Do Not be Ashamed of the Lord
Wednesday June 2, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (2 Timothy 1:1-3, 6-12) Gospel (St. Mark 12:18-27)
In the first reading today, Saint Paul, speaking to Timothy about the gift that he had received, the gift of his ordination, but also the gift of his baptism and the Holy Spirit Who was given to him at Confirmation, tells Timothy that he is to stir into flame the spirit that was given to him. He talks about what that spirit is, and it is important because it is the exact same spirit that has been given to each one of us. He says, It is not a spirit of cowardice but rather one of power and self-control. Not power in the selfish way that we might think of power, thinking somehow that we can lord it over someone else, but rather the power of God that is at work within each one of us. And so he then tells Timothy, Therefore, do not be ashamed of your testimony to the Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake.
When we think about the way we live our lives, we need to ask ourselves, “Am I ashamed of the Lord? Am I ashamed of my testimony to Him?” Sometimes what happens is that, because of the political correctness and the pressure that bears down upon us from various people around us or even just from within our own selves (the fear of what others are going to think of us or that they might reject us or whatever it might be), we suddenly back down. Sometimes we are unwilling to stand up for the truth; sometimes we are not willing to be known as a follower of Christ; sometimes we are just plain embarrassed because of our faith. There is no reason to be embarrassed. Now someone could look and say, “Well, look at some of the scandals that have taken place in the Church.” Those are individuals within the Church; it is not the Church, and it is not Christ. Because someone did not follow Christ the way that they should does not mean we should be embarrassed of the Lord.
What we need to be able to do is get to that point with Saint Paul of saying, I am not ashamed of the Gospel. He was willing to be unabashedly unashamed even to the point that he was thrown into prison and put to death for the Gospel that he preached. Anything else, and we are going to fall into the exact same problem that the Sadducees in the Gospel had. We are going to come to the Lord and we are going to have all kinds of rationalizations and excuses, and He is going to look at us and say, You are badly misled, because there is only one Gospel, there is only one Truth, there is only one Lord and one Faith and one Baptism, as Saint Paul says, and there is not anything else.
If we are ashamed of the Gospel then we are ashamed of Jesus Christ, we are ashamed of the Faith, we are ashamed of the Church, and ultimately then we are ashamed of our own selves because we are members of that Church and we are members of the Person of Jesus Christ. If that be the case, then we have nothing; in fact, worse than that, we have chosen someone other than Christ. There is only one Lord. If we are ashamed of Him, then in essence what we have done is to choose someone else. Maybe it is a different Jesus. We want to use the same name but we do not want the same person, so we water things down and we make Jesus into somebody that He really is not and then we can continue to ease our consciences by saying that we believe – but we really do not. We believe in the parts of Jesus that we like, but we do not want to believe in the parts that we do not like. When it is uncomfortable, we are willing to abandon Him or deny Him. We cannot. We have no reason – none – to be ashamed or to be embarrassed. Absolutely none.
All we have to do is think about our own lives. For those of you who are married, imagine the hurt if your spouse was embarrassed of you. If you went out someplace and your spouse did not want to be seen with you, if someone asked a question and the person denied that they were with you or denied that they were your spouse, imagine the hurt. What is it that we do to Jesus? We go out into the world and we do not want to be known to be members of Christ. We are embarrassed of Him; we are ashamed of Him. We do not want to live the faith that we profess (publicly, anyway). It is not that Jesus can be hurt, but imagine the offense, at least, that this must give to Our Lord, to think that we would be embarrassed of Him when He was so unashamed of us – who have done lots of things worthy of being ashamed of – that He was willing to die for us. And yet we would be ashamed of Him. That is a shame.
We need to pray about that. We need to look into our own hearts and ask ourselves, “Where does my faith really lie? Am I ashamed of Christ? Am I ashamed of the Gospel? Am I embarrassed of the Lord?” And we have to recognize the implications of that. If the answers to those things are “yes” then what we have done is to choose for ourselves another Jesus, another lord, another gospel, another faith. But there is not another; there is only one, and we know it. To choose another one is to cut ourselves off from Christ. We either have to be wholeheartedly with Him or we are ashamed of Him. If we are ashamed of Him, we have cut ourselves off from Him. That is the choice we have. Saint Paul makes it very clear: We have been given a spirit of power and the power of God to lead us into the fullness of the truth, the fullness of the Person of Christ, and we are not to be ashamed of Jesus Christ, of His Gospel, or of our testimony to Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.