Thursday June 28, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Genesis 16:1-12, 15-16) Gospel (St. Matthew 7:21-29)
Our Lord tells us that not everyone who cries out "Lord, Lord," is going to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Then He goes on to give some examples. If we saw somebody doing these things we would think that this is truly a righteous person. After all, they will say, "Have we not prophesied in Your name? Did we not exorcise demons by Its power? Did we not work many miracles by Your Name?" If we saw somebody doing those things we might be tempted to say, "This person is obviously a holy person, this one is a saint. They are working miracles in the Name of the Lord, they are prophesying, they are exorcising demons, and doing lots of things in the Name of the Lord." Yet, at the same time, the Lord says, "They will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven." It is because they were not, necessarily, doing God's Will. They were caught up in themselves. They were using His Name, but for a selfish purpose.
We can even see how there are some who will give lip service to God and go through the motions, then they will walk away from the Lord and do it their own way. They will come back to the Lord and try to do it His way, then they walk away. It is the same, for instance, as if we would come to Mass every morning and, as soon as we leave here, forget about the Lord. We carry on our own pursuits, we do what we want; and then maybe we will have a time set aside for prayer when we focus on the Lord again; we walk away from prayer, we do what we want; and then tomorrow morning we wake up, come to Mass, and do the whole thing over again. We will be able to say, "Lord, didn't I go to Mass every morning? Didn't I get out of bed early, come to Mass, pray, and worship You?" Then He will say, "And then you went out and did not pray, did not think of Me, did not do what I wanted you to do, but did what you wanted." Not everyone who cries 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
We can even see it in Abram, the man whom yesterday we saw the Lord had credited as righteous, as one who is just. For us, righteousness would be equivalent with being in the state of grace. So we have this man who is declared righteous by God. Now, ten years later, he takes matters into his own hands. He did not pray, he did not ask God what His Will was. He knew that God had promised him that he would have his own offspring. He has been waiting over ten years and it has not occurred. Rather than going to the Lord and trusting in Him and asking the Lord what to do, Abram decides that he can decide what to do. He will take his wife's servant, Hagar, and maybe she will bear him a son because Sarai had not. This is not credited to him as righteousness. It is a sin. It was something that was completely wrong. If, at that point, he would have died and gone before the Lord and said, "Lord, Lord. Didn't I leave my land of Ur? Didn't I do what You said? Didn't I cut up these animals and make a covenant with You?" the Lord would have said, "Then you did it your way instead of My way."
That is the thing we have to realize. Just because we are doing it partially the Lord's way, just because we are coming to Mass and doing other things, does not necessarily assure that we are heading straight for Heaven. We need to do things the Lord's way, not just externally, but internally. It must be the very purpose for which we do things. So we are not just giving Him lip service, we are not just going through external motions; but rather, we are seeking God's Will in our daily life, we are trying to do His Will - not just when we are here at church, not just in a formal time of prayer, but throughout every moment of the day we are trying to do His Will, we are trying to walk according to His path.
We are not just calling out, "Lord, Lord" when it is convenient, when it might impress people, or when we think that it will get us some good; but rather, even when it is difficult, when the house is buffeted by the winds and the rains, we are going to find that it really is built on the Lord, the Rock, the One who is immovable. If our house is built on the Rock, who is Jesus Christ, then we are not going to be moved. If we are just giving Jesus lip service, we are building this very nice-looking house; but it is built on the self, it is built on sand, and it is not going to be able to withstand anything. That is what we need to look at. We are doing the right things, but is the foundation correct? Externally it looks good, but how about internally? Only we can answer that. We need to go to prayer and ask the Lord, "Am I doing it Your way or am I merely crying out, "Lord, Lord"? If we are merely crying out "Lord, Lord," we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
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.