Monday June 18, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Corinthians 6:1-10) Gospel (St. Matthew 5:38-42)
We hear Saint Paul telling the Corinthians that they present themselves as ministers of God acting with patience and he describes all the distress, trials, beatings, imprisonments, and riots. Once again, it makes us wonder if we really want to do this; until we hear the Gospel and Jesus says, "Offer no resistance to injury. If someone strikes you on one cheek, offer him the other as well. If they press you into service for one mile, go with them two miles." We see that Saint Paul is simply doing what Our Lord had told us we all are to do. We, as Christian people, are to live in a different way than the people who are caught up in worldly ways. We are not supposed to be like everyone else.
The fact is, if we are not going to be like everyone else and we are going to be rejected by them, it is a question not of what they are doing to us but of how we are reacting. What is our response to them? That is what we have to look at because it can be very frustrating for us, being as we are not perfect and we are very sinful people. We want to defend ourselves, we want to argue, and we want to fight back. Yet, when we look at the disciples, they did not do that. Saint Paul, when he went to court, presented his part but he was willing to accept whatever came his way. We see it in Peter and John, we see it in Paul, we see it in James, and we see it throughout the New Testament; when there are difficulties and trials, they tell us to rejoice. When Paul is in prison, having been whipped and chained to a stake, he is praying psalms and singing hymns of praise to God in the middle of the night. Most of us would probably be whimpering and whining, wondering why these horrible things are happening to us. After all, we were only trying to do what was right and good.
Why would anybody be opposed to the truth? But they are. The reality is, even though people are made for the truth, most people do not want it because it would require something of them. It would require them to change the way they live and they do not want to do that. Even though they know it is right, they do not want to make the changes. They reject the messengers so they do not have to hear the truth. Saint Paul tells us they are called impostors when, in fact, they preach the truth. He also tells us they are called sorrowful, but they are always rejoicing.
The most important thing he says is: "We seem to have nothing; yet, we have everything." They had everything because they had Jesus. They had the Truth. They had God. It did not matter that they had nothing worldly. Remember, they had to walk every place they went. So it is not like they had a whole bunch of things they were dragging with them. They had very little. But because they had nothing from a material point of view, they had everything. That is why they could be called poor, but they enrich many. For example, when Saint Peter was at the beautiful gate with the beggar, he said, "I have neither gold or silver, but what I have I give you. In the Name of Jesus Christ, stand up and walk." He had the Lord, and he could offer Jesus to the man. He could offer him the Truth. Even though they had nothing from a worldly point of view, they had everything because they had the One who created the world and everything in it. They could offer the Lord to them. We have the same thing. That is why Saint Paul could be rejoicing, that is why he could be patient and at peace amidst all the chaos that was surrounding him - because he had the Lord.
And we do too. When we look at our own selves, we can ask: "How do we respond in the midst of the trials, difficulties, and persecutions that come up in life? Do we maintain that interior peace? Do we handle it with equality of soul that is underneath? Or do we get all upset and worried and anxious?" We have Jesus Christ, we have the Holy Spirit, we have Our Blessed Lady, and the Trinity dwells within. We have no reason to be worried and upset. All we need to do is trust and remain at peace.
Note: Father Altier does not write 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.