Tuesday November 23, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier†† Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Revelation 14:14-19)†† Gospel (St. Luke 21:5-11)
In the first reading today, we hear about the harvest of the earth as the One Who appears as the Son of Man with a crown on His head and a sharp sickle in His hand wields the sickle to be able to reap the harvest of the earth. Then another angel similarly has to use his sickle to reap all the harvest of the grapes because everything is ripe. Well, if we look at what is going on in the world today and we recall the parable of Our Lord when he talks about how the man went out and sowed seed, and while he was asleep his enemy came and sowed the seeds of the weeds, and he told them that they are to leave them both (the weeds and the seeds) to grow together because otherwise if you tear up the weeds you might take the wheat with it, we begin to realize that the weeds seem to be quite ripe right now. They have reached their fullness and they seem to be blossoming quite well. The only hope is that the wheat is at about the same place because if it is maybe something is going to happen to be able to harvest some of this and we can get back down to what we are supposed to be.
But, in the meantime, what we have to do is make sure that we remain faithful, because as we heard about the grapes, the angel wielded his sickle and took the grapes and threw them into the winepress of Godís fury. So we look around and we realize that what is going on today the Lord is not pleased with. How could He be? Anybody with a Christian conscience is not pleased about what is going on in the world today. But what an opportunity for us to be able to be holy, to be able to be saints. We think, as Our Lord talks about what happened in Jerusalem two thousand years ago, for those who would be faithful to Judaism as the Lord had revealed it in Scripture (not according to what was going on in Jerusalem at the time), if they would be faithful, knowing that all of these things were going to happen, they would be saved. The same has to be true with us. This is the New Jerusalem, the Church, and look at what is going on. It is just like what was happening in Jerusalem two thousand years ago. Within the temple, there is corruption. Within the holy city, corruption. And so the Lord is going to have to intervene in order to purify things. That is what we are praying for.
In the meantime, we have to be faithful. We must remain faithful always. As I mentioned a minute ago, that gives us the greatest opportunity to be saints if we will simply reject all the nonsense that is around us, if we will be wheat in the midst of all the weeds, if we will bring forth a harvest that is of great fruit for the Lord. That is what we have the opportunity to do, and there has never been a greater opportunity in the history of the world than there is right now to do this. What a blessing for us to be alive in the midst of all this. It might not feel like it day-to-day, but it truly is a great blessing. And we need to remember that all the grace necessary for us to be saints is there; all of the grace necessary for us to reject what is not good is present. God is not stingy with what He is doing. The problem is we have become so accustomed to the evil ways that perhaps many of us have taken some of them on. While we are trying to live a good life on one level, we kind of like some of the bad stuff on another level. We need to cooperate with Godís grace, we need to choose to reject the evil, and we need to bear fruit for the Lord.
That is what we can think about. We recognize that, while we do not know the time, the time is short and the day is coming when there is going to be a purification. We have to be found ready. Otherwise, when the sickle is wielded we are going to be thrown out with the weeds rather than gathered up with the wheat. That will be a tragic day if such a thing happens when we knew better. So it comes right down to the same thing that I keep harping on over and over and over again: pray. Pray, pray, pray! It is just that simple. If you do not, you will not be counted among those whom the Lord recognizes and knows. It is the only way we are going to be able to sort out the good from the evil. It is the only way we are going to sort out Godís Will from our own will. It is the only way we are going to be able to do what God wants us to do and to truly be saints in the midst of this ugly world that we live in. That is the only way. If we want to try to rationalize and justify any other way, we are heading down. We need to pray. Enough excuses, enough nonsense Ė there is not any more time to discuss it. Pray or be lost. The choice is yours.
*† This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.