Monday August 12, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Nineteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Deuteronomy 31:1-8) Gospel (St. Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14)
In the Gospel reading, Our Lord tells us that unless we become like little children we will not enter the kingdom of Heaven. And we will not be like little children, He then goes on to explain, unless you become humble like this child. And so we know that we have to become humble, which is not something which is upheld by our society. Pride is what is at the root of every one of our sins, and pride is what fills this society. Everything works against us, as far as that goes, and we need to be able to be humble. We have to pray for humility. But remember that the way to humility is through humiliation, and most people do not like it at all. They like the end result, but the means to get there is something they do not like at all. But the Lord makes very clear that unless we become humble like a little child we will not enter the kingdom of Heaven.
Now we have to also look at this situation in the light of the first reading. When Our Lord tells us that we have to become like little children, it is because He is telling us that we have a Father in Heaven, and our Father in Heaven will take care of us. He has given us our guardian angels, as the Lord makes very clear that their angels behold the face of our heavenly Father. He has also given us a Mother so that Our Lady is watching out for us. And we have to become as children with regard to our heavenly Father and with regard to our Blessed Mother.
Moses, when the people were about to cross into the Promised Land, told them, It is the Lord who will go before you, and He will fight for you. He said there would be, of course, someone on the human level who was going to lead – that was going to be Joshua – because there always needs to be someone who is going to be the head of the people. But it was not Joshua who was going to be their leader; ultimately, it was God. Things have not changed. It is the Lord who is still going to lead us.
In our day, we have to become like little children because it is Our Lady who is going to lead us into battle. She is the one who is going to lead us to the victory that has been promised, and we have to be like little children. We have to be humble and we have to be with our Mother. We cannot be like arrogant kids who are embarrassed of their mother. We cannot be like the ones who want to walk away from their moms and do their own thing, like teenagers with a bad attitude. But rather, we have to be humble and we have to be obedient. This is not something which comes naturally to us because we are born with Original Sin and we have heaped thousands of our own on top of that. And so we have lots and lots of pride, lots of selfishness, lots of arrogance. But Our Lady, who is the most humble human being to have ever walked the face of the earth, is the one that God has chosen. He has exalted her above all of Heaven and earth because of her humility, and He is now sending His mother to lead us so that she will be the one who will crush the arrogant head of Satan.
So we have the dichotomy laid out before us. We have Our Lady in her humility, and we have Satan in his arrogance. We can choose pride, which is to choose the way of Satan, and we will have no part of God and of His mother; or we can choose humility, which was the hallmark of Jesus Christ in taking on our human nature, and it is the salient characteristic of our Blessed Lady. And so that is the way we are supposed to be. When we consider what it means to be a child of God and a child of Our Lady, children should be like their parents. Well, we have our heavenly parents and we need to be like them. We are made in the image and likeness of God; therefore, we should be like God. We can learn from the humility of Our Lord and of His mother.
We have the promise from Our Lady that in the end her Immaculate Heart will triumph. That is where we are being led right now, and she is leading the way. It is entirely up to us to make the determination of whether we want to be part of that triumph or not. Those who are humble will be part of her triumph; and those who are arrogant and filled with pride will not. Unless you become like little children, the Lord said, you will not enter the kingdom of Heaven. And unless we become like little children, we will have no part in this work that Our Lord is doing in our world today, in the work that He has sent His mother to do, and in the work that His humble children will have part of. We must become like little children, or we will not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.