Tuesday November 30, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier First Week of Advent
Reading (Romans 10:9-18) Gospel (St. Matthew 4:18-22)
We hear in the Gospel reading today that when Jesus called Andrew and Peter, and also when He called James and John, they immediately abandoned everything to follow Him. Now that is a striking point because it does not seem to make a whole lot of sense on the natural level. If you had your own business and you were doing pretty well, would you simply drop it and walk away? That is what they did. They owned their own fishing business, they dropped everything, and they walked away from it. But that is because they had found something that was far, far greater: They had found the Lord. And they knew He was the Lord – they believed that – consequently they followed Him. They did not count the cost; they simply were obedient.
But it is precisely their obedience and their willingness to let go of everything to follow Him that makes their words so believable. We hear from Saint Paul that their word has gone out to the end of the world, that they have indeed been heard, and he tells us (quoting Isaiah) that we do not have faith unless we have heard something, unless somebody has preached the Word to us. When we look at those early apostles, we see the faith they had. It is precisely that faith they had in Jesus, the faith that was strong enough to be willing to leave everything behind in order to serve Him, that made their words so believable, that brought faith to other people when they heard these apostles. They were not highly educated men but they were men who believed. And it was that faith that brought the Faith to now millions and millions of people.
And so for us, we need to learn a lesson from Andrew. Andrew, of course, was looking for the Messiah. We hear in Saint John’s Gospel that Andrew was the first to believe and that when Jesus came and Saint John the Baptist pointed Him out, Andrew followed Christ and then went to find his brother Peter. So too, we need to be looking always for the Lord, to be able to see Him at every moment of our lives, to see the Lord at work within because then we recognize that the things that happen to us are part of God’s Providence – not just simple coincidence that may happen within the day-to-day living out of our lives. Every single moment is a gift from the Lord, every single moment is an opportunity for us to grow in holiness, and every single event in our lives is given to us by Christ. If we can see the Lord at work within us and within our lives, if we are looking for Him, then, like Andrew, we will be able to see Him; we will be able to recognize Him at work within our lives and we will bring the message of Christ to others just as he did. Then that apostolic voice will continue to resound throughout the world and more people will be able to believe.
In our world there are so many voices that people are hearing and these voices are pulling them away from Christ. Each one of us needs to be the voice of Christ. Each one of us needs to help people to see the Lord at work within their lives so that each one of us will be among those Saint Paul mentions when he quotes Isaiah: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the Good News. If we can bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to other people, we are sharing in that apostolic work. We are the ones, then, who will receive the blessings given to those who preach the Good News. Many others will hear that Gospel and it is in that only that they will be saved. When they will believe in Jesus Christ and live the word they have heard, it is only in that way that they can be saved. That is something we need to have etched into our minds and our hearts: No one is going to be saved by simply being a nice person; they will be saved only by Jesus Christ. How can they believe in Him, of Whom they have not heard? And how will they hear, unless somebody preaches? So that is our call. It is a call from Christ Himself to live the Gospel in which we believe and to bring Jesus Christ to others.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.