Thursday June 12, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Corinthians 3:15-4:1, 3-6) Gospel (St. Matthew 5:20-26)
Our Lord tells us in the Gospel reading today that unless our righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, we will not enter the kingdom of Heaven. Saint Paul tells us that whenever Moses is read, for the Jewish people, a veil continues to cover their understanding. Moses, recall, after he had come down from the mountain, had a face which glowed; and because of the glow, the radiance which was coming forth from his face, he had to put a veil over his face because the people did not want to look upon the radiance that was coming forth from within. But now what Saint Paul is telling us is that we are able to look upon the face of Christ with our faces unveiled, that we have the fullness of the truth. There is no veil that is covering our mind; the possibility, at least, is that it is wide open to be able to receive everything the Lord wants to give.
The question, of course, has to do with ourselves. Do we want to receive it? Do we want to remove the veil or do we want to stay in ignorance? We have this idea that ignorance is bliss, which is total foolishness. Ignorance is ignorance, pure and simple. But what we are talking about here is not just ignorance of some scientific truth or some social statistic or whatever it may be; we are talking about ignorance of God, ignorance of Jesus Christ, ignorance of salvation. That is what it is really all about.
Saint Paul tells us that, gazing with unveiled faces, we are being transformed from glory to glory. That is what God has for you. He has already baptized you into the glory of Jesus Christ because Saint Paul also tells us that God has shone in our hearts and the light of God gives to us the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ. And so we are able to gaze upon Christ. We are able to do that right within our own hearts. We are able to do that especially in the Blessed Sacrament; all of us are able to look upon Christ. Obviously, we do not see Him physically present because He is sacramentally present. But He is there, and He is present within us. The growth of holiness that God expects from us is a total transformation, the same transformation of which Saint Paul says, Be transformed by the renewal of your mind so that you will know what is good and right and just. And he says to us in the same place not to allow ourselves to be shaped according to this world, but this renewal of the mind is to become one with the mind of Jesus Christ. That is the transformation, from one degree of glory to another. This is a continual process that every single day, as we know and love the Lord more perfectly than we did the day before, there should be a greater transformation, greater holiness, greater glory radiating from within as we gaze upon the face of Christ, as we gaze upon the heart of Christ and come to know and to love the Person of Our Lord. That is what God desires for each one of us.
Now the problem on the other side, Saint Paul also tells us, is that if we are going to have our faces veiled, our minds veiled, if we do not want to know the truth, we are headed for condemnation. So we need to choose to remove the veil. We need to choose to reject the ways of the world and to take on Jesus Christ and to live the fullness of Christ in this life so that the fullness of Christ will be ours forever. That is the ultimate glory that God desires: that we will enter into His glory and we will share in His glory. It is something we already share in now. The fullness, of course, will only be in Heaven. But we cannot underestimate the love that God has for us and the gifts that He has in store for us if we are willing to remove the veil that covers our minds and our hearts and gaze upon the face of Christ with our minds and hearts unveiled.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.