Thursday March 7, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week of Lent
Reading (Jeremiah 7:23-28) Gospel (St. Luke 11:14-23)
The words which God spoke to the people of Israel through the prophet Jeremiah are "This is a people that does not hear the voice of the Lord its God." He told the people that if they would listen to His voice and obey then He would be their God and they would be His people. That only makes sense. If we are going to say, "He is God; He is my God," then if He is my God, obviously, I want to serve Him, I want to obey Him. But the sad thing is that, because there is only one God, so many just sort of ignore Him; otherwise, they find some other evil thing that they want to try to serve, and they ignore the voice of the Lord.
But we need to look at this again for our own selves - not to worry about how many people do not serve Him at all, but rather [to see] how often we refuse to listen to the voice of God. We have heard His voice so many times spoken through the Scriptures, spoken through His Church, and still we decide that we are not going to listen to His voice, either because it is inconvenient or we do not feel like changing or we do not like what He has to say or whatever other reason we might have.
We become just like these people in the Gospel reading that are skeptical of anything that is going to happen in the Name of God. They will have any other reason [to explain] why this would be happening other than to acknowledge that this is the finger of God, this is the Lord at work. And so, when we hear that the people refused to heed His voice, then we look at the Gospel and we see it is by the voice of Jesus Christ, Who is God - it is by the Divine Word Himself - that these spirits are cast out. Yet they refused to believe and instead they say, "It is by Beelzebul, the prince of the devils, that this man casts out devils." For anything that happens, they find some other reason.
Just think about our society today. For anything that happens, we come up with some other excuse. There can be natural phenomena, there can be spiritual things, there can be extraordinary events in the world, and yet we try to find some kind of scientific way of explaining our way around it - as if God cannot use scientific things to be able to do His work. And when science cannot explain it, then all we do is say, "It's unexplainable." And we leave it at that and we walk away. The sad thing is that the only thing left to God in this society is when something tragic happens. Insurance companies, when there are floods or things like that, call those "acts of God"- the very people who refuse to believe in Him, but that way they do not have to pay money. That is the only thing we are interested in.
It is about time we start looking at God and forget about the rest of it. It is perfectly fine for science to look at things and try to explain things. But the fact that they can explain it does not mean that God is not part of it. Just like we can explain the things that you or I will do, that does not mean that you or I did not do them just because they can be explained. We need to start paying attention. We need to see that God is in control of everything, that God is part of everything.
And we, as Catholic people, need to start listening to His voice: listening to His voice in the events that happen, listening to His voice spoken through our Holy Father, listening to His voice spoken through the Magisterium of the Church, and especially listening to His voice spoken in the Scriptures. We need to heed His voice. We claim that He is our God and that we are His people. If that is true, we need to seek Him, we need to listen to Him, and we need above all to obey Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.