Wednesday May 2, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 8:1b-8) Gospel (St. John 6:35-40)
In the first reading, we hear about the Diaspora of the early church; there was a persecution and the disciples had to spread out. They went to various towns. Originally, of course, this looked like a terrible thing, this persecution going on in Jerusalem. But only later on, as they looked back, were they able to recognize that this was the providence of God at work; because, were it not for that persecution, they would not have brought the Gospel to all these other people. Consequently, they saw that it was Godís providence, it was His good will toward these other people that this persecution took place because through it the Gospel was brought to people who would otherwise not have heard it. The faith was spread throughout the surrounding countryside.
This is a lesson for all of us because we tend to struggle, complain, and grumble when things do not seem to go the way we want them to. We have a preconceived idea of what we want and we sometimes get in the way of God. But Jesus, in the Gospel reading today, tells us that He did not come to do His own will, but the Will of He who sent Him. That needs to be the attitude that all of us have. We are the children of God and we are to be the followers of Jesus Christ. If we are going to be His followers and His disciples, then we have to do the Will of He who sent us, not our own will. We are not here to do our own will, but rather to do His Will. What He is asking of us is the same kind of attitude that Jesus had. Jesus said that He would never reject anyone who came to Him because He did not come to do His own will.
For us, then, we can look at the next point and we can rejoice abundantly: Not only will we not be rejected, but also, He will not lose anything that the Father has given Him but will raise us up on the last day. That is the promise that has been made. If that is the case, we can walk with the greatest of confidence. Not with arrogance, thinking that we could not ever lose this, because we know that we can. All we need to do is look at Judas, or we can read the letters of Saint John. He says, "Many such antichrists have already appeared, and they came from our own number." So, it is certainly possible (as we all know from many examples of others in our own lives) that people can believe in the Lord for a period of time and then fall away. We can never sit back and rest on our laurels, thinking that we are incapable of falling away from the Lord. But what we can do is recognize that the Lord will protect us and He will not let anything happen to us, provided that we remain faithful to Him. Then, all of the promises, once again, are assured to us.
If we have these assurances that He will never lose anything of what the Father gives Him and that He will raise us up on the last day, we can walk, then, in the greatest confidence. No matter what happens to us, it should not matter because we did not come to do our own will in the first place. We have told Him we will do whatever it is that He wants, then when He wants to do it, we complain about it and tell Him we have a better idea and that we should do it our way and not His way. That is not the way we are supposed to be doing things. What we need to do is just hang on to those promises that He will not lose us and He will raise us up. Therefore, He can do anything that He wants with us. He has a wisdom that we do not understand. Just like in the early church, they did not understand why they were being persecuted, initially. Only when the Gospel was spread throughout, did they understand that this was a gift from the Lord. So too, for us, how many times in our lives have things happened and we grumbled, complained, kicked, screamed and did everything else only to find out, in retrospect, that what God was doing was something far greater than we could even conceive? Then we thanked Him for what He did.
As we move forward, we need to learn those lessons. We need to trust. We need to know that whatever happens, I repeat: WHATEVER HAPPENS, in our lives is part of Godís providence; we need to accept it, we need to rejoice in it. We need to trust Him. He is doing with us whatever is the very best and He is doing that which will bring the greatest glory to Him. We need to walk without fear because He is in control. We have given our lives to Him and He has accepted our gift. Therefore, we do not need to fear; but rather, we need to trust. We need to rejoice exultantly that no matter what happens, Godís Will is being done, the Gospel is being spread, and glory is being given to His Holy Name.
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.