Monday September 19, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Ezra 1:1-6) Gospel (St. Luke 8:16-18)
Our Lord tells us in the Gospel reading today that when a lamp is lit it is placed upon something so that everyone in the house will be able to see it, that its light will spread throughout the entire place. The importance of this statement is that He also tells us that we are the light of the world, that He Himself has ignited a fire within us and we are the ones who are supposed to bring that out into the world, that we have to make sure the light of Christ is shining in us and through us. When we hear these words, we realize then what is required of each one of us. If we are to live the life of Christ and bring His light into the world, knowing that one day we are going to have to stand before the Light and everything within our hearts that is hidden in the darkness is going to be exposed, we have to ask ourselves, “How much light is being allowed to shine through me? How much selfishness is in me that dampens it? How much of anything that is not of Christ remains within me?” It is like putting a vessel over the top. It is like hiding the light so that it cannot shine. Maybe there is a little bit of a glow from the light deep within somewhere, but if the light is not shining through us because sin and selfishness block it, then we are not doing what we are supposed to.
That light of Christ within each one of us should already be exposing everything which is not of God. Once exposed, we can bring it to the confessional where we can get rid of it. Not only can we be forgiven, but it will be destroyed so that it no longer stands as a block to the light of Christ. It is only when we can get rid of everything that is not of God that we can truly be the light we are supposed to be. What Our Lord would want for us is that the way we live our lives in this world is going to reflect what we are going to have for eternity, that when we stand before Him for judgment there should be nothing that is hidden in the darkness. The light of Christ within us should match exactly the light of Christ that is going to be revealed on the Day of Judgment. But if instead, when we stand before the Lord, the Light Who He is, the light that we will see at that moment, if that light is so much more brilliant than His light that is shining through us, then all that is hidden in the darkness is going to be exposed in His light. As long as it is not mortal sin, we will wind up for a time in Purgatory. If it is mortal sin, of course we will not be able to enter at all.
Now the question is why anybody would want to go to Purgatory. Why would anybody want to lose eternal life with Christ? If we have the opportunity now to be able to get rid of everything that blocks that light, why would we not take advantage of it? It is either because of fear or because of selfishness. We are either afraid to bring things up in the confessional, thinking that somehow we are going to be condemned when in fact the confessional is the tribunal of mercy. It is the place to be forgiven, not the place to be condemned. Or it is because in our selfishness we do not really want to get rid of the areas of sin in our lives. We like them too much, and therefore it is we ourselves who are willfully and intentionally placing things over the light so that it cannot be seen.
If we are willfully choosing sin over Christ, what does that say about us? If we have the attitude: “I just want to have as much fun as possible then I’ll deal with the rest of it in Purgatory,” we are quite literally playing with fire. We are playing footsie with Satan and we are trampling upon the borders of hell if we are doing something like that. It is pure arrogance on our part to think that we can go ahead and sin and do all kinds of things and then we will just simply go to Purgatory. The point is, if we make it to Purgatory praise God because we will go to heaven, but do not aim for Purgatory because if you miss you are in trouble forever.
The light of Christ is to shine within us, and it is to shine brilliantly. As I said, there should be no difference between the light that is shining through us now and the light that will shine upon us on the Day of Judgment. So we need to ask the Lord to allow that light to, first of all, expose what is dark within ourselves so that we can get rid of it, but we have to ask Him for the grace to desire to get rid of it so that there is nothing standing between us either in our will or in our actions or anything that we may have forgotten or are unaware of, that we will be able to get rid of it all so that the light of Christ can shine uninhibited in and through each one of us even now in this world. And as it does, we will prepare ourselves for eternity where we will enter the fullness of the light – which is Christ Himself – and then the light within us will be one and the same. We will be one with Him, He will be one with us. The light within us now and for eternity is Jesus Christ.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.