Friday September 26, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Haggai 2:1-9) Gospel (St. Luke 9:18-22)
In the Gospel reading, we hear Our Lord asking that question which we have heard so many times, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” and then, “Who do you say that I am?” This again, for us, is a critically important question because absolutely everything else in our lives is going to be colored by the way we answer that question. If we say that Jesus is God then we have to ask the next question, “Why, then, do you fear? Why do you not trust? Why do you not believe in what He has promised? Why? Why? Why?” We can just keep asking one question after the next because if we say that this is Who we believe that He is then everything else in our lives has to be changed to adjust to that belief. If, on the other hand, we can only look at it and say, “Well, he was a nice guy. He was a prophet. He’s a good man,” so what? There is absolutely no reason any of us should be here today if that were the case. None of us worships any of the other prophets. None of us is all that impressed with somebody else who was a good person, certainly not to the point where we would be trying to seek him out in our prayer and worship him. Only God is worthy of that.
So again, it is something that we need to make sure we are not just answering in an objective way. It is not a mathematical question – What is the answer to this equation? – but rather it is about a personal relationship. It is about who we are going to be because we are members of Jesus Christ. And if Jesus Christ is God then that means we share in the very life and nature of God Himself, and we do. If Jesus founded a Church then we are members of that Church, and we are. These are not things that we can keep at an arm’s distance, but rather these are things that affect us intrinsically. And so even coming to Mass or praying, we cannot keep that at an arm’s distance. Many people do. It is easy just to go through the motions without ever letting it in, but what good is that going to do for us? It is like watching a television show. You have absolutely no personal input. There is nothing that is going into this; you are just sitting there being entertained as you watch somebody go through the motions. Someone else is doing the work while we sit and watch. You cannot do that when it comes to the Mass. We cannot do that when it comes to praying the Rosary or any other prayer. One has to do the work. One has to become personally involved and deeply involved in it, and not just walk through it and not allow it to touch us.
The answer to that question, “Who do you say that I am,” is the most important answer that you can give to any question, because once we recognize Who He is and acknowledge our faith in Him, we cannot continue to live our lives the way we used to. They must change. And so we hear the words that Haggai spoke to the people, and he says on behalf of God, “My Spirit continues in your midst. Do not fear.” There is absolutely nothing to fear because the Lord says, “Everything is Mine. The silver is Mine. The gold is Mine. The earth is Mine. Everything is Mine.” Everything He created, everything belongs to Him. We have nothing to fear. He is all-powerful and there is nothing that is even close to Him. He is infinitely beyond everything else. So we have nothing to fear.
This point is going to become extremely important as we move along. As evil as things are right now, this is nothing compared to what we are going to see. It is going to get really, really ugly, and people are going to walk away from Jesus in droves because they are going to be afraid, because they are going to look at themselves and they are going to say, “I have to take care of me because He’s not doing it, because I don’t see that He’s intervening, because I don’t see what I think is supposed to happen.” We need to look back at that question, “Who do you say that He is?” There is no walking away from Him. If we believe that He is God then we need to be faithful to Him, and that is exactly what He is asking of us. That is the test that is going to be placed before us. It is already being placed there now, but it is going to get a little more difficult – it is going to get a lot more difficult. And if we are not firm in that answer, if we are not firm in living out the effects of that answer (what follows from it), we are not going to be faithful because we are going to get afraid and we are going to think that we have to take the matter into our own hands, and then we are going to walk the wrong direction.
Jesus Christ is God, and you are a member of Jesus Christ. Everything that belongs to Him belongs to you and you have access to it. All you need to do is trust. He has given you His Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth. He has given you His mother. He has given you the Sacraments. You have absolutely everything. And even if you want to look at the natural level and say, “What about money? What about food?” it is not a problem for Him. He provided food everyday for forty years for 600,000 people – for a million and a half people, 600,000 males. It was a million and a half people out in the desert. For forty years food and water. It is not a problem for God. Mother Teresa used to say, “God is very rich. He has all the money in the world.” He can provide whatever it is that He wants. You need not worry, just trust and do what you are supposed to do. God will take care of everything else. And if it is not happening in the time frame that we think it should, it is because He is testing us. Do not try to tell God how to do it, just trust. He has given us His Holy Spirit. He has given us His Son. We have nothing to fear.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.