Thursday May 24, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Sixth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 18:1-8) Gospel (St. John 16:16-20)
As the Apostles were discussing this question of what Jesus would mean by, "Within a short time you will not see Me, and then you will see Me again," they did not understand possibly what that meant. Of course we can look back on it and see that it meant He was going to die and then He was going to rise from the dead. This part of the Gospel of St. John was prior to our Lord's death and so it was not a post-Resurrection situation. So what our Lord was telling His disciples is that they will indeed lose sight of Him; He was going to be buried, then they will see Him again. But because they did not understand what "to rise from the dead" meant they did not understand what it was that He was talking about.
Then He went on to tell them that they will mourn while the world rejoices, but that their mourning will be turned into joy. We can look at it from a different perspective. We know that is historically what happened. That many (those who were worldly) in Jerusalem at the time rejoiced over our Lord's Crucifixion. The One who had caused them all kinds of difficulty was gone. He had been removed from their sight. He was not preaching in their streets or in their temple anymore. He was not causing any problems for them, and so they rejoiced momentarily. Until suddenly there was no one in the tomb, and then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord at the Resurrection while the others, of course, began to get upset.
Now things of course are very different, we know what happened two thousand years ago. If we look at it in the modern situation we can look around and realize that when it comes to Jesus the world still mourns. They rejoice in the fact that they think they are being able to remove the Lord. Just look at what happens in our system in America. If you want to bring Buddhism into our schools, that is okay. If you want to bring the Muslim religion into the schools, that is okay. If you want to be New Age, that is okay. In fact if you want to bring satanism into the schools, that is okay. If you want to talk about Jesus Christ in our public schools, that is forbidden. We can look at many of the other laws. For instance I heard somebody talking last night, and they decided that for the Jewish people the menorah is the symbol of their religion. Consequently around Christmas time, which is the time of Hanukah for the Jewish people, there are menorahs all over the place in New York City. But they decided, the law decided, that the symbol for Christians is a Christmas tree, not a crèche. It is forbidden to have the baby Jesus, and Mary, and Joseph but it is okay if you want to put up a Christmas tree in your window. The Christmas tree has nothing to do with what we are all about, but they want to remove Jesus they want to make this purely secular. So we see that the same pattern is there and the world rejoices when it gets Jesus out of their sight. But we always have Jesus in our hearts, and we have Him in the Blessed Sacrament, and we rejoice in our union with the Lord. The fact of the matter is that they will never be able to remove Jesus.
The day will come when they will actually appear to have destroyed the Church. The Lord has made that very clear and the Church has made that very clear. And they will all rejoice when that happens. But Christianity, Catholicism will never be removed. Just as happened two thousand years ago at the Resurrection, when the Church appears to be dead, she will rise. And those who are with the Church will rejoice and those who are worldly will weep. We see that the same pattern is going to reoccur. What we need to do is to make sure that no matter what we keep our eyes on Jesus Christ. No matter what happens in the world, no matter how politically incorrect it is to be a Catholic, we need to maintain our Catholicism in its fullness. Do not water it down to try to make it more acceptable or palatable to the people in the world. It does not matter how watered down it is, Jesus will never be acceptable to people of the world. We simply need to live our faith. We need to embrace our faith in its fullness.
We have cause for rejoicing because we know that Jesus is risen from the dead. We know that He is ascended into heaven. We know that He is with us, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit, dwelling in our hearts. He is with us in the Blessed Sacrament. So for a short time His disciples did not see Him but then they saw Him again. For us He has never been removed from us. And if for a short time at some point in the future, it becomes a problem to be a Catholic in this society, it does not matter because Jesus in there. We will be with Him again, in this world and in the next. No matter what occurs, maintain your faith in Jesus Christ. Do not let anyone take it from you, and do not think that there is cause for weeping. As long as Jesus is in our hearts and as long He is with us in the Blessed Sacrament, as Christian people we should be filled with joy.
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.