MondayFebuary 26, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Sirach 17:19-27) Gospel (Mark 10:17-27)
In the first reading today, we hear from Sirach that God gives to each one of us a way back. Once we recognize that we need to return to the Lord and when we see what it is that we have done, we see the mercy of God. Then He tells us that we have to hate what God loathes. We can look at our lives and we can ask ourselves, "Where are we at with this?" Itís a process, of course, of being able to come to that point. But are we really trying to do that? Are we really trying to hate the things that God hates? And that is sin. That is what God hates. Are we trying to hate the sin in our lives? Are we trying earnestly to get rid of it in our lives? Thatís the part that we each need to work at.
When we hear those words of the Gospel, they need to make us shudder a little bit. What do I need to enter eternal life? We have to follow the commandments, in other words we have to stop sinning. Then He says one more thing. That is to sell what you have and to give it to the poor. At this point the young man realized how attached he was to all of his possessions. Rather than following Jesus, he walked away. Now we can look at our own selves. Weíve made a choice to follow the Lord , but this young man made the exact same choice. Heís the one who ran up to Jesus and fell down on his knees at the feet of our Lord and said, "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" He wanted to go to Heaven. He recognized Jesus and he came to the Lord, just like all of us. When the Lord told him what he needed to do, he wasnít too pleased about it. Now there are two parts to it. We could look at it on the one hand and say , "Well, the Lord did say that in order to get into heaven you just have to follow the commandments. You have to keep yourself in the state of grace." Thatís true. But then the Lord looked at him with love. With love. And said, "There is one more thing." Then He said to sell what he had and to give it to the poor. Was it a mortal sin to have all those things? No. Is it a mortal sin to have wealth and material things? No. Can it stand between us and God? Yes. Thatís what Jesus was recognizing with this man. It wasnít that he was in the state of mortal sin. He had kept the commandments. It was that there was something between him and the Lord.
Now we need to look into our own lives and say, "What stands between God and me?" If I were to run up to Jesus today and fall at His knees and ask Him what I need to do and say to Him, "Lord, Iíve been to confession. Everything that Iím aware of that I have violated in the commandments Iíve confessed and You have forgiven me. My sins are gone. Is there anything else I need to do?" What would the Lord say to you? If He were to look at you with the absolute depth of the love of His Sacred Heart, what would He say to you? The thing that we really need to ask ourselves is how much do we really, truly believe in Him? If we recognize that He is God and we possess Him, why do we really care about all the rest of the junk? Thatís really what most of it is that weíve surrounded ourselves with. Why is it so important to us? If we have God, what does a material thing mean? Not much. Those are the kinds of things that we need to consider. Maybe thatís something that if we really have the courage enough to do it, maybe when Mass is over today, take a few minutes or when youíve got a few minutes to pray, go before the Lord, get down on your knees and ask the same question. What must I do? Lord, Iíve done everything I can as far as confessing my sins, is there anything more? Then listen. Let the Lord show you what else must be done.
Praise God that weíre not in the state of mortal sin. But is there something more that we can do? Are we willing to do just the absolute bare minimum to get into Heaven? Or do we really want to love God with our whole heart and soul and strength? If we want to give it all to God, if we want to love Him completely, thatís going to come at a cost. If you think of all the material things, in order to get the material things you have to put out some money. You give the money, you get the material thing. Well, thereís a cost thatís involved. We have to give up certain things. In return, we get God, we get grace, we get Heaven, we get fullness of life here, we have freedom. All these different things we can look at. Then you can say, "Is the cost worth it? Is it worth giving up some little material thing in order to have more of Jesus Christ?" I think the answer is pretty evident.
So we can ask ourselves very seriously, "What more must I do? Is there some little selfish pleasure? Is there some attachment? Is there something thatís in the way that we can give up for the Lord?" When we get rid of that thing which is not leading us toward God anyway, we get profound union with Jesus. That is what Heís looking for. When we have a more profound union with the Lord, we will hate whatever He loathes. We will love whatever He loves. Then we will be walking the path of righteousness.
Note: Father Altier does not prepare his homilies in advance, but relies solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.