The Divine Arsenal - Hide Behind Jesus
Friday August 30, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Corinthians 1:17-25) Gospel (St. Matthew 25:1-13)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord tells us the parable of the wise virgins. And it is not a human wisdom (as Saint Paul makes very clear in the first reading) that we must be about, but rather it is about the wisdom of God. The wisdom of God he tells us about in very interesting terms because he says that the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men, and the weakness of God is stronger than the strength of men. So we need to recognize that the power is in the weakness.
Now, that is not the way we would think in human terms. But if you listen to what Saint Paul is telling us, he is letting us know very clearly that the most powerful things in our arsenal are the Cross, the Blood, and the Name of Jesus Christ - the things that demonstrate most clearly, if you want to think of it this way, the weakness of Christ; the things that showed His mercy and His love for us, but on the human level we would see it as weakness. Here is a man who had to go out and be crucified. "But for those who are being saved," Saint Paul tells us, "this is the wisdom of God." We recognize in the Cross of Christ the means of salvation. We recognize in the Crucifixion that this is the most powerful thing that has ever happened in the history of humanity. Yet if one looks at it in just the human way, it is utter foolishness. Who would ever want to come close to such a thing? Who would ever want to get to know a person who is on a cross? But it is when we let our guard down, when we put our own pride aside and say, "I will not look in merely human ways, but I will look at it in faith." [It is when you] get it out of the head and into the heart that it begins to make sense - not making sense on a merely human level; not that it is illogical, it is perfectly logical - not according to human wisdom, but according to divine wisdom.
We need, then, to learn to see things with spiritual eyes. We need to recognize that we are in a battle that is an immortal battle. It is about souls. It is about one's own soul and that of others. God has given to us the weapons we need to be able to fight this battle. But how many of us even call upon these things? How many of us go into the divine arsenal and pull out all the things we can use? We try instead to use human wisdom to fight a spiritual battle. We try to use something which is natural to fight something which is not natural - and we lose because we are not fighting on a natural level.
So what we need to do when we are being tormented and when we are being attacked by Satan is use the Name of Jesus, use the Blood of Jesus, and use the Cross of Jesus. But instead, how many of us just try to do it ourselves? We think we can fight the devil by ourselves. One would think by now that we would have learned our lesson. When we try to fight the devil by ourselves we usually wind up in the confessional shortly thereafter because we failed once again. If, on the other hand, we simply allow ourselves to be weak and stand behind the Cross then we have nothing to fear. The devil cannot deal with the Cross. He can beat us up but he cannot beat up Jesus. And we are members of Jesus Christ, so why do we fail to call on Him? Why do we fail to hide behind Him? It is because we think that we can be strong all by ourselves and that we can stand out in front of Him. Then we get pummeled. That is human foolishness that we think is wise. God's foolishness, on the other hand, is powerful and it is wise beyond anything we can even begin to comprehend.
To allow ourselves to be immersed in the Blood of Christ, to stand within Jesus, to bury ourselves in His Sacred Heart, to hide behind the Cross, to put on the armor that Saint Paul talks about in his Letter to the Ephesians - all spiritual things that, for natural level people, we shun because it sounds so trite and foolish to us. Therefore, we refuse to accept God's wisdom because we think our human wisdom is more powerful. Having fallen enough times and then trying the other way and seeing that it works, one would hope that we would learn to call on Jesus, to hide behind Jesus, to acknowledge our weakness, and to recognize that the only means to salvation is to humble ourselves, to acknowledge that we are weak, and to allow ourselves to be weak and go before the Lord in our weakness and say, "I cannot do this myself." But we do not like to do that. We like to be in control and we like to think we can do it ourselves. God will let us, if that is what we want to do. And then we fall. The next time we think, "Well, I just have to try it a little differently." Then we try all over again to do it ourselves.
We do need to do it differently - we need to do it God's way and stop trying to do it our way. He has laid out that way for us. And that way is Jesus Christ Crucified; it is the Holy Name of Our Lord; it is the Precious Blood poured out for us on the Cross. We have everything at our disposal if only we are willing to take advantage of it, if we are willing to humble ourselves and enter into what appears to be the weakness and the foolishness of God. It is there that we will find infinite strength and infinite wisdom, irrefutable wisdom. It is all there for us, all there. All we need to do is ask and just simply reach out and open our hearts, allow ourselves to be immersed in the Blood of Christ, to hide behind the Cross, to unite ourselves with Jesus, to be weak, to be humble, and in that way to crush the head of Satan with Our Lady who was right there at the Cross united with her Son.
That is the way to win this battle. But it means we need to put our strength aside. It means we need to put our wisdom aside. And it means that we need to appear to be weak and foolish with Jesus. It is there that we will find the wisdom and the power of God.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.