Wednesday October 30, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Ephesians 6:1-9) Gospel (St. Luke 13:22-30)
Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Ephesians today, speaks to the slaves and tells them they are to obey their masters and they are to work, not as slaves of men, but as slaves of Christ. In this way, that is something that must be applied to each one of us. Even though we recognize that none of us is a slave in the technical sense of that word, each of us, however, is a slave of the Lord. We call Jesus “Lord” which means “Master”. The Lord in the Gospel reading, in fact, speaks precisely of that point and He says, “When the master of the house has arisen and locked the door then you will find yourself outside knocking and saying, ‘Master, open for us.’” We recognize Him as Lord and Master. If He is Lord and Master that means we have to be slaves of the Lord; otherwise, we have no business calling Him “Lord” or “Master”.
So if we recognize that that is Who He is, then it is our task to make sure we are seeking to do His Will. That, again, is exactly what He tells us we have to do because He says that we are to try to enter through the narrow gate, otherwise, we are not going to be able to get in. The narrow gate is to do the Will of God. And it is the task of a slave to do the will of the master. Now, the wonderful thing for us is that this kind of slavery is not the type of slavery that most of us would think of when we think of American slavery: somebody who is forced to do things that they really do not want to do, a type of slavery that violates human dignity. That is not what we are talking about. What we are talking about is a voluntary slavery, willfully placing ourselves in God’s service knowing that we have a Master who is Love. Therefore, knowing that we have a Master who desires only what is the best for us - and that anything He asks of us is not because it is something that He thinks would be nice for Himself but rather it is because He knows it is the best for each one of us - to do the Will of the Master is actually to do what is best for ourselves. And so, even if we did it for a self-serving purpose, it is still going to be the best.
But what we want to be able to do is to return in love what is given in love. And so when we know that our Master, our Lord, asks of us everything out of love, we in turn want to do everything out of love. Not out of love for self – “This will be best for me and I’ll be able to get into Heaven,” which is a pretty reasonable purpose for doing things - but simply to be able to say, “Because He is God and deserves love, therefore, I will do everything for Him out of love.” That is what it is to be a slave of the Lord: to do His Will out of love. That is what each of us is called to. And the wonderful thing for us is that that is where we are going to recognize and exercise our human dignity to its fullest – when we recognize that we can be voluntary slaves of love.
This is also what Saint Louis de Montfort asks of each person who will consecrate himself or herself to Our Blessed Lady: to give themselves entirely to Our Lady as Our Lady gives herself entirely to the Lord so that all of us will be slaves to Our Lord and to Our Blessed Mother. Each one of us seeking to do the Will of God will be united to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and that is going to be entering through the narrow way, through the opening in Our Lord’s heart into the furnace of His love. That is what is being offered to each one of us. But because God is a loving Master, He will not force it on any of us. He has made us with free will and He allows us to freely choose. And so He invites us and He offers; each one of us then needs to make the choice.
It is made very clear in Scripture, both Jesus and Saint Paul talk about it. We cannot serve two masters; we have to choose one or the other. We can choose God or we can choose something else. Saint Paul says that we can choose love or we can choose sin – one or the other. And so we have a choice to make. We know the way that is best. We know that to freely choose God and to freely choose love is going to be exercising our human dignity in its fullest. Nonetheless, we have to make that choice. We are very much attached to ourselves and, sadly, we are very much attached to sin. So the choice is to break from that attachment - and to love.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.