Tuesday November 26, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Revelation 14:14-19) Gospel (St. Luke 21:5-11)
In the readings today, we hear about the Judgment and how the Lord is going to come to judge the earth and to wield His sickle against all of the earth’s harvest, against all of the earth’s vintage. Those grapes of the vintage are going to be poured, we are told, into the wine press of the wrath of God. And so the question is, as always, when is this going to happen? It is going to happen at the end of the world, and we need to be very clear that this is not the end of the world nor is the end of the world anytime near. The Lord told us that many will come saying, “I am he,” and “The time has come.” There are certainly many running around telling us that the time has come. While it indeed may be that the time has come for a chastisement upon the earth, it is not time for the end of the world. There is much that needs to take place before that happens.
But at any rate, even in our present day, we can look (as people have throughout the world) and see that there have been earthquakes, famines, and plagues in various places, but the signs in the sky that the Lord speaks of have not taken place. There will be awesome sights and mighty signs in the sky, He tells us. That we have not seen. So we need to be very careful not to be running around thinking that something is happening or something is about to happen when it is not clear that that is what it is.
We need always to be prepared. We can look at the signs of the times, as the Vatican Council tells us to do. We can look at what the Lord has told us in Scripture, we can look at the prefigurations from the Old Testament and the New Testament, and we can make a pretty good case for the fact that something is coming pretty close. But the time is not yet, and so we need to be very careful. We cannot tell God what He is supposed to do. We instead need to wait and we need to allow the Lord to allow things to unfold the way that He has chosen. That is hard for us because we look at the gross injustices and all of the horrible things that going on in the world today and we wonder how this can be tolerated. “God has to act,” we would say. And He will – but He will act in His time not in our time.
We need to do it His way and we need to be very careful to keep ourselves vigilant in prayer so that we do not miss when the time arrives. That is something that is also going to be very necessary: that we are prepared internally, not externally. Who cares if we have got six months’ of food stashed in our house and generators and everything else? If something were to happen and you were warm and fat and happy – and everybody else was cold and starving – how long do you think your front door would be on the house anyway? It won’t. Just trust God; that is all that matters. Do not try to pre-empt Him and do not try to figure Him out because it does not work. If you have not figured that out then as the saints say: “If you want to know if God has a sense of humor, make a plan!” Just try to figure Him out; He will do something different. It is not going to work the way we think it is going to work. We need to be very careful not to put God into a little pigeonhole and think that He is going to do it our way. We need to allow Him to do what He is going to do, when He wills, as He wills.
Our part is to remain faithful and to trust. That is all we have to do. Keep praying, keep vigilant, and keep on top of things, that is, internally not externally. Make sure that our hearts and our souls are prepared for anything at anytime because we all know we could drop dead from a heart attack on the way home from Mass this morning. Anything could happen to any of us. We need to be prepared not just because something cataclysmic could happen, but because anything can happen anytime. So we can see the signs of the times and we can see that something is brewing and we need to be prepared for that too. But be very careful not to step out in front of God; but rather, stay behind Him and let Him lead the way. Remember, in this time He has turned everything over to His mother. Stay with Mary and you will be fine. Stay behind Mary and you will be fine. Do not try to walk in front of her and do not try to tell her how to do it either. Just stay behind her, let her lead the way, and everything else will be fine.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.