Sunday Sermon for October 30, 2016, the Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

Readings: Wis 11:22-12; 2Thes 1:11-2:2Lk 19:1-10

In the first reading today we are given a good perspective on things: before the Lord, the entire universe is less than a drop of morning dew on the earth.  When we consider one tiny drop of dew in comparison to the entirety of the earth, it is less than microscopic.  God is infinite, and even though the universe may be billions of light years across, it is still microscopic compared to God.

Now think you yourself in comparison to the entire universe.  We are pretty minute when compared to the universe.  If the entire universe is less than a drop of dew, it would seem that we do not amount to much.  This is certainly the way that a lot of people see themselves.  But this is just the opposite of what the readings tell us today.

In the first reading, along with providing the perspective we just saw, God is called the lover of souls.  What this tells us is that it is not size that matters.  The human soul has everlasting value.  Even though we may be small in size compared to the universe, the entire universe is going to be dissolved in fire, but our souls will live forever.  Beyond that, the universe is made up of material objects, but your soul is not only spiritual, it is personal.

A person is defined as a living being with a mind and a free will.  This excludes all of the animals and anything else known in the material universe.  In fact, it narrows everything down to three types of persons: Divine Persons, angelic persons, and human persons.  Of these, we are the only ones with souls.  Therefore, the reference in this reading can refer only to us.

This is all pretty astounding, but it does not end there.  St. Paul tells us in the second reading that we each have a calling from God.  This means not only that God knows you personally, but He has called you individually for some holy purpose.  When we recognize our relative puniness in comparison to the world and the universe, and especially in comparison to God, we do not find ourselves worthy of such a privilege.  Well, we’re not.

Couple our smallness with the gravity of our sins and we think we have ample cause to be ignored, if not obliterated.  Instead, we see in the Gospel that God comes to the homes of sinners.  The first reading tells us that He rebukes sinners little by little so that they might abandon their sins.  With the help of His grace, we can overcome our sins and be made worthy of our calling.

So, the only thing we can do in this whole process is to cooperate.  God does everything else.  He created our souls, He keeps them in being, He has written His law in our minds and in our hearts, He calls us to holiness, He gives us grace through the Sacraments.  This should demonstrate beyond a doubt just how much he loves us and just how interested He is in us.  He did not create us and then toss us out here to fend for ourselves.

The other side of this is that we will have no excuse on the Day of Judgment if we have failed to become worthy of our calling.  There are some who do not know the Faith or do not have a personal knowledge of our Lord.  In this we have a great advantage.  Yet it is evident to anyone who is willing to look with honesty and an open mind that God is not only real, but that He is very involved in the world He created.

A little more searching and the same person will come to realize that God is also very much involved in his life, too.  He may not have been aware of this because he never considered it, but it becomes evident with just a little bit of observation.  Soon this person will come to realize that as tiny as he is, He is known and loved by God.

Now, the only thing left for us is to know what is our calling.  For all of us, we can be certain that the call is to become a Saint.  How we do this is completely individual.  Not only does God call you to your vocation, but he works with you individually because your personality, your circumstances, your sins, your strengths and weaknesses are unique to you.  So, look to God, you who are so tiny in the universe, yet so huge in God.  He has called you and He will give you all the graces necessary to become what He has called you to be and to know yourself as a person He loves individually.  What a gift!

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit