Tuesday July 24, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Exodus 14:21-15:1) Gospel (St. Matthew 12:46-50)
Our Lord tells us that whoever does the Will of His heavenly Father is mother and sister and brother to Him. This is something that we all need to look at for ourselves. If we look at the first reading, we see that God opens up the sea and the Israelites are able to march through. Yet, I really do not think we can say that the Israelites, at this point, were really intent on doing the Will of God; after all, they complained all the way along. They saw God doing these great works like the ten plagues upon Egypt. Even though the Israelites were spared in all of them, the Egyptians reduced them to greater and greater slavery. So, they complained and told Moses to stop because they did not want to do this anymore, which we can all understand if they are reduced to bitter slavery.
On the one hand, we see Pharaoh who hardened his heart to God. Yesterday, we heard: "This evil age seeks a sign and no sign will be given it." Well, ten signs were given to Pharaoh and he still did not pay any attention; he still hardened his heart. But worse than that, the Israelites saw them all and they hardened their hearts against God. Finally, as they are marching out in triumph and the Egyptian army comes up behind them they say, "Didn't we tell you to leave us back there? It was better to be a slave in Egypt than to die out here in the desert!" They complained against God. God even had to say to Moses, "Why are you crying out to Me?" It was a total lack of trust in God.
Now we can understand why. If they are down at the point of the peninsula and they have water surrounding them on three sides and the Egyptian army surrounding them on the fourth, one can understand why they were a little concerned. But they had seen everything that God had done and Moses had heard the promise of God that the very sign that God was with him was that they would worship God on Mount Sinai. Moses knew that was going to happen, but he did not know how. Once again, we see this point. They want to do the Will of God; but, on the other hand, they were not quite intent on it.
Then, they finally see the sea opened up and it crashes down on the Egyptians. They sing the song of victory; but, within a couple of days, they are complaining against Moses and God because there is no water or food. They do not trust that God, who works ten plagues and opens up the sea so they walk right through it with the water like a wall to their right and to their left, will provide for them. They still refuse to trust in God.
So, it is a question of whether we are really intent on doing the Will of God. It is not that we do not want to - it is pretty evident that we do; you would not be in church at six o'clock every morning if you did not want to do the Will of God. The question is how committed are we to doing the Will of God? It is not enough to say: "Lord, I want to do Your Will. I want to hear Your word and follow it and live it." We need to look at what happens when our back is up against the wall. When things become difficult, what is our response? Do we go to prayer and say, "What are You doing to me?" or "Enough already! I got the message," or "Couldn't You pick on someone else for awhile? Why are You doing this?" Unfortunately, I think we all have probably experienced this over and over again. We have not learned the lesson yet. Even though we keep telling Him we have learned the lesson, we have not.
It is a matter of going from "I want to do the Will of God" to "I will do the Will of God." When we listen to the Word of God and we are doing His Will - not just wanting to do His Will- then, and only then, will the Lord be able to look at us and say, "There are My mother and My sisters and My brothers."
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.