God Must Be More Than Just a Part of Our Life
Wednesday January 28, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Samuel 7:4-17) Gospel (St. Mark 4:1-20)
As we hear this Gospel reading today which we all know so well, our natural tendency is not only to say, What I really would like is to be that good soil, but also, I want to be the soil that is not only going to bear thirty or sixtyfold, but I want to bear a hundredfold. I want to do as much for the Lord as I can. Now there are a couple of things that we need to look at. First of all, we have to ask, Is what we are desiring done out of pride? which, in other words, is to say, I want to bear a hundredfold because I want to look good, because I want to see if I can impress people. Well, that is not going to impress God. If that is your reason for doing it, you are probably not even going to bear tenfold because He is not going to allow it until the humility is deep enough that we are finally doing things for the right reason. Secondly, we have to look at the question of all the other points. Are we allowing ourselves to be choked off by fear, by other difficulties that come along? Are we allowing ourselves to be caught up in worldly things, in a desire for money, a desire for power, a desire for any kind of material stuff? Does that take precedence over God? Is there something standing between us and God? If so, once again, we are not going to be able to bear good fruit.
It is important to note that it does not say that the seed which fell on the ground (where the people get caught up in all the worldliness) withered and died (those were the ones who got choked off by all the anxieties), but the ones who got caught up in all the materialism just simply bore no fruit. So those are the ones who will go to Mass; they are the ones who will go to prayer; they are the ones who will go through the motions. They are doing a real nice job running on the little hamster wheel, but they are going nowhere because their goal is not God. Their goal is to have God as a part of their life; their goal is not God. Therefore, they are going nowhere. They are making lots of commotion but they are running in place. They are exercising their faith on one level, but their faith is not bearing any fruit because as soon as they walk away from the church or from their time of prayer, they are all caught up in material things: in the search for money, for self, for power, whatever it is. Consequently, their faith is not being lived out. Even when they are in prayer, it is oftentimes sought for their own good or for their own desires. And they pray for material things: for wealth, for power, and all the other things. So it is not about loving God; it is about loving themselves. Once again, they go through the motions but they bear no fruit.
Then there is the other point. That is, assuming we truly are seeking to do what God wants and we are that good soil, at the same time, we realize that there are certain sins we continue to commit after our conversion. Think of David. This was truly good soil, and yet what David wanted more than anything in the world was to be a priest. Well, he could not be a priest because he was not a Levite. So the best thing that he was going to be able to do to get close to being a priest was to build a temple for the Lord and God would not allow it. The reason why God would not allow it, which we did not hear in the reading today, is because he had shed too much blood on the earth. Now, keep in mind that it was the Lord Himself Who said, I have destroyed all of your enemies before you. It was not the people that God told David to go and exterminate because of their sinfulness, but rather it was the people that David decided on his own to do this to. In a particular way, it had to do with Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, whom David had killed so he could cover up his sin. And so it is precisely in our infidelities to God that we are going to reduce the amount of yield that we are going to be able to bear.
We can look at it and say, Boy, I really want to bear a hundredfold, and yet, at the same time, if we look at it and say, But I also want these other things for myself, we are not going to be bearing nearly as much as we really would like because there is still too much of the self that is involved. So we need to listen very carefully to what Our Lord is telling us in the Gospel to make sure we truly are that good soil that we say we want to be, that we are really living according to the way Our Lord wants us to live, and that we are seeking His Will and not trying to conform Him to our will not just going through the motions, but really opening our hearts so that we will be conformed to the Will of God so that in all things we will do His Will. When we are doing His Will in all things, then it is God Who will build the house for us and we will bear for Him the kind of yield that we truly desire sixty or eighty or even a hundredfold because it is not us, but it is God Who is doing it for us and it is God Who is working in us. And it is when we are doing Gods Will that we will be giving Him the greatest glory and we will find the fulfillment of all the desires of our heart. So it is a matter of making sure that those desires are proper, that they are directed in the right way so it is no longer we, but it is God Who is doing everything in us, and it is no longer our will that we are seeking but His and His alone.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.