Tuesday December 9, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Second Week in Advent
Reading (Isaiah 40:1-11) Gospel (Saint Matthew 18:12-14)
In the beginning of the first reading today, we hear God speaking through Isaiah saying, “Comfort, give comfort to My people.” At the time that Israel was in the Babylonian captivity they needed to hear these words of comfort because it would have been an easy thing for them to think that God had abandoned them. He allowed them to be destroyed. He allowed His temple to be destroyed. Jerusalem had been destroyed, the land had been ravaged, and all the people had been taken into exile. There they were for over seventy years and it would have been very easy to think that God was no longer with them. So now the Lord is calling out to give comfort to the people.
He calls out to us in our own day, saying the same thing, because when we look at what is going on in the world it could also be very easy to think that God has just simply abandoned us. Remember that the worst curse God can inflict upon someone is just to let them do whatever they want, to let them go their own way. Well, that seems to be what He has done with our country and with our world. Because we have rejected Him outright, He is just simply allowing us to go our own way. And it is not God who has abandoned us but just the opposite, even to the point where they keep taking God to court and removing Him further and further so that we cannot put up crèches, we cannot have displays of the Ten Commandments, we cannot have anything from any Christian or Jewish background to be able to demonstrate our faith. But if it is pagan, if it is about Satan, if it is about anything evil, that is perfectly fine because, after all, that is protected by one’s First Amendment rights – but ours is not.
And so it is an interesting thing to see how God is allowing our country especially to remove Him, to abandon Him. For those living in the midst of this society, it is easy to look at it the other way and wonder why God is allowing all of this to happen. Has He in fact abandoned us? He has not. God is with those who will be faithful to Him and today He cries out to give comfort to His people, to give them hope in the midst of what seems to be a despairing situation. A society without God has absolutely no hope because it is going to implode upon itself. Yet, for those who continue to believe and trust, there is great comfort to be able to know that the reason God allows this even in our own lives is to make up for the sins of the rest, and, of course, for our own sins because they are many. But He wants us to know that He is in our midst. Even in the Gospel reading, when Our Lord talks about the little sheep that had been found by the shepherd, He tells us at the end of the Gospel reading, “It is not the Will of your Father that one of these little ones be lost.” God desires everyone to be saved.
In the midst of a society that has chosen darkness over light, that has chosen sin over virtue, that has chosen Satan over God, that has chosen self over service, those who want to be faithful to Christ are going to be even more obvious than what they were before. A light that is burning bright in the midst of the daylight does not show up very well, but when darkness comes that same light seems brilliant when before you could hardly see it. That is the way it will be with us. It is for those who are living their faith to bring comfort to the people, to bring hope into the world, to be the light in the darkness. The Lord told us that we are to let our light shine, and He told us to let it shine so brightly that when people would see our good works they would give glory to the Father. It is simply by living the life of a good Catholic that we are going to bring Jesus Christ into a society that has rejected Him, that we will bring His light into the darkness, and that once again the glory of God is going to overcome the darkness and despair of Satan. It is a simple task to simply live the Faith and bring it out into the world so that many people will be attracted to the light, that they will come to Christ because He does not want them to be lost.
Many are swept away in all of the nonsense of our society without even realizing what is happening to them, making compromises and very bad choices because everyone else is doing it. “At least it’s not as bad as what some people are doing, so what I’m doing must be okay because by comparison it doesn’t look so bad.” We know much better than that. So the task for each of us is, first of all, to know the comfort and consolation of God – that is, that He is with us, that He has not abandoned us, that He is present with us in the midst of this darkness – and then, to bring comfort to many by simply bringing Jesus out into the world by living our faith and bringing many souls to Christ.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.