Monday January 24, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Hebrews 9:15, 24-28) Gospel (St. Mark 3:22-30)
Our Lord, in the Gospel reading today, tells us that any house that is divided against itself cannot stand. He is saying this in the context of the scribes saying that it is by Beelzebul, who would be the second highest in hell (or you could say the second lowest, I suppose), the second in command, that He is casting out the other demons. But Our Lord tells us if there is this kind of division within the ranks of Satan his kingdom cannot stand.
This is very important for us because if we look at our own selves and see the division within, the areas where we are refusing to accept the Lord, then there is a division within the kingdom. The kingdom of God, Jesus told us, is within, and if the kingdom of God is within and somehow we are divided within our own selves we cannot stand. We will be able to carry on and function for a while, but when things get too difficult we will not be able to make it.
The Lord Himself goes on, then, to tell us what the reality is. He speaks about those who would blaspheme against the Holy Spirit to make absolutely clear that the spirit that possesses Our Lord is the Holy Spirit. And so we have an absolute and perfect internal unity. We know that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one; and Jesus is possessed by the Holy Spirit, with Whom He is one; therefore, there is no division of any form in Christ.
This being the case, we look at what Saint Paul tells us in the first reading, that He is the mediator of a new covenant, that He has entered into the Holy of Holies made not by hands but the one that is eternal in heaven. He has brought our flesh, which is perfectly united to His divinity, into heaven, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit He has perfect unity. So our flesh, our humanity, has found perfect union with God. If we are not striving for that perfect union with God then we are a kingdom divided. Saint Paul also makes clear what the sacrifice of this new covenant is: It is the Lord Himself. He tells us that He has entered into the Holy of Holies not with the blood of animals but with His own blood.
We see, then, that in the Eucharist we have the celebration of that unity. We also have in the Eucharist a means of the unity that we are seeking. So it is both the source as well as the summit of that perfect union with Christ, and it is the source and summit of the perfect union that can take place within each one of us. We come into this world as a kingdom divided because we are affected by sin. We continue, of course, to sin and we cause further division within the kingdom of Christ. Well, we have the means to overcome that. It means first and foremost to be forgiven, which takes place in the confessional. Then, as we work these things through, we actually have the means to be able to sin no more. We have the means of perfect unity, of union; we have the means to have unity in the interior kingdom of God, and that is through the Blessed Sacrament. Just as Christ is perfectly one in the Blessed Sacrament with His Father and with the Holy Spirit and within Himself (in His divinity as well as in His humanity), so He is now the means for us to have that perfect unity because we are members of the New Covenant, because we share His divine life, because we have the grace and the sacraments to be able to achieve this unity; certainly not by ourselves and not by our own power, but by His power and by His own self.
If we want this unity, we must go by the same means that He did – and that is through the Holy Spirit – which means that we have to reject any unholy spirit that we have given ourselves over to and we need to live according to the Holy Spirit, Who is the One Who will bring us into this perfect unity. He is the One Who opens our hearts to recognize Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament. He is the One Who gives to us the grace to say Jesus is Lord and to call God our Father and to have that perfect unity which is offered to us in this New Covenant. The covenant, remember, is Christ Himself, and you have become a member and sharer in that covenant.
Again, this is not something beyond your ability; instead, it is something which is the very essence of your being. If we are choosing sin over God then we are a kingdom divided, and that kingdom cannot stand. But if we are choosing God over sin, being led by the Holy Spirit, and seeking perfect union with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, then we are the house of the strong man that will not be overcome by the enemy because the enemy cannot take over the Lord, the Strong Man Who is the Ruler of the house, because if there is union, perfect union, there is no place for Satan to divide. If we are in perfect union with Jesus Christ, we will overcome and we will have overcome Satan. That is what this is about. That is what Our Lord desires for us. It is the goal of what our lives are supposed to be. Now what remains is for us to choose it, to embrace it, to live it, and to strive for perfect unity with and in Jesus Christ.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.