Tuesday December 4, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier First Week in Advent
Reading (Isaiah 11:1-10) Gospel (St. Luke 10:21-24)
When we hear these words of Our Lord in the Gospel today, they need to make us exceedingly grateful because Our Lord tells us that God has hidden things from the learned and the clever, but He has revealed them to the merest children. Then [He] goes on to say that no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal Him. And so, the fact that these mysteries of the kingdom, the mystery of Jesus Christ Himself, have been revealed to us is something that we must be grateful for. It is the Will of God that that has happened.
Just stop and think: Why is it that you believe, but so many in the world do not? Why is it that you have accepted the faith and are willing to be here at daily Mass when many people who are baptized Catholic wonít even come to Mass or acknowledge the Lord? And there are many good Catholics who do not come to daily Mass (not the ones that are not able to, but the ones that are able to); it never even crosses their mind to think about it. Why has this been revealed to you but not to others? That is something we need to look at and get down on our knees and thank God for. It is purely a gift; it is not our doing. It is not anything that we can take credit for, other than to say we cooperated to be willing to say "yes". But it is purely Godís choice and it is His grace that He has chosen you from among all the peoples to believe in His Name. This is an extraordinary grace the Lord has provided. It seems rather ordinary because it is something we tend to take for granted; it is just something that is there. For many, perhaps, it has even been there since the time you were a child: You have always believed in the Lord, you were taught by your parents, you have tried to live a good life, and it is not a big deal for you Ė until you look at it in perspective.
What is going to happen, as we work our way through this time of Advent Ė the Holy Father even calls the general time that we are living in a new Advent Ė is that the faith is going to diminish more and more until God chooses to purify things. So you need to make sure you are hanging on to the faith God has given. Do not ever take it for granted. And you must make sure you are doing everything you can to develop that faith, to make it grow. The only way that happens is through prayer and through study: the reading of Scripture, the study of the Churchís teaching, and the prayer: to be united with the Lord. If Jesus has revealed to you the mysteries of the kingdom, if He has revealed to you His heavenly Father, then He wants you to do something with it. It is not enough to say, "This is for me and I donít have to worry about anyone else." We need to make sure we do not take that treasure which He has given to us and bury it; we have to invest it. We have to make sure we are using that, but we have to make sure it is invested properly. And that must first be [done] in front of the Eucharist, deep in prayer. We must make sure we are going inside [our hearts] and praising and glorifying God.
The time will come, as we see in the first reading, when, after the Lord has purified the world, everything is going to be different. At that point, he tells us, "the earth will be filled with knowledge of the Lord as water covers the sea." Everyone at that time will be Catholic. There will be one flock and one shepherd. There will be no more disobedience to God at that point. But in the meantime, we are going to watch as evil is able to grow and grow. It will seem as if it is going to destroy the good in the Church and the Faith; it will not. We have the promise and the guarantee of Jesus that the gates of hell will never prevail against the Church.
So, for each one of us individually, all we need to do is be rooted in prayer. If we think we can do this by ourselves, we are going to fall away and be lost. If we remain faithful to the Lord, then we will persevere and we will see the glory of Almighty God. We need to ponder this and we need to ponder it deeply because the Lord told us that what has been hidden from the learned and the clever has been revealed to the merest of children. Thatís us. We cannot think that we are somehow more clever or more intelligent or more learned than other people because we have this truth. But rather, it is because God looked upon us and saw that we were the weakest, we were the least, we were the ones whom the world would never expect and never consider for such a thing, we were the lowliest, we were the children. And we are the ones that God has chosen for His own purpose because it is a mystery. Therefore, our response must not be one of pride - thinking ourselves to be worthy, thinking ourselves to be better than others - but rather, we must see it for what it is: that we are the childlike, we are the smallest and the least. We must never think that this is our doing or that we should take some credit for it; it is because of Godís mercy. He recognized we would be absolutely unable to do anything of ourselves along these lines, therefore, He chose to do it for us. It is His choice. For that, we must be unendingly and exceedingly grateful and make sure we do everything to correspond to the gift of faith that God has given and make sure we are trying to develop it and cooperate in the depths of our hearts, in prayer and gratitude to Almighty God.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.