Tuesday August 30, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6, 9-11) Gospel (St. Luke 4:31-37)
In the Gospel today, we hear that very familiar point that even the demons are subject to the Word of God, and that He speaks with authority and even the demons have to obey. It is an interesting point because the Lord speaks with the exact same authority to us and the real question is: Do we obey? If even the demons have to obey the Word of God, why not us? Now there are lots of reasons why they have no choice but to obey. We have that free will that we have to make a choice, but He speaks with the exact same authority. The demons recognize the authority of His Word and of His holy Name, and they are obedient. We who have made a choice to follow Jesus Christ ought to be far more obedient. What a tragic day it will be if we stand before God and He looks at us and says, “You know what, the demons were more obedient than you were.” What is that going to say? It does not sound too good, does it?
But if we couple that with what Saint Paul reminds us of (and he is simply quoting the words of Our Lord Himself), he told us that the day will come like a thief in the night. Saint Paul reminds us then that we cannot be asleep but we have to remain sober, awake, and alert. All too many have been lulled into this false sense of security that our society has provided. As long as we have money, as long as we have entertainment, as long as we have our pleasure, we really do not need anything else. What is happening is the devil has us pulled right into his web and we are just being lulled into sleep. The day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. The question is: Are we going to be prepared? The day is at hand, and if we are not ready, we are in trouble. The Lord has spoken with authority; are we listening? We have been warned; do we care? What is on the line is our souls and the souls of other people.
If we look at what is going on over the last year, we see the increase in natural disasters – increasing in number, increasing in intensity. That is going to continue. We can try to find excuses for all kinds of other things: “Well, it’s the terrorists who did that,” and, “These people did this other thing,” and so on. There is not any other excuse when it comes to the weather and other natural things. Last year, the number of volcanoes in the world was ten times more than normal. The number of earthquakes has skyrocketed. The number of tornadoes and hurricanes is unprecedented. Scientists cannot explain what is going on; they do not understand. We are going to continue to see that increase.
But it is not just that. There are other things that are going on as well, and we have to be able to recognize the signs of the times. This is what the Second Vatican Council told us we have to do. It is exactly what Jesus Himself told us we have to do. He said, “If you can look at the fig tree and you know by its fruit that it is time, then so be it. You can look at the sky and you know that there is rain coming. If you can understand the signs of nature, why can you not understand what else is going on, the spiritual signs that are present?” It is because of the stupid TV set. It is because of the trash we are listening to on the radio. It is because of the entertainment and the pleasure that we are seeking. If all we are doing is focusing on our own self, we are clearly not focusing on God. If all we are caught up into is sensual things then we cannot be caught up into spiritual things. If we are caught up in the senses and we are caught up in the self then the day of the Lord is going to catch us off guard like a thief in the night and there will be no escape.
We have been warned time and time and time again. Maybe we are just sitting back because Our Lady has told us how many times. Maybe we think she is crying wolf. Maybe we think that because she has been warning us for so long and nothing has happened that nothing is going to. It is coming. All you have to do is look around and realize that people are not prepared. They have been lulled into a spiritual slumber. Satan has them right in the palm of his hand. It is not just about ourselves that we have to be worried; there are lots and lots of people out there who need prayer. So we are the ones who have to do that. If we have been warned and we understand, in charity we need to pray for others and do our part so that their souls will be spared.
We need to take Our Lady’s warning seriously. We need to hear what Saint Paul said and what Jesus said. We need to be able to read the signs of the times. The day of the Lord is upon us. If the householder knew the day and the hour that the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. For most people, the day of the Lord is coming like a thief in the night. They are sound asleep spiritually, they are lulled into a false sense of security, and they are all saying, “Peace and security, nothing to worry about.” The day of the Lord will catch them unprepared.
We have to be prepared. We do not know when things are going to happen and we do not know how things are going to happen. It does not matter. If we are prepared, we are going to be fine. And if we are prepared then we can help others to be prepared. The best way to help them is through prayer, through offering penance. That is something that would be required by charity. So we need to be prepared now because the day of the Lord is at hand like a thief in the night of the American slumber.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.