Thursday June 27, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Kings 24:8-17) Gospel (St. Matthew 7:21-29)
We hear these words that Our Lord speaks to us today: "Not everyone who says, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of Heaven." Then He goes on to give some examples of what people are going to say on the Day of Judgment: "Did we not drive out demons in Your Name? Did we not prophesy in Your Name? Did we not do miraculous deeds in Your Name?" These are people who, on the natural level, we would look at and think that they are some impressive Christian people. These are people who are doing wonderful things in the Name of the Lord - but they are not serving the Lord. All you need to do is turn on the television set and you can see lots of people who, in the Name of the Lord, are doing all sorts of things. But what it is really all about is raising money and trying to get more for themselves. They are using the Lord for personal gain. That is not what we have to be about.
Each one of us needs to be about truly seeking the Will of God and glorifying Him rather than using Him to glorify ourselves. If what we want is to be able to call on the Name of the Lord in order for something to happen so that people will think we are pretty wonderful, we are on the wrong track. We are not doing God's Will if that is the case; but rather, it is self-seeking. Each one of us is called to love and serve the Lord with our whole heart and soul and strength, not to use the Lord, to love the Lord. That is a huge difference.
We need also to keep in mind the circumstances in which we live today because there are many people in the Church who call out, "Lord, Lord," and they are not willing to serve Him either. They do not want anything to do with serving the Lord. If they are priests and bishops, they might get up and say Mass. If they are laypeople, they may be out doing all kinds of work in the Church, but it is not to serve the Lord and it is not to build up the Church; it is for their own selfish gain.
And do not think for a minute that the Lord is not going to allow His Church to be devastated because of the sinfulness of the people within it. Look at what happened in the first reading. The temple that Solomon had built, the glorious place that God Himself came and dwelt in and filled with the dark cloud so that the priests could not even minister there because of the presence of the Lord, God allowed it to be destroyed because of the infidelity of the people. One can look at all the various places where the Church was so strong centuries ago. Look at Ephesus, where Saint John was the bishop and Our Lady lived. You can hardly find a Christian anywhere near the place now; it is entirely Moslem. Look at Northern Africa where the Church thrived and where the saint that we celebrate today lived [Saint Cyril of Alexandria] and Saint Augustine and Saint Athanasius and these great, great saints of the early days. You cannot find a Christian there at all. The Church has been destroyed because of the sins of the people. Do not think it is going to be any different.
The Lord has built His Church on solid rock because He is the Rock. Satan will not destroy the Church of Jesus Christ. The problem is that there are many of us who have built our faith on sand and not on rock. We call on the Lord for our own purposes, but not for Him. He will allow that to be destroyed because we are doing what appears to be the right thing, but we are doing it for the wrong reason. We need to be doing the right thing for the right reason. And we need to make sure that our house - our house of faith - is built solidly on rock. The only rock is Jesus Christ. If that house is built on anything other than Jesus Christ, when the rains and the floods and the winds come, the house is going to fall because it was all about the self; it was made out of straw and it was built on sand and it will all collapse.
But if our house is built on the rock of Jesus Christ, it does not matter what goes on around us; that house is going to stand because our faith will be firm and we will not be moved no matter what happens. Then we can call out, "Lord, Lord," and we will be heard and our prayer will be answered. Then, on the Day of Judgment, we know we will have a merciful judgment because we will not hear the words: "I solemnly tell you, I do not know who you are." We will be His; we will be in His Sacred Heart; we will be recognized as His children. We will be recognized as persons who did the Will of God, who maybe did mighty deeds, but we did them with the right intent: It was done out of love of God and love of neighbor and not for any kind of selfish gain. That is what our lives must be about: building that house, which is prayer, fasting, good works of mercy, and seeking to know and do the Will of God in all things. Then, let the rains come, let the winds blow, let the floods come, let whatever might happen - it does not matter - because our house will be built firmly on the rock and it will not collapse.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.