Doing the Will of God (Part 2)
Monday December 19, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier†† Fourth Week of Advent
Reading (Judges 13:2-7, 24-25a)†† Gospel (St. Luke 1:5-25)
In the two readings that the Church has given to us today, we see the correlation between these two children that are born: the birth of Samson, which began the deliverance of Israel from the Philistines; and the birth of Saint John the Baptist, which began the deliverance of the people of Israel, and from there, the whole of the people of God. We see that both are consecrated to God from the womb. Neither is to drink wine or strong drink. Both are exceptional children because both of their mothers were barren and suddenly they were able to conceive when the angel of the Lord told them that this would happen. So we see the correlations that are there, but we also then have to look at the implications of it.
First of all, we see in the first reading that the wife of Manoah believed God. Now there are other parts of the story that are not in there. Manoah did not believe his wife, and the angel had to come back a second time. Even then he did not want to believe until the angel did a few other things to make him believe. We see Zechariah not believing, and therefore he is mute. It is interesting that, even in the face of the disbelief of both of the fathers, God did not take away what He had promised, which is something important for us to be able to recognize because sometimes in our infidelity we realize that perhaps we are not worthy. Not that we ever were to begin with, but perhaps we think ourselves unworthy to do Godís work because we have been unfaithful, because we did not believe. But Godís call and His election, Saint Paul tells us, are irrevocable; His call is still there. So if God has asked us to do something, even if we have struggled with it, even if we did not believe, even if we dragged our feet, whatever it might be, we need to get back to prayer and we need to ask Him, ďIs this still what You want of me now?Ē And we need to be willing to do His work.
We also recognize, of course, the dignity of these children in the womb, something that our society does not recognize. Both of these children are consecrated to God from the womb. We are told, regarding Saint John the Baptist, that he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from the womb. And we know that he was because Original Sin was removed from his soul at the time of the Visitation. So here we have children who in the twentieth century would be easily aborted, and yet we recognize that these children are precisely the gifts that God has given to the world. And so we need to realize the dignity even of a child in the womb, and the dignity of the parents to whom God has entrusted the souls of these children.
In each situation in our lives, we realize Godís Will at work. Whether it is something extraordinary like a barren woman suddenly being able to bear a child, or whether it is something that is just ordinary and simple, it does not matter. All of it is Godís Will, all of it is part of His providence, and all of it is for a purpose. Some things, like in these two situations because of the extraordinary nature of the children to be born and the purpose for which they are called, the purpose is made clear. Why is God doing this? The angel tells the parents why He is doing it. In most situations, because it is not so extraordinary, God is not going to do that. But we still have to have the faith that it is all part of Godís providence for us and we have to seek to understand why it is that He is doing what He is doing. Even if we do not understand, it does not matter. All we have to do is accept and try to cooperate with God.
Those are the things that are so difficult. Again, all we have to do is look at Zechariah. The angel Gabriel appears to him and says this is what is going to happen, and he did not believe. Now if an angel is going to appear to tell him what was going to happen and he would not believe, what happens for the rest of us when no angel appears and we are just asked to believe without anybody telling us what it is that is going on. It is not such an easy task to simply accept and to cooperate, so we see the difficulty that is laid before us. Yet, at the same time, because of the faith that we have, knowing that God is in charge of all things and that nothing happens outside of His providence, it is that which allows us to be able to accept. It is that, then, which allows us to be able to cooperate with Him. That is what He is asking from each of us.
Just as the parents in the Gospel reading, as well as in the first reading, had to cooperate and they had to accept, and just as the children were not forced by God to do anything but they had to accept and cooperate, so the same is true of us. God chose us even before we were conceived. From all eternity, He knew that we were to be created and He knew the purpose for which He was going to create us. He chose us, and now it is for us to be able to accept and to cooperate, to seek in prayer what it is that He wants us to do and not to try to convince Him of something different, but simply to conform ourselves to His Will, to accept His choice, to accept His Will in our lives, and to seek to the best of our ability to cooperate with His grace and to carry out His Will in our lives.
*† This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.†††††††