Monday July 2, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Genesis 8:16-33) Gospel (St. Matthew 8:18-22)
In this first reading, which we heard from the Book of Genesis, we have insight into the mercy of God. The Lord is willing to spare an evil place for the sake of only ten people, if He can find them there. Consider the patience of Our Lord. Saint Peter talks about that and says, "Consider that the patience of the Lord is directed toward salvation." What the Lord desires more than anything else is for all of us to be able to get to Heaven. So He very patiently waits rather than acting. We look around the world now and say, "Why doesn't the Lord do something? How long is He going to wait before He chastises the world? How much more evil can it get?" We get upset about it. Yet, the Lord looks down and He says, "But look at how many innocent people there are. Therefore, I will forbear doing it for the sake of those people."
In the meantime, while there are those innocent people, evil continues to build, it continues to grow, and it continues to get worse. All we need to do is look at the violations of human dignity. Not only are we killing babies, but also we are killing old people, sick people, and now we are trying to manipulate human life. They have groups that are vying with one another to see who can create the first human clone - not that God is going to allow it to happen anyway. But the fact is, in their arrogance, they are actually making an attempt to do such a thing. We see the evil getting worse and worse.
God is very patiently waiting. He will act. But He will also forbear for the sake of the innocent ones. When the time does come, however, the innocent will also suffer. It will not be as Abraham supposed when he said, "Far be it for the Judge of the whole world to let the innocent suffer with the guilty." That is not quite correct. The innocent will suffer with the guilty because that is the only way the guilty are going to be brought to conversion. It is by just souls praying for their conversion.
Our Lady made this very clear, for instance, at Akita (an apparition fully approved by the Church) where she said that there would be fire falling from the sky that will destroy a greater part of humanity. She said it would be indiscriminate: The priests and people will all die, the innocent as well as the guilty. Everyone who is in the state of mortal sin will die and some who are in the state of grace. It is not necessarily a punishment for all, for some it is a total act of mercy. It also makes it so we will not be able to look at anybody and make judgments thinking that because this person died, they must have been in the state of mortal sin. God, in His mercy, will take some who are in the state of grace, who are innocent.
The reason He will do that is if the person is in the state of grace at this point and they would have fallen from the state of grace before they would have died under natural circumstances, God will take them now. It does not seem to make sense to us. Why would God take a good person? Why would He take somebody who is so young? Why would He do this, that, or the other thing? When we find out, we will see that it was total mercy on the part of God. It looks like He is condemning the innocent, but what He is really doing is saving the innocent to make sure they do not fall away.
When bad things happen, we cannot look at God and suggest that somehow He is unfair or unjust. Rather, what we will find on the day of general judgment is that everything He did was pure and total mercy, even if it does not look like it to us. Everything that God does is total and complete mercy. We need to always keep that in mind. It is always an act of love and it is always mercy - no matter how good or bad it may seem to us at the time.
We need to simply trust and know that, in time, God is indeed going to chastise the world and purify things. But in the meantime, for the sake of the innocent and the salvation of souls, God has forborne. He has been very patient while He awaits the moment, the day when He will indeed act. On the day that evil gets to the point where He will tolerate it no more and the innocent are actually being caught up into the evil, He will act. Until then, He will continue to forbear, He will continue to be patient for the sake of those innocent souls, and for the sake of salvation.
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.