Thursday May 3, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week of Easter
Reading (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) Gospel (St. John 14:6-14)
Our Lord tells us that, because He goes to the Father, if we ask Him anything in His name, He will do it, provided we have faith. We can look at ourselves and say, "Well, how many things have I asked for in the Lordís name and how many have been fulfilled?" That might give some indication of the depth of our faith - not necessarily a pleasant thought for many of us because we probably ask for things and it never happens. I am not talking about asking for foolish things that obviously are not the Will of God, I am talking about asking for things that would be a good thing, that would be according to Godís Will. Still, it does not happen and we have to wonder why. Usually, it is because of lack of faith. The Lord says we need to have faith in Him: "I solemnly assure you, the man who has faith in Me will do the works that I do, and greater by far than these, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name I will do."
First, we have to begin with the idea that Jesus is one with the Father. He is God. Again, we all know that in our heads, but it is a question of whether that is really having an effect in our lives. Jesus tells us, at the beginning of the Gospel reading, that He alone is the Way, He is the Truth, He is the Life; and He is the only means to the Father. "No one can come to the Father, except through Me." We take that passage and say, "Yes, that is absolutely true." Then we listen to Saint Paul. He says he wants to remind us of the Gospel he preached to us, which we received, in which we stand firm, and we are being saved by it at this very moment. We look at things like Baptism, Confession, the Eucharist and we say, "Yes, my sins are forgiven because I went to confession and the priest absolved me. Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament. Why? Because the priest said the words of consecration and it was bread and wine so it was a valid Mass."
We do not have any problem believing - until it comes to ourselves. We say, "Well, what I ask of God ... that might not happen." As if, somehow, answering our prayers is a little less than forgiveness of sin and changing bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. If we put it into context, some of these big objective things we do not have any problems believing in as Catholics; it is the subjective element of the faith that we have problems with, putting that faith into practice. That is one of the things we really need to work at: taking all the promises of the Lord. Not just about the forgiveness of sin, not just about the Eucharist, not just about Baptism, not just about the major things; but these other points, like: Whatever you ask of the Father in My name, I will do; Anything you ask the Father in My name, I will do. But that comes down to me. It is not the Church simply saying: "Yes, if you have a validly ordained priest and he says the right words it is a consecration." It is an objective thing. You can look at that and say, "Was the Mass valid? Are my sins forgiven? Was the Baptism valid? Was the Confirmation valid?" We can look at those sorts of things objectively.
But, our own faith is not objective, it is subjective. That is where our struggle usually comes in. If we retain the Gospel in its fullness, then we need to really accept it in its fullness. Part of that Gospel is that whatever you ask the Father in the name of Jesus Christ, He will do. That is an objective teaching of the Lord, but it comes down to subjective faith to do it. That is what we all need to look at. We have the faith objectively, we believe in the teachings of the Church; now, maybe, we need to look more directly at that subjective element. How much do I really believe that God loves me? That He will answer my prayers? That if I truly accept everything He has said and put it into practice, He will do what He has promised? Not for a saint out there someplace, not for some extraordinary Christian individual out there someplace, but for me. That is a little more difficult than believing in those objective kinds of things. But, that is the promise of the Lord. Do we really believe what Jesus has promised us? It keeps coming back to that same question. The way things are going in the world today, we had better believe in what He has promised because that is our only hope. So, we need to look at that, and we need to apply it to ourselves. It is a test we can keep coming back to: Do I really believe that Jesus Christ will give to me whatever I ask the Father in His 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.