Monday October 24, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Romans 8:12-17) Gospel (St. Luke 13:10-17)
In the first reading today, Saint Paul tells us that we have received the spirit of adoption by which we can cry out, “Abba, Father!” Now this spirit, he tells us, is not a spirit of slavery that would lead us back into fear. It is a spirit of freedom. It is a spirit of power that we have and strength to be able to stand firm in Christ. But if that is the case, as he then goes on to say: This Spirit of God bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if we are children of God then we are heirs of God and heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with Him that we may be glorified with Him.
We like the idea of being the children of God, we like the idea of being an heir with Christ, but then we tend to stop right there. We do not like the idea of having to suffer with Him in order to be glorified with Him. But that is precisely what is required. If we are not willing to unite ourselves fully with Christ in all things then we do not have a part of Him. It is, once again, that point of giving lip service to Him while our hearts are far from Him. He came into this world as the Suffering Servant, and if He is going to be our Messiah and if He is going to be the One into Whom we are incorporated then those two things cannot be separated. If we are incorporated into Jesus Christ it is into the fullness of Jesus Christ, and that includes His suffering. It includes His death; it includes all of the rejection; it includes all of the misunderstandings; it includes everything that He is about.
If we just simply look at all of the things that we could glory in, it looks pretty nice, but even in that we should be able to see. Just look at the Gospel for today. We could look at Our Lord and say, “Yeah, but look, He was healing people and He was doing all of these wonderful things.” He still does. But look what happened when He healed this woman. He was rejected. People did not accept what He did because He did it on the Sabbath. So even when He did these things that demonstrated the glory of God, people still did not want it.
If we are going to be true followers of Christ, people are going to have the same reaction to us. Why should it be any different? If we are going to be followers of Him Who was rejected then we are going to be rejected. If we are going to be followers of Him Who suffered then we are going to suffer. If we are going to be followers of Him Who died then we are going to die; not in the same sense that all of us will one day have to die because we are human, but we are going to die because we have faith. The death of a Christian is entirely different from the death of a pagan. Both are human beings who are dying, but one is dying with their eyes on God and directed toward heaven, the other is not, which means that if we are followers of Christ Who is risen from the dead and glorified in eternity then that is the same thing that will happen to us. That is what we have to look for. But it is not merely a matter of looking at the end; it is a matter also of recognizing the means to the end. The means to that end of being able to be raised with Christ and glorified with Him is to suffer with Him. He has laid it out for us. This is exactly what Saint Peter tells us when he says that Jesus has left us an example of suffering so that we could follow in His footsteps.
It is very clear what is required of us as Christian people. Now the question is: Are we willing to do it? Are we willing to accept what it really means to be a follower of Christ, to follow Him all the way to Calvary and through the Cross to heaven? That is the only way. It is the only way that He Himself has laid out. If that is the way that He took to heaven, why would it be any different for those who are going to follow Him? There is only one path that He Himself walked, so if you are going to follow Him it is going to have to be on that same path. And that path leads only to the Cross. God has only one Son, so if we are children of God then we are members of that one Son, and we therefore share in His inheritance, which is God Himself. And if we are going to be members of that one Son then we have to live the life of that one Son. So we are going to be glorified with Him if only we are willing to suffer with Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.