Give to God Whatever He Asks of You
Wednesday November 3, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Philippians 2:5-11) Gospel (St. Luke 14:15-24)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord lays out for us the situation of trying to get to heaven, that it is not necessarily going to be those who were invited. Now in the context, of course, He is talking about His own Jewish people. However, today we can even look at ourselves and say, “Even though we were among those lying in the hedgerows and the alleys and so on, we have also been invited.” The question is whether or not we are going to find an excuse for ourselves.
On one level, certainly, as we listen to the excuses of the various people, they were somewhat legitimate; and yet, at the same time, what they were doing was trading in something of earthly value for that which was of heavenly value. So the question of whether or not we are going to dine at the table in the kingdom of heaven, whether or not we are going to enter the banquet of the Lamb, depends, as Saint Paul makes pretty clear in the first reading, on our attitude, on our disposition. If we are to be the spouse of the Lamb, we have to have the same disposition as the Lamb. And we are told that He humbled Himself, that He was obedient even to the point of death. He Who is God did not deem equality with God something to be grasped. He was willing to be completely detached from everything in order to do the Will of God.
Now the great question is whether or not we can say the same. Are we really willing to do God’s Will? Again, we would naturally say, “Of course I want to do God’s Will!” But what if He asks you to do something that might be difficult, or somewhat inconvenient? We all have fairly legitimate excuses just like the people who are in the Gospel reading today, so we really have to look at this situation for our own selves and ask, number one, “Is my disposition the same as the Lord’s, or at least am I trying to get there? Am I striving for humility? Am I striving for service? Am I striving for obedience?” Those are the things that Our Lord has shown us, and that is the disposition that must be ours. Number two, “Are we set on doing God’s Will no matter what?” That is something we really, really, seriously need to look at. If God asked us to do what we wanted to do in the first place, it certainly would not be too difficult to do His Will, but that is not usually what He does. He asks of us difficult things, sometimes very painful things, because He is going to find out from us just how serious we really are. Again, it is not that He does not know how serious we are; it is that we do not know how serious we are. We can sit here theoretically in the generosity of our hearts and say, “Lord, I will do anything for you!” – until He asks. Then we say, “Well…not that. How about something different? I’ll do almost anything except for that.” If it is God’s Will, it is the best; and if it is the best and it is God’s Will anyway, we need to be willing to do it simply because we were asked by God.
Just put yourself into the position of what Our Lord did in an analogous situation. If the Lord came to you and said, “Would you become a fish? Would you become a dog? Would you become a salamander, or even worse?” We would say, “Well, that’s beneath my dignity. Of course not!” Jesus is God, and He became one of us. And then He died for us. Is there anything that we really think we are too good for? That is what we have to look at: the disposition and the attitude. Otherwise, we can be reasonably assured that when the Lord calls and says that the dinner is ready we are going to have a hundred and one excuses and we are going to say that we cannot come. Unless we are willing to strive to do His Will, to answer His invitation no matter what it is and no matter when it is, seeking to be humble and obedient and detached, when the ultimate call comes we are going to have another excuse just like we do everyday when He invites us to do different things. Remember, He will never force us; He will invite us.
We have been invited. Are we willing to come to the King’s dinner, the wedding banquet of the Lamb?
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.