Tuesday October 19, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Ephesians 2:12-22) Gospel (St. Luke 12:35-38)
Saint Paul, in speaking to the Ephesians (who were converts to the Faith from paganism), tells them that in Christ they have been brought near to God; in fact, they have been reconciled with God with the Jewish people to make one body from what used to be two (that is, the Jews and the Gentiles) and now all are brought into one in Christ. And he tells them that it used to be that they were strangers to the covenants of the promise and they were without hope because they were without Christ, but now in Christ they have been brought near and they have been made one.
When we consider what is going on in the present situation, it is no longer quite this way for the majority of people, at least in our country. That is, they are strangers and sojourners to Our Lord but they are not far off; most of them have already been baptized. They have never been taught their faith, or those who have been taught it have rejected it, therefore, they want to live according to the worldly standards. They have the covenant, they have the promises, they have been incorporated into Christ, and they have willfully chosen to reject Him. But the fact of the matter remains that the grace is available to them if they are willing to turn their lives around. Such is probably the case with the vast majority of us. All we have to do is look back in our lives and ask, “Is there a time when I have alienated myself from Him, when I have gone far away from Him?” not in the sense of being a pagan, but living a pagan life in essence, and yet we see the mercy of God at work within each one of us.
That is why Saint Paul tells us that He is our peace. He came precisely, he tells us, to establish peace, reconciling both Jews and Gentiles with God through the Cross, through His body; and it is that which puts the enmity to death. If that is the case, it is the only way that the present enmity between humanity and God is going to be put to death as well. It is only through the Cross of Christ. So for those who are willing to share in His Cross, those are the ones then who are also going to be able to share in the glory that He is promising.
That promise we see very clearly in the Gospel reading today. The master goes away to a wedding feast, and what does the Master tell us heaven is? The wedding banquet of the Lamb. So where is He? He is in heaven and He seems, to our perspective, to be delayed in His arrival. Yet He tells us that when the Master arrives, if He finds His servants doing what they are supposed to do, He will seat them at table and will proceed to wait on them. Now when we have done everything we are supposed to do, recall that He has also told us in another place, “When the slave comes in from the fields would the master say, ‘You sit down at table and I’ll wait on you’? No, it’s the other way around. Should the master be grateful? No, because the servant is only doing what he is supposed to do. That is the way you have to look at yourselves.” We have to look at ourselves as being useless servants who are doing no more than what we were commanded to do. Would that we would even get to the point of doing what we were commanded to do! But even if we are doing what we were commanded to do, we cannot be looking at it, saying, “Well, it’s about time He’s going to wait on me!” Rather, we have to look at it the other way. He will take care of the other part; He will do that out of charity; He will seat us at table and proceed to wait on us if we are faithful to Him even into the second or third watch of the night. But it cannot be our attitude that that is what He is going to do, because our attitude is that we have to serve Him and His attitude is that He will serve us. That is what love is all about: It is a reciprocal relationship of two who are seeking one another’s good. So if we are seeking His good and He is seeking ours, we will serve Him and He will serve us.
That is what heaven is going to be, but heaven begins here on earth. He is serving us. The question is, “Are we serving Him, or have we willfully chosen to alienate ourselves from Him?” That is what we have to look at within our own hearts. And we have to pray for those who have wandered from their faith that they will find the peace they are looking for, the peace which is found only in Jesus Christ. They are looking for fulfillment, they are looking for peace, they are looking for something, but they have wandered away from the very means by which they will be able to find it. If only they will understand that in the blood of Christ they have been married, that they have been united with the Bridegroom, Who has now gone off to the wedding banquet but He is going to come to take His bride with Him. We simply need to be faithful as a bride of Christ would be. We need to serve Him faithfully and we need to know that He is doing the same for us and to trust that, and continue to live in this world with our hearts completely faithful to the Bridegroom of our souls and united to Him Who is our peace.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.