Loving God With Unveiled Faces
Wednesday July 30, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Exodus 34:29-35) Gospel (St. Matthew 13:44-46)
In the first reading, we hear about Moses coming down from Mount Sinai not recognizing in himself at this point that his face had become radiant as he conversed with the Lord. The people, seeing the radiance on the face of Moses, refused to come near him, so he would put a veil over his face. Now in the Gospel, Our Lord told us that if you find a great treasure you bury it until you sell everything you have, then you go and buy it. What happened is that as Moses conversed with the Lord his face became radiant because of his love for God and because of his love for the people. He went up Mount Sinai to intercede on behalf of the people who had sinned, and, out of love, Moses became radiant. What a tragedy to have to cover that up! And what a sad thing that the people did not want to see the love Moses had for God that was all over his face, so much so that he would not be able to hide it.
So we see that what Moses wound up having to do (actually, for the sake of the people) is the opposite of what Our Lord told us. Moses found the hidden treasure; he found the pearl of great price. He was united with God and he was radiant in love, then he covered it all up so that the people did not see it. This is a sad, sad thing that one would have to cover up one’s love for God, because if we really stop to think about it, if we were doing what we were supposed to, we would all be radiant, we would all be in love with Jesus and with our Blessed Lady. We would be radiant with joy, radiant with love. The beauty that would shine forth from us would be the beauty of Our Lord Himself. Anybody who would look at us would be able to see that this was not natural and that it was not human. It is a divine beauty and it is supernatural. It is because of the love of God that is in our hearts and radiates from our faces. That is what people ought to see.
The fact that they do not does not say anything about them – it says something about us. For whatever reason, even though we have found the treasure, even though we have found the pearl of great price, we have decided there are other things that are more valuable in our lives. We have decided not to sell everything we have and go and buy it because we like the other stuff too much. We are not yet radiant in love with Jesus Christ, so we are still waiting for that transformation to happen. For Moses, it happened because he loved the people so much that he was willing even to give his own life so that the people would be able to live. And he was loving God so much that he was willing to take whatever was required and do the Will of God in all things.
So for us, we need to look at our attitude as we approach the Lord, our disposition, our reverence. Ultimately, we need to look at our love for God. Certainly, at times our hearts are probably radiant and that will come through the face. But for most of us, if it lasts but a few minutes that would seem pretty miraculous all by itself. When the transformation is complete, it will be 24 hours a day. The love that we have for Our Lord – and really, Our Lord’s love for us – will not be able to be hidden. When we are truly willing to let go of everything so that we love God with our whole heart and soul and strength, we will not be able to hide it. We will have sold everything to buy that one pearl of great price, and we will make sure that everyone knows that that pearl is the Lord because they will be able to see it.
We cannot veil our love for God, which is what most of us try to do most of the time. We are embarrassed about it or we have bought into this societal nonsense that you just do not talk about religion, as though people’s souls are not worth going to Heaven so we had better not talk to them about it, as though somehow our love for Jesus is something that we ought to keep quiet. If we just think about what happens in this country, if we have some kind of bizarre love for the Minnesota Vikings or the Twins or whatever, we could put bumper stickers all over the place, we could paint our cars purple, we could put makeup all over our face, and everybody will think that we are great because we are in love with a football team. How asinine! But when we are in love with Love Himself, well, that is just totally unacceptable. We can proclaim to the world a football team, but we cannot proclaim to the world God. We can put at the top of our priority list something which not only is not going to lead us very close to Heaven but probably will lead us away from it – at least, if it is the way I used to watch football, screaming at the TV and doing other stupid things – but if we shout our faith from the rooftops, that is completely unacceptable.
We need to look at where our priorities are in this society. When God does not have a part and we have fallen prey to that and we have bought into that societal standard that we have to keep our faith hidden and keep it to ourselves and not let anybody else see any of it, that is wrong. If Jesus Christ is the top priority in our life, that should be evident to everyone. It is not that we are trying to ram it down their throats, but rather it should radiate from our faces, from our hearts. We should be so in love with Jesus that everyone will be able to see it without us even having to say a word.
That is what Our Lord is looking for. Do not put a veil over your faith. Do not put a veil over your love. But rather, recognize that you have found the hidden treasure, the pearl of truly great price. Get rid of everything that stands in the way of it and allow your love for Jesus Christ to shine, to radiate forth from within your heart, and to show upon your faces.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.