Wednesday February 19, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Genesis 8:6-13, 20-22) Gospel (St. Mark 8:22-26)
In the first reading today, we see that as Noah comes forth from the ark after the waters of the flood have receded the very first thing he did was to build an altar to the Lord. And then he took from every single clean animal and every clean bird and he offered sacrifice to the Lord. One would, of course, naturally assume that Noah (being a righteous man and recognizing after having been on the ark all this time and all of life at that point was destroyed except those few people and the animals that were on the ark) is going to be very grateful to the Lord for his life. But the very first thing that is the part we need to see the very first thing that he does is offer sacrifice to the Lord. God was number one in his life; that is what it is to be righteous, to be just in the eyes of God.
Now beyond this, we then see the Lord (smelling the sacrifice that Noah had offered) make a promise, which is a very wonderful promise, that never again will He doom the whole earth because of man, recognizing that even though He created us to be very good, we are fallen, sinful creatures and that from the heart of man comes sometimes the most unfortunate of thoughts and desires. And so God says that He will never doom the earth again as long as it remains. At the very end of the earth, obviously, it is all going to pass away; but it is not going to pass away in water, but in fire. As we will probably see tomorrow, the rainbow that God promises is a sign that the earth will never be destroyed in a flood again. It will be in fire at the end but He will not destroy all of humanity ever again. Our Lady, at Akita, said that fire will fall from the sky killing the greater part of humanity. The Prophet Zechariah says that one-third of humanity will be saved through the fire. So there is, somewhere in the future, going to be a rather massive purification coming upon the earth, but it looks like two-thirds of humanity not all of humanity except for eight people, as was in the ark will be killed. And then the Lord tells us that as long as the earth lasts there will be winter and summer and seedtime and harvest and so on. Once again, we have that promise from the Lord that until the end of the world the seasons are going to remain, that things will continue on until the very end.
For ourselves, again, we need to recognize the end of the world is nowhere near, but there is purification on the horizon somewhere and we need to be prepared for that. We need to know that it is not going to be the end. But we need, once again, to look at our own priorities and to learn from someone like Noah, who found favor in the eyes of God because he was just. Our Lady, at Akita, reminded us that everyone who is in the state of mortal sin will die everyone in the state of mortal sin will die and some who are in the state of grace also. But every single person in the state of mortal sin will die. Every person who is not justified in Christ, everyone who is not made righteous (having sins forgiven and being in the state of grace) will not survive what is coming. And we know that in order to go to Heaven one must be in the state of grace at the moment of death, so it is not a pleasant thought.
So first we need to make sure that we remain righteous, even if not perfectly righteous as Noah was, we at least need to make sure that we remain in the state of grace, that we remain justified before the Lord. And then we need to make sure that we are putting God as the top priority in our lives. When we see what the Lord has done for us, we need to put Him first. Perhaps we are like the blind man from the Gospel; at this point we do not see very clearly. He saw people looking like trees and walking; he did not see them distinctly and clearly. We are not perfect; we do not have perfect righteousness as yet, and so we do not see everything as clearly as perhaps we would like, but at least we can see. Maybe things are a little foggy, but we can see that there is trouble on the horizon and we can see that we need to keep ourselves in the state of grace. And then we need to trust in the Lord, so that as He continues to purify us, our sight internally, that is will become more and more clear, more and more distinct, so that not only will we be able to understand and see Gods Will more perfectly in our lives, and not only will what we are trying to do now (that is, trying to be righteous and trying to put God first) be the case, but when we are fully righteous, when we can see clearly and distinctly, then it will be that God will truly be the top priority in our life and that everything will be the way it should be. We will have achieved that holiness for which God has created us and which He desires for us. We will no longer see in a vague and foggy way, but we will see clearly and distinctly. We will know Gods Will and we will have Him as number one in our lives the way we are supposed to. That is the purpose of our creation. And when we see God beginning a re-creation on the earth, we need to recognize that that is what He continues to do in our souls when we go to Confession, when we receive Communion, when we pray; we build up the grace within our souls, we are re-created, and we begin to see more clearly.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.