Monday October 29, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Romans 8:12-17) Gospel (St. Luke 13:10-17)
Saint Paul tells us in this first reading that we have received the Holy Spirit, which he tells us is the spirit of adoption by which we call out "Abba, Father!" And if we have received the Holy Spirit and we are made to be able to call God our Father, he then goes on to say that we are sons of God. But more than just being the children of God, we are, therefore, heirs - heirs of Heaven, heirs with Christ.
Now think about that and apply it to yourself. It is something that is very difficult for us to be able to do because we do not think of ourselves in these terms. We know that it is true; we know it in our head. But to get it down inside, to get it down to the heart, the core of our being, is something which is very difficult for us to do because we just keep it at an arm's distance and say, "Oh yeah, 'Abba, Father!', that's right. I am a child of God. I am an heir of Heaven." What we want is to be able to get to Heaven, but, for many of us, we really do not believe it. That is, we really do not shape ourselves around that truth. So we need to look at that very seriously. You are a child of God, members of the Son of God, sons and daughters of the Lord Himself so that you can call God "Father".
That is what Jesus did for us when He taught us to pray the Lord's Prayer: to call God our Father. So think about it: We actually have the audacity to call God "Father". Who of us would ever do such a thing, unless the Lord had taught us to do so? It is something that would be beyond anything that we would ever think of, but because the Lord taught us to do it, we do it. But because most of us learned how to pray the Our Father sitting on our mother's knee, it is something that we just do not think about. It is something that comes so naturally to us. It is just a prayer that Mom taught us how to pray, and it is the one Jesus taught us, so it is something we do by rote without really thinking about the words - which is pretty sad in itself. But to call God "Father" - to say that He is our Father - puts us clearly in a relationship of Father and child. And the children are heirs to the Father's kingdom, to His estate. So that is who we are.
If we think about what Jesus did in the Gospel reading, healing this woman on the Sabbath and He says, "Is it not fitting that this daughter of Abraham should be healed on the Sabbath?" If all the rules go to the side because the dignity of this woman as a daughter of Abraham needs to be healed, what about you as a son or a daughter of God Himself? Not merely a child of Abraham (which you are by faith, as Saint Paul tells us), but a son or a daughter of God through Baptism. You are a son or a daughter of God. Think of what God is going to do: If He is willing to suspend the rules and make the synagogue officials angry because somebody was healed on the Sabbath, what kind of healing does He work in your soul because you are a child of the Sabbath, you are a child of God?
We need to really struggle with this and accept the dignity that is ours because most of us really do not believe that is the truth; that is, in the depth of our being. It is not that we would deny it in our heads, but we really do not accept it. We need to embrace it. We need to let this get to the depth of our being and be able to define ourselves this way because it is who we are. We are children of God. We are heirs of Heaven. We have received the Spirit of God through which each one of us can cry out "Abba, Father!"
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.