Reading (Jeremiah 7:23-28) Gospel (St. Luke 11:14-23)
We hear God speaking through the words of the prophet Jeremiah today: “This is a nation that does not listen to the voice of its God, does not follow in His ways. It is not faithful; even the word itself – ‘faithfulness’ – is gone from their speech.” It is not something that they were any longer interested in because everybody wanted to do his or her own thing; what God wanted did not matter. Even among the priests and the high priests, it did not matter what God wanted; they had found other ways of being able to do things. Externally, all the things were still there but the corruption ran very, very deep. People just kind of walked through the motions, claiming that they were Jews but not really being so.
The situation is not a whole lot different today. We look around at what is going on in the Church and we have the exact same problems. Everyone wants to do their own thing. Being faithful to God does not matter. We can call ourselves Catholic all day long, but living it is a whole different matter. There are many in the Church who are not trying to be faithful to God, but rather they have found their own little ways of being able to get around the laws and the ways of God, and they are doing their own thing. And so God will say to us, “I have sent you untiringly all of My saints. You not only have the prophets; you not only had My Son and His mother; but you have 2,000 years of saints who have lived after them and have shown you the way that you are to live a Catholic life, and you have decided not to do it.”
We have no excuse. We have to be able to recognize what is going on and what God requires of us. We cannot look around and say, “But look at all these other good people who aren’t living according to the ways of God and things are going well for them, so it must be okay.” It is an easy trap to fall into. We know what the truth is and we know the way we have to live it. Back in Jeremiah’s time, there were certainly many good Jewish people who lived their faith, and God blessed them abundantly for that. Undoubtedly, they suffered terribly because of their fidelity to God – because when there are people who know what they are supposed to be doing and refuse to do it, they will persecute the others who are doing what they are supposed to do. It is no different today.
We have an opportunity in this society and in this generation to make a choice to become saints. We live in an age where it is politically correct to be anti-Catholic, and therefore to be Catholic is not politically correct. Thanks be to God! It is about time we have an opportunity to suffer for our faith. It is not much of an opportunity yet, but it is coming and it is growing. That is a gift and we need to recognize that. We live in a day when there are many people claiming to be Catholic, even among the hierarchy, who are not living it. Jesus said, “A house divided amongst itself will fall.” Thanks be to God, He has given to us a guarantee that this house will not fall. It is built on rock, and the winds are coming and the rains are buffeting against it, but it is built on Jesus Christ, Who is the Rock, and it will not fall. The gates of hell will not prevail against it and that is a guarantee. So we do not need to worry about that – all we need to worry about is being faithful because He said very clearly, “Whoever is not with Me is against Me.” So we have to make that choice. It is not a matter of what most people are doing; it is a matter of knowing what Jesus Christ expects of each one of us and to be faithful to Him in all things. That is what we need to do. We do not have an option. If we are not with Him, we are against Him; it is just that simple. We need to choose to be with Him. In the face of all of the opposition, in dealing with the fact that it is going to be paddling upstream, that does not matter. All that matters is that we are united with Jesus Christ and we are faithful to Him. We know what that means; we know what it requires. It is not popular and it is not politically correct.
And so each one of us needs to make a choice, and a very radical and serious choice of how we are going to live our lives. We cannot look at the majority and point to that and say, “Well, that’s the way to go,” because we know the way that is wide and easy and where it leads. Jesus told us if we want to go to Heaven, the road is rough and narrow and there are few who are on it. So find the way of the saints. Find the way of Jesus and Mary. Find the way of the prophets. Or as the prophet Jeremiah says in another place, “Find the earliest roads and ask them which is the way and walk on it.” That is what God requires of each one of us. We cannot do what everyone else is doing; we have to do what we know is right. We have to follow Jesus Christ. So we need to find that way – and He is the Way – and walk on that way. That way will lead us to the Cross, and it will lead us through the Cross to eternity. The choice is ours and the time is now. If we are not with Him, we are against Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.