We Must Give Ourselves Completely to Him
Thursday October 21, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-ninth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Ephesians 3:14-21) Gospel (St. Luke 12:49-53)
Our Lord in the Gospel reading today tells us that He has come to light a fire on the earth and how He wishes that it were already blazing; and He tells us, regarding what He came to do, that it is going to cause division. But one of the things we have to realize is that, while He lays out how families are going to be divided, this fire of Christ divides within our own self because we have to make the choice of whether we are going to hang onto self or Christ, whether we are going to be completely united with Him so that there is no division, or whether we are going to claim to be followers of Christ yet continue to live along the natural order, in which case there is going to be a severe division.
Now the problem with this division is precisely that we are living on two different levels. We share the divine nature, but, of course, we have our human nature. We are already seated at God’s right hand in heaven, and yet still we live upon earth. But what we have to look at is what is on the inside. Saint Paul talks about that. He talks about having the graces of God granted to us, and the riches of His glory, so that we might know the height and length and breadth and depth; he is talking about what is inside of our own heart because he is talking about the fullness of God dwelling within us. There is only one other place in Scripture where we hear about the height and length and depth and breadth, and that is in the Book of Revelation when it describes heaven, that all of these things are identical in the New Jerusalem. Its height and length and depth and breadth are all equal; they are all infinite. But if Christ dwells within us and He is God – indeed the whole Trinity, all three Persons, dwell within our hearts when we are in the state of grace – it means that our hearts become heaven. Therefore, the fullness of God dwells within us, and the height and length and depth and breadth of the mystery of God and the love of God in our hearts is infinite; they are all equal. That is the capacity we have.
The problem is that if we want to live on just the natural level, if we want to continue to give Our Lord lip service but not hand everything over to Him, we are cutting that height and length and depth and breadth and making it something that is completely finite. We are then divided within our own selves. We are the ones who are putting up the division. We are the ones who are saying, “I want this infinite love, the fullness of the riches of God, within me…but I don’t want it anyway. I do, but I don’t. I want the Lord in there, but let me put up this wall so that I box Him in, so that I don’t give my whole life over to Him, so that He doesn’t have full access to my heart but only in the little cubbyhole that I make for Him.” We pigeonhole God and we box Him in, and we are the ones then who cause the division.
It is Our Lord who points out the division, which is why He says that He has come to bring that division, but He has come to light a fire in our hearts. If we do not want it burning, then we really do not have much of a part of Christ. If we are going to box Him into some little cubicle that we have made for Him while we live the rest of our lives in a worldly and pagan and selfish way, then the fire of Christ is going out in our hearts. And He warns us that from those who have little, even the little they have will be taken away. If we do not want Jesus in our hearts in the fullness of His being, then we are basically telling Him that we do not really want Him there at all. If it is just as a matter of convenience or hedging our bets then we are going to lose.
We have to choose Jesus Christ. We have to choose Him in His fullness. As we have seen over the last few days, this whole point of being united in Christ, of being one in Christ, means that we have taken Him on as a bride and groom take the identity of the other. They receive the other as a gift and they give themselves away as a gift. That is exactly what we have done. We have given ourselves to Him and He has given Himself to us, and it is fully a gift – 100%. Yet we selfishly try to say, “Well, I’m not giving it all,” but we already have. So what we are doing is taking back what we have given to Him, and that is not an option. Again, if we are doing that, we are divided within ourselves. We are saying that we are united to Him, but we are not. We want the fullness of Christ, but we do not. We have given ourselves entirely, but not really. We become schizophrenic, hypocritical, and completely divided within our own selves.
We need to pray and ask the Lord to light that fire within us, to make it blaze and burn down whatever walls that we have built so that the fullness of Christ and all of His riches will dwell within us, that we will know the fullness of God, the full height and length and depth and breadth, and that within us the glory of God and the fullness of heaven will reside so that our hearts truly become the glorious dwelling place of the Lord, and that as we live in this life already seated at God’s right hand our hearts become heaven as we prepare for the fullness of heaven which is prepared for us by God. Now we prepare a dwelling place for Him while He prepares the eternal dwelling place for us. That is when we are fully united with Him, and that is when the fullness of God in all of His glory and richness dwells within us.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.