Monday January 21, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Samuel 15:16-23) Gospel (St. Mark 2:18-22)
In the first reading today, the Lord asks through Samuel: "Does God so delight in sacrifices and holocausts as in obedience to the Will of the Lord?" Then he goes on to say, "Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission than that of the fat of rams." The Lord is making very clear to us that the greatest sacrifice we can offer to Him is obedience.
That is not easy, and, many of us, what we like to do is sit back and think about all the things that we can do for God: "I can fast. I can take on some penances. I can do this and that and the other thing. I can say all these extra prayers and I can do novenas." But yet we do not want to be obedient to the duties of our state in life. We do not want to do the things that we do not like. No matter what our state in life is - whether it is single, married, religious, or priesthood - there are things that we do not like to do so we tend to leave them on the back burner. We hope that somebody else might do them instead of us having to do them. We just let them sit there. But it is amazing that we find time to do the things that we want to do, the things that we like to do. Then we come up with all the other spiritual things that we can do for the Lord.
What the Lord is making clear is that obedience is what we need to be doing. While we certainly need to be following the commandments and living a moral life, and while we need to pray, we need to be careful not to take on extra things if we are not doing what God wants us to do. On the Day of Judgment, if we stand before the Lord and we say to Him, "But look at all the things that I did for you: I fasted and I did penance and I did all of these things!" the Lord [will say], "I never asked you to do those things. But I did ask you to do these things that you didn't do because you didn't like them, because you didn't want to do them." That is what He is going to say to us.
So what we need to do first is to look at obedience, obedience to the Will of God in all things, and ask ourselves before we take on anything extra: "Am I doing the things that the Lord is asking?" Remember what Our Lord said: that when we do everything we have been asked, then we are to say, "We are faithless servants, and we have done nothing more than what we were asked." My suspicion is, at least I can only speak for myself, that most of us probably cannot say that we have done what we were even asked to do. That is what we need to be working at.
The Lord, in the Gospel, tells us that He is doing something new. He is doing something new inside of each one of us. That means we have to change; we cannot be the old person anymore. We have to be the new one, the new person remade in the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. And there is one thing that can be said about Jesus: He was obedient - obedient to His parents when He went back to Nazareth, obedient even to death on the Cross, obedient to the Will of His Father in everything. If we want to be like Jesus in all things, it is all summed up in one simple word: Obedience.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.