Tuesday January 14, 2003 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier   First Week in Ordinary Time

 

Reading (Hebrews 2:5-12)   Gospel (St. Mark 1:21-28)

 

 

Saint Paul, in the first reading today, talks about the manner in which God has subjected all things to Christ. Quoting from Psalm 8, he tells us that God has made man little less than the angels, but crowned him with glory and honor and subjected all things under his feet. He is pointing specifically to Jesus in quoting this passage and tells us that all things are subject to Him and that there is nothing that remains that is not subject to Him. Yet, having said that, he then turns around and says, “At present, we do not see that all things are subject to Him.” Again, what we see is this mystery that everything has been subject to Him. We know that everything is subject to Him. In fact, Saint Paul will go on to say that He puts all things under His feet like a footstool; yet at the same time, in the humility of Christ and because God has given us free will, He does not let us see that everything is subject. So He allows human free will; He allows us to make bad choices; He allows the demons to continue to torment us even though everything is subject to Him. We will one day recognize everything being subject to Him completely, even as it is now. The problem is that we do not recognize it and the reason is that God allows us to make a choice. Do we want to be subject to Jesus Christ? He will not force that on us and so we have to make the choice.

 

In the Gospel reading, we see that the demons are subject to Him completely; He commands the evil spirits and they leave. The people were totally amazed. “Who is this,” they asked, “that he commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him?” Well, that is exactly the reality. If God commanded us in a direct manner, we too would be subject to obedience. And so rather than doing that – because He does not want to violate us in any way – He has told us what His commandments are and then He gives to us the freedom to choose. He does not give that freedom to the demons when they are commanded in His Name to do something because they have already made their choice. They too have a free will, and they were presented with the truth and they rejected it. They saw a beautiful Woman who was higher than they and they could not accept it. They saw a little, tiny baby Boy, Who is God, and they could not accept it. They used their free will, even with the knowledge that they had, to reject the truth.

 

So too now, the same is for us: God presents to us the truth; He presents to us a whole new teaching with authority and we have to make a choice. Everything is subject to Him. We can use our free will and subject ourselves to Him, which would be a slavery of love; or we can use our free will and we can make ourselves slaves to sin. It is entirely up to us. One leads to total freedom; the other leads to complete bondage. If we are made subject to Him in freedom then we will reign with Him, we will rejoice with Him, because His subjection is not one that violates us in any way, shape, or form, but rather, it is one which exalts our freedom completely. If we subject ourselves to Satan and his minions, we give up our freedom and we will be slaves for all eternity. That is the choice we have.

 

Jesus, Saint Paul says, is already crowned with glory and honor, and if we subject ourselves willingly to Him and choose the freedom of the children of God which He offers, then we too will be crowned with glory and honor. If we, on the other hand, choose as Satan did and say, “I will not serve. I will not accept this extraordinary Woman and her beautiful Son,” and we choose that we want to do it our way instead of His way, then what we are doing is crowning ourselves with shame, we are crowning ourselves with destruction and death. That is the choice we have, but God will not force it. Everything is subject to Him and so if we choose to reject Him then we are choosing eternity away from Him. We are not going to get away from it; one way or the other, we will be subject to Him and we will be subject to obedience to Him. We can choose it freely and we can go to Heaven and we will find that obedience is total, complete, and perfect freedom; or we will be subject to obedience by having to go away from Heaven to deal with the obedience of our own choice and to go to hell where we will be with Satan for eternity. But the choice is made now in this world, not in the next.

 

And so we have the choice and we have the freedom. The truth is being offered; it is a whole new teaching in the spirit of authority. Everything has been made subject to Him. The question is now up to us: Are we willing to subject ourselves to Him or are we going to wait and be subject to Satan for eternity? That is our choice. The choice is obviously very clear. Even though we do not yet see that everything is subject to Him – it is – and we know that. So we need to make the choice, using our freedom to subject ourselves to His love and to His glory and honor and to be crowned, then, with His glory and honor, which is to be crowned with Jesus Christ and His life which can begin now and then remains forever.

 

*  This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.