Friday October 18, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Timothy 4:10-17b) Gospel (St. Luke 10:1-9)
Today we celebrate the feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist, who, of course, wrote the Gospel of Saint Luke and also the Acts of the Apostles. We just have to stop to think about what it is he has done and then apply it to our own lives. When we think about going out and preaching the Gospel - in this case, writing the Gospel but also preaching it as Saint Luke traveled with Saint Paul for quite a while; also, he traveled with Saint Peter for a bit, and he certainly spent some time with Our Blessed Lady in order to find out what had happened in the early life of Our Lord so he could write his Gospel - but in writing all of this down, you see the price that is paid for one who is going to preach the Gospel. Saint Paul, in the first reading, tells us that everyone had abandoned him. When he even had to go to court, not one single person stood with him; he was completely abandoned. And he said, "But it doesn't matter because, through me, God has brought the Gospel message to all the Gentiles."
Well, then you stop again and think about what Jesus did for His own disciples that He sent out two by two. He said, "You take no money with you. Don't take a walking staff. Don't take extra clothing. Go into whatever town you're going to go into and preach the Gospel, heal the sick." You are just going blindly out there; you are on your own. And He said straight out, "I am sending you like sheep among wolves." So that is what we are dealing with. Saint Paul understood it; all the apostles understood; Saint Luke certainly would have understood the same thing. Yet, thanks be to God, for their courage and their willingness to cooperate with the grace of God to be able to say, "It doesn't matter. It doesn't matter if I'm rejected. It doesn't matter if I'm alone. It doesn't matter if nobody accepts the message I'm trying to preach. All that matters is that I'm doing what God wants me to do." And because they were willing to stand alone, we have the Gospels, we have the letters of the apostles; so that same Gospel message that they preached is going to be given to us.
But that same message needs to continue to be preached, and it has to be us who is going to do it. Each one of us, then, needs to look at that and recognize what it will require for us: that it is not going to be a popular message, that people are not going to appreciate, necessarily, what we are going to do or say. Yet it has to be done. Jesus' apostles would have looked like fools 2,000 years ago, going from town to town with no money and no extra clothing and nothing at all - even though they were traveling, taking nothing along. Saint Paul certainly must have felt like a fool often enough when he would be dragged from one place to the next and be brought into court because of what he was preaching. Still, he continued to preach it.
The same has to be true with us. Saint Paul went so far as to say that at one point when they went into Macedonia they were crushed to the point of despairing of life itself. Then he turned right around and went to another town and started preaching the Gospel. That is how much it meant to him. And it meant so much to Saint Luke that he sat down and he wrote it out. It became their very lives because they recognized the truth and they recognized that this was the only means to salvation, not only for themselves but for everyone. So they brought that Gospel to as many as they could. They were rejected, they were treated badly, and they still continued to preach the Gospel with the same zeal and the same charity that they had right from the beginning.
That is the lesson we have to learn. When we look at the courage of someone like a Saint Luke, when we look at what he did standing on his own against all the opposition that would have been there to write all this down and to preach the message, he still stood firm and did what was right. We need to do the exact same thing. We know the truth. We have heard the Gospel message proclaimed. Now it is not enough for us to say, "Yes, that's true for me." It is true for everybody. Our part, then, is to bring the Gospel out from here and into the world. We will be rejected and we will be treated badly, but it does not matter, as long as the Gospel is being preached. God will use all those rejections to bring about greater good; that becomes the means by which others will come to faith.
Our part, then, is to learn from the disciples of the Lord because we are His disciples today, and we have to learn what He did with them and we have to learn to do what they did. The Lord sent them out as sheep among wolves. That is certainly the case today for anyone who wants to bring the Gospel into this world. Even with that, we need to continue to bring the Gospel message to as many people as we can and to have the courage to stand alone because we know that what we are preaching is truth.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.