Monday November 14, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63)
Gospel (St. Luke 18:35-43)
In the Gospel reading today, we hear about this blind man who calls out to Jesus with the desire to see. Of course, we can all understand what that desire is all about. Here is somebody who has no ability to see anything; consequently, he wants to see. But for those of us who have eyesight, what we need to do is to pray that our spiritual blindness would be lifted so that we will be able to see clearly what God’s Will is.
This becomes critically important when we align this idea with the first reading. We hear about the horrible things that took place with regard to the Jewish people at the time of King Antiochus Epiphanes, as he set up the horrible abomination upon the altar, as he forced the people to embrace Gentile customs and to abandon the covenant of God and their ancestral ways. We need to see that what happened in the past is precisely what is going to happen in the future. It is the model for what is going to be. When you look at Scripture, over and over again we see the same patterns repeating themselves. We are told, for instance, in the Book of the Prophet Daniel, that at the very end of the world there is going to be a horrible abomination that is going to be erected upon the altar.
Well, we do not know that this is the end of the world (in fact, we know it’s not) but we do not know what is going to happen in the near future. We do know that they have already prepared their one world religion and it is ready to be implemented whenever they decide that they are going to try to do it. It will be something that is supposedly going to be acceptable to most everyone, except, I suppose, some groups of radicals that are not going to accept it. And you can talk about Jesus, just like the New-Agers do – but they do not mean the same thing about Jesus that we do. Think about what is out there. The Jehovah’s Witnesses talk about Jesus, the Mormons talk about Jesus, and neither one believe that He is God. They will talk about Him even being a savior, but they still do not believe He is God. They do not believe in the Holy Trinity. They certainly do not believe in the Sacrifice of the Mass. Yet they want to talk about Jesus, and therefore people are swept away by it. But this is going to be even worse. So we need to be very careful.
And we need to ask ourselves, when we hear the words that are spoken about the Jewish people, whether we would be in the same situation. It said, Many in Israel were determined and resolved in their hearts not to eat anything unclean; they preferred to die rather than to be defiled with unclean food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. We do not have to worry so much about eating food that is unclean because the Lord took care of that, but the question is: Are we going to profane the holy covenant or are we going to remain faithful even if that means being put to death? Are we willing to remain faithful to Jesus Christ and to His Church to the end?
Now it is easy to sit back today and say, “Oh, yeah, I don’t want to deny Jesus,” but we need to make sure that we have the grace not to do so. Once again, the only way is prayer because otherwise, if we are left to ourselves, we know our human nature well enough. How many times have we determined even to do something simple like go on a diet? Three or four days later, that is completely over because in our weakness we fall flat on our face. We can’t even say no to a candy bar! What are we going to do to somebody who is threatening to kill us? If that is the case, we realize our human weakness is so profound that by ourselves we will not remain faithful, but only by the grace of God can we remain faithful.
So, number one, we have to be so completely convinced of the truth of what it is we believe that we would be willing to die for that truth. Remember that the truth here is a person, and the person is Jesus Christ. Secondly, we need to be deeply rooted in our relationship with Christ so that it is not just something up in our heads that we would say, “Oh, yeah, this is what the Church teaches and I believe it,” but rather it is in our hearts because there is a Person with Whom we have fallen completely in love. Therefore, because of our love for Him we would never do anything that would violate Him. That is what we have to be about. And we need to pray for the spiritual insight to recognize anything–absolutely anything–that is going to gravitate against the Faith so that we will not be swept away even by the smallest, little things that are going to be fallacious.
We have to be very clear about praying to see, about praying to remain faithful, about praying so that we will be completely united with Christ in absolutely everything so that we would never even in the smallest way profane the holy covenant. That holy covenant, by the way, is the Eucharist, and we entered into that covenant in Baptism. It defines who we are as persons. This is not something separate from us. It is not a logical proposition. It is the very essence of who we are as persons, so to deny Him is to deny our very selves. It is that important. Are we going to remain faithful? Are we that committed to Christ? Do we love Him that much that if something happens we will not deny Him, we will not be unfaithful? That is the decision each one of us needs to make. Hopefully, we are not going to have to put it into practice. But we do not know. With the situation of the world right now and with what is already in place, it may well happen in our own day, and probably will. We need to be prepared to remain faithful to Christ, to remain faithful to the holy covenant–even to the point of death.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.