Tuesday October 14, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Romans 1:16-25) Gospel (St. Luke 11:37-41)
In the first reading today, Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Romans, tells us that the righteous live by faith, and it is that faith in God which has been revealed to us in the Scriptures. But then he also tells us that there are some people who have rejected the truth; they have rejected God. These are people who give themselves over to mortal sin. He tells us that what could be known about God was known to them, that God did not keep Himself entirely hidden. Although He is invisible, nonetheless, through the things He has created we see the vestiges of God and the truth can be known to them. But they have rejected the truth. “They have served the creature instead of the Creator,” as Saint Paul says.
Now in this context he is talking about persons who practice homosexual acts, but the fact of the matter is that anyone who gives themselves over to mortal sin will have some of the same effects. Saint Paul talks about how in the depravity of their minds they have been darkened so the mind no longer works the way that it should. They can no longer see clearly. The same is true with the will; the will is weakened. So what happens as we give ourselves over to our own desires, our own selfishness, we wind up serving ourselves instead of God. We wind up serving creatures and worshiping idols, in essence, because that is what it becomes: an idol worship. Because we are not putting God first, we are putting something before Him. We are making sin more important than God.
Again, if we look at the context and talk about homosexual acts, these are far more severe because they are completely contrary to nature, but any mortal sin is a complete violation of God and of ourselves. So any mortal sin is going to have the same kind of effects. What is really frightening is where it says, “God gave them up...” Because they refused to turn away from their sin, God simply allowed them to go headlong into sin. And it says in Romans that they will bear the punishment for their sin in their own bodies. If we look at any area of sin that we have given ourselves over to, we see the same kind of effect. If it becomes habitual in any way, we wind up bearing the punishment within our own selves because we bring it upon ourselves, so too with these people. But none of us can point a finger because all of us have given into sin, maybe not that particular sin, but all of us have given into sin; all of us have allowed our minds to be darkened and our wills to be weakened.
The only way we are going to turn that around is through that faith, to grow in holiness, to become righteous, as Saint Paul tells us. And this is exactly what Jesus is getting at. What we like to do is make the outside look real good while the inside remains dirty. Jesus tells us that we have to purify the inside. We have to look at the soul, which is the mind and the will, and we have to bring the light of truth into the mind because what can be known of God is known to us, and we have to strengthen the will so that we always choose what is right and good. That is what Saint Paul is getting at, and it is exactly what Jesus tells us to do. We have to reject sin and we have to live according to righteousness. And the only way, as Saint Paul makes very clear, that we are going to be righteous, is if we live by faith, and that is the faith in Jesus Christ, in the fullness of the truth which has been revealed to us and is known to us.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.