Thursday May 10, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 13:13-25) Gospel (St. John 13:16-20)
In the Gospel reading this morning from St. John, we see Jesus at the Last Supper. We hear something very similar to what we heard on Saturday, which was a reading from St. John chapter 6. Jesus talks once again about Judas. He talks about how what He said was not said of all because He knows the men that He chose. Then in order to fulfill Scripture, He says, "The one who partook of bread with me has turned his heel against me." We see, right in the same context of the Last Supper (of the Eucharist), He is talking once again about the betrayal of Judas.
One point that He makes even more clear here is that when this happens the people will know, His disciples will know that He is God. He says, "So that you will know that I AM." "I AM" remember is Yahweh. He is making the point very clear to them. He is laying all this out in fulfillment of Scripture so that they will recognize who He is, and that He is God. At this point they didn't understand it. Even though Peter has professed that they believe that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and all these things; he still did not understand. Remember in St. Matthew's Gospel Jesus said, "Blest are you Simon, son of John, for no mere man has revealed this to you but my Father in heaven." It was revealed to Peter and he spoke it but he did not really understand what he spoke. It was not until the fulfillment of all these different things that they would understand who He was.
For us it is the same thing, we have to see the fulfillment of it all. That is what St. Paul was doing when he got up in the synagogue. He did not just simply say look at Jesus, but rather he starts way back at the beginning. He talks about how these people went down into Egypt and then God brought them out of Egypt, and goes through the Judges and the Kings and so on. Then he comes up to Jesus to put Him into the context of the whole picture. We need to see that same thing. We know who Jesus is. We have heard about Him. But until you really see it in the context of the scriptures, put it in the midst of what it is really all about, it does not take on it's fullness, that understanding that we really need. When you see how He fulfills all of the prophecies in scripture, then the fullness of who Jesus Christ really is begins to fill our minds and our hearts. Even what St. Paul is saying here, we need to be able to see what the people would have heard. He says that finally God raised up Jesus, a Savior for Israel. That is what His name means, Jehoshua, is "one who saves." St. Paul speaking to the people would have been making his point in his own language, being able to show the people this is what God has done. He has raised up a Savior and His name is "the Savior."
All these little things that on one level seem so small, when you put a whole series of them together, there can be no denying. What we cannot deny is that Jesus Christ is the great I AM, that He is Yahweh, that He is God in our midst. That is what He wants us to see. When we understand the context, when we understand the Scriptures that He fulfilled, then we understand who He is. When He says that He and the Father are one, that is truly what He means. When anyone accepts one that He sends, that person is really accepting Jesus. And anyone who accepts Jesus, as He says over and over, accepts the One who sent Him. If we want to be able to say that we believe in God, we need first to believe in Jesus Christ, and when we know Jesus, we know the Father.
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.