Thursday October 11, 2001 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Malachi 3:13-20) Gospel (St. Luke 11:5-13)
The reading we heard today from the Book of the Prophet Malachi is very important. It is a very famous reading because Jesus refers to it in talking about John the Baptist and what would happen before the time of the coming of the Lord. Yet, we see it in a different way as well. We can certainly understand the reading in today's present context, with people saying, "What good is it to serve the Lord? Why should we hold Him in awe? Why pray? What difference does it make anyway? After all, those who are evildoers, those who are steeped in sin, they have dollars coming out of their ears! Bucks everywhere! Power and authority and all kinds of prestige! Yet, they fly right in the face of God! And then, if you try to serve God nothing works. You just get stomped on and trampled, you get dragged through the mud and, uh, what good is it to serve God?" Then we can look at it and say, "Just look through society! You cannot tell the difference between the ones who serve the Lord and the ones who do not, most of the time!" That is precisely the point that God is making through Malachi. It is what happened a couple of thousand years ago and it is what is happening again.
But the Day of the Lord is coming, and it is going to come with fire. It is going, as the Lord says, to burn all the evildoers and it will leave them neither root nor branch. Our Lady made very clear at Akita that when the time of the purification comes it will happen by fire falling from the sky and it will kill the greater part of humanity. Every single person in the state of mortal sin will die and some, who are in the state of grace, also will die. The Day of the Lord is coming and it will, indeed, burn like a fire. It will destroy all evildoers and it will be very clear those who serve the Lord and those who do not.
So we need to be faithful to Him. That is the point that is made also in Malachi, it says: "Then, those who serve the Lord spoke, and the Lord listened attentively." The Lord hears your prayers; do not ever doubt that. Do not ever question whether the Lord hears your prayers. He does not always answer them the way you think that He ought. And He certainly does not always answer them in the time frame that you think you have laid out for Him - as if we are going to play God and tell Him how He ought to do what we want Him to do. He is God; we are not. Part of the test of our faith, as well as of our hope and of our charity, is that we have to keep going back.
In the Gospel reading, we hear about the man who will get what he wants, not because of friendship but because of persistence. We need to keep going to the Lord. It is not just a matter of saying, "Lord, listen, this is what I want. If I get it, well then, I am happy; and if I do not, well then, God must not listen to my prayers and I am useless. Why should I do this anymore?" But rather, it is a matter that we have to be able to show how desperately we want union with Christ. Now, that is a hard concept for most of us. Most of us sit back with this romantic idea of how nice it would be to be united with the Lord. But, we are not really willing to do what it will cost to get there: the struggles and the sufferings, the detachments, and all of the problems that will arise.
But the only way that we are going to survive these next times is if we pray and if we are united to the Lord. So, let the word to the wise be sufficient: You best pray earnestly to the Lord. "Seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened; ask and you will receive." But you must be earnest about it. We cannot be doing any of this flippant prayer stuff anymore. We cannot be going to prayer just rambling on aimlessly, talking to ourselves and really paying no attention to God. We need to be earnest, or else we are going to be like the evildoers who say, "This is useless. Why should I keep this up? What good is it doing me to serve the Lord because things are only getting worse."
Know today that things are going to get worse - things are going to get much worse in the very near future. And do not think it is because God is not hearing your prayers; it is because there is a purification that has begun and this is going to culminate only on the Day of the Lord, when He comes with fire. So prepare yourself because only those who are faithful to the Lord will survive. Only those who are true to the Lord are going to have the grace necessary to be able to make it through what is coming. And so you need to be serious about your faith.
Right now, we cannot see much of a difference between those who worship God and those who do not. That is a pretty sad statement for us who worship God. In this society, if we cannot see the difference between those who serve God and those who do not, we are not doing what we ought to be doing. That means we have become like everyone else. That distinction had better become very clear very quickly because the Day of the Lord is coming with fire. We need to be prepared. There is only one way that we will survive, that is, if we are united with Our Lady and with her Son. That is the only way. Prepare yourself with prayer, with fasting, with repentance, with penance. Unite yourself to Jesus Christ because the Day of the Lord is coming.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.