Sunday, February 04, 2007
FR. ROBERT ALTIER'S HOMILY FOR FEBRUARY 4, 2005
and a source for his homilies online:
Friday February 4, 2005?? Fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (Hebrews 13:1-8)?? Gospel (St. Mark 6:14-29)
In the first reading today, Saint Paul speaks to us about charity. He tells us at first that we are not to neglect hospitality. In so doing, that means the whole disposition and attitude we have to have toward the way that we deal with other people; it needs to be kind, it needs to be humble, and it needs to be charitable. He goes on and tells us that in the normal course of things, for the vast majority of people, where we are going to see charity in its fullness being expressed is right within their marriage. And he tells us we have to make sure that marriage is honored by all.
This is something that 21st century Americans need to learn because marriage is being denigrated left and right. People do not recognize the dignity of marriage. There are some who scoff at it. There are others who violate it. We need to make sure that as Christian people we hold marriage in the highest esteem. Marriage is a vocation, it is a call from God, and it is something which is holy. This has all been forgotten.
The vast majority of people who think about getting married do not talk about it with God. They just assume that this is what they are supposed to do and then they are on a mission to find somebody who is willing to marry them. It is the wrong attitude. We first and foremost have to make sure it is the vocation that God is calling a person to. If God is calling a person to that vocation, then God Himself will provide the person to marry. We need to teach this to our young people because they have this unfortunate attitude that no one would ever want to marry them; consequently, they will settle for anybody who is willing. Or because they have feelings of being in love, which is usually infatuation, they think this must be it and they have never prayed about it.
But we see that even from the very beginning there is a selfish attitude. It is all about ?me?. That is not what marriage is about; marriage is about the other. It is two people seeking the good of one another. It is not two people seeking themselves. It is not about being selfish. So when Saint Paul tells us that we are to keep the marriage bed undefiled, that does not merely mean you have to be faithful to your spouse, but it means even the manner in which you would approach your spouse must be undefiled. It must not be selfish because even the marital act, which is a physical re-pronunciation of your marriage vows, cannot be selfish. It is not about ?How much pleasure am I going to get?? Rather, it is about two people seeking to give pleasure to one another. To take from the other is a violation of that person and it defiles the marriage bed. It violates what you have vowed in your marriage. On the other hand, to give yourself and to receive the gift of the other is in complete keeping with the dignity of the person, of the marriage, and of human sexuality. That is to be the way that it works in marriage. It is two people selflessly seeking one another?s good, not one?s own pleasure, or what one considers one?s own good, because it does not work.