Wednesday March 28, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week in Lent
Reading (Isaiah 49:8-15) Gospel (St. John 5:17-30)
In the beginning of the first reading today, from the book of the prophet Isaiah, the Lord says, "In a time of favor I answer you; on a day of salvation I help you." Saint Paul tells us, "Now is the time. This is the day." So, it is in the day of Christ that the Lord will do this. Toward the end of that reading, we hear the words: "Sing out O Heavens and rejoice O Earth! Break forth into song, you mountains, for the Lord comforts His people and shows mercy to His afflicted." That is precisely what the Lord is doing. When we hear the reading from the Gospel today, we might think that we should not be rejoicing because the Lord is talking about judgment and the difficult things we might face. Yet, at the same time, He says the time is coming when the dead will hear the voice of the Lord and those who have done what is right, will rise and be glorious. So there is cause for rejoicing, because we have heard the Word of God and we have believed.
The Lord says that those, who hear His Word and have faith in Him Who has sent the Lord, will possess eternal life. It is not as simple as saying, "Well, I believe in Jesus. Therefore, Iím going to Heaven." But rather, itís to say, "If I believe in the Lord and I believe in the Father Who sent Him, then I need to work on doing the Will of the Father." If we do what is right as the Lord said, which means to believe and to act on that belief, to have faith and to live that faith, then we have every reason to be confident in a merciful judgment.
The Lord tells us that He judges because He is the Son of Man. He is one of us, who has endured everything that we have endured. He knows what it is to be tempted. He knows what it is to suffer, just as we do. So, He is the one who is able to judge. As God, He knows everything and He knows it perfectly. As man, He has experienced it all except sin. When we stand before Him, He is going to be merciful because of His humanity. Because He has experienced all the temptations and all the struggles, we can be guaranteed of the mercy of God. Jesus tells us Himself that He came into this world not to condemn the world, but to save the world. More than anything, what He wants is for us to be saved, for us to be in Heaven with Him.
It is true that some are going to rise to be condemned for eternity because they have rejected the Son of God; because they refuse to do His Will. But if we are serious about living the faith that we profess, truly trying to be good Catholics and upstanding virtuous people, trying to grow in holiness and living out our faith, then we have every reason to have confidence in faith that the mountains are rejoicing and the heavens and earth rejoice. We do not say, "The Lord has forsaken me. The Lord has forgotten me." Instead, the Lord looks at us and says, "I will never forget you. Never!" He cannot. He created us in His image and likeness. He tells us that He gives life to whom He chooses, and He has chosen each one of us and given us life: divine life, sanctifying grace infused into our hearts. Therefore, we are the fruit of His Passion. We are the new growth, the birth in Jesus Christ. He will never forget us and as long as we are doing what we should and trying to live good and holy lives, then we have every reason to believe, to trust, and to hope that on the day when the dead hear the voice of the Lord, we, who will be in the tomb at that time, will hear His voice and will rise and be glorified with Him.
Note: Father Altier does not prepare his homilies in advance, but relies solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.