Monday September 22, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Ezra 1:1-6) Gospel (St. Luke 8:16-18)
In the readings today there are a couple of things that we need to consider. First of all, from the Old Testament in the Book of Ezra, we hear about the people coming back from exile through the decree of Cyrus the Persian according precisely to what was spoken through the words of the prophet Jeremiah, also what was reiterated by Daniel, and what was spoken of – most amazingly, even by name – by the prophet Isaiah that there would be a man named Cyrus who would be raised up by God and he would be the one who would send the people back to Israel and they would rebuild the temple. And so this is the fulfillment of the Word of God.
This is something that we need to be aware of because every single bit of God’s word will be fulfilled to the letter. The promises that God made to us will all be fulfilled as well, which is why in the Gospel reading we think about what God is expecting of us, that is, to be a lamp that is lighted. We have been placed in the darkness of this world not to hide the light but to give light, and many of us like to hide that light beneath a bushel basket or under a bed or in any way that we can hide it because we are afraid to let people know what we are really about. We are embarrassed of Jesus. We are embarrassed of our Faith. As long as we are with a whole group of people, like we are now, it is great and we have no problem with it; but go out into public and then we suddenly shy away and we do not want anybody to know because we have fallen into this societal nonsense that you do not talk about either politics or religion, when, of course, in this society the only thing you cannot talk about is the Catholic religion, everything else seems to be okay.
Well, it is about time that we stand up for what it is to be a Catholic. There is no better time in the whole world than now to be Catholic, especially in this society because we get to be persecuted. And that is a wonderful gift God has given to us. This is the time when we need to shine because we have an opportunity. No more laissez-faire attitude with regard to the Faith; you can’t. If you have that kind of an attitude, you are going to lose it. It is exactly what the Lord said, “From those who have not, even the little they seem to have will be taken away,” because if we are going to hide the light the Lord will take it and give it to somebody else who is going to let it shine. If we are not going to be fervent for our Faith, what will happen is we will become more worldly. And the more worldly we become, the less faithful we become. Then we fall into this unfortunate attitude of saying, “Well, I still believe in God.” So what? So does the devil. Does that mean anything? You are not going to Heaven just because there is a generic belief that God exists. Satan believes God exists – he knows God exists – that was not enough; it got him booted out of Heaven anyway because he refused to serve God.
That is precisely the case for each of us. We have a choice to make. It is not a matter of whether we believe God exists; it is a matter of whether we are going to act on that. Are we going to serve Him, and are we going to serve Him in His Church? Not according to the way we think we ought to serve Him because that usually comes with conditions: “Well, I’ll do this for the Lord” or “I’ll do that for the Lord.” No, it is a question of whether we are willing to serve God the way He wants to be served, the way He has revealed it to us. He has spoken to us through His prophets. Most importantly, He has spoken to us through His Son; and that is the most important thing in the world.
Now the Lord makes very clear that to anyone who has, more will be given. So this is a time of great opportunity for us. If we are willing to allow the little match light we have got to shine, God will take that and change it into a brilliant spotlight, into a floodlight. He will continue to allow it to grow if we are willing to allow that light to shine. When things are absolutely dark, you can see a light from miles and miles away. That is exactly what the Lord is asking of each one of us: not to hide our faith but to live it, to know the Word of God and to allow that Word to shine through us, to have complete confidence in the promises that Our Lord has made because each and every one of them will be fulfilled and many of them are going to be fulfilled in us. We simply need to trust God and we need to make sure we are willing to serve Him. But that means, first, that we have to love Him with our whole heart and soul and strength. And before we can love Him, we have to know Him. So we need to immerse ourselves in the Faith and we need to bring that Faith out into the world. We need to allow our light to shine so brightly before men that when they see our good works they will give glory to God.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.