Monday November 19, 2001 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Maccabees 1:10-15, 41-43, 54-57, 62-63)
Gospel (St. Luke 18:35-43)
In the first reading today we hear about Antiochus Epiphanes, who was the king in this particular region of the world where the Holy Land is located and a bit [of land] surrounding that. He decides at this point that all of his kingdom needs to be one - one in all things. Part of that is that they needed to have one single religion. Everybody was to abandon their own customs, they were to abandon their religion, they were to abandon everything so that all the people would live as one. In that way there would not be any kind of division among the people. We hear about the fact that, in the year 145 of the Greeks, he erected an abomination upon the altar and all the people were to worship it and so on.
When we read elsewhere in Scripture we know that there will be an antichrist that will eventually rise. He will try to rule the world and in the midst of that he will try to force everybody to be one. Part of that is going to be one religion because religion divides. Therefore, we are told also that there will be the erection of a horrible abomination upon the altar of sacrifice. The daily sacrifice is going to be abolished and it will remain that way for 3 ½ years. As people get concerned about the different things that are happening, you can see that these things have not yet occurred. So all we need to do is keep our eyes on some of the objective things and not get caught up in different things and get worried because all of these things must happen and they have not happened yet. People get concerned that the end of the world is about to come – it is not. A purification may indeed be coming, but it is not going to be the end of the world. When you see these different things happen (if they even happen in our day), [for instance] that the Mass is absolutely forbidden (because the daily sacrifice is going to be abolished), that will remain for 3 ½ years. When you see an abomination placed upon the altar, that is going to remain there for a while. It does not mean that the end of the world is at hand; all it means is that there is great trouble.
So what we need to do is exactly the same thing as what this man in the Gospel did. We need to ask the Lord that we may see. Not to get so worried about all the things, not to get caught up in what this one is saying and that one is saying - just keep focused on Jesus. This man had it exactly correct. Here he was, a blind man begging on the side of the road, and he knew what needed to be done: He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!" That is all we need. That is all we need to pray for; we do not need to pray for all kinds of other things. All we need is the mercy of God. All we need is to ask the Lord that we may see - not that we may understand all of the nonsense going on in the world, because it does not matter if we understand it. All that matters is that we are able to see the truth that God wants us to see. And Jesus Christ is the truth. If we can see that, nothing else matters. Let them do whatever they are going to do. Who cares? As long as we keep ourselves focused on the Lord.
We need people to pray for that, just like what we heard about the Jewish people in this time of Maccabees: while they were all forced to give up their own customs and their own religions, there were many in Israel, we are told, who were determined that they would not violate the law of God. Now when we think about that, sitting here a couple of thousand years after the fact, we can say, "Well, good for them! They knew what the commandments were. They did not violate the law of God. They died for their faith." But that was not an easy thing to do; all the pressure was against them. And the same is going to happen when all these other things occur. The pressure is going to be intense for people to violate their faith, to walk away from the Lord, to conform to whatever it is that this one-world religion is supposed to be. We need to make sure that we are begging the Lord to see, to see the truth so that we can adhere to the truth and be just like this man in the Gospel, once again, when they said to him: "Be quiet!" We have to say "no." When they say, "You can practice your faith in private, just do the sacrifice to whatever the abomination is," we have to be like this man and say "No." "Son of David, have pity on me!" he cried out all the louder. We need to do the same.
If ever it comes in our own day that they are going to try to make sure that we cannot practice our faith, we must make sure that we do not bend to the societal pressures and walk away from the Lord. We know the commandments of God; we know the truth. If we willfully walk away from it then we are the ones who have made the choice against God. What happened in Israel is that these people, because things had become difficult, decided to take up the customs of the Gentiles. They decided it was better to be pagan so that they could have an easy life. The ones who decided to follow the truth suffered. We may, in our day, have the same choice to make. The choice is obvious when we look at it objectively. We know the truth. We need to follow the truth, but the pressures will be intense. Beg the Lord for pity, for mercy, for the grace to see and to follow the truth.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.