Friday October 4, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Job 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5) Gospel (St. Luke 10:13-16)
In the Gospel reading this morning, Our Lord tells us that whoever listens to you, listens to Him; and whoever listens to Him, listens to the One who sent Him; but whoever rejects Him, rejects the One who sent Him. Now the importance is that when we put this into the context we would have to say that the people of Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum listened to the word of the Lord. They liked to see all of the extraordinary things the Lord did. They wanted to bring their people to be healed. They wanted to bring their demoniacs to Him to be exorcised. But they did not want to change their lives. They saw all the miracles that happened, they heard the Word of God and listened to it, but they rejected it. Not rejected it in the sense of saying, "I refuse to listen. I don't believe it," but rejecting it in the sense of saying, "I'm not going to pay any attention to it. I'm not going to change my life so that it reflects what God wants." That is where the problem comes in because Our Lord told them that if the works that had been worked in them had been worked in Tyre and Sidon, those people would have converted, they would have turned their lives around. Therefore, He says, it will be more tolerable on the Day of Judgment for Tyre and Sidon than those cities where He had done these works because they had seen, they had heard, and they refused to change.
But what do we have to say about ourselves, if that is the case? How much have we seen and heard? How much do we know of the Lord? How much have we changed our lives to become like Him? None of us, obviously, has rejected His word or we would not be here. We are not refusing to listen; most often, we are refusing to act - and that is where we get ourselves into trouble.
What we need to do is learn from Job in this situation - Job, who tried to lecture the Lord, as so often most of us probably have tried to do. And not just once or twice either, like Job said, "I have spoken once, but I will do so no more; twice, but that is enough." Well, would that we could say that we have only lipped off to God twice! But we cannot say that. But we need to be able to look at what Job said before that: I am of little account; how can I answer You? What are we before God? We are less than a speck of dust. Yet He has given to us a dignity that is beyond anything else in the universe. He has made us in His own image and likeness. He has called us to holiness. He has called us to union with Himself and given to us the promise of eternal life. Are we listening to Him? Are we trying to become the persons that He created us to be? Or are we content just to sit in our mediocrity and wallow in the mire because we really do not want to change, because we really do not want to clean up our act, because it is more convenient to do it this other way or it is more like everybody else? After all, if we change to become like Jesus, people would think we were strange and they would not want to hang around us anymore; and so we refuse to listen to Him. That is, we refuse to act on His word.
In so doing, He makes it clear that that is a rejection. Not an outright rejection saying, "I refuse to listen," but rather a rejection saying, "I know the word of God and I refuse to act upon it." He told us that not those who cry out, "Lord, Lord!" will enter the kingdom of Heaven but only the one who does the Will of our Father in Heaven. And Saint James says, "If all you do is listen to the word and do not act upon it, you are like a person who looks into the mirror and then immediately forgets what he looks like," because this is the mirror by which we are to be judging ourselves. This is the standard, and if we are not becoming like the image that is presented to us, we are rejecting it. If we reject Him, we reject the One who sent Him. And if we reject the One who sent Him, we are not doing the Will of God and we will not have a place in Heaven. So it is not just a matter of looking at it and saying, "Well, what is the most convenient thing to do here?" We need to look beyond here and we need to think about where we want to be for eternity. We need to think about the ramifications of our choices. We do not want to reject Him; we do not want to reject our heavenly Father. And so, if we are going to listen to the word, if we are going to accept His word, it means not just listening with our ears but with our hearts, taking in His word, changing our lives, and becoming like Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.