Thursday January 31, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Samuel 7:18-19, 24-29) Gospel (St. Mark 4:21-25)
In the first reading, we see that question that probably rings in the hearts of all of us: "Who am I, Lord, that You should make this promise? Who am I, and who are my descendants?" That is the great question. It has not anything to do with us; it has to do with God. God simply loves us, and He has chosen us to be His children. We need always to keep in mind that it was not because we were the best; it was not because we were the brightest; it was not because He could not find anyone on the face of the earth better than us, therefore - because we would be the finest example to the whole world - He picked us. Wrong. I think we all know better than that. It was in order to demonstrate to the world and, of course, it was in order to thwart the working of the devil that He picked the weakest, that He picked the least, that He picked "those who counted for nothing", as Saint Paul said, in order to make them something. He has chosen the ones that the world despises and He has exalted them.
So we look at God and we say, "Who am I? Why have You made me Your own son or daughter? Why have You made all of these promises to me? Why have You given to me the promise of an inheritance of eternal life in Heaven? Why have You given me Your grace? Why have You given me the sacraments?" All these questions we can ask, but all that we can say is: "Lord, You have done it. Now fulfill the promise to Your servant." That is what David could say. He simply had to accept the promise that God had made and say, "I accept. Please fulfill it." That is what God wants from us. We are not going to come up with an explanation as to why so do not even ask the question; just simply accept.
And it needs to be a wholehearted acceptance because the Lord tells us in the Gospel reading that a lamp is not lit in order to be put under a bushel basket, but it is lit so that it can be put out where everyone can see it. God has chosen you and He has made you a light. He has brought you to this point so that you will be able to allow the light of Christ to shine through you to others. If you choose to cover it up, then you are telling the Lord: "I do not accept. I know that this is what You have promised, but I don't believe it. I know this is what You have done for me, but I refuse. I'd rather stay covered under the bushel basket than to be shining brightly because I personally can't accept what it is that You are doing in me." That is to push the Lord away.
We need to be able to accept it because the Lord says to us that if this is the way we are going to do it then "to those who have little, the little they have is going to be taken away." If you put your flame under the bushel basket, it is going to go out. But if you put your flame up where it is going to be seen, it is going to grow brighter and brighter and brighter. That is what the Lord wants for each one of us: to become the very fire of God Himself, to become the love of God. That is why the Lord connects to this the statement that "the measure that you give will be used to measure back to you, and more besides". If you let your light shine brightly - you give and give and give so that it shines brightly - you are going to be given more so you will shine even more brightly. But if you decide that you do not want to shine, the Lord will blow the fire out; He will allow it to be extinguished.
We need to make sure that we are doing our part. And our part begins with a simple act of acceptance: the acceptance of what God has done in each one of us in baptizing us and in fulfilling the promises that He has made, and with the promise that He will fulfill all the rest of them. All we need to do is accept and then act upon it: to let our light shine so that all will see.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.