Monday October 7, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Galatians 1:6-12) Gospel (St. Luke 10:25-37)
When we look at the readings today, we see this example of the Good Samaritan, as he is called, who is neighbor to the man who was victimized. Yet what we recognize in this is merely a matter of what Jesus has taught us elsewhere: that we are to love our enemies, that we are to pray for our persecutors. Recall that the Samaritans were part Jewish blood and part pagan, so the Jews did not recognize them at all as being Jewish. They were rejected and considered the enemy. And yet here is someone who is considered an enemy, who is, in fact, the one who practices the charity. The priest did not do it; the Levite did not do it - not just the ordinary Jewish people, but the ones who were chosen by God as his own. Remember, the Levites did not get a part of the land because they were to be the priests among the people and they were supposed to make the people holy. So here were the "holy ones" who did not do what they were supposed to do in helping one of their own, but instead, passed him by. But someone who was rejected and thought an enemy, on the other hand, is the one who did what he should have.
For ourselves, too, we need to consider the same thing. It is exactly what Saint Paul told us, that we simply need to believe the Gospel. He was horrified that his Galatian converts were going over to what he called a "different gospel." "But," he says, "there is no other." The Gospel is very simple: Love God and love your neighbor. We have heard it thousands and thousands of times; still, we have a problem with trying to do it.
Now it is difficult sometimes to figure out what exactly it means to love somebody, but we see it in the Gospel reading. It is to treat them with charity. It is to do what is best for them. It is to put the self out; it is self-sacrificing; it is serving; it is giving. These are the things we have to be about.
At the same time, when we couple that with the feast we are celebrating today, one could wonder how this works, because we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary which was instituted because of the victory of the Battle of Lepanto. At the point where the Moslems would have literally taken over Europe had they won that battle, the Christian forces instead won the battle. It was because the Holy Father had asked all the Catholic people to pray the rosary, and it was miraculous that they won because they were outnumbered vastly. The Holy Father recognized this was through the intercession of Our Lady that this victory had come, and so this feast was instituted. Now that does not look a whole lot like loving one's neighbor: rejoicing in a victory, defeating somebody. It is not reaching out and picking them up because they were lying on the side of the road. But these were the very people who were trying to destroy the Gospel and, out of charity, the Church had to fight. It does not look like charity to get into a fight, but when you are fighting for the Gospel, when someone is trying to destroy the Gospel and someone is trying to destroy the lives of the people of God - which is exactly what the Moslems are all about, once again - then one has to fight for it.
Charity, again, is to do what is the best, and we need to look at the large picture and say, "What is going to be the best?" Europe is being overrun by the Moslems at this time - America is certainly getting filled up in the same way - and it is a gospel other than the one that was preached. The Moslems, one must understand, are a break-off of Catholicism. It is a heresy. It is not something that is just separate; it is something that is a separate gospel. They are trying to preach something other than what Jesus preached. In fact, they make Jesus into a prophet, but not into God. They do not recognize His divinity. And so what they are doing is spreading heresy. It is not just simply spreading a different error like the Buddhists or the Hindus would do, but this is spreading heresy. It is error - but it is more pernicious than that - and it is being accepted by many.
It is something, then, that we need to pray against because what we are going to see in the upcoming months is going to be an attempt (as many saints have told us) where the Moslems are going to try to overcome the world. They are going to try to sweep across Europe and they are going to try to destroy all things Catholic. So we need to pray and we need to be very serious about prayer because that is the way this is going to work. There may have to be a fight; we do not know that. But the fight for us is particularly a spiritual one: to take out our weapon - our rosary - and turn to Our Lady because she is the one, above all others, who brings us the Gospel. She brings us Jesus Christ, and He is the Gospel. He is the truth, and we must maintain the fullness of belief in Christ because, as Saint Paul said, this is not from any man, this is by revelation from God. And that is the Gospel we preach, the fullness of truth given to us, not out of human wisdom, but by God Himself. It is for that reason that we believe it, and it is for that reason that we seek to live it. And to live it is a very simple thing: to love God and to love neighbor.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.