Tuesday January 11, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier First Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Hebrews 2:5-12) Gospel (St. Mark 1:21-28)
In the first reading today, Saint Paul reminds us that, first of all, Our Lord is not an angel. There were some people in the ancient world who wanted to suggest that it was one of the angels who perhaps came down. The Jehovah’s Witnesses still say the exact same thing; Jesus, they claim, is Saint Michael the Archangel. So it is pretty important when they show up at your door to be able to pull out the first chapter of Hebrews and demonstrate that Jesus is not an angel, but rather He is the Son of God Who has been made for a little while less than the angels; then He is crowned with glory and honor.
But it is the other point in here that we need to look at, that is, the point where it tells us that all things are subject under His feet. Saint Paul tells us, In subjecting all things, He has left nothing which is not subject to Him. Yet at the present time we do not see all things as subject to Him. And so we ask ourselves, “How is it possible that all things are subject to Him, yet not everything is?” The reality is that everything is subject to Him. The point Saint Paul is making is that as of yet we do not see it. The reason for that is because it requires faith to believe.
In other words, if we saw Our Lord right now reigning in glory, everything in the world in perfect order because (all things being subject to Him) all creatures were obedient to Him, sin was completely wiped out, everything was beautiful and orderly the way it ought to be, if that is what we saw, if that is what things appeared to be, we would have no problem – nor would anyone else in the world have a problem – being able to acclaim the lordship of Jesus Christ. We would recognize Him as King and as Lord, and we would worship Him as such. But when Our Lord came into this world, He came in a hidden form. He came in human form so that no one could see easily that He was God. It required an act of faith that anybody who would believe in Him would have to put their faith and trust in the fact that He is God even though it does not appear thus. And so it is not by appearances then that we can judge.
In the Gospel reading, the people are astonished because even the demons are subject to Him. If the demons are subject to Him, so too is everything less. Since the demons are fallen angels, that means everything in creation is less than the demons. Therefore, if the demons are subject to Him, everything in creation is subject to Him.
But the reality for us right now is that it requires that same act of faith the apostles had to make, and especially in our day when Our Lord has allowed evil to run its course. It is not finished yet; it is going to get worse – it is going to get much worse in a very short time. Yet what is going to be absolutely essential is to have that constant and confident faith in Christ. If we start to waver, we are going to fall. When things get that bad, we are going to be prone to doubt. We are going to wonder, “Where is God? I thought He promised me that He was going to take care of me and I don’t see Him. It looks more like the devil is in charge rather than it appears that the Lord is in charge! So, in whom do I believe? Where is my faith? Am I going to believe even when it looks like everything I have said that I believe appears wrong?” That is where faith is absolutely essential.
This is why it is so important that He does not show Himself in His complete glory, because it would not require any faith on our part. If we are going to be able to be part of what He is trying to do and if we are going to be able to go to heaven, it requires faith. He is going to require this of us. He is requiring it now, but it is going to be much, much more important in what is to come because that is the only thing we are going to have. There will be nothing else. We are going to operate solely by faith because it will be so dark that there will be no other light interiorly for us to hold onto. In the darkness of faith we are going to walk. It is when we are able to do that and we are able to maintain our faith through the most difficult of times that we will indeed see not only Him crowned with glory and honor, but it is in that that we will also recognize that all things are indeed subject to Him; not just as an intellectual concept, knowing that He is King of the Universe, but rather in practical terms, because we have lived it, we have seen it, and in His Name we have been victorious.
That is what the Lord is asking of us. That is why He does not show the fullness of His glory right now, because as Saint Paul said, We walk by faith not by sight. That is exactly what Our Lord is asking of us now: to put our faith into practice and to make sure that no matter what happens we do not take our eyes off of Jesus Christ because it is faith in Him – and in Him alone – that is going to grant to us the means to be able to survive what is coming.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.