Wednesday January 21, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feastday of Saint Agnes
Reading (1 Samuel 17:32-33, 37, 40-51) Gospel (St. Mark 3:1-6)
In the first reading, as we hear about the story of David and Goliath, we see several things in here that are very, very important. First of all, you have the Philistine who is about 6’6” and very strong, obviously a well-trained warrior, and he is counting solely on his own ability. He looks at David, curses him by his gods, and tells him what he is going to do. David, on the other hand, looks at the Philistine and says, “I come against you in the Name of the Lord of hosts,” and then goes on to explain how it is the Lord’s battle, and that God is not interested in the swords and spears but God is going to be the one who is victorious in His own way. Now we also see that David had to do his part. He could not just sit back and say, “Well, God will take care of it, and I’ll just stand here and watch the lightning come strike you down.” He had his part to do, but it was not according to the norms of battle at the time; yet it worked, obviously, much better than what normally did.
For us, too, we need to realize that the battle that is raging around us is not ours – it is the Lord’s. When you look at these immoral things that are going on in society, when you look at the people who have rejected God and they are basically giving themselves over to Satan in the way they have chosen to live and what they have chosen to do, it is the Lord’s battle. We have our part to do but it is His battle. In case anybody thinks anything differently as to what they can do, all you have to do is think about satellites, tanks, planes, helicopters, submachine guns, mortars, and whatever else they have got, and ask yourself, “What are you going to do against it?” There is not a thing you can do. Take out your peashooter and aim at it? What good is it going to do? It is not your battle to fight. You have your part to do, but it is God’s battle. And He is going to show these people who think that they can rely on all of their technology and all of their firepower that they have nothing. Their arrogance is going to trip themselves up.
We have to pray, we have to get the word out, we have to make sure we are doing our part in being faithful to the Lord, but it is His battle. It is way beyond any of us individually, and it is way beyond all of us collectively to fight on a natural level. We cannot and we would be foolish to try. However, we have to have the same attitude as David. They come against us with all of their fancy equipment; we have to come against them in the Name of the Lord of hosts because it is He Whom they have insulted, it is He Whom they have rejected when they have chosen all of their evil and all of their pride and their selfishness. So God allows us to be humble.
And like David, in part of the story that we did not hear, he had to go into battle without any armor because when they put the armor on him it was too big and he could not move. So he went into battle completely with no armor, no weapons, nothing at all, except his five smooth stones and his sling that a shepherd would carry. So for us, we have to go in being vulnerable, but trusting that the Lord is the one who is going to keep us safe. Whether that is going to work in trying to be an example in the midst of that, whether it is trying to deal with people in your family, whether it is trying to deal with whatever might happen in the future, we do not know. All that is necessary for us is to be faithful to Jesus Christ and to remember that He is God, He is all-powerful, and that next to Him a nuclear bomb is nothing. Nothing.
God can keep people safe; He can do whatever He wants. Just remember the Jesuit priests who lived at ground-zero in Hiroshima. They were not touched. Their convent was not touched. It was unscathed, and to this day none of them have any radiation poison or any problem. Everything around them was completely devastated except their building. And they said the reason was because they lived the message of Fatima. They were praying the Rosary, they were doing what they were supposed to do, and God protected them.
Nothing is impossible for God, but if we think we are going to do it by ourselves, well, then we will see how impossible it is for us. We cannot. No matter what the battle is that we are fighting, it is the Lord’s battle, if what we are doing is fighting for righteousness. We need to do what is right and uphold that. As we look at our holy little patroness of the day, we see the exact same thing: A thirteen-year-old girl basically defeats the Roman army. It did not appear, at first, that she had won – she died – however, she is in heaven and her witness continues to speak seventeen hundred years later. They have all gone by the wayside; she continues to live on. And she continues to be glorious in her victory.
So our part is to trust, leave things in God’s hands, and let Him do it His way. And remember always that the fight, the battle, is the Lord’s. They come against us with their arrogance – we come against them in the Name of the Lord of hosts.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.