Monday April 23, 2001 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Second Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 4:23-31) Gospel (St. John 3:1-8)
We look at the apostles gathered in the room after Peter and John are released from being interrogated by the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin. They come back and tell their brothers and sisters what had happened to them. And they all begin to pray, which is something that we need to recognize. How often we try to deal with things on the natural level. We need to learn to have God as our first thought and turn to Him in prayer. Notice the way they pray. It probably sounds like the way many of us would begin, "O Lord, look at the threats they are putting against us." But then they turn it right around. They did not ask that the threats would stop; they did not ask anything for themselves; what they asked for was complete assurance as they continued to preach. They were not backing away from the threats; they were not backing away from the possibility that they would be apprehended again, scourged, and interrogated; they simply prayed for assurance that the Holy Spirit would be working within them and that they would be without fear as they continued to preach the Word of God.
That is something we all need to learn. It is not something that is beyond us. The Lord made it very clear to Nicodemus, in the Gospel reading today, that anyone who is begotten from above is like the Spirit. He says, "The Spirit blows where He wills. You know neither where It comes from or where It goes. So it is with all of those who are born again of the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit has been given to each one of us. He fills our hearts. The problem is that sometimes we keep the Holy Spirit at too much of a distance. We donít let Him work in our lives very well because we are afraid. We need to put the fear aside and trust in God; that is where we need to put everything. We have been born again from above. We are born of the flesh from our parents; we are born of the spirit from God. While we share in earthly life and in a human nature, we share also in divine life and in divine nature; all of that has already been granted to us.
What we need to do now is go to prayer and pray to the Lord for trust, for confidence, for courage to do His work, whatever it is He is asking of us. We are not to be afraid because it is not us that is doing it, it is the Holy Spirit at work within us; all we are doing is cooperating, He is the one doing the work. So, we have nothing at all to be afraid of. If we just follow God and trust Him, He will lead us in the way that is perfect according to His will; in the way that is truly going to be the best for us, not necessarily the easiest. Look at the apostles: They got dragged in, they were interrogated, and they were beaten. It doesnít mean that nothing bad, on the natural level, is going to happen to us. But it does mean that if we are willing to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, He will guide us exactly where He wants us to be; He will guide us to say exactly what He wants us to say and to do exactly what He wants us to do.
That is the assurance the Lord gives to us. All we need to do is trust. In order to do that, we must pray. Not to pray simply for ourselves, that whatever is happening will stop or go away. But rather to pray that we will have the trust, assurance, and confidence that we will do Godís will; that we will cooperate with the Holy Spirit and do whatever the Lord wants as we strive to do His will in our lives.
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.