Tuesday September 13, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Timothy 3:1-13) Gospel (St. Luke 7:11-17)
In the Gospel reading today, we see the mercy of Our Lord. He brings back to life this young man who had died, and we are told that he was the only son of a widow. In that time in Israel, a woman had no rights. She was dependent upon her husband completely to provide for her, and if the husband were to die, then it was incumbent upon her son to care for her. In this case, she had only one son and he had died, so this woman would have been literally reduced to begging. And so God in His mercy raises this young man from the dead and gives him back to his mother.
It is very interesting, then, to put that into the same context of His own self. Here He is, the only Son of a widowed mother, and while in His mercy His heart goes out to this woman from Naim, at the same time He would not spare His own self even for the sake of His own mother. And here we see the immense love that Our Lord has. Of course, first and foremost, He died for His mother. So rather than merely looking at it on the natural level and saying, Why would He not allow Himself to live for the sake of His mother, it is just the other way with Our Lord. He allowed Himself to die for the sake of His mother, as well, of course, for all of us. But more than for anybody else in the world, He sacrificed Himself for His own mother because, more than anyone in the world, she was the most deserving.
We have to then look at our own selves and see what it is that He has done. Instead of giving Himself back to His own mother in the way that He did with this young man, He gave Himself to His mother in the Eucharist. More than that, He gave His mother to us, and He gives Himself to us in the Blessed Sacrament. In a way, that is even more profound, more intimate, and more loving than what He did in this miracle of raising this man from the dead. He Himself Who was resurrected from the dead has given Himself to us in a way that is beyond our wildest imagination.
And so the love that Our Lord has for us, that He is willing to die for us, and that in His risen form He now gives Himself to us in the Blessed Sacrament, that He pours Himself out for us continuously, now we have to ask: In the light of such love what is our response? And what is it that we can do for Him? The only thing He desires is to be loved in return. That is all. He is not looking for anything extraordinary or heroic if He wants you to do something, He will make that clear but all that He is asking for is love, just to do for Him what He has done for us. That is all. He gives Himself to us entirely in the Eucharist and He asks that we would give ourselves entirely to Him. I think if we were honest with ourselves, we would admit that maybe, maybe on a good day, we open our hearts a little bit. But, for most of us, it is far from giving ourselves entirely to Him. He holds nothing back. How much do we hold back? He opens His heart to us completely. Are we doing the same for Him? Those are the kinds of things we have to look at. In the face of so great a love, how are we responding? Love needs to respond with love, and love needs to receive love in return. Our Lord does nothing for us except love. How are we responding to the love that we have received?
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.