Tuesday July 17, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Exodus 2:1-15a) Gospel (St. Matthew 11:20-24)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord reproaches the towns where He had worked the vast majority of His miracles. He says to them that it will go easier on the Day of Judgment for the towns that were known to be filled with sin. Tyre, Sidon, Sodom, and Gomorrah were the towns people would use as a curse when they would talk about what would happen; these were the notorious places. Yet, the Lord says it will go easier for them than it will for the towns where He had worked His miracles because the latter refused to reform. He said that the other towns (that the Lord had wiped off the face of the earth) would still be there had those miracles been worked in those towns.
We can apply this to ourselves. We can look at it and say, "Well, what has God done in my life? And what is my response?" One thing that happens is that just being with the Lord all the time can very easily become commonplace. When something becomes commonplace, as we know, we tend to take it for granted and we pay little attention sometimes. We realize that if these things had been worked in somebody else, if what God has done in my life He had done in somebody else's life, then they would probably be a saint by now. But then, look at me. When we see sinners walking around the street, people that are doing awful things, rather than judging them, sometimes the thing to do is just look at them and say, "I do not know why they are doing that, but if that person had been given the grace that I have been given, they would probably be very holy right now. But look at me." It is an easy way not to place ourselves in judgment over somebody else. If we realize what God has done for us, it helps us to be able to stay away from getting ourselves into problems of judgmentalism because we see that God has worked great things for us. If He had done this in somebody, who perhaps would respond better than I, if He had done this in someone, who would be more grateful than I, imagine where that person would be right now. It is a good thing to remind ourselves and be able to say, "If I had been given the grace of that person, I would probably be in even worse shape than they are. And if they had been given the grace that I have been given, they would be a whole lot better off than I am." Always consider that.
We see the way that God works, for whatever reason, and it is purely a mystery of God's love. He has chosen each one of us in the time that He has chosen us and He has given us His grace to reform. We can look at the first reading and see that God has chosen Moses. Why, of all the Hebrew people, did God choose Moses? It is a mystery. But that was God's choice and Moses needed to respond to that.
So, too, with each one of us. We cannot run around in a haughty way, thinking that somehow we are better than others are because God has chosen us. Remember the principle that Saint Paul makes clear: God chooses the weak to make them strong; God chooses the lowborn, the despised, the ones that the world counts as nothing. If God chose us, where does that put us? - Precisely in that category. It was not because we were so wonderful that God picked us, it was because He could not find anybody worse. So, He chose us. What He is asking for now is that we would respond, that we would become saints with the grace He has given us. When we see other people doing things that are not good, pray for them. Remind yourself that if God chose you it was because you were even worse than that person is. That is why He picked you and pulled you out of the fire and has given you the grace to be able to live the Christian life. Now, what He is asking is simply that we would respond to that grace and become holy - to become a saint by cooperating with Him.
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.