Monday January 28, 2002 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Samuel 5:1-7, 10) Gospel (St. Mark 3:22-30)
In the readings today, we see two contrary ideas. One, the idea that Satan is divided against himself. Our Lord tells us that any kingdom which is torn by dissension is going to fall and that if Satan has suffered mutiny in his ranks he is not going to be able to survive. I think, by extension, we could say the same thing about our own selves. In the Church, if there is dissension, if we are torn among our own selves, we are not going to be able to survive. Now the difference, of course, is that the Church is Jesus Christ and the Lord is not going to go away. But the fact is we cannot be divided.
That is what we see in the first reading today. We see David (who, at this time, was the king of Judah) and all the people with the elders of Israel (the northern part of the kingdom) coming to ask him to be the king over Israel, as well. For the first time, the people had one king over both kingdoms. It did not last very long; [it was] only for a couple of generations, actually, that they remained as a united kingdom. But there was a promise that was made by God that there would be one shepherd and one flock. That is precisely what we see in Jesus: He is the Shepherd over all of Israel. We are the New Israel. We are to be one kingdom, and He is our King. And if we have one King then we need to follow Him. If we have different loyalties then we are not following our one King. And so, one cannot claim to have faith in Jesus Christ, one cannot claim that Jesus is King and Lord and then not follow Him. It is just that simple. We have to be able to understand that clearly. If we claim that Jesus is King and Lord, we have an obligation to be obedient. If we understand that He is Lord then that means we are His servants and we have to follow Him.
That is, again, what we hear about David: They made him king and they followed him. They were united with him, and that is precisely what we have to do as well. Jesus Christ is King of kings and He is Lord of lords, and we are united with Him. The wonderful thing is that to say we are His servants, or that we are the vassals and He is the King, is not for us any kind of put-down - it does not violate our dignity in any way - but with Our Lord, it lifts us up and it fulfills our dignity. And so, if we will humble ourselves to be willing to be obedient to Him, to follow Him, to be united with Him and with all who are united as members of His kingdom, then we are going to fulfill the purpose for which we are created. We will be built up in our dignity. We will receive the fullness of God's grace. And we will live in the freedom of the children of God. That is what the Lord wants for each one of us.
His kingdom is within us, and if the kingdom is divided we are going to fall. The kingdom cannot be divided by dissension. We cannot, within ourselves, say that we follow Jesus Christ and then reject Him and follow other ways; it is going to destroy us. We are members of Jesus Christ, and it violates our own dignity, it violates our own being, if we try to say that we are members of Christ and then refuse to follow Him. Therefore, if we are going to live according to our Christian dignity, it means, once again, to uphold everything of the Person of Jesus Christ because that is who we are: members of the Person of Christ. We must be very clear about that. The kingdom of God is within, and if we are not following Him fully we are divided within ourselves - dissension is within. The Lord wants one kingdom, one Shepherd, and one flock. And that is on two levels. It means He wants the whole Church to be one, not to be divided up. But within us individually, we need to be one. That is where it has to begin: each individual united to Christ and following Him. And if each individual is seeking union with Christ, then the whole of the Mystical Body will be in union with Christ. Then there will be but one Shepherd and one flock.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.