Wednesday January 22, 2003 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier   Second Week in Ordinary Time


Reading (Hebrews 7:1-3, 15-17)   Gospel (St. Mark 3:1-6)



In the Gospel reading today, we hear about Our Lord going into the temple and asking the questions to the Pharisees about what is lawful. Is it lawful to save life rather than to destroy it? Is it lawful to do good rather than evil? They remained silent; they would not answer the simple question of whether it was lawful to do something which was good on the Sabbath. So the Lord, we are told, looked at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart. He simply spoke to the man and told him to stretch out his hand. And when the man’s hand was healed without Jesus having done anything, they immediately turned and began to plot with the pagans as to how they were going to destroy Jesus. Here He had just asked them if it is permissible to save a life on the Sabbath rather than to destroy it and the first thing they do after this man is healed – on the Sabbath day – is to begin to plot how they are going to destroy the life of Our Lord.


One cannot help but to notice the irony in this on such an unfortunate day as today when we commemorate the fact that 42 million babies in our country have been aborted, and it was because of an unjust law that the Supreme Court of the United States determined in such a way that they would have to ask the same question, “Is it permissible to save life rather than to destroy it?” Well, they have decided to remain silent on that question for 30 years, but as soon as they had the opportunity to destroy life, then they plotted and they determined a way to do it. But they refused to look at the question of whether it is permissible to save life.


It is an interesting phenomenon how pagans are interested in death, because that is what these people ultimately are. It does not matter what they call themselves in any other form, the fact of the matter is that they have rejected God because they have rejected the gift of God – the greatest gift of God, which is life. Jesus, Saint John tells us, is the Life; and this Life, Who is the Light of the world, became one of us. He took on our life; He gave us our life. Isn’t it interesting that the focus of so many is to put that life to death? But isn’t that what they did to the Author of life, as Saint Peter himself says? They put to death the Author of life.


And so it makes perfect sense that if Satan is going to try to destroy the Author of life, that he is going to try to destroy the lives that are made in His image and likeness, the life that He is going to give to others to share in His life. The devil does not want that. He did not want Him in the first place and he does not want anybody who is going to be made in His image and likeness. He does not want anybody who is going to be remade and share also in His life. So he wants to destroy that life, and he has found a way that seems to be rather efficient and pretty simple.


But as we all know, it is not merely the lives of 42 million babies who are destroyed – it is the lives of their mothers; it is the lives of their fathers; it is the lives of their siblings; it is the lives of their friends – because everyone is touched by the culture of death. That is what we have entered into. We can contrast that with Jesus. We hear that, like Melchizedek (as Scripture told in the first reading), He is the Righteous King and the King of Peace. When we look at what is happening with all of these poor little babies, it is anything but righteous and it is anything but peace. And so if we consider that dichotomy – not that there was any question of whether this was of God or not because we know where it is coming from – what we can see very clearly from what we hear in the readings even today is that it is the exact opposite of God.


I remember being out at the abortion mill one day and somebody was holding a sign that said “Prayerfully Pro-choice.” It is not possible, if they were praying to the same God that you and I believe in, that they could ever have come to such a conclusion. So one needs to ask, “Who are they serving?” Jesus said, “You cannot serve two masters.” Anyone who claims to be even Christian, let alone Catholic, and be pro-abortion at the same time is a hypocrite and a liar. You cannot be Catholic or even Christian and call yourself pro-abortion; it is not possible. God is the Author of life. One cannot say that they believe in God, Who is Life itself, and then choose death; it is not a possibility; it is not an option. It does not matter what they want to call themselves, the fact of the matter is that they have given themselves over to the devil and they have chosen evil over good; they have chosen injustice over righteousness; they have chosen death over life; they have chosen the curse over the blessing; they have chosen Satan over God.


We need to be clear about that because we have to ask the question. The Supreme Court has answered from what they believe: “It is permissible to put to death but not to save life. It is permissible to serve the King of Unrighteousness and it is permissible to serve the King of Chaos.” And so we need to ask, “What is our response, if we are going to save life rather than put to death, if we are going to serve the King of Righteousness, if we are going to serve the King of Peace? What is our response?” He remains a priest forever and He continues to offer His sacrifice. There is no further need of any other sacrifice. It is the devil – and the devil alone – who has need for further human sacrifice. That is who is being served.


So our response must be a very strong and powerful response because we know Who our King is and we know the power of His sacrifice. It is the power of that sacrifice – with the blood of 42 million babies in our society and countless billions throughout the world – when that is united to the sacrifice of Jesus, there is a power there that is going to be an unstoppable force. We need to tap into that power, and, through the power of prayer and through the power of self-sacrifice, put an end to the worship of Satan in this country and throughout this world.


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