Tuesday June 1, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Peter 3:12-15a, 17-18) Gospel (St. Mark 12:13-17)
In the Gospel reading today, we hear about these Pharisees and Herodians who were sent to Jesus. What they say really convicts their own selves because they say to the Lord, “We know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion. You do not regard a person’s status, but rather you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.” Knowing that that is the case – that He always preached the Word of God, that He did not back down, that He was not being politically correct, that He did not care what anybody thought about Him but rather He was interested only in doing what was right, He was interested only in what God’s Word was all about, in the truth – and yet they chose to reject it, they convicted themselves.
But it is not just them because we know the exact same thing. We know that everything He taught was truth, we know that everything the Church teaches is truth, and still we struggle with whether or not we want to accept it. Why would there be any struggle? We know it is right and we know it is the truth, even though society tells us it is wrong. Society tells us we are still living in the Middle Ages. I always find it interesting that the Church was in the 21st century forty years before the rest of the world was, but nonetheless the world wants to keep thinking that we are somehow living back in the Neanderthal days and that we still do not have a clue of what is going on. But the reality is that we know where the truth is. And that is not an arrogant statement because the truth does not belong to any one person, but the truth is the Person of Jesus Christ; and the Church is the Mystical Person of Jesus Christ, so therefore the truth is found in the Church. We all know that. What is left for us then is to conform ourselves to that truth. It is exactly what Saint Peter said in the first reading. He talked to the people about the situation they were in and he warned them. He said, Since you know that this is the case, be careful not to be led astray, be careful not to get caught up in anything that is going to undermine your own stability in the Faith.
In our situation as it is right now, there are many, many people who are falling away from their faith; some because of the horrible scandals that have befallen us and because, for whatever reason, they are putting their faith in men rather than in God; some because of the chaos that they see in the Church right now; others simply because things are not happening the way that they think it ought to happen and God is not intervening in the world in the timing that they think God ought to intervene, therefore they walk away from God and they decide that it is easier to be like everyone else. If they knew that the Day of the Lord was going to be tomorrow or next week, well, they would be able to be faithful for that – therefore God is not going to allow that to happen. He wants us to be faithful, period, regardless of what the circumstances surrounding us might be. He simply wants our fidelity, and none of us has an excuse. Yes, in some ways it is easier to be just like everyone else, but we know it is wrong. It may be in some ways more exciting, more acceptable, but it is still wrong and we know that. We have no excuse. We know the truth, we know how the truth is to be lived, and we are called to live it.
Now with regard to why God is not doing something, Saint Peter says, Regard the patience of God as salvation. God wants as many people as possible to be saved, so He will wait until the time is perfect; and He will not intervene one second before that. So it is not a matter of us looking at God and saying, “Why aren’t You doing something?” or, “Why isn’t it happening the way I think it ought to happen?” but rather it is for us to look at God and ask for the grace to remain faithful because in the mess that we are in today, in this world in which we live, we need the grace to be faithful. It is not politically correct to be Catholic – thanks be to God! – and it never will be. But even if society were more Catholic, at least we would have the support of the general population for at least trying to live the truth, but we do not and that is good because it means that each one of us has to make the choice. It is not because everyone else is doing it; it is because we know what the truth is and we have chosen to live it. That is the simple reality, and that is what the Lord is looking for from us: to be faithful to Him by accepting the truth and putting it into practice. That is all He wants.
This is our opportunity to become saints, and a wonderful opportunity to become saints because it is so obvious. The deception is no longer subtle, but blatant. And because it is so blatant, the truth shines even more brightly in the darkness of this world. All that remains for us to do is to accept it and to live it, and by so doing – by being faithful to Christ – to become saints.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.