Friday March 22, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fifth Week of Lent
Reading (Jeremiah 20:10-13) Gospel (St. John 10:31-42)
In the first reading today, from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah, we hear that there are people who wanted to kill Jeremiah; they wanted to capture him and put him to death. Jeremiah is praying, then, to the Lord, and I think the part that is most important in this prayer is what comes at the very end. Jeremiah simply says, "Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for He has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked!" In the midst of the fact of knowing that there were people who were denouncing him, who wanted to kill him, Jeremiah is praising the Lord because he was trusting in the Lord. And that is something that all of us need to learn.
We will find the exact same pattern if we read Psalm 22. Psalm 22 is the psalm that Jesus began on the Cross: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? It starts out by explaining all of the horrible things that are happening, and then turns around and praises the Lord. That is precisely the point each one of us needs to learn: that in all things that occur in our lives, we must see Godís Will in it because God will bring good out of it; He will help us to grow in holiness; He will bring about the conversion of others; and His Will will be done. Even in things that, on the natural level, look so awful, God will bring great good out of it for us and even for the people who are causing us the difficulty.
That is a hard lesson for us to learn. We like the part of Jeremiahís prayer that says: "Let me witness the vengeance You take upon them." But what we need is the other part that says, "To You I have entrusted my cause; sing praise to the Lord!" That is exactly what Our Lord did. It is what the prophets did. It is what the apostles did. Remember that all the apostles tell us to rejoice in our sufferings, to be glad when we share in the sufferings of the Lord, and things like that. For most of us, when things do not go our way, we complain and we go to God and ask Him why He is doing this to us and what it is that we have done wrong and whatever it is that we ask. Instead, we need to change the attitude and we need simply to say, "Praise the Lord." We need to learn how to do what Jesus did.
Look at a crucifix and you will see the most hideous thing that human beings have ever done: We put God to death. Yet we also find in that act the greatest reason to praise the Lord. So the worst thing that has ever happened is cause to praise the Lord. In the Easter Vigil next week, we will hear the words in the Exaltet: O happy fault! O necessary sin of Adam through which we have received such a Redeemer! Again, look at Original Sin and the Church calls it a "happy fault" and a "necessary sin" and praises the Lord because out of the horrible thing of Original Sin we have received Jesus Christ.
And so when we look at the things that happen in our own lives, we need to see the pattern of how God works. We need to simply do as Jeremiah did: entrust our cause to the Lord, remain at peace, and praise the Lord in all things and at all times.
* This homily text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.