Friday July 25, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Sixteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Corinthians 4:7-15) Gospel (St. Matthew 20:20-28)
Our Lord, in looking at His two disciples, James and John, when their mother has asked that they would be seated at His right and His left in His kingdom, simply says to them, “Can you drink of the chalice of which I am to drink?” They, of course, respond just like all of us. “Certainly! Absolutely! No problem! Whatever You want me to do, Lord.” But then when the Lord gives us the chalice, well, we have another little problem because we do not like the chalice the Lord had to drink from because it is the suffering, it is the chalice of pain, of the Cross, that He has offered to us as a share in His own suffering. We balk at it. In fact, we usually run away instead of embracing it.
We need to just think in terms of Holy Communion about what that would mean. It means that Our Lord is offering Himself to us, and instead of taking His chalice and drinking from it, what it would mean is that we would pull away from the communion rail and say, “No, thank you. I don’t want to be united with Him.” That is basically what we do when we tell the Lord “no” that we will not suffer with Him, that we do not want to have a share in his chalice, in His Cross. What we have to do then for ourselves is to ask that simple question: Am I willing to be part of that kingdom of God? Am I willing to share in the suffering of Christ? Am I willing to serve others? Am I willing to suffer with Our Lord? This is really at the heart of things.
Now Saint Paul, when he was looking at his own situation, says to us that we carry the treasure in earthen vessels to make sure that its surpassing power comes not from us but from God. We know our weakness; we know our brokenness – and so does everyone else. But through the grace of God, he says, “We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifest in us.” Unless we are willing to share in His suffering, we cannot share in His Resurrection. Unless we are willing to share in His death, we cannot share in His life. We like to look at it the other way, but it has to be the Cross first and then the Resurrection. We want the glory without the Cross, and it does not work that way and it cannot work that way.
Again, when we look at what we are living in, the evil around us is such that if you are going to live for Christ, if you are going to live for Our Lady in this time, you are going to suffer. You are going to be persecuted; you are going to be rejected; you are going to be thought to be insane or whatever it is they are going to say about you and however they are going to treat you. Are you willing to do that? Are you willing to approach them the way Our Lady did? When they crucified her Son, she did not have one single bad thought about the people who did it – not one. She was not angry at them. She was not hateful. She did not look for revenge. She loved them, just like Jesus did, Who also did not have one single bad thought about any of them but instead prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
Are we willing to share the chalice of the Lord that is being offered to us? All we need to do is walk out the door to have it there, so it is not like we have to be looking for it or do anything extraordinary. It is right there for anyone who is willing to accept it. And then we need to serve, to make ourselves humble, to unite ourselves with Our Lord and to be one with Him in His suffering so that we will be one with Him in His glory.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.