Embrace the One Who is Love and Beauty Himself
Friday November 14, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Wisdom 13:1-9) Gospel (St. Luke 17:26-37)
In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, we are told that if we have enough intelligence to be able to see the beautiful things God has made that we should certainly be able to reason very easily to their Artisan, to their Originator, to the One Who created them. And we should be able to recognize that if the things that God has made are so beautiful, that God has to be far more beautiful even than the things that He made. Now the difficulty for us is that sometimes we would say, “Well, just because an artist has extraordinary ability to make beautiful things doesn’t necessarily mean the artist himself is all that beautiful to look at.” But the fact is, if an artisan has the kind of mind and talent to be able to make something truly beautiful, it is not the external beauty of the artisan that one would be caught up in but the internal beauty. And since God really does not have any external beauty because He does not have a body to look at, it is the Person, the interior part of what we would understand of a human person, because God is pure spirit. It is the mind and will of God where all beauty resides, and it is there that we ought to be caught up. Because in God there is perfect wisdom, it is there that we are going to find the true wisdom for which we search.
Now we need to keep in mind as we hear that reading from the Book of Wisdom about all of these different things and how even the pagans are not excused because they were able to see the things of the world but were not able, for some odd reason, to reason to their Creator, how much more for us? You align this with Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans in Chapter One when he is talking about these people who have given themselves over into some pretty unfortunate sins, and he says that they are without excuse because what could be known of God was known to them. That is exactly where we are at: What can be known of God is known to us. We have no excuse. That does not necessarily mean all of us know all the theological details and all the distinctions and all the different points, but the reality is that by looking at the beauty of what God has created, we see the Artisan reflected in them. The vestiges of God are even in created beauty, so it is all there.
What we need to be able to do is put our reason to work in this. Not so much that we make ourselves into fools because there are people who do that. Father Corapi says that it is possible that one could be so educated that they become educated into imbecility. That is exactly what some of us do to ourselves. We go round and round and round, and we take the most simple thing and make it into something that becomes completely foolish. We simply need to look. Look at it at first glance and you will see that God is there. But it again means that we have to look beyond ourselves. We almost have to laugh at what the Gospel says today and be able to see the way humanity deals with things. Yesterday, Jesus was telling us, “Don’t go running around; don’t go looking here and there. Nobody is going to say, ‘Here He is’ and ‘There He is’.” So today He completes what He was saying, and what do they ask Him? “Where? Where’s this going to be?” What did He just say??? He said, “You’re not going to be able to see it at a place – it’s going to be everywhere”! But that is human nature. And so we need to be very careful not to get in our own way, not to trip our own selves up, but simply accept what God has given and be able to embrace that.
What He has given us is Himself, but because He has given us Himself we cannot understand. It does not make sense to us because we look at it and say, “But if I were God, I don’t know if I would do it that way!” Then we start getting in our own way because we think that we might have a better idea or that we would do it differently: “God must not do it that way because that’s not the way I would think about it.” Well, how we would do it is beside the point. What we need to do is accept how He has done it, and we have to accept Him as He is. But that means we have to put all of our preconceived notions aside and we have to be able simply to accept. We need to be humble. It is not to put our reasoning aside, but rather it is to use the intelligence that God has given us to be able to accept an infinite intelligence, to be able to accept that there is One far greater than we Whose wisdom is infinitely beyond ours, and to humbly be able to say, “I cannot understand but I accept.”
That is the way it needs to be for us because what can be known of God is known to us. That is, it is known to every last one of us that God exists, that He is beauty beyond any beauty that we know, that He is absolute perfection. We can go on and on with the things that we can know just by looking around us at the things that He created. And so none of us has an excuse. What we must do is simply accept Who He is and Who He has revealed Himself to be, and then strive to learn more – but to be very careful that we do not get in our own way but rather allow the Wisdom of God to lead us rather than to think that we are going to lead the Wisdom of God. Let Him be our teacher, let Him reveal Himself to us, and embrace with love the One Who is love and beauty Himself.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.