Tuesday October 30, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Romans 8:18-25) Gospel (St. Luke 13:18-21)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord speaks about the mustard seed and the yeast. What we see in this is the growth that takes place in the mustard plant, but also in the mass of dough. And Saint Paul talks about how creation has been made subject to futility. If you think about the way yeast works, it is a process of fermentation. It is a process of rotting that makes it grow and makes the dough increase. So, in Saint Paul telling us that creation has been made subject to futility and the Lord telling us that the kingdom of God is like the seed that has been planted, we recognize, then, that there will be this process that will be happening: a process of growth, but at the same time a sense of fermenting. Not fermenting in a bad sense, but in a good sense.
Saint Paul tells us, in this same point, that all of creation groans inwardly as it awaits the freedom of the children of God. I think that we are seeing some of that. We are seeing the groaning of creation. People are searching for something that they do not know. Many people in our society have not been taught about the Lord or they have rejected Him. Consequently, [there is] the groaning that we see among the people as they search for the Lord. But they do not know Him for whom they search. They are looking everywhere except, oftentimes, in the right place to find something that will make them fulfilled, something that will bring them the freedom that they are asking for, that they are seeking.
The devil, of course, is right there to be able to present to them this "freedom" that is really license. Saint Paul makes that distinction very clearly in other places. He says, "Is it freedom to sin? Is it freedom for the flesh? No, because that is not true freedom." That is the lie that the devil presents to us: "If I can do anything that I want, then I am really free." Saint Paul says, "No, that is license. It is not freedom."
Freedom, true freedom, is to do the Will of God because God wants only what is the very best [for us]. If we do what is the best for us, then we have true freedom, then we have the true freedom to be who God created us to be, then we have the freedom to be truly filled with joy because we will be fulfilled. That is the freedom of the children of God.
Saint Paul tells us that creation itself is going to be freed from the corruption of sin, that there is going to be a purification, that all of this has to build to a certain point where things are going to be purified. That is the direction things are headed, and have been ever since the day that Jesus Christ came and planted the kingdom of God within. He planted it, like a seed, like that yeast that is going to be within and that is going to start this process of growth. Now, we can see it growing within, but it has not yet come to fruition.
If you think about that seed that is growing underneath the ground, before it breaks the ground open it is alive and it is growing, but you cannot see it completely. Yet, if you are part of that plant that is growing, you have the life, you have the freedom, you have everything that is entailed in that plant - all the potentiality that is there, everything that it entails. That is exactly what the Lord has done with us. We are part of that plant He has put into the ground and the growth is there.
So, even though we can look around and see a lot of corruption and a lot of futility to which creation has been subject, nonetheless, God has planted us within that. He has given to us all the energy, all the potential, everything that is part of the kingdom of God, everything that is part of that potential. We already, then, have the freedom of the children of God. We are still part of this creation, which is subject to futility; yet in the midst of that, as Saint Paul would tell us, we shine. We are like a beacon, and that is what we need to be. We need to be different from all of creation. We need to be different from the corruption. We need to be different from futility because we find a fulfillment, we find a hope, we find a joy in the midst of all the corruption and futility around us because our lives are not focused here. We have a focus elsewhere: Our focus is on Heaven and it is on Christ. If it is focused on this world and all the materialism and sin, then we have subjected ourselves to corruption and futility. But if our focus is on Christ and living for Heaven, then we already have the freedom of the children of God.
We await the day that creation is going to be freed, as well, from this corruption to sin. But, in the meantime, we can already be living that because we are grafted onto the vine, who is Jesus Christ. We are part of His plant. We are part of the life that is growing and living. That is what God is calling us to do: to live that life that has been given to us and to grow in the midst of this world so that we will be able to bear fruit for God, so that the whole mass is going to rise. Even though it is just a little tiny seed that has been planted, it is going to affect everything. All of creation is going to be freed; but, in the meantime, God has chosen a small part of creation - and that is us. We have already been freed from the futility because we see the hope, we see the joy, and we see the fulfillment at hand. That is where we need to focus - not on the corruption, not on all the trouble - but on Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of our hope.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.