Thursday October 27, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Romans 8:31b-39) Gospel (St. Luke 13:31-35)
Our Lord, in the Gospel reading today, tells the people of Jerusalem that He has longed to gather them under His wings as a hen gathers her chicks but they were unwilling to do so. We see again the heart of the Lord. What He wants is for us to draw near. He wants to protect us. He wants to gather us into Himself, but we have to be willing, we have to make that choice. Now the wonderful thing is when we make that choice, Saint Paul then asks the question: What can separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Jesus Christ? The answer is “nothing.” He asks the question: Who is going to accuse us? Well, it is certainly not going to be God; He sent His Son to die for us. It is not going to be Jesus; He is interceding for us. He goes on to ask the question then: What can separate us from the love of Christ? Can anguish or distress or persecution or famine or nakedness or peril or the sword? The answer is “no.” Nothing external to ourselves can separate us from the love of Christ. That is why he goes on later to talk about neither life nor death, nothing future or present, not even the angels, not even the demons, not even Satan himself can separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Jesus Christ.
There is only one being in the entire universe who can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ–and that is ourselves. We are the only ones who have the power to separate ourselves from Christ. The devil will tempt us, all of these external things will befall us, but the reality is that we either adhere ourselves to Christ by our will or we separate ourselves from Christ by our will. It is a choice that we have to make. As He points out again, He longs to gather us to Himself. That is what He desires more than anything. He wants us to be right there, to draw near to Him, to be under His protection, but He will not force us to do so. He gave us free will and we have to exercise that free will. So there is absolutely nothing that is going to be able to separate us from Christ outside of ourselves. It is only we ourselves who can do that. Just always keep that point in mind.
If God is for us, who can be against us? No one. There are lots of people who are against us on one level; starting from Satan and working from there, you could probably count up all kinds of people. It does not matter. If God is on our side (or perhaps we should turn it the other way: if we are on God’s side) then we have nothing at all to worry about. If we have drawn near to Him then we are protected under His wing. We have the grace of God, we have the power of Christ, we have everything right there at our disposal. The main thing is that we stay with Jesus. Again, we all know how easy it is to get pulled away. All the things of the world, all the temptations of the flesh, all the things that Satan will throw up there to try to entice us away from Christ, he tries to convince us that all these things that are not good for us are really harmless and because they are harmless it is okay if we pull away from being under God’s wing, it is okay for us if we just step out a little bit. We know what happens when we step away from Christ, and we also know the harm that these supposedly harmless things will cause our souls.
As long as we are with God we have nothing to fear because it is the choice that we have made. But what we do need to fear is our own self because by one choice of our own we can separate ourselves from the love of God in Jesus Christ. But knowing that that is the only thing that can separate us, that God is not waiting up there to condemn us, that Jesus is not going to be waiting there to accuse us, that the heart of God is directed toward us to draw us near to Himself, then we have absolutely nothing to fear from God, nothing, absolutely nothing to fear from God. And if we are under God’s wing we have nothing to fear from the devil or anyone else. The only one to fear is the one who can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ–and that is our own self.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.