Wednesday October 26, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Romans 8:26-30) Gospel (St. Luke 13:22-30)
When Our Lord is asked in the Gospel reading today if there are few who will be saved, He tells us that we need to enter through the narrow gate. And as He is teaching, He tells the people the parable about how there are going to be these people who will say, “But we ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets,” and He is going to say, I tell you, I do not know you. These are kind of scary words because these are people who were with the Lord, these are people who would claim to be religious; yet, at the same time, He tells them, You are going to see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourself locked out. So it becomes very evident that there is more than just simply saying, “We were near You; we were in Your presence.” We have to, once again, live what it is that we profess. When we think about the prophets, when we think about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they believed, and because they believed they lived what they believed. They changed their lives to follow the Will of God and to do His Will even when they were rejected for doing it. That is what we have to be looking at ourselves.
Saint Paul tells us in the first reading that the Spirit is the One Who will intercede for us before the throne of God, that we have the Holy Spirit. We have to pray, but he says, We do not even know how to pray as we ought. I suspect every last one of us has experienced that. We sit down in front of the Blessed Sacrament and we say, “Well, I don’t know exactly what I’m supposed to do. What am I supposed to say?” Just open your heart to the Lord–that is all that is necessary–and then let the Holy Spirit take care of the rest. Just be there and do not put up any barriers. We do not have to control the prayer; we do not have to try to make something happen; all we need to do is come before the Lord. We simply need to open our hearts to Him, and the Holy Spirit is the One Who not only will pray within us, but He is the One Who will enlighten our minds and our hearts so that we will understand what Saint Paul tells us, that all things work to good for those who love God.
What happens in most of our lives is when things get particularly difficult that is when we pull away from the Lord. We complain and we kick and we scream and we basically rebel against God, but then we are going to try to say, “But we ate and drank in Your company.” We cannot be fair-weather friends of Christ. We have to remain faithful to Him, and it is only the Holy Spirit Who dwells within our hearts Who is able to give us that grace. We cannot do it by ourselves, and I think we all understand that well enough. We have all demonstrated it to ourselves plenty of times over. But now what we have to do is rely on the grace of the Holy Spirit to keep us faithful to Christ.
We do not need to fear as long as we are being faithful. As long as we are giving lip service to Christ, if we are telling Him that we want to be with Him but we keep Him at an arm’s distance, if we refuse to open our hearts and allow ourselves to be vulnerable with Him, if we do not let Him in, then we have plenty to worry about because then we are going to say, “We ate and drank in Your company and You taught in our streets, but we did not change our lives. We did not do anything with regard to the truth that You taught.” But if, on the other hand, we are coming to Him, we are striving to change our lives, we are striving to open our hearts, we want to be united with Him and we are trying to be, then there is nothing at all to fear.
That is the narrow way. The difficulty is that if we wait until the very end the Lord says they will not be strong enough. But if we work on it now, even if we do not have the strength today to be able to do it, as we continually try over and over and over, day after day after day, that strength develops. Then no matter what happens we will be united with Christ. And if we are united with Him in prayer, we have nothing at all to fear because, first, we will have seen how many things have all worked to our good even when they did not seem so good at first, and then no matter what happens in the future we will know that is the pattern the Lord establishes in our lives. We will be firmly rooted in prayer, we will trust, and we will have the Holy Spirit to lead us into full union with Jesus Christ.
That is the narrow way. That is the way which can be done only in prayer. It is not going to be done at the last minute by anyone because they will not be strong enough, but if we are rooted in prayer then we have this wonderful guarantee of Our Lord that we are going to be united with Him. And if we are united with Him, we will not be lost.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.