Wednesday May 9, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 12:24-13:5a) Gospel (St. John 12:44-50)
The words that Our Lord speaks in the Gospel reading today are so important for us. He tells us, first of all, that He did not come into the world to condemn the world but to save the world. And the Word that He preaches is either going to be our salvation or our condemnation. He says, "I am not the one who is going to condemn. I am not the one who will judge but the Word that I speak will judge. Anyone who hears My words and does not put them into practice is going to be condemned by those very words." So, for those of us who have heard the Word of God, we have an obligation to live it. It is not an option.
We cannot pick and choose what we want because Our Lord said very clearly that God had commanded Him what to say and how to speak. He says, "Since I know His commandment means eternal life, whatever I say is spoken just as He instructed Me." We cannot simply say, "Well, that must have been the humanity of the Lord, so we do not need to follow that. And these other things - that is His divinity speaking now, so we will have to pay attention." No. Every single word that He spoke was spoken because that was the Will of His Father. Every single word that comes out of Our Lordís mouth and is recorded in Scripture is what our heavenly Father wanted to record for our salvation. It all is necessary. We cannot simply pick and choose what we like and what we do not. We cannot be like those who walked away from the Lord saying, "This is hard to listen to. Who can endure it?" and they walked with Him no longer. Rather, we must look at this as the Word of God and as the means to salvation.
God continues to speak. He speaks through His Church; if we are not exactly sure how to take the Scriptures and apply them into todayís world, we still have Jesus Christ with us, in the person of the Church. The Church is the authentic interpreter of Scripture. In case we want to look at the Scriptures and wonder exactly how do we apply this to our lives or how can we understand this. Remember, right now there are one hundred thousand Christian denominations. One hundred thousand! Imagine! All except one claiming to be based on the Word of God. They have misinterpreted the Word of God. They have misrepresented the Word of God. They have taken the divinely inspired Word and it has been twisted to their own end, to their own means to say what they want it to say. But there is one place where we can be guaranteed that we will find the Truth and that is in the Roman Catholic Church because she has been guaranteed the Holy Spirit to lead her into all truth. Therefore, when the Church speaks, it is not opinion. When the Church speaks, it is not something we can take or leave. When the Church speaks, it is the voice of Christ. It is Jesus Christ Himself Who is speaking with authority. Therefore, guided by the Holy Spirit, the Church speaks the Word of God and interprets the Word of God. For those of us who want to follow the Word of God, what a beautiful thing this is. We know, for a fact, that we have an authentic interpreter. Jesus is the true interpreter of the Word of God because He is the Word of God. The Church is Jesus Christ and the Church continues to interpret the Word of God and preach it anew for us.
We need to follow the Church. We need to make sure that we are in line with the Church - not thinking that we know better than the Church. One way or the other, it does not matter. Some things have happened in the Church in the last forty years that, personally, we may not like; lots of goofy things that are not part of the Church. There are some things the Church has said and some people do not like them; so they have gone off to the right saying, "We do not like all these liturgical changes. We have to do it the old way. Therefore, there is no pope." And they have left the Church. We have the ones on the left who do not like much of anything the Church has to say. They have rejected it, but still continue to call themselves Catholic. They are not. The old Latin saying is: "In medio stat virtus." In the middle stands virtue. While the media proclaims the Church to be way off the mark to the right, she is not; the Church stands right in the middle.
If we want to be with God, we need to be with His Church. We need to hear His Word and we need to live it - all of it. Not what we like or dislike personally, picking and choosing. It is all the Word of God. It is all what the Father wanted to be said. It is all inspired by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, for those of us who have been baptized into the Holy Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the Word of God is the means to salvation. If we reject it, the Word of God itself will be our condemnation.
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.