Wednesday February 1, 2006 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier   Fourth Week in Ordinary Time


Reading (2 Samuel 24:2, 9-17)   Gospel (St. Mark 6:1-6)


When Our Lord went to the synagogue in Capernaum and began to preach, the people were amazed because this was a new kind of teaching and it had authority. Now Jesus goes to the synagogue in His own hometown of Nazareth, and instead of the people being amazed, Jesus is amazed. What amazes Him is their lack of faith. So we hear about one group of people who had some faith, and they were amazed at His teaching. Now we hear about another group who amaze Him because they have no faith.


When we think about what happened here, Our Lord tells them that a prophet is not without honor except in his native place because the people know him, and therefore they refuse to accept what it is he is saying. The same thing happens to each one of us in our own families. You can go talk to anybody else in the world, but try to speak to your own family; they will not hear it from you. They will hear it from somebody else, but not from you because they know you.


But we also have to look at our own selves because, especially for those of us who were baptized when we were infants, we have known the Lord our whole life. Consequently, we fall very often into the exact same problem as the people of Nazareth. We hold Him in contempt; we have no faith in Him because He has just always been there. We tend to ignore Him, we tend not to put much faith in the Lord, and that must grieve Him terribly.


When we look at the situation with David in the first reading, for instance, he has a lapse of faith. Instead of trusting that God is going to provide for everything he would need, especially in this case with providing the military, David goes to count how many men there are fit for the military. It is something forbidden by God, but he has no faith that God will provide. We see, then, the effect of David’s sin. Because of the position David is in, his sin affects the whole people. If one of the people in Israel had sinned, the sin would have had a far less effect, but because David is the king, the sin has a far greater effect because it affects all the people under him.


The same is going to be true with each one of us. If someone here is the head of a household and they sin, it is going to affect their entire household. It is not just the one individual who is affected. The same will be true in the Church. If the Pope sins, all of us suffer. In a religious order, if the superior sins, everyone under the superior suffers. In the country, if the president sins, everyone suffers underneath him. If one of us were to sin, the whole country is not going to be in trouble because of that, but it will be so with the president. We have to see that sin has greater consequences depending on the position we are in.


The thing to do is to look at the people entrusted to your care and ask yourself, “Do I really want to fail in my faith in God? Do I really want to fail in my trust in the Lord?” Look at who is going to pay for your lack of faith. Look at the people entrusted to you. They are the people you love the most. They are the people you care for the most because they are your family, or they are the people at work, or they are the people that in whatever circumstance God has placed you in authority over. That authority, remember, is given to serve them, and it comes from God. If you fail in your faith and trust in God, then the people under your authority are going to suffer. Is that what we really want to visit upon the people God has entrusted to our care? That is what we need to really look at.


It is not just a matter that, as in the synagogue, Jesus could not perform many miracles there because the people had no faith, but it is a matter that everyone beneath those people also had to deal with it. And so for us, we need to have faith in Christ. That means the practical faith, putting it into practice, trusting completely in the Lord and in what He has said, in what He has promised, and being obedient to His commands. That is what He is going to expect of us. We will be amazed at what He will do if we will allow it. And if we do not allow it, He will be amazed because we have told Him one thing and then we do another. Our lack of faith will grieve Him because we are the ones above all others who are to be His followers, who are to bring Him into the world, who should trust Him and have faith in Him. If we fail in that, He will be amazed, and we and the people under us will suffer.

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*  This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.