Tuesday September 6, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Colossians 2:6-15) Gospel (St. Luke 6:12-19)
In the first reading today from his Letter to the Colossians, Saint Paul in very succinct form lays out for us not only what our faith is about but the dignity that is ours. He tells us, first of all, that in Christ the fullness of deity dwells bodily. Deity, of course, means “God.” So the fullness of God dwells in Him in a bodily form. Then he goes on to tell us that in Christ we have been circumcised, not with the circumcision that is administered by hand, but rather a circumcision by which we put off the body entirely, with all of its desires that would be immoral, to be able to live a truly moral life. He goes on to tell us that we were baptized into Christ, we were raised with Him, and so we share already in the death and resurrection of Christ. We were brought to life with all of our sins forgiven, Saint Paul tells us, and He nailed all of these to the Cross. Therefore, He despoiled all the principalities and powers.
Before all of this, he tells us that we are not to be led astray by any kind of seductive philosophy, and then lays out who it is that we are, understanding who we are. We are members of Jesus Christ, and therefore being members of Jesus Christ we share in the divine nature. We have been incorporated into Christ, we have died with Him, and we have been raised with Him. That is who we are. And because that is who we are, we have to reject everything that is not Christ. That is exactly what he tells us: See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to the tradition of men, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ.
That last point is the most important. If it is not according to Christ, it must be rejected. We cannot be playing games with these things that are in opposition to the faith. It is not a matter of hedging our bets: “Well, maybe, if this isn’t the truth then I want to make sure that I’m okay.” There is only one truth, and if we are not convinced of the truth then we are not convinced of Christ. If we are not convinced of Christ then we have no part in Him. And if we have no part in Christ, we have no part in eternal life.
So if there is something that is being presented that is not focused on Christ, that is not firmly rooted in Christ, reject it outright and absolutely. Do not even give it a second thought because it is not true. We need to be very clear about this because in our neopagan society there is an awful lot out there that is leading people away, that is drawing people away from Christ, because they are looking for some kind of power, they are looking for some sort of curious intrigue, whatever it might be. That is not what we can be about. We have to be faithful to Jesus Christ. He alone is our hope and there is no other. So that is what we have to look at. In this world that has gone astray, it wants to pull us down with it. We have to reject that. We have to remain firmly rooted in Christ, but in order to do that we have to know, first of all, Who He is, and then we have to know who we are. That is what Saint Paul lays out so neatly in this reading today. In Him the fullness of deity dwells bodily. He is God and He is man. You were baptized into Him. You share in everything that is Christ. Once you understand Who He is and once you understand who you are, there is no option, there is no other possibility. Therefore, anything that is not according to Christ is not true. And, therefore, any kind of philosophy or religion that does not have Jesus Christ as its center and is in opposition to the one faith that Jesus Christ Himself established, we must reject wholeheartedly and absolutely, and remain firmly rooted only in Jesus Christ.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.