Wednesday April 25, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Second Week of Easter
Reading (1 Peter 5:5b-14) Gospel (St. Mark 16:15-20)
In the Gospel reading today, the last thing Jesus tells his disciples to do before He goes into Heaven is to go out into the whole world and proclaim the Good News, to preach the Gospel to all creation. After His Ascension, Saint Mark simply says that the eleven went out and preached everywhere; and the Lord continued to work with them. He was with them always and He confirmed the message through various signs. But, of course, we know (from all of the apostles) that they suffered. They suffered greatly because of this message. Yet, God was with them throughout.
That is the mystery we always have to keep reminding ourselves of : If we are going to do Godís work, it is going to come with suffering. It is not going to be a simple sort of thing. Suffering is necessary for Godís work; so, we cannot think that if we are suffering this must not be of God. In fact, it is just the opposite. If it is too easy, we have to ask ourselves, "Why? What is wrong that we are not struggling? Why is it that the devil does not care?" After all, Saint Peter says that "the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." That is the nature of the things we are up against. Each one of us needs to realize that we are now going out into the world, trying to live the Gospel message, and in that way trying to proclaim it to others. Now, we are the ones who have the devil in opposition to us. He is going to try to destroy what we are doing. He is going to provide certain sufferings for us, roadblocks that we will have to overcome; but it is not us, it is the Lord.
After all, if we listen to what Saint Peter tells us, he talks about the humility we must have in our relationships with one another; and, more importantly, we must have humility before God. He says, "Bow humbly under Godís mighty hand, so that in due time He may lift you on high." The important line for us is when he says, "Cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you." Give everything to Jesus and He will do everything for you. He will work with you, He will work through you. All you have to do is bring everything to Him. The problem most of us suffer from is we do not fully believe in the love of God. God is love - that is all - God is love; nothing else, just one hundred percent pure love. God can do nothing but love. He loves you absolutely, infinitely, completely; with His whole being He loves us.
But we do not believe that. Consequently, we do not give our things to the Lord because we do not really trust that He is going to do what He has promised to do. Because we cannot love perfectly, we think God cannot love perfectly. This is the devil - roaring, prowling, destroying. That is the work of Satan convincing us that God is like us. It is the other way around; we are in the image and likeness of God. It is time that we stop trying to re-create God into our image and likeness; it does not work. It makes God very fallible, it makes Him very weak; He is not - thatís us. What we need to do is recognize our own weakness, be humble in that weakness, and learn to depend totally upon God. Give everything to Him. He will do it all if we trust Him, if we are willing to let Him love us the way He wants to. He will never force it on us; it is our free will that requires us to say "Yes." On one level, we say, "Of course, I want God to love me as much as He possibly can! As much as I am able to be loved, that is what I want!" Then, we put the wall up and shut the heart down because we are afraid to be that vulnerable, that out of control, to let go to that extent. That is the problem; that is the fear; that is what the devil plays on. So, we need to keep reminding ourselves - "Bow humbly under Godís almighty hand. Cast your cares on Him because He cares for you."
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.