Thursday March 3, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week of Lent
Reading (Jeremiah 7:23-28) Gospel (St. Luke 11:14-23)
This last line in today’s Gospel is one which is critically important. The Lord says, Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters. Now we would like to be able to say, “Of course, we’re with the Lord!” but that is the real question we need to look at: Are we united with Christ? Are we doing His Will? Unlike these people, we certainly are not going to say, “It is by Beelzebul that he casts out demons,” but at the same time we really need to look within our hearts and ask ourselves, “How closely am I following Him? How obedient have I been? How faithful?”
These are the things we can look at because we are very good at giving Him lip service but we are not very good always at living the faith that we profess. And it is interesting that along with this the Church gives to us this reading from Jeremiah where the Lord sends Jeremiah out, saying, Tell the people: This is the nation that does not listen to the voice of the Lord, its God, or obey His commandments. That was His message. And that is the point the Church is trying to make for us to help us understand that, yes, thank goodness we believe in the Lord, but are we really living what we profess? Are we really being obedient to what the Lord has commanded us?
For us, of course, far, far more than the people of Israel, we are without excuse. God condemned them because He had sent them His servants the prophets and they refused to listen to the voice of the prophets. We not only have the prophets, we not only have the apostles, we not only have the saints, but we have the very Mother of God who has appeared on earth how many times to tell us what needs to happen, and above all we have God Himself – Jesus Christ – who has come to us in human form and has told us what it is that we are supposed to do. Yet how many of us do it? How many of us are really following what Our Lord has commanded us? That is the point we have to look at. If the people of Israel were condemned because they did not listen to the prophets, how much more responsible are we who refuse to listen to the very words that come forth from the mouth of the Son of God Himself? And how much more responsible are we who 2,000 years later have heard the voice of His own mother, far greater than any of the prophets who have ever lived? Yet we refuse to obey her voice as well. We are without excuse. If the people of Israel were condemned because of their disobedience to the voice of God, then so will we be.
We can even look at it in the Church and say, “Is the Church right now really any different?” When Our Lord spoke to Jeremiah, He said, I am sending you to them and you must tell them, but they will not listen to you either. That is precisely the problem we have in our society. It is precisely the problem we have in the Church right now. We do not want to listen to the voice of God. We do not want to be obedient. We do not want to be faithful because money is more important, prestige is more important, appearance is more important, power is more important, selfishness is more important, all these things that we have gotten caught up in instead of serving the Lord. And it is not just within the Church; it is within this society. If we are honest, it affects every last one of us too, maybe not to the degree that it affects some in the world, but none of us can say that we have escaped it entirely.
That is what we have to be working against. We have to be striving to be obedient, we have to be striving to be more faithful, we have to be striving to listen to the voice of the Lord and to be able to carry it out. Otherwise, what we are going to find ourselves doing is working against the Lord. We are giving Him lots of lip service, but our works actually testify against us. The Lord, then, will look at us and say, Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.