Monday June 23, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Genesis 12:1-9) Gospel (St. Matthew 7:1-5)
We see the call of Abram in the first reading today and the faith that God required of him – at 75 years old, being called from the land that he had known to go to a place that he did not even know where it was that he was to be going, to be called by God to do this and be so convinced that this is what had really taken place in his life that Abram was willing to leave everything behind. And God said to Abram that He would make him a blessing, and anyone who blessed Abram God would bless, and anyone who cursed Abram God would curse. We see the power of God, but we also see the response that one who has faith truly makes. The nature of religion is to offer sacrifice and worship to God. We see that as soon as God appears to Abram at Haran, Abram builds an altar to the Lord. Then as he moves on to Ai, he builds another altar to the Lord. At each of the stages along the way, Abram is offering sacrifice to God, always giving of himself and always putting the Lord first.
Now we look at ourselves and we recognize that the sacrifice we offer to God is the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Yet at the same time, within our own personal lives, we still need to be offering sacrifice to God. Our lives, in that way, should be as an altar. That is, we all have things we can offer up: our sufferings and our struggles. In this society which is filled with comfort and materialism and selfishness and ease and all the other things, we have plenty of things that we can offer up. It does not even have to be anything particularly heroic because we have hundreds of things in our daily lives that we could easily do without and could give up to the Lord and offer them as a sacrifice.
We need to just put that in the context of the Gospel today when Our Lord said, “The measure with which you measure is the measure that is going to be measured out to you.” In other words, the more generous we are, the more generous will it be coming back to us; and the stingier we are in what we give, the stingier it is going to be in what we receive. Obviously, the context of it is also judgment and so it is how we judge others, which we know, as we look at our own selves and our own sinfulness, that we have absolutely no business trying to judge anybody else – we cannot even see beyond the end of our own nose when it comes to judging. We have plenty that we need to work on, which again is an easy sacrifice to offer to the Lord. Just ask Jesus, “What is the beam in my eye?” and let Him show it to you. Then you will realize there is plenty of stuff there that we can sacrifice to God.
It begins with our sinfulness. It begins with our attachments and our selfishness. And as we learn to die to self and give these things up, the generosity toward God becomes greater. If we think about it, putting it into terms of the ancient days, one might have been tempted at least to think that if you have this flock of sheep it would be good to offer to God the broken one, the blemished one, the one that was not worth a whole lot. When you are not accustomed to offering sacrifice, well, it is something anyway that we are offering to the Lord. It is not the best we have got, but at least it is something. As one comes to know the Lord and as one grows in generosity towards God, it will not take long before you are going to look at it and say, “No, I can’t offer the broken and blemished one; that’s unworthy to the Lord. What I need to do is offer the best.” That is what would happen.
So in our own lives, we might start out with little things that do not mean a whole lot, but they are something. And then it will not take long before we are offering to God greater things, better things, more perfect things. The sacrifice that God wants is our own self, ultimately. We may not be ready yet today to offer our whole self to the Lord, but let us offer what we are able. As we go along, eventually we will be able to offer to God everything. And that is precisely the measure that is going to be used for us.
Jesus has given us His whole self. And if we want to be able to receive Him entirely, we need to be willing to give entirely. We will, in giving up ourselves, receive Him. I would say that is a pretty good exchange for us, to give up this to receive Him. That is what we want. If we are willing to sacrifice the self, we receive God in return in His entirety. That is what is being offered to us. That is the blessing that God is willing to give us if we are willing to sacrifice to Him and sacrifice that which is most precious to us, that is, our very self. In that way, then, when we give of ourselves, God will give back to us in the measure that we are willing to give to Him. And so if we give it all, we receive all of Him. The measure with which we measure is the measure which will be measured out to us.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.