Monday January 14, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier First Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Samuel 1:1-8) Gospel (St. Mark 1:14-20)
In the Gospel reading today, we see Our Lord calling His apostles to Himself: "Come and follow Me," He says - which is exactly the same thing He has said to each one of us. He has called each one of us by name to be His follower, to come after Him. Now we have to understand that this is going to require certain things. We see, for instance, with these first apostles, that Peter has to leave his nets and his boat; James and John have to leave their nets, their father, and their family behind as they follow the Lord. But it is more than just simply giving things up; it also requires a change in the way that we live. We hear Our Lord in His preaching saying, "The kingdom of God is at hand, therefore, reform your lives."
Now in the first reading today, we see from the First Book of Samuel this struggle between these two women who are wives of the same man. Tragically, they are called "rivals". The one is constantly putting the other down because she did not have children, and we can probably assume some of it went the other way, as well. And here, Elkanah, the husband, is saying, "But am I not worth more to you than ten sons?" Our Lord looks at us and says the same thing: "Am I not worth more to you than anything else in the world - all the material things, people, whatever it may be? Am I not worth more than all of that?"
That is an important thing for us to keep in mind, especially in the context in which that comes up. There will inevitably be people who do not like us. There will inevitably be people who give us a difficult time. The question has to do with our response. Are we going to look at the individual and get upset, angry, and want to get even? Or are we going to look at the Lord and say, "What difference does it make if they make fun of me? What difference does it make if they don't like me?" It doesn't. As long as we keep our eye on the Lord then we will be able to change the way that we deal with things. We can still approach that particular individual with charity. We can maintain our own interior peace because it does not matter. If we look at it merely on the natural level, we will get upset, just like Hannah did. She would weep and she would not eat and she would be upset over this [difficulty] that went on year after year after year. All you have to do is ask yourself, "What good does it do?"
And so, the Lord, in calling each one of us to follow Him, calls us to reform our lives. It is not just to say that we believe in the Lord, but it is to say: "If I believe in Him, I need to act on that belief." And to act on that belief requires change. The change does not simply mean giving up a life that is filled with mortal sin, but it means replacing that with a life of virtue and striving for all of the virtues, trying to grow in holiness to be one with the Lord. That is the goal of our lives. It is indeed to follow Him, but it is to follow Him in everything. Not only to follow Him to Calvary, but to follow Him in the way He lived His life: a life of charity, a life of complete and perfect virtue. So, as He calls to each one of us in the depths of our hearts, He continues to speak those same words: "Reform your life, for the kingdom of God is at hand."
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.