Wednesday September 1, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Corinthians 3:1-9) Gospel (St. Luke 4:38-44)
In the first reading from Saint Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, he makes, today, a further distinction as he speaks to the people. He tells them they are still of the flesh rather than of the spirit. He tells them that when he preached among them he could not really feed them with any solid food because they could not handle it, but rather they were just babies in Christ. Therefore, he simply had to feed them milk because that was all that they could take. Now it is rather interesting, again, to put it in context: He fed them only milk and he tells us the only thing that he preached was Jesus Christ crucified which means that to share the Cross of Christ is milk. That is not even solid food for Christian people. That is baby food. It is just the beginning. Yet, he goes on to say to them, “You are still in the flesh. While there is jealousy and rivalry among you, are you not of the flesh?” Well, it does not take much then to look at our own selves and say, “Am I in the flesh or am I in the spirit at this point?” I think we all know the answer to that. How many of us are really embracing the Cross of Christ? How many of us are really living the spiritual life? We are merely babies in Christ still, according to what Saint Paul is telling us.
We see in the gospel reading the same kind of thing. Our Lord is preaching to the people. He heals the sick and He casts out the demons, and then the people want Him to stay because they saw the signs and wonders that he was working. It was not because they understood the message. It was not because they believed in the Person. It was because they saw something for themselves. This was a wonderworker and they liked what He was doing but they did not recognize anything beyond it. They wanted Him to stay because they could get something for themselves. So, once again, we can look at our own lives and ask about our own spiritual life, “Do I want Our Lord in my life for me? Is it because of what I get out of it? Or do I recognize who He is and love Him just for who He is?” He is God and He deserves to be loved. Even by the most wretched of all creatures, He still deserves to be loved. Therefore, it is a matter of justice as well as a matter of charity on our part to love Him, to worship Him, to adore Him, to develop a relationship with Him; not for what we get out of it but because of who He is.
Remember, love is about seeking the good of the other. He will be there for us, He will take care of us, and He will provide everything that we need. And so, the question is not about Him, but it is about us. Are we in this relationship with Christ for Him or for ourselves? Are we seeking His good and His glory or our own? We need to make sure that we are really striving to overcome the things of the flesh, and if it is about selfishness it is about the flesh and it is about the self. If we are called to be spiritual it is a call to be united with Jesus for the glory of God. Granted, there is a great deal that we receive from this but that is not the reason we should be doing it. We should be there for Him. So again, we can ask ourselves, “Are we ready to eat the solid food of the spiritual life or are we still stuck on the milk? Are we living in the spirit or are we living in the flesh? Are we still struggling to overcome just the basic things or are we striving for the heights?”
As we look at those things, then we ask ourselves, “Am I truly living as Saint Paul would tell me to, according to the spirit, or am I stuck according to the flesh?” If we are stuck according to the flesh it is simply because we like it and we are afraid to let go of it because we are not sure what it is going to look like if we do let go of it. We need to be truly willing to get rid of the stuff, to overcome things that keep us in the flesh, so that we will be able to rise and live according to the spirit. That is what we are called to. That is what Our Lord has for us. [We] begin by overcoming the self and looking to Him rather than looking to ourselves, and seeking Him, united ourselves with Him on the Cross, so that we will be able to rise with Him in the spirit; not even after death, but in this life after the death to self, so that we live for Christ. That is our call. That is solid food in the spiritual life. That is getting out of the infancy and getting into the real stuff. That is what God wants for you, for each and every one of us: To grow up spiritually and to no longer be babies in the spiritual life, but to be adults; and to be eating the solid food of the spiritual life, which is the fullness of Jesus Christ crucified, and raised from the dead.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.