Monday June 10, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Kings 17:1-6) Gospel (St. Matthew 5:1-12)
In the Gospel reading we hear the Beatitudes which, over and over again, the saints have told us are the statements that encapsulate the Christian life. If we want to be able to see how the life is to be lived, all we need to do is look at these eight statements and follow them. That is not an easy thing to be able to do. They are the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount, and so the Lord then goes on for the next three chapters of Saint Matthew’s Gospel to tell us what Christian life is to be. It is the clearest moral teaching that Our Lord has given to us. What it all comes down to is exactly what we keep saying: It is to be conformed to Jesus Christ. He is the One who lived all of these things completely, and so it is to put ourselves totally in the Lord’s hands.
We see in the first reading some of what that will look like. We have Elijah, and God is telling Elijah that he is to go to the Wadi Cherith and there, because of the drought that is going to be on the land, He will take care of him. He is going to drink from the stream and the ravens will feed him. Now anybody who knows anything about ravens knows that the last thing a raven is going to do is bring somebody food because all they are interested in is getting what you have. So you see how God works. He takes what would be the obvious and He turns it completely the other way.
It is the same thing when we look at these eight beatitudes. They would be just the opposite of what one would just naturally think from a worldly perspective. They are not the way that worldly people are going to think. Think of the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for holiness, the merciful, the clean of heart, the peacemakers – of some of those sorts of things people would say, "Well, yes, that’s good. Somebody who’s a peacemaker, that’s a good thing." But the worldly types are not going to say that the rest of these are good things to be striving for; they are just exactly the opposite of what one would expect.
But that is the pattern that God has shown. He wants us to trust Him completely, even when on a natural level it would appear that it does not make any sense at all. It does not matter if it makes sense to us or not. All that matters is that we are obedient to the Will of God and that we are trusting Him and doing what He is asking us to do. He has laid out for us in a handful of little statements very briefly what our life is to be, and we need to trust Him. These are solemn teachings of the Lord. Remember that Saint Matthew makes very clear here that He sat down, which for a rabbi means that he is now going to teach authoritatively. When he sits down it means that all else stops and you listen specifically to what he is going to say - this is no longer his opinion; this is not just a discussion; this is authoritative teaching. So not only is it coming from a rabbi who is sitting down and speaking with authority, these things are coming from the mouth of the Son of God and they have authority. They are for us what the Christian life is to be and these are the things we are to strive for.
Even though on a worldly level they make no sense at all for most of us, we cannot look at it on a worldly level. We need to look at the life on a spiritual level and conform ourselves to Jesus Christ. That makes perfect sense and we all understand that. But what exactly does it mean to be conformed to Jesus Christ? It means to live the life - and that is what we have laid out for us in the Beatitudes - and to give ourselves totally to the Lord, to trust Him, to be obedient to Him, and to know then that all the blessings He has offered He will do if we are willing to do what He has done, even if it does not seem to make sense or be logical on the natural level. All we need to do is trust and be obedient and live the life.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.