Thursday September 5, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Corinthians 3:18-23) Gospel (St. Luke 5:1-11)
In the first reading today, Saint Paul says to us, "If anyone considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool, so as to become wise." Now that is not the kind of thing that any of us like to hear, that is, to put aside all of your self-made wisdom, all of the wisdom of this world - all the pride, all the arrogance, all the things that focus on the self - to be able to be a fool in the eyes of the world. Yet we see exactly what he is talking about in the Gospel reading. Jesus says to Peter, "Put out into the deep." Peter said, "Lord, we've been at it all night! But if You say so I will do it." And so with all of the wisdom that Peter, James, and John had accumulated over the years of fishing, that particular night they had caught nothing. But when Jesus told them to put out into the deep, something that would look totally foolish - you have thousands of people standing along the shore watching you as you are about to lower your net to catch nothing, because you have not caught anything all night - [Peter says], "But if You say so, I will do it."
Our Holy Father is asking us to do the exact same thing. That has become one of the major themes in the last couple of years: Duc in Altum - "Put out into the deep," as he says. He asking us to go deeply into Christ, to enter into the depths of our hearts in prayer, to really enter into the depths of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to be able to go out - not on our own, not with our own wisdom, not in our own way - but with the wisdom of Christ, which is foolishness in the eyes of the world. Yet, it is salvation for those who recognize it. And if we will let go of our own worldly ideas, of our own sense of wisdom, it is then that we will find the simple wisdom of Christ.
And when we find that simple wisdom, we can walk in freedom. We are no longer bogged down by having to try to figure out what we ought to do and trying to stay a step or two or three in front of everybody else so that we can beat them at their own game or whatever it might be. We just leave that in the Lord's hands, and then we trust that His Holy Spirit is going to provide and He will give us what we need when we need it. We can maintain our focus on the Lord rather than on ourselves.
That is exactly, again, what Saint Paul tells us. He says that Scripture tells us, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain." Not only that they are foolishness in the sense of vanity, but that they are also focused on the self in the sense of vanity. And so we note that most human wisdom is not for the good of others, but it is selfish. The Lord's wisdom, however, is very different; it is focused where it belongs, not on the self.
We need to make sure that we are willing to listen to the Lord like Peter did, even to the point of saying, "It doesn't make sense to me, but I'll do it if this is what You want me to do." And trust, because it is the Lord who has spoken. Those words of Saint Paul need to be etched very deeply into our minds and our hearts, and they are not words that we want to hear. Anyone who considers himself wise in this age had better become a fool so as to be truly wise with the wisdom of God. The only way we are going to be able to have that wisdom of God is if we let go of what we have considered wisdom so that we can take on true wisdom. That is an uncomfortable thing, but that is the only way.
So ask the Lord to do that. On one level, we can co-operate but it is not going to be easy for us. So ask the Lord to take away any kind of vanity, any kind of selfishness, any kind of worldly or false wisdom, and ask Him to replace it with His own. That is the best way to do it. The Lord will answer if we really want it. And then, as He strips away from us all of that selfishness and vanity, He is going to ask us to do what He asked Peter to do: to put out into the deep, to put out into the depths of the Sacred Heart, and there to find true wisdom that will bring us to salvation.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.