Wednesday July 6, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Genesis 41:55-57; 42:5-7a, 17-24a)
Gospel (St. Matthew 10:1-7)
In the first reading today, we hear about Joseph in Egypt, Joseph who was sold by his brothers as a slave and then had to endure so many trials until God brought him forth from prison and made him the governor of the land. And then suddenly all of the people are coming to him. We see the same basic pattern with Our Lord, except for His disciples at first did not have to endure any kind of hardship, but rather they trusted and they followed the Lord and He sent them out into the whole world. In the first case, the whole world came to Joseph. In the second case, the Lord sent His disciples into the world.
But once the disciples went out (and those who would follow Him) what happened is that the whole world then came to Jesus, and that is what they needed. In the ancient times, they came to Joseph in order to find provisions for their bodies so that they would be able to live. But now in the New Testament times, it is necessary that we come to Jesus to find what we need for our souls so that we can live. Of course, this “living” is not merely the natural life in this world, but it is supernatural life in this world and eternal life in the next.
For each one of us, then, it is to recognize the call that God has given, the call similar to that of the apostles: first, to follow the Lord, to learn from Him. But then we know what happened to the disciples, which was opposite of the pattern with Joseph. Joseph began with lots of suffering, and then he ended with all the glory of being the governor and having all the authority. The apostles were given great authority by Our Lord, and then they had to suffer. Each one of them, except Saint John, endured martyrdom. Saint John, of course, they tried on a couple of occasions to kill but they were not able to so they threw him out on the island of Patmos in a cave. We see the suffering that each of them had to endure for the Gospel.
For us, it can work both ways. We might have to suffer in order to prepare ourselves for what it is that God wants us to do. Or it may be that as we set out on the task God desires of us that it is then that we are going to have to suffer. Or it may be that it is going to be both. But the reality is – and we all know it – that there is no such thing as a Christian without suffering. If you want to get away from suffering, then you have no part of Jesus. It is just that simple. What we need to make sure we are doing is getting away from this false gospel that has been preached in this country for a couple of hundred years, the gospel of health and wealth, the gospel that says Jesus does not want any suffering, the gospel that says we should have everything easy if we believe in Jesus. This is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not what Christian people have believed for two thousand years. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Cross. If we do not want to be on the Cross then we have no part of Christ. There is no alternative form. There is no way that we are going to get to heaven except through the Cross. So if we are not willing to share in the suffering and the death then neither will we have a share in the resurrection and the exaltation in heaven.
Our Lord, like He did with His disciples, has called each one of us. He sends us out into the world after teaching us, and then He is going to ask us, in essence, to “put our money where our mouth is,” to live what it is that we believe. If we are going to preach Jesus Christ, then we have to live the life of Jesus Christ. And the life of Jesus Christ implies the passion and the death in order to get to the resurrection. There is no Christianity without it. That is a choice that each one of us realizes we have to make. Do we want to live this false Christianity that says, “I should be rich and I should have an easy life and there should be no suffering”? We can therefore be on the wide and easy road that leads straight to hell. Or do we want to live the life of Christ, the life which says, “I must take up my cross daily and follow in His footsteps,” the footsteps of which Saint Peter says, “Jesus left you an example of suffering to have you follow in His footsteps”? Are we willing to be crucified with Him so as to die with Him in order to live with Him? to take the narrow path – the rough and narrow path – that leads to life? Those are the only two alternatives.
Each one of us needs to look directly at the crucifix, and then we need to enter into our hearts, and there we have to speak to Jesus. Are we going to say “yes” to Him or are we going to say “no”? Are we going to unite ourselves with Him or separate ourselves from Him? The call of Christ has been given to each one of us, but as He Himself says: Many are called, few are chosen. If we want to be among the chosen ones, we need to look at that crucifix and we need to say “yes” to Jesus.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.