Tuesday May 8, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 11:19-26) Gospel (St. John 10:22-30)
Jesus tells us, in the Gospel reading, that He knows His sheep and His sheep follow Him. Now, the difficulty in trying to follow the Lord is we do not always know what, exactly, He wants. For instance, we can look at the early Church that we hear about in the first reading. They were convinced they were following the Lord. They were doing His Will in all the things that they were aware of: They were staying in Jerusalem, preaching the Word, praying together, having Mass together, and building one another up. Then, all of a sudden, there is a persecution and they scatter all over the place; they are not together anymore, they are not being able to meet the same way they used to, and all the things that they were doing had changed. Does that mean they were not following the Lord? No, they were doing what He intended right from the beginning. But then it came time for them to mature in their faith, to make the next step; consequently, the Lord allowed this persecution so the Gospel would be preached to places outside Jerusalem. Once the disciples had a solid foundation, then they could go out. So, the Lord allowed them to stay there and build one another up, first. Then He sent them out. But they would not have gone out on their own; consequently, the Lord had to provide a means, and they had to follow Him; follow Him, who had been persecuted; follow Him, who had to suffer; follow Him, who had done all these things in His Passion that they themselves had seen. While they did not always understand and it did not look like a very good thing at the time - it was indeed.
We need to see the same thing in our lives. Sometimes, we do not always know what God wants. Sometimes what will happen is there will be an interior longing. We will get kind of agitated on the inside and we will just know that we need to do something different. We do not know what, it is not trying to run away from anything; but rather, we will know that God is knocking at the door of the heart telling us it is time to move, time to do something different, time to move on from where we have been. Not necessarily to physically relocate; but rather, what we have been doing has been good, but now it is time to move to the next step. Sometimes, He will do it in a different way like He did with the disciples in the early Church. There will be things that will come up that we will have no choice in, and it will be very evident to us. We have to see this as part of Godís Will.
It is difficult for us to see things that do not look so good on the surface as being part of Godís Will. But, it all is. Whatever happens in our lives is part of Godís Will and we need to follow the Lord and His example. Not just simply to say, "Okay. Well, I guess the Lord had to suffer, so do I." But He suffered in silence and He offered it all to His Father. He prayed His way through it. He was united with the Father. That is exactly what He wants for us, too. In the midst of the struggles and hardships of our lives, we need to practice our faith, we need to put it firmly into practice. The faith, hope, and charity must continue, even in the difficulties. We need to unite ourselves with God, we need to pray our way through it. We need to seek Godís Will in the midst of it. We need to continue to look forward with hope. Above all, we need to continue to practice charity toward the people around us. These things are not easy in difficult times, but that is what the Lord asks of us. That is what it would mean to follow Jesus. That is what we see with the early disciples: In the midst of the persecution, which they did not understand, they still went out and brought the Gospel message to people who had not heard it.
We need to do the same. In the midst of our struggles, we need to continue to grow in virtue. We do not even understand why, as yet. God wants us to be perfect, but it is not merely for the sake of us being perfect. It is so that He can work in us in a way we do not even know yet. That will be the next level and He will move us in a different way when we get there. All we can do now is be faithful to what He is asking of us in the present. He may be laying a foundation in our lives. He may be moving us on. He may be asking us to do something entirely different. Whatever it is does not matter. All that matters is that we are doing Godís Will, and in all things that we follow Jesus Christ, who knows us and calls us to be members of His flock.
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.