Tuesday November 22, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Daniel 2:31-45) Gospel (St. Luke 21:5-11)
As we know from the Scriptures, the things that have happened lay out the pattern for us of the things that will happen. And so Our Lord, as He looks at the temple and sees all the people that are in awe of the votive offerings that are there, says to the people, The day is coming where there will not be one stone left upon another. They ask Him, “When is this going to happen?” And He explains what it is that they can watch for: powerful earthquakes, famines, plagues, and mighty signs that will be coming from the sky.
Well, around the year 70 these are the exact things that happened. There were lots of powerful earthquakes, there were famines, there were lots of difficulties, but there were also extraordinary signs in the sky around Jerusalem. There are accounts of all the various things that the people saw up in the sky, different images and visions of things that they could see in the sky and going across the sky, not just a shooting a star, but things like warriors and horses and chariots and things like that that would be seen riding across the sky, lit up in the nighttime. So when we look at our own day and we say, “Look at all the earthquakes; look at all the famines; look at the difficulty with the weather; it must be the end,” have you looked up in the sky lately? We have not seen anything similar to what they saw in Jerusalem. It is not yet the end. But we have certainly entered a phase, and we are entering more deeply into a phase, that is once again going to prefigure the end. Just as the destruction of Jerusalem prefigured the end of the world, so too what we are enduring is going to prefigure the end of the world.
We need to make sure that regardless of what the situation is that we do not allow ourselves to get caught up in all the chaos around us, but rather that we remain just as Jesus said: just to be at peace. Do not be frightened, He said, when you see all of these things happening. There is not any reason for fear. What good is it going to do anyway? Our fear is not going to make something happen and our fear is not going to keep something from happening. The only thing that our fear is going to do is paralyze us so that we look at ourselves instead of God. It is worthless. Our Lord has told us what we need to do, and that is all we need to do.
Even if we look at what Daniel was explaining to Nebuchadnezzar about this stone that is hewn from a mountain without a hand being put to it that crushes these four kingdoms and blows them away and becomes a mountain that fills the whole earth, that is Jesus. It is His kingdom that destroyed the four kingdoms that came before Him; and in the time of the Romans, which was partly iron and partly tile, He destroyed them all. His kingdom has been established as a kingdom that will never be destroyed or handed over to anyone else. That is the promise that He Himself made, that the jaws of hell will never prevail against His Church.
We need not fear. We need not even worry. All we need to do is keep our focus where it belongs, and that is squarely on the Lord. Who cares what goes on around us, if that is the case? As long as we are united with Christ, we can be at peace and we do not have to get caught up in all the things of the world. It is just that simple. So as all the chaos continues to swirl and our temptation is going to be to focus on that (and if you are into the news, of course, the media is going to help you to focus on all of that), it will do you no good at all. We need to make that act of the will, to make the decision and put it into practice, to keep our focus precisely where it belongs–and that is squarely on Jesus Christ and on the kingdom of Christ which He has established, which will never be destroyed and never be handed over to anyone else.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.