Wednesday January 23, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51) Gospel (St. Mark 3:1-6)
In the two readings today we again see a similar set of circumstances. We have, in the first reading, the Philistine, the giant who comes against David with his sword and his spear to try to destroy David, and mocks him and mocks the Lord. David simply says, "You come against me with sword and spear and scimitar; I come against you in the Name of the Lord of Hosts." And it is God who delivers him. He says, "Today, everyone will know that Israel has a God and that He does not deliver us by the sword, but rather, by other means."
In the Gospel reading, we hear Jesus going into the synagogue, and there in the synagogue He tells the man to stretch out his hand. At the same time, we are told, the Pharisees are looking for a way to be able to destroy Him. Then they go off and they begin to plot with the Herodians, who would naturally be their enemies, to be able to find a way to kill the Lord. They, again, look on the natural level; Jesus is looking at God. He is allowing the Lord to be able to do the work, whereas the people who claim to be doing the Lord's work are looking at the natural level.
It is something, then, that in the first reading we can understand and say, "Well, this Philistine is a pagan so, of course, he is going to just simply rely on natural-level things and on his own strength and try to do things by himself, whereas David is just a youth so he is going to rely on the Lord." But we see the absolute confidence that David had. There was no doubt in his mind what God was going to do: "The Lord, who has delivered me from the lion and the bear, will also deliver me from your clutches," he says. He trusted completely in God. But when we look at the Gospel reading, we see that the Pharisees, who were religious people, did not trust in the Lord but were going to trust in their own means, in their own machinations, to try to deal with things on the natural level. It was there that they got themselves into trouble.
Then we just need to ask ourselves, we who come to Mass everyday, we who pray and believe in the Lord: Do we trust Him? Do we have that absolute confidence that David had? Would we, as small people in and of ourselves, go up against a giant? Would we be willing to say, "I'm not worried; the Lord has set me free from everything else, and He is going to free me from this one as well"? Or would we try to make sure that everything is lined up on the natural level so that we can decide whether or not we are going to be victorious? We need to learn to trust in the Lord. We need to learn that the Lord does not deliver us merely according to the things on the natural order, but rather, the Lord delivers us in supernatural ways. He delivers us in ways that we would not expect.
David had to do his part; Our Lord certainly did His part; we will have to do ours. But it is to do it according to the Will of God, not the way that we necessarily would think it ought to be done on the natural level, but to allow God to lead, to allow Him to show us what needs to be done, and then to trust - absolutely and unswervingly, to have that confidence in God that He will deliver us from the hands of the enemy. And it is not so much even about the enemies in this world; it is about the enemy who we have no power over by ourselves, and that is Satan. The Lord will deliver us from the clutches of Satan, but only if we do it His [God's] way because by ourselves we are powerless against him [Satan]. But if we come against him in the Name of Jesus Christ, in the Name of the Lord of Hosts, we have all the authority in the world, and Satan has no power over Him. That is the Christian way; that is the only way. So we need to learn that. We need to try to put ourselves aside, to put aside the natural order and do things in a spiritual way and trust totally in God.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.