ourselves the exact same problem. We want to do the Will of God, we want to do what is right, we want to be holy, but when it comes right down to actually doing it then we balk at it because we do not really want to change, or because the temptations that are there are such that we are afraid. So we wind up doing what we do not want to do, and we fail to do what we really would prefer to do.
What we need to do is to get down on our knees before the Lord and beg Him for the grace that we need to be able to do what is right, to be able to have the eyes of our souls opened so we can see clearly the things that are going on, so we will be able to interpret the signs of the present time. Our Lord told the people of His time that because they refused to see what was going on in His day they were going to be handed over to the judge, and the judge would hand them over to the jailer, and the jailer would put them into jail until they paid the last penny. In other words, we have a real opportunity right now to be able to reduce our Purgatory, to be able to grow in holiness, to be able to do the Will of God–but we have to be willing to acknowledge what is happening. If we refuse to acknowledge the reality that is going on right in our midst, and in our own lives sometimes, then we have completely missed the point. What Our Lord is making very clear to us is that we are going to be held responsible for it. Why else would we be thrown into jail if we were not responsible? He could not make it too much more clear that we have to learn to read the signs of the times.
The Second Vatican Council told us the exact same thing: that we have to read the signs of the times. The signs of the times, it seems to me, are becoming more and more clear. And so the only reason why we would not be able to interpret properly the signs of the times is because we do not want to, because we are afraid of what it means. Well, whether we are willing to accept it or not, it is happening and it is going to continue to happen. There is no sense in burying our heads in the sand and acting like it is not happening, or trying to suggest that somehow what is going on really has nothing to do with sin and that it is not because things are so bad that things are happening in the world. We need to learn to interpret the signs of the times. We need to open our eyes, we need to open our hearts and our minds, and we need to acknowledge the truth. We need to make the changes in our lives to be able to take that sin Saint Paul talks about that is in our members and overcome it, that sin that does not want us to change, that sin that blinds us to truth and does not want us to acknowledge the reality of things because if we acknowledged it we would have to live our lives differently; we would have to make some serious changes and that is where our fear comes in.
So look around at what is going on and recognize that the Day of the Lord is at hand. Acknowledge the truth and make the change so that you will overcome whatever stands in the way, and that you, through the grace of God, will be able to do the good that you desire to do.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.