Wednesday July 13, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Exodus 3:1-6, 9-12) Gospel (St. Matthew 11:25-27)
Our Lord, in the Gospel today, praises His heavenly Father because what has been hidden from the learned and the clever has been revealed, He says, to the childlike. This tells us something very important, that is, if we want to grow closer to God we must become more childlike.
This is the opposite of what our society would tell us. Our society tells us that we must become more complex, that we must get away from anything that is simple and childlike because it is not so impressive. But if you think about people like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, if you think about Saint Bernadette or so many of the great saints, they were exceedingly simple. Yet the brilliance of their answers when asked about theological things would baffle everybody. So we see that the more simple a person is, the more clearly they are able to see God. It is because they do not get in the way. They allow God to be able to work in them because they themselves do not trust their own ability, but rather they allow God to do the work within them. This is exactly what we have to do.
We see how this can work, for instance, in the first reading. We see Moses looking at the burning bush and being amazed that the bush is not burned, and so he wants to go up and take a look at it – a very childlike thing. This is something that a kid would do; it is something that is curious. Moses leaves the flock behind and climbs up a mountain to be able to look at this bush. Then the Lord speaks to him. Once again, we see the simplicity of Moses. He is obedient when God speaks: Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground. Then when the Lord tells Moses what he is to do, rather than Moses saying, "Yeah, you know, You picked the right guy for the job. I am it, aren't I? You couldn’t have found anyone better!" Instead Moses says, "Who am I? Why would You choose somebody like me?" It did not make any sense to him. You see the humility and the simplicity that is there.
We also learn another important lesson on an entirely different level that all of us need to learn, and that is the sign that God is going to give to Moses. It is a rather interesting sign: The sign that it is in fact Me Who is appearing to you is that after you bring the people of Israel out from Egypt you will worship God on this very mountain. Now notice the way God works. It is not: "I will provide you with extraordinary signs so you cannot doubt that it's really Me." But rather, as we know the story: "There are going to be lots of difficulties and you will have lots of reasons to doubt. But the sign that it was Me Who appeared to you is that after it's entirely over then you will worship Me on this very mountain."
Something we need to learn is that the way God works is that we see it after the fact, not beforehand. He asks for an act of faith, and an act of faith is something that is very childlike. Children have to completely trust in their parents. They have to make that act of faith. They do it without even thinking. They do it automatically. That is something we see, again, in Moses, and it is something that all of us need to learn: the way that God works within our lives.
He has hidden all of these things from the learned and the clever because they think they can figure it all out themselves. They like to be in control of everything. Therefore, they wind up controlling nothing. But for those who are childlike, they get out of the way and they let God be in control. They simply seek His Will and they are obedient to whatever the Lord is asking of them. That is a lesson that every last one of us can learn: to be childlike, to be humble, and to be obedient to the Will of God.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.