Monday July 1, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Amos 2:6-10, 13-16) Gospel (St. Matthew 8:18-22)
Our Lord makes very clear to us what the cost of following Him is going to be today. When somebody says, "I will follow You wherever You go," the Lord makes very clear that He Himself has nowhere to lay His head: "Even though the foxes have lairs and the birds have nests, the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." In other words, there is not going to be a lot of rest and it is not going to be a comfortable thing if you are going to follow the Lord. He had no place that He would be able to call His own. He stayed, actually, in the house of Saint Peter when He was in Capernaum. Then they traveled and He stayed in caves or in open areas. When we think about the way Our Lord Himself lived, and then He calls us to follow Him, it is a call to follow Him in a radical way. He could have said to this individual, "That would be a great thing. Why don't you just stay in your hometown, continue to live in your nice house, and then just do My work." But He made very clear that there was going to be a cost. It was not just a cost of following Him around the countryside; it was a cost of dying to the self, of giving up the things that we like. That is not an easy thing for any of us.
Then we look at the first reading and we see what Our Lord says: "For three crimes of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke My covenant." He goes on to talk about what the Israelites have been doing and it is for this reason, He says, that He is going to crush them. When we have it rather easy, it is also very easy to get selfish, to get self-centered, and to forget that we are called to serve the Lord. We will give Our Lord lip service but our actions demonstrate otherwise. And it is usually because we want to take care of the self, that we want to make sure we have got what we want, that we do not lose the little bit that we think we have, that we add to our storehouse, or whatever it might be - but it is all about the self. Because of that, we are even willing to sin sometimes in order to get something more or so that we do not lose what we have. That is exactly what the people of Israel did. They gave lip service to God but they did not live the covenant. That is the problem for many of us as well. We know what the truth is but we like the ease and the comfort of the way we live a whole lot more than we like what is going to be required to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Consequently, we are willing to violate the covenant of the Lord in order to make sure we have what we want.
We need to look very, very seriously at this because otherwise we become the dead who bury the dead and we are not the living following Jesus Christ. We are not counted among the living who are united with Christ and sharing His life because we reject Him and walk away from Him; we do what we want and we walk the way we want to walk. Again, it is not a matter of having to follow Him around the countryside, but it is a matter of being willing to take up the Cross. It is a matter of being willing to die to self and to do His Will, no matter what it is. To be able to save ourselves, we have no place to lay our heads because we are not the ones in control. We will do whatever God wants, we will be where He puts us, and we will go where He tells us. That may not always be real comfortable but we will be guaranteed that we will be counted among the living. That is what the Lord wants for each of us, but He makes clear that it is going to come with a cost. Are we willing to do what it requires to follow Him wherever He goes?
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.