Monday October 14, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Galatians 4:22-24, 26-27, 31-5:1) Gospel (St. Luke 11:29-32)
Our Lord tells us in the Gospel reading today that at the Day of Judgment the people of Nineveh will rise along with that generation to whom He was speaking and condemn it, and the Queen of the South will rise with the people of that generation and she will condemn them. And the reason He gives is because these people, at the preaching of Jonah or at the wisdom of Solomon, turned their hearts to the Lord, they had a conversion. But when we look at what the first reading tells us, their conversion was not even with the fullness of truth; it was a conversion from what they had into something which was still slavery. It was freedom by comparison to the paganism that they were living, but it was not the fullness of freedom that we enjoy, because we have the freedom in Christ, the freedom of the children of God, the freedom to be able to rise above sin. The freedom from sin is what we have.
So Saint Paul is telling us not to take on the yoke of slavery. Now, again, to the Galatians, what that meant was "do not become Jews in order to become Christians". For us today that is not the issue. The yoke of slavery for the people of our day is the world - it is to reject the faith in Christ; that is, not rejecting it intellectually or theoretically, but rejecting it practically because we do not want to live the faith in Christ. Would that it were simply such a matter as being circumcised or not, something which would be hidden from the world anyway. But that is not the choice that we are being given. What we have to make a choice about is whether we are going to live as Christ or whether we are going to live like the people of the world, and that is not hidden because we have to go out into the world and we have to interact with the people there. So we have to make a choice. We have to be different, and that is not something which we can keep hidden away anymore than one can keep slavery or freedom hidden away. The slaves would all have had a mark upon them that anybody would have been able to see and to know that this was somebody who was a slave.
Instead, for us, we are children, not even of the freeborn woman Sara, but of the freeborn woman Mary. She is our mother. She is the Mother of God. She is the Mother of the New Covenant, and we are the ones who are born of her as she stood at the foot of the Cross to be able to give birth to all of those who would be her children. And so we are called, then, to live as children of Mary and to live as members of Jesus Christ. We can ask ourselves, and very simply, how would Jesus and Mary live if they were alive in our world today? Would they be living like most everybody else in the world? Would they be acting like most everybody else in the world? Would they be dressing the way the people do these days? Would they have piercings all over their face and their tongue and ten of them in their ears and all over their bodies? Would they put tattoos all over themselves? Would they be acting like we do? Would they be sitting in front of the TV for hours at a time? Would they be doing the things that we worldlings do? If the answer to that is "no" and we are doing some of those things, then we need to say that we are not living as children of the freeborn woman, we are not living as children of the New Covenant, we are not living with the freedom of the children of God.
It is we, then, that need to make those changes to become who we truly are because we are baptized into the New Covenant, we are members of Christ, and we have all of the grace that we need. If the Lord, two thousand years ago, looked at the people of Jerusalem and said to them, "This is an evil generation," what do you think He would say today if He were among us? We do not need any sign; it is pretty evident. All you need to do is go outside and look around. What more sign do we need? There is not anything necessary. All that we need is Jesus Christ and His mother, and those we already have. All we need now is to accept what we have already been given and to live according to the freedom of the children of God.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.