Remain with Jesus and You Will be Saved
Sunday January 1, 2006 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Mary, Mother of God
Reading I (Numbers 6:22-27) Reading II (Galatians 4:4-7)
Gospel (St. Luke 2:16-21)
Today as we celebrate this great solemnity of the Divine Maternity of our Blessed Lady, we first of all have to understand this is a feast that tragically we do not share with many people who call themselves Christian. The vast majority of Protestant Christians do not believe that Mary is the Mother of God. They believe, in essence, in a heresy that is called Nestorianism. This is a heresy that was condemned back in the year 431. It was at the Council of Ephesus in 431 that Mary was infallibly proclaimed to be the Mother of God. And so we see that what has been continues to be. The heresies continue to be recycled and brought forth into our own day.
Yet if we look around at what is going on in our own time, we can all clearly see that things continue to get worse. It is pretty evident, if you follow anything in the news. The number of hurricanes and tropical storms set a record this year; the number of earthquakes set a record this year; the number of natural disasters is beyond what anybody can seem to comprehend. But these things are only reflecting what is going on in the spiritual order.
Remember back in 1917, Our Lady came to three little children in Fatima and she asked specifically that reparation would be made for crimes and blasphemies against her Immaculate Heart. Back in 1917, one might say, “What does that mean?” Today what we see is that the blasphemies against Our Lady are increasing and running rampant, even to the point where recently (and, I suspect, unsuspectingly) a Catholic (or so-called Catholic) publication was actually advertising some statues of Our Lady that were so completely blasphemous that I cannot even describe to you what it was they were trying to sell. Once this particular magazine caught on to what it was they were advertising, they pulled the advertisement. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. Remember back a few years ago, there was some unfortunate soul who called himself an artist who took a picture of our Blessed Lady and flung elephant dung upon it and called it “artwork.” Someone took a crucifix and put it upside down in a bottle of urine and called it “art.” These are the kinds of blasphemies that the world has never heard of before that are going on in our own day, and they are getting worse.
We have lots of people who are denying articles of the Faith with great regularity. It is getting to the point now in our society where among those who wish to call themselves Catholic, we find ourselves to be fewer and fewer who really believe in much of what the Church actually teaches. It has become kind of a popular thing for people who want to call themselves Catholic to be interviewed by various news organizations in order to bash the Church, because the fact that they call themselves Catholic somehow gives them some sense of credibility when they want to try to undermine and deny what the Church teaches.
We see these various things that are happening around us, and all we can say is that things are getting a lot worse; they are getting a lot closer. Over the years, I have likened the situation that we are going through to a woman in labor. If you liken it to that, as we all know, in labor the labor pains get closer together and they get more intense. They are certainly doing that. They are now at a point where there are major things happening less than every two weeks in the world. That is getting close. Now the birth of the baby does not come until there is no distinction between the labor pains, one on top of the next so that the labor is constant. We have not gotten quite to that point, but it is coming.
If we look at some of the bizarre things going on in the world that have happened over the last year, back around Easter time there is a convent of nuns over in England that, once again, put up something they call “art.” It was down in their crypt where they bury the nuns; and in the very place where they put the nuns for the wake, they put up an entire “art project” (or whatever you want to call it) that was devoted to what they called “Saint Judas of Iscariot.” They claimed that Judas did not really betray Jesus, that he did not kill himself, but rather he was killed by the other apostles, and so therefore he is really a saint–but the Church has “covered all that up over the years.” This is in a Roman Catholic convent of nuns.
Just in the last couple of weeks, we have seen all kinds of weird things going on: a man out in California who heads up some group that is determined to try to eliminate human beings from the face of the earth, telling us that the biggest problem on earth right now is humanity, that all of these various species of animals and plants that are going extinct or are endangered is all because of us, so plants and animals would succeed quite well if we would just get rid of human beings. I mentioned that on the radio and suggested that perhaps it would be best if he started with himself because his recommendation is that people start killing themselves in order to reduce the population of humanity so we can allow the plants and animals to grow. You see the idiocy of the things that are going on, but it keeps getting worse. Just a couple of days ago over in Israel, in a very, very beautiful place called Eilat (if you look at a map of Israel, at the very southern tip of Israel right at the Red Sea before you cross the border into Egypt, that is where Eilat is) a woman married a dolphin. I am not kidding. This is the kind of nonsense that we have going on in the world.
Now things are going to continue to get worse. I just heard recently (but have not been able to confirm) that this unfortunate character who runs around calling himself “Maitreya” has manifested himself just in the last couple of days out in California. Maitreya is a Buddhist word that means “Messiah.” He is calling himself “The Teacher,” “The Awaited One,” the Second Coming of Christ, the one whom the Jews are waiting for, the return of Mohammed, the return of Buddha, the return of Zoroaster, and every other goofy clown who has come along claiming himself to be anything of importance. This man is a figure of the Antichrist. He claims that when everything goes belly-up in the world, which is to come fairly soon, he will speak telepathically to the mind of every person on the face of the earth. And if you are watching TV, you will see his ugly mug on the TV because every network in the world, he claims, will be united at that moment and show his face on the TV set. Whether you are watching TV or not, you will hear him speak to you, so he claims. It is purely diabolical. And remember that just a few months ago a Jewish rabbi who is the head rabbi of the Kabbalah, which is the occult group over in Israel (they are not true Jews; they are occultists), publicly announced–it was verified on the radio; in fact, he signed a form that was in the newspaper over in Israel–that the Messiah is now alive and is living in Israel. If the occult Jews think the Messiah is alive, my first thought is “This must be a figure of the Antichrist.” These are the not the ordinary Jews who are suggesting this; these are people who are into some very strange things. So we see that the time we are living in continues to get worse. We continue to progress forward.
Now the thing that we can do, of course, is to panic when we look at some of these things, but there is no need to panic. All you need to do is remember what Saint Therese of Lisieux pointed out with regard to the apostles. When Jesus was sleeping in the boat with the apostles and the water was coming over the sides and the apostles were panicking because of the storm, Jesus was sound asleep. They woke Him up, and Our Lord rebuked them and said, You of little faith. But Saint Therese simply commented on it and said, “Did they really think with Jesus in the boat that the boat was going to sink?” That should be self-evident to any of us. In this last year, we have witnessed the death of one of the greatest Popes who has ever lived and the election of a new Pope. Recall that this new Pope, before he was elected, went to the Coliseum in Rome on Good Friday (just a couple of weeks before his election to the papacy) and in one of the reflections of the Stations of the Cross he said that right now the Church is like a boat that is taking in water on all sides. It is sinking. But Jesus is in the boat, and as long as you are in the boat with Jesus, the boat will not sink. Jesus promised us that the jaws of hell will not prevail against the Church. That is a guarantee from the mouth of Almighty God. So as long as you are in the boat, you have absolutely nothing to fear.
Right now it will appear to many that Jesus is sound asleep. If you have been watching, it will seem that people’s prayers do not seem to have much effect. It is a constant complaint that we hear. You will notice there are all kinds of new and bizarre diseases that people are coming down with, things that doctors cannot seem to explain. The suffering that people are enduring is becoming more and more manifest by the day, and getting more extreme. These are great gifts from God. And while it may not seem that He is answering our prayers or listening, He is indeed. But perhaps He is sleeping in the bow of the boat. If He is asleep, why do we want to wake Him up? He is God; the boat will not sink. All we need to do is have faith and stay in the boat. Do not be stupid and try to jump out of the boat and see if you can swim through the waves and the wind and all the enemies that are out there. The waters are shark-infested and it is not going to be a pleasant swim. Stay in the boat and you have absolutely nothing to fear.
In the first reading that we heard, we heard about a blessing that God was going to give to His chosen people. In that blessing, it says: The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let His countenance shine upon you, and be gracious unto you! This is exactly what is happening. We need to understand that this is a great gift. It is such a gift to be alive today. People look back at things and say, “Oh, wouldn’t it have been nice to be alive in this time or in that time!” No, this is the best time in history to be a Catholic. There is no better time ever to be a Catholic. We are going to see things that, as Our Lord said, kings and prophets longed to see but did not see them. We are going to see in our day events that people have sought after for centuries and begged God to intervene, but He has chosen us to be alive at this time. You can be guaranteed that if He has chosen us to be alive at this time He will also provide every single grace we need to be able to be faithful, every single grace we need to be able to become saints. Never in the history of Christianity has there been a better time to be a saint, and God has chosen us to be able to do just that.
Now the question, of course, is: Are we willing to cooperate with Him? That is the problem. When you think about what was happening with the apostles out on the Sea of Galilee, their little tiny boat was pretty small compared to the sea. So too, the Church might appear to be small by comparison to all of the wind and the waves and attacks and enemies and everything else that surrounds us. It might seem to be a better thing to jump ship and join the enemy. Our Holy Father has told us that the remnant is going to be exceedingly small, much smaller, he said, than what most people would ever assume. And so, number one, what that means is do not trust yourself. It is easy to sit here today and say, “Oh, I won’t jump ship!” Do not count on it.
The only way we are not going to jump ship is if we keep our focus on Jesus. The only way–and I mean the only way–we are going to remain faithful is if we pray. If you do not know Jesus Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament, you will not make it. It is just that simple. If you are not spending time with Jesus in prayer, you are not going to make it. Jesus is right here in the bow of the ship, in the tabernacle, silent, passive, one could say “sleeping” in the Eucharist. But He is right there in the boat, and as long as we are with Jesus, we are going to be fine. But if we take our focus off of Him, we are in serious trouble. Ask Peter when he tried to walk across the water. As long as he was focused on Jesus, he was just fine. As soon as he took his focus off of Jesus and watched the wind and the waves, he began to sink. We will be no different. Stay in the boat and keep your focus on Jesus. Spend time in prayer every single day. I do not mean while you are stuffing your face and watching TV, cranking off a little prayer on your way out the door. Throw the stupid TV away, first of all, and pray. How much time every day do you spend in front of the TV? How much time every day do you spend in front of the tabernacle? Who is your God? That is what we really need to ask ourselves.
This is not a time for mediocrity. This is not a time for those who want to be able to hedge their bets. We need to make a choice. The prophet Elijah, when he went to Mount Carmel when the people had strayed from God, looked at the people and challenged them. He said, If Baal is God, follow him; if the Lord is God, follow Him. Which are you going to do? And the people refused to respond because they wanted to play both sides, just in case: “We’re not sure.” We are sure. The Lord is God. Period. Joshua, a thousand years before Elijah came along, looked at the people and said, Choose today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served, or the Lord. He went on to say, As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. Each one of us needs to make that same choice.
The time is near. The birth pangs are getting closer together. Any mother whose labor pains would be closer together understands exactly what that means. At that point, she is not goofing around trying to see if she can get a few last minute details accomplished, and she is certainly not wondering if there might be some way that she could skirt around having a baby at that time. What are we doing with our heads up in the clouds, wandering around aimlessly, wondering if we should serve the Lord or not, looking at the stupid bumper sticker that says: “How much can I get away with and still get to heaven”? Forget it. There is only one way, and He made it clear: I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. If we are not united with Him, we are going to fall off the boat. So it is very clear what we need to do. It does not take a genius to be able to look around and see what is happening in the world. Things are progressing very, very rapidly, and we have a radical choice that we need to make. We have all been warned, and none of us will be with excuse. We have to choose today whom we will serve. If you are going to say As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord then prove it. Words are cheap. Put it into practice. Jesus Christ is present in the Blessed Sacrament. Spend time with Him. Get to know Him. Get accustomed to the way that He deals with things, and then be at peace, because even if He does not seem to answer your prayers, even if He seems like He is sound asleep in the bow, it does not matter. He is God. As long as He is in the boat, it will not sink; and as long as we remain in the boat, we will be saved.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.