Monday April 9, 2001 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Monday of Holy Week
Reading (Isaiah 42:1-7) Gospel (St. John 12:1-11)
As we enter into Holy Week, the Church allows us to concentrate more specifically on the events that led directly up to Our Lordís death. So we begin each day with the first reading from Isaiah. We will hear what are known as the Suffering Servant Songs. The Suffering Servant Songs are from Isaiah chapters 42, 49, 50, 52, and 53. We will hear those today, tomorrow, Wednesday and Friday. Just keep that in mind as you go through this. These are songs, little passages from Isaiah, about the Messiah who will come. They talk about how He is going to be a suffering Messiah. Isaiah chapters 52 & 53 make it most clear of all; they are very powerful readings about Our Lord. As we go through this week, keep that in mind.
As we look at the Gospel reading today, we see that this happened within a week before Jesus was killed. He had raised Lazarus from the dead and they gave Him a banquet. The people were coming to see this man who was raised from the dead, and, of course, they wanted to see the One who had raised him from the dead. They were believing in Jesus. Many had believed in Him already, because of the things He had said and done. Now people were coming out to him in droves because of what happened with Lazarus. It was a very public event and, obviously, one that would not have been kept quiet. So, people began to believe in the Lord.
The Church gives us the first reading which tells us about Our Lord being gentle. It says, "A bruised reed He will not break and a smoldering wick He will not quench." We see the Lordís gentleness; and then we see the hatred on the other side. We see these two opposite ways presented: The way the Lord will handle what will come in the next week, and the way the people who could not accept Him would deal with things within the next week. That gives us something to ponder. We can ask ourselves, "How do we deal with the things that come up in our lives? Are we like the Lord? Are we like the One who is gentle; who is peaceful; who did not condemn; the One who accepted the things that came along? Or are we like the others, when things donít go our way, who get angry, jealous, or envious, and want to do away with others so they are not a problem for us anymore?" We can ponder that.
As we go through this, keep in mind the reason Jesus is doing this. We see it in Isaiah chapter 42. We will see it again tomorrow in Isaiah chapter 49. Those are the two places where God gives us the prophecy that His Son is going to be the covenant to the people. We see it, toward the end of the first reading today, where Isaiah says about the Messiah, the Suffering Servant, "I will make you a covenant to the people." Jesus is founding a new covenant. He is founding His Church; He is founding a new people of God. But He is the covenant, always remember that. It is not that Jesus is making a covenant with us, or that God is making a covenant with us. Jesus is the covenant. We are incorporated into the covenant in Baptism, which means we are incorporated into Jesus Christ.
As we look at they way Our Lord accepted the things that came along, keep in mind that each one of us is a member of Jesus Christ. We are a member of that covenant, and Jesus Christ is the covenant. So, the goal for our lives is to learn to deal with things as Jesus did. To be so conformed to Jesus Christ that He will literally be able to live His life in us and through us. In that way, He will continue His saving passion, in and through His mystical body today. That is the goal for each one of us. As we go through this Holy Week, regardless of how our Lent has gone (even if we have slipped up on things) let us now decide, at least now, this week, to suffer with Our Lord a little bit. Let us put ourselves out. In the sufferings that come our way, try to learn from Our Lordís example of gentleness. Learn His humility and accept the things that come along, offering them to God in union with Jesus Christ. Let us exercise our own share in that covenant relationship with Christ, showing to the world and living out for ourselves what it means to truly be a member of the very person of Jesus Christ.
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.