Wednesday September 25, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Proverbs 30:5-9) Gospel (St. Luke 9:1-6)
In the first reading, we hear that prayer asking God of only two things, and that was to put falsehood and lying far away and to provide him only with what he needs: Give neither poverty nor riches, but provide me only with the food I need. Now this is the way that God had worked with His people. Out in the desert, for instance, He told them that they were only to take one day's worth of manna. If anybody were to take more, what they found out was that they did not have too much; and the one who did not take enough wound up having just enough, so it all worked out anyway. But if they tried to take too much then they would be in trouble. When they took the quail, those who took too much of it wound up dying because they were disobedient to the Lord. He taught His people that they were only supposed to take what they needed.
The Lord, when he taught us how to pray, told us to ask only for the daily bread, what we need for today. That is the way He wants us to be: to be reliant on Him, to be trusting in Him. From Proverbs, we hear: Lest I deny You, saying, "Who is the Lord?" If we look at people with huge bank accounts, they trust in their money - they do not trust in the Lord. They trust in the fact that they have plenty to be able to make it from day to day and from year to year; they will have everything smooth sailing and it is no big problem. At the same time, he says: If I am in want, I might steal and profane the Name of the Lord, because, once again, we do not trust in the Lord, but rather, we take matters into our own hands and we do things that are wrong. So on either extreme it winds up being that we might do things wrong. It is very possible for somebody who is extremely poor to trust in the Lord; it is also possible for someone who is wealthy to trust in the Lord. But there is a far greater chance, Proverbs is making clear, that if we are at either extreme we run a greater risk of denying the Lord, or of doing things that are wrong.
In the Gospel reading, as Our Lord sent His disciples out to preach the Gospel, He told them that they were to take neither walking stick nor sack nor food nor money nor even a second tunic; they were just to have the clothes on their back, and that was all. They needed to learn to trust in God. As they went out and preached and proclaimed the Good News and cured diseases then they suddenly realized that their trust was being rewarded, that they were seeing the fruit of their faith. That is, if they could trust that God was going to take care of their needs, they could trust also that what Our Lord had promised they would be able to do in curing diseases and casting out demons was also going to come to fruition - and it did. But that happened only because they had the faith that it would happen. It was Our Lord's power, but they still had to have the faith that He would do what He promised them He would do. And so they went out in total trust, taking nothing with them, and trusting that the Lord would provide for them. When they saw that He provided for their daily needs then they could have confidence that He would provide in the way that He promised, that they would have authority over demons, that they would be able to cure diseases. It was because of that faith, that trust, that confidence that they had in Christ, that they were able to do these things.
And so, the Lord is telling us that we also need that moderation, to have what we need - we do not need a whole lot more than that - and to trust Him. He has made many, many promises to us, many wonderful promises, but most of us really do not trust. We do not really have the faith in God because we have all kinds of other things that we can trust in, and so we do not put our trust in the Lord. That is something we really need to look at pretty carefully in our own lives. How much do we really trust the Lord in what He has promised us, in the things that we know He will do? We acknowledge in our head that He can do anything He wants, but when it comes right down to it we really do not believe that He is going to do it.
The Scriptures today are calling us to look at our own lives and ask ourselves, "How much do we really trust the Lord?" If He sent us out saying, "Go out with absolutely nothing but the clothes on your back," would we trust that He would provide for us? Do we really think that we would say "yes" to that? If He told us to have nothing more than what we need just for today, would we trust that He will provide for what we need tomorrow and the next day, when tomorrow and the next day arrive? Those are hard questions. It is easy for us to trust when we have got a year's worth in the bank, or even a month's worth in the bank, but it is not so easy when we have just what we need for today because that means we have to trust today, we have to trust tomorrow, we have to trust the next day, and so on. That is where we have to put our faith into action, and that is exactly what Our Lord wants. It is not enough to acknowledge that He can do whatever He wants, we need to take that faith we have in our heads and we need to put it into action in the practical day-to-day life that we live for the Lord.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.