Prepare to Meet Your God
Tuesday July 2, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Amos 3:1-8, 4:11-12) Gospel (St. Matthew 8:23-27)
In the first reading today, the Lord says through the mouth of the prophet Amos that above all the peoples on the face of the earth He has favored the house of Israel, He has brought them up out of Egypt, and He has given them all of His favor. Yet the people of Israel turned their back on the Lord. And so the Lord says, "You alone I have favored, more than all the families of the earth, therefore, I will punish you for all your crimes," and then goes through that whole list of questions to be able to say, "This cannot happen unless there was an agreement. All of these things had to have occurred only because you chose it, because the things were all in place. It did not just happen to you; you chose to do it." Then the Lord says about the people of Israel that when He "brought upon the land of Egypt such upheaval as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah: you were like a brand plucked from the fire; yet you returned not to Me." Again, the Lord showing all the favor that He had shown and yet the people refused to turn to the Lord. So He says, "I will deal with you in My own way… Israel, prepare to meet your God."
Now each one of us needs to think about these things because in all the upheaval, in all the mess that is out in the world, for whatever reason, God in His mercy has chosen each one of us, has plucked each one of us like a brand out of the fire. We need to ask ourselves, "Have we turned to Him?" He picked us and He has favored us more than all the families on the face of the earth. He has given us the fullness of His truth; He has given us His sacraments; He has given us His Son. More than anyone on the face of the earth, we, as Catholics, ought to know what that means. We should know who He is and we should worship Him and love Him more than anyone on the face of the earth because God has favored us more than anyone. So we need to ask ourselves, "How have we responded?"
That whole list of questions that is there in Amos is true for each one of us. Have we turned to the Lord? Have we worshiped Him the way that we ought? Have we lived our lives for Him the way that we ought? Or are we like the disciples in the boat where, because the Lord is silent, we begin to panic because the waves rise around us and we think we are going to die; therefore, we take our eyes off the Lord and we put them on ourselves? We do not trust Him so we think we have to do it our own way. And we have proven to ourselves by this point in our lives - probably thousands of times - that doing it our way just does not work. But for some ridiculous reason, we keep trying to make it work. When are we going to learn that a round peg does not fit in a square hole? Our way does not work - God's way does. If we just simply trust Him and let Him do it His way and follow Him and try to do His Will, everything is going to work just fine. If we try to do it our way then the Lord is going to look at us and say, "I alone have favored you above all the families of the earth and now for your crimes I will punish you," because you did not do it His way. He plucked you like a brand out of the fire, "but you have not returned to Me," says the Lord. Those are not words that we want to hear.
"Prepare, O Israel, to meet your God." That is what the people of this world need to be doing right now: preparing for the Day of the Lord. But they have no clue. We, too, need to be preparing for the Day of the Lord, but not like a worldly person, not running around trying to gather everything in the barn so that we have enough when it all happens, but preparing ourselves by making sure that our focus is correct, that we are looking at Jesus Christ and we are seeking to do His Will. That is all that matters - nothing else. The Lord is in the boat. It does not matter if He is asleep or awake; He is there and the boat is not going to sink. All we need to do is trust Him. And it does not matter how big the waves get because we are right there with the Lord, and He is right there with us. The only question is are we going to do it our way and abandon ship because we think He has abandoned us by falling asleep?
We need to face these things and we need to ask ourselves, "Am I living the way that I'm supposed to? If the Lord were to call me right now, would that be a happy day for me? Or would it be a day of terror? Am I ready if the Lord were to bring me home? To look at Him face to face and have that confidence that my judgment would be merciful?" Those are the things we need to be looking at because the Day of the Lord is at hand. "Prepare, O Israel, to meet your God."
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.