Friday June 29, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading I (Acts 12:1-11) Reading II ( 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 17-18)
Gospel (St. Matthew 16:13-19)
As we celebrate these two great saints today, Peter and Paul, the Church gives to us these readings that make it clear that all the extraordinary things they did, the life they lived, and the preaching task was done through them by the Lord. We hear, for instance, of Saint Peter in prison and how the angel of the Lord comes to Peter and frees him from the prison so he can go out and continue to preach. We hear Saint Paul talking about how he has been poured out like a libation and the time of his dissolution is near. But then he tells us: "The Lord has stood by my side and He has strengthened me so that the preaching task might be completed and all the nations might hear the Gospel." Then the very important thing that we must all keep in mind is the point Saint Paul makes towards the end of the reading we heard today, because no matter what happens in our lives, remember that everything is part of God's Providence - everything. It does not matter how good or bad it may seem, every little minute detail and every huge event are all part of God's Providence. Saint Paul tells us: "The Lord will continue to rescue me from all attempts to do me harm, and will bring me safe to His heavenly kingdom." If we just simply trust that, imagine what God could do through us if we trust that God is right there by our side.
Now, considering that, look at what happened to Peter. He wound up in prison. God did not keep him from prison. Look at what happened to him at the end of his life: He got crucified upside down. It is not like God kept them from any kind of suffering. Saint Paul says, "I have already been and I am being poured out like a libation." And the time of his dissolution was near. God, standing right by his side, was continuing to say, "You need to pour yourself out." It is not this idea that "God is at my side! I can sit back in a La-Z-Boy™ and have a great, wonderful, easy, and fun life. I can just sit back, watch TV, and sip on iced tea. God is right here by my side and I've got it made!" That is not the way it works. With God at our side, He is going to say, "You need to do My Will. You need to do My work. You need to pour yourself out. You need to give."
We do not just want Him by our side - we want Him inside. If He is going to be inside, it means we have to pour everything out so we can be filled with Christ. Then the Lord can say to us, as He did to Peter, "Blessed are you Simon, son of John. No mere man has revealed this to you but My Father in Heaven." The revelation is that Jesus is the Son of God and He is the Messiah. Once we understand that, once we allow that into the depths of our being and that becomes the center point of our lives, then we realize we cannot just sit back and do nothing. If we really, truly believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He is the Savior of the world, we need to act, we need to do something with that. We need to change our lives, we need to get out, and we need to live it. We need to bring that message to others.
That is why Saint Paul was poured out. That is why Saint Peter gave and gave and gave as the shepherd to whom Jesus entrusted His flock to feed them and care for them. The same will be true of us. Maybe we do not have to go traveling across the lands and preach, but we need to live it. We need to bring that message to others by what we do and what we say. That is what the Lord is asking of us. If He is with us, we need to let Him live in us and through us, to shine through us so that people will hear His voice when we speak. People will see Him when they see the works that we do and they will give glory to His Heavenly Father.
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.