Friday October 14, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Romans 4:1-8) Gospel (St. Luke 12:1-7)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord tells us that we are not to be afraid. Now this is something which is a pretty obvious statement, yet, at the same time, if we look at our lives most of us live in an awful lot of fear. The reason we live in fear is because of a lack of faith; we do not trust in the Lord. Consequently, it is that lack of faith that leads us to want to put trust and faith in something else; usually it is going to be money or another person or whatever it might be, but the fact is that we are afraid of losing something or we are afraid of being hurt or we are afraid of whatever it might be. Consequently, what we see is that we are doing exactly the opposite of what Saint Paul says, that we are failing in faith.
If it was credited to Abraham as righteousness that he believed in God then we have to be able to do the same. Again, it is not enough to have a generic belief that God exists; that is not what it is about. It is a belief in God Who will fulfill His promises. Remember, God called Abraham and led him out of his own land to a land that He would show him. He did not even tell him where he was going. Abraham believed God and just packed up and took off and simply trusted that God would show him where he was going to go. Would we have that kind of faith? Do we really trust completely in the Lord?
Most of us believe that God exists and we will certainly acknowledge that God can do anything He wants–“He’s all-powerful, that’s not a problem”–but when it comes right down to it we do not believe for one minute that He is going to do what He has promised for us–for me. “Sure, God is all-powerful, but He won’t do that for me because I’m too rotten,” or whatever it is we might think. But if we listen to what Saint Paul has to say, he says, But when one does not work yet believes in the One Who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness. Not “God Who justifies the good,” not “God Who justifies us because we have earned it or deserved it or are worthy of it,” but God Who justifies the unrighteousness and the ungodly. If that is the case, as Saint Paul says, While we were still enemies with God He sent His Son, it was not because we were so good or because we earned or deserved the love of God (because we cannot anyway). It is purely a gift.
We have to believe. We have to believe in God Who will give us the grace to be righteous, to forgive our sins, and to be in union with Him. That is a huge leap of faith. It is something that in our heads we know, but that is not where the problem is. The problem is in the heart not in the head. Do we really, truly believe? Do we really trust that the Lord is going to fulfill in us individually what He has promised? Not a generic belief that, yes, God is all-powerful so He can do anything, but a very specific and particular belief that God will do what He has promised in your life, that God is in control of your life. Are we willing to let go? Are we willing to really trust Him, to believe in Him, and to give our lives over to Him?
When Our Lord tells us not even to be afraid of the people who can kill us but to be afraid of the One Who can cast you into Gehenna–not even Satan has the power to cast you into hell; only God can do that. Of course, even further, remember that our judgment is going to be based on our own stuff; we are the ones who have the power to cast ourselves into hell. We need to be afraid of ourselves. Isn’t it amazing how little faith we put in God and how much faith we put in ourselves? Never once has God given us reason to doubt. Countless times we have given ourselves reason to doubt. Yet we keep trusting in ourselves and having faith in ourselves, which is the most foolish thing in the world, and we do not have faith in God. So when we look at ourselves and recognize our unrighteousness and our ungodliness in so many ways, that is where we simply need to throw ourselves upon the mercy of God and recognize that there is no way we can do it ourselves. Only He can justify us and that is precisely the faith we have to have, to be afraid of nothing except to offend God, and to put faith entirely in Him that He will make us righteous if we are willing to have that complete faith and to do exactly what it is that He is asking of us: to live the faith that we profess and to trust totally in Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.