Wednesday July 23, 2003 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier   Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time


Reading (Exodus 16:1-5, 9-15)   Gospel (St. Matthew 13:1-9)


Over the last couple of days, we have been talking about the fact that the Lord was not going to work any signs in an evil age because the people do not want it. That does not mean, however, that the Lord is not at work. It means that the only time the people will notice that it is God at work is when He does something really extraordinary.


But at the same time, we see that in the first reading, for instance, when God rains down bread from heaven and the quail. The people simply had to walk out of their tents and there were quail all over the ground. What would happen is that the quail would fly along the migratory routes at that point, and they would fly as far as they could and they literally would just sort of fall out of the sky. They would sit there for a number of hours before they would take off again to the next place. And so the people could simply walk right outside, and the birds would be so exhausted that the people could just pick them up right off the ground. The same was true with the manna. The dew would evaporate and the manna would be there on the floor of the desert. If the people would pick that up within a certain period of time, it would be perfectly fine for bread; if they did not, the sun would burn it off over a period of time. And so, God worked in extraordinary ways.


But in the Gospel, we see that the Lord works in ordinary ways. He is like a sower who is sowing the seed, and the seed goes everywhere. Some fall on rich soil, some fall on poor soil, some on rocky soil, some on shallow soil, some among the weeds, wherever it happens to be. The same is true for each of us – the Word has been sown in each one of us. The works of God are at work in each one of us, and they are evident to each one of us if we would stop to notice. But like the sower who is sowing the seed, it is just an ordinary thing. It would be pretty easy to miss, especially if it is rocky soil where the birds will just come and eat it up off the path, or whether it is the soil among the weeds where you are not going to see that the seed is even there. Nonetheless, in that ordinary manner the Lord is indeed at work.


He is in the world and in our lives. He is very much at work. Recall that Our Lord told us that without Him we can do nothing. And so it is very evident by the fact that we are out of bed and moving and at Mass that the Lord is clearly at work in our lives. But because it is so commonplace and so ordinary, sometimes we miss the fact that it is the Lord who is providing the grace for us to do these things and we forget to say “Thank You”. Just think of all of the elements of our day-to-day life that the Lord is providing for us that we totally miss.


That is the problem for the people living in this society. The Lord is at work in their lives too. Remember, Our Lord told us that God allows the sun to shine on the good and the bad, the rain to fall on the just and the unjust. All of His graces He pours down upon all of us, day after day after day. But what happens is that because it becomes so ordinary to us, we forget where it is coming from. We totally ignore it. And unless it is something that seems completely extraordinary, bigger than life, we do not want to believe that it is God. “Let God prove to me that He is really at work” is sort of the attitude that we have. What that means is “Let God work some truly extraordinary miracle” as though what He is doing at every moment in our life is not extraordinary enough for us.


We need to open our eyes so that we see the Lord at work, that we turn to Him, that we ask for His help, that we recognize His help, that we are grateful for His help. Otherwise, we become just like the rest, and before we will even recognize the Lord it will be too late. Like the people in the desert who had seen all of the extraordinary things of God and now they grumble against Moses and Aaron, we would be no different unless we are seeking Him in every moment of our lives. If we see Him in all of the events of our lives then we are not going to grumble against God. But if we are looking only for ourselves and to make sure the belly is filled and the pleasures are cared for, when that is not happening we are going to grumble against the Lord because we are not seeking Him in the rest of our lives, but only in the extraordinary things.


So that is the way it has to be for us. As we move into this time where evil is going to find its completion, where it is going to get worse and worse and worse to the point that Our Lord told us there will never have been a time like this on the face of the earth, things are going to get very ugly. Unless we are seeking the Lord and recognizing Him at work in every moment of our lives, we are not going to find Him; and the only time we will see Him is when it is too late. We need to see the Lord at work. We need to turn to Him. Remember that this is the time He has given over to His mother. We need to go to her. We need to seek her as our mother and rely upon her as our mother, and know that we are safe under her mantle and that she will lead us to her Son. It is the perfect way, it is the easiest way, and everything is being done for us if we will only open our eyes to see.


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