Wednesday November 10, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Titus 3:1-7) Gospel (St. Luke 17:11-19)
Saint Paul, in the first reading, instructs Titus that he is to teach the people that they are to be obedient, that they are to slander no one, that they are to be peaceable, considerate, and exercising graciousness toward everyone. These are the exact same things that the Lord, through Saint Paul and Scripture, is instructing us to do: to be obedient, to be peaceable, to be considerate, to be gracious. All of the things that are required to live a life of virtue, to live a Christian life, are exactly what the Lord is asking of us.
Now the opposite is what Saint Paul tells us that even he himself used to be – and would that we would be able to say that we used to be this way. We listen to what he says: foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves of various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hating ourselves, and hating one another. These are the things that before we were Christian perhaps were part of our lives. Unfortunately, there are all too many Christian people who would still have to say, “Well, that sounds just like me.” That is what needs to go because there is no room for it. And Saint Paul explains exactly why there is no room for any of that stuff. He says, “The kindness and generous love of God has appeared.” That is, Jesus Christ was born as a little, tiny baby for us. That is the appearance of the graciousness and the love of God for us. He has come in human form to teach us by His humility, by His graciousness, the way that we have to be.
Then Saint Paul goes on to remind us that, first of all, it was not because of anything we had done but it was merely because of the mercy of God that this happened, and then through Baptism we have been given the Holy Spirit. So we have the example of Jesus and then we have the Holy Spirit given to us so that God dwells within us, and so we are to be imitating through the power of God and the mercy of God the very graciousness and mercy that has been shown to us in the Incarnation, in the Birth of Our Lord. That is what we are supposed to be about. That is what it means to be a Christian person: to be able to look at Jesus Christ and become like Him, to imitate Him in all things. We have everything necessary; we have it all at our disposal. The Holy Spirit has been poured forth into our hearts so that we can live this life. It is not something that is too difficult for us, but it means that we need to really start working on the virtue, to overcome all of these struggles and difficulties that we have and not just simply say, “Well, it’s okay if I do this, as long as I go to Confession.” It is important that we go to Confession when we do these things, but we do not want to fall into presumption and suggest, “It is okay for me to do these things because I can go to Confession.” That is entirely the wrong attitude.
We need to make sure we are striving to imitate the love, the graciousness, the mercy, and every other aspect of the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ because that is who we are, that is how we define ourselves. If we are going to be truly Christian people, it is required of us to live a truly Christian life; that is, to put on the virtues, to get rid of the vices, and to really and truly bring into this world the love of Jesus Christ. It is not something we can do by ourselves, but we have the Holy Spirit, we have our Lord Jesus, and we have our heavenly Father dwelling within us. It is a matter of allowing them to live in us and through us so that through us the love and the mercy and the graciousness of God will be brought once again into this world.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.