Thursday July 24, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Exodus 19:1-2, 9-11, 16-20b) Gospel (St. Matthew 13:10-17)
When we hear these words of Our Lord in the Gospel this morning, they strike us in a rather shocking way at first because when Jesus is asked by His disciples why He speaks to these people only in parables, He tells them it is because otherwise they might see and they might hear and they might understand. It is almost as though the Lord does not want them to be able to understand Who He is. That is not the point. The point is that they have to make an act of faith. The Lord is not going to make things so clear for us that it does not require any faith, otherwise, what good would it be?
And so what He does is He makes it clear enough. For instance, the people of His day could see very clearly Who He was. They could see that He was working miracles. They could see that He was preaching the Word of God. They could see what His life was all about. But He was not going to show them in pure, plain, and simple terms that He was in fact God, that He was the Second Person of the Trinity, that He was the Messiah, all of these things that we have to make an act of faith in, and so did they. There was enough evidence there for them. They knew the time. They knew the tribe from which the Messiah was to be raised up. They had the information that they needed; it was a question of whether they wanted it.
It is like the people of the Old Testament who were taken out to Mount Sinai. As we heard in the first reading, the cloud came down upon Mount Sinai and there were the peals of thunder and the trumpet blasts. The trumpets grew louder and the Lord answered Moses and summoned Moses to the top of the mountain. While we did not hear it today, the people actually walked away from the mountain and they begged Moses never to hear the voice of God again. “You listen to Him and then you tell us what He said,” they told Moses, “We don’t want to hear His voice.” They saw but they did not understand. They heard but they did not listen.
So too, we have to recognize that each one of us has been chosen. For whatever reason God has chosen us, we do not know. It is not a matter of looking at it and thinking somehow that we were better than someone else – we know way better than that. Why did God choose His twelve apostles instead of all the other people? Why did He give them knowledge of the kingdom of Heaven, but not everybody else? That is purely up to God. It is His choice. But He has chosen us for His own design and for His own reason. Now we could run around questioning God and saying, “Well, it doesn’t make any sense. Why did You choose me? Out of all these other people, isn’t this kind of foolish that You would choose me instead of these others? Look how much better they are than I am!” We could go on and on and on with all the rationalizations of why it should not be us. And they are all true, but it does not matter. The fact is that God in His mercy has chosen each one for His own purpose.
We now have a choice to make. We can sit around and tell God how foolish He is for choosing someone as stupid as us, or we can accept it. Now if we sit around rejecting it and telling God that He is foolish, that is not going to get us very far. If we accept what God has given to us and what He is calling us to, then we can rejoice and we can do the work that God wants us to do. Those are really the only two choices, and we have to make that choice. He is not going to force it on us, even though He has given us knowledge of the kingdom of God and He has given us now the knowledge of the way that He is going to be operating in our own day: that He has given this over to His mother and that He has chosen us – she has chosen us – for her own work. Now the question is are we going to accept it? Or are we going to fight with God? Are we going to back away like the people did at Mount Sinai? Or are we going to accept the mercy of God and accept what He wants us to do?
Now we realize there is a huge responsibility with this. The apostles were given knowledge of the kingdom of God, and they had to go out into the world and preach it to the world and convert the world. We have been given knowledge of the queenship of Mary united to the kingship of God. We have that knowledge to live it and to bring it to others. The question is whether we want it. Or are we like these others who hear but do not understand and who look but never see? That is our choice. God has made His choice. You have been chosen by God and you have been chosen by Our Lady. That is an incredible privilege and it comes with a huge responsibility. Now the choice is ours. Our Lord and Our Lady have made their choice – now you have to make yours. Do you want to close your eyes and ears so you do not see and hear? Or do you want to open your heart so that Our Lord can do whatever He wants in your life and you can correspond with His grace and do His Will and bring the Word of God, the kingship of Christ, and the queenship of Our Lady into the world?
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.