Monday October 22, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Romans 4:20-25) Gospel (St. Luke 12:13-21)
In the Gospel reading, Our Lord tells us that we have to grow rich in the sight of God. Not to be storing things up, not to be trying to make sure we have things easier and are more wealthy in this life because, as He points out, there is no guarantee all that stored-up wealth of ours is going to get us to Heaven. In fact, in another place He makes it very clear that it is almost impossible for those who are rich to enter the kingdom of Heaven: "Easier," He said, "it is for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into Heaven." If that is the case, then we need to make sure we are taking pretty clear thought of what we do because, as Americans, most of us spend an awful lot of time and effort making sure we grow rich in the sight of the world, but not necessarily in the sight of God.
The Lord tells us, through Saint Paul, that with Abraham it was his faith that was credited to him as righteousness. "He believed," Saint Paul said, "and he never doubted. He believed that God would be able to do whatever it was that He promised." And God has promised that He will take care of us, that He will give to us everything that is necessary. Remember, Our Lord told us that not one hair of our head falls to the ground without God knowing it; every hair is counted. A sparrow does not fall to the ground without God's consent. And so He tells us, then, "You are worth more than a flock of sparrows." So we have nothing to fear as long as we trust, as long as we have that faith.
It is only righteousness that is going to get us to Heaven. Wealth is not given to us as righteousness; but faith, on the other hand, is credited to us as righteousness. That is what we need to have: absolute, unswerving confidence in God's promises that He will do what He has promised. That is hard. It is a frightening thing for us because most of us find our security in the things that we have, in what we own and how much we have in the bank, in what our retirement account looks like and all the other things that we have neatly set up to make sure we are taken care of.
But we just need to think of Our Lord. He had nothing. When He went to the Cross, the only thing He had was the clothing on His back, and even that they cast lots for. When He died, it was just as was said with Job: "Naked I came forth from my mother's womb and naked I shall go back again." He had nothing - yet, He is the Messiah of the world. That is something we can ponder. If we are going to imitate Our Lord then we need to trust. We do not need to worry about how much stuff we have; we need to worry about how much faith we have, how much trust we have in God's promises, and how much love we have for the Lord. Rather than building bigger bins and bigger bank accounts, we need to worry about building a bigger faith, a greater hope, and a more perfect charity.
That is what judgment is going to be about: not how successful we were in terms of the world, but how successful we are in God's eyes. That is, how successful we are in growing in holiness. That is, ultimately, all that is going to matter. The souls in hell can brag about how much they had accumulated; the souls in Heaven will rejoice in how much one another loved God.
So that is where we start today: In this world, either storing up for ourselves treasure in Heaven, or storing up for ourselves treasure on earth. They lead opposite directions. We know which way it needs to be. We need to live our faith. We need to truly live our faith. And when that faith is there, unquestioning and unswerving, then it will be credited to us as righteousness.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.