Tuesday July 26, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Exodus 33:7-11; 34:5b-9, 28) Gospel (St. Matthew 13:36-43)
In the first reading today, we hear about Moses going out to the meeting tent and praying with the Lord, and how the Lord used to speak to him face to face, as one man speaks to another. Then we hear about another situation that happened sometime later, that is, Moses climbs Mount Sinai and asks the Lord to allow him to see His face. The Lord tells Moses to stand in the hollow of the cliff and the Lord would pass by. As He passes by, He pronounces His name, Lord. Technically it is “Yahweh,” but it is translated here as Lord – the Lord, a merciful and faithful God who is generous in forgiving. Moses, as he has this experience of God passing by, prays that even though this is a stiff-necked people who had violated God, that the Lord would come with them, that He would stay in their midst.
Today, as we celebrate this feast of Saints Anne and Joachim, we also realize that something similar took place. God in His mercy has chosen to dwell among us, and He has chosen that there would be human means by which He would come into this world. So we celebrate today the feast of the parents of our Blessed Lady, the grandparents of Jesus. These good and holy people are the ones God had chosen to bring into the world the most incredible and wonderful human person ever created. Our Lord, of course, was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit; Our Lady was not. She was conceived in the normal course of marriage.
We see, then, that God has chosen two human persons to bring about this wonderful, wonderful woman and to use them as the means by which He is going to make a new meeting tent. Moses used to go out to the meeting tent and God would descend upon it. Joshua would stay there praying all day long. Our Lady is the perfect meeting tent, the place where God came down, and there is where He dwelt. Our Lady would stay there with Him all day long in prayer. We see how this mystery is completed and perfected, because God has not only allowed Moses to see His face but He has allowed all humanity to see His face. And He continues to be with us. In Our Lady, He was present in a very hidden way so that only she knew initially, and then Saint Joseph. But for us, we know that Our Lord is right here in the Blessed Sacrament. He is here so we can come and speak to Him face to face anytime.
If Moses would go out to the meeting tent and pray, and Joshua would simply remain, we also see the importance, then, of that interior prayer – not merely saying prayers, but entering into the heart and being one with God in the depth of our being in that mental prayer, that contemplative style of prayer. If we know that God is right here, why would we not want to talk to Him? Why would we not want to be with Him? What we have to realize is that God has planted that good seed in our heart that we hear about in the Gospel, but the enemy of our soul has also planted some seeds. The weeds, unfortunately, are the ones that are sitting there telling us, “You don’t need to pray, stay away from there. You’ve got better things to do, don’t waste your time! Why would you want to sit there like that for a long time? Why go to the chapel?” On and on and on the lies go. Unfortunately, we listen to them.
It is time we make sure that we are helping the good seed to grow and that we start trampling down the weeds rather than the other way. The way that is going to happen is to spend time with the Lord. Moses could not do what he was called to do unless he spent the time with God. Joshua could not do what he was called to do unless he spent the time with God. Not one single one of us is ever going to be able to even begin to accomplish what God wants us to do unless we spend the time with Him, unless it is Him doing the work. It is foolish for us to even try. That is what the Psalms say: If the Lord does not build the house, in vain do the builders labor. We spin our wheels trying to do all kinds of things, whereas if we would spend the time with Him and then let Him work through us, everything would be accomplished according to His Will. It is necessary that we do not just simply say we want to do God’s Will, but that we spend the time with Him so that we know His Will and we are willing to allow Him to work in us and through us so that His Will shall be accomplished.
As we meditate upon these mysteries of God dwelling among us, among His chosen people, we realize that in the Eucharist, like He was in Our Lady, He is present inside of us; and we, like Our Lady, need to spend time with Him there. And like Moses and Joshua at the meeting tent, Our Lord is here in the tabernacle – tabernacle, by the way, means “tent” – so He is right here in our meeting tent, in the tabernacle where we meet Him anytime that we come to be with Him. He is there in the Blessed Sacrament so that we can come to Him and speak to Him face to face, as one man does with another.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.