Monday December 31, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Seventh Day in the Christmas Octave
Reading (1 John 2:18-21 ) Gospel (St. John 1:1-18)
In the first reading, Saint John tells us that we have an anointing that comes from the Holy One, and because we have that anointing all knowledge is ours. Now if any of us are obviously honest enough, even in the slightest little bit, we would have to acknowledge that we do not possess all knowledge. So what is it that Saint John is telling us? Well, first of all, it is the knowledge of Christ, and Christ is God. And the Lord is within us and we are indeed part of Him; that is exactly what he tells us in the Gospel reading. He tells us that we have a share in His fullness: "Of His fullness," he says, "we have all had a share, love following upon love." The fullness of Christ dwells within each one of us, and we dwell within Him; and because of that we have access to the fullness of truth - all knowledge is right there.
That does not mean that in this life we are ever going to know perfectly all knowledge, but it is all present for us. If we will bring things to prayer, we will find that our minds will come into line with truth because, as Saint John reminds us, no lie has anything in common with the truth; and Jesus is the Truth and He is the Light and He is the Life and He is the Word and so on, all these concepts that Saint John is trying to help us to understand. He is all; He is the fullness of all; and we have a share in that. That is why all knowledge can be ours. That is why we have access to it all.
The question simply has to do with whether we are really interested in the truth because in our humanness what happens is that, while we claim to want the truth, our pride gets in the way and we assume that we already have the market cornered on the truth; we assume that we know what it is supposed to be and how it is supposed to be. Two thousand years ago, the people of Israel thought they knew that same sort of thing. The Messiah came, and they missed Him. "He came to His own and His own received Him not," Saint John says. Today He does the exact same thing. And if we think that we know how He is supposed to be with us and among us, we are going to miss Him because it is never going to be quite the way that we think it is supposed to be. Much of it will be. The Jewish people had a very clear understanding of what the Messiah was supposed to be like. Then there was part of it that was completely off track: when they thought He would be political and when they thought He would free them from the tyranny of the Romans and all these different ideas they had that were close but not quite [correct]. And if we think that we know how God is going to work in our lives, it is not going to happen. It is like that little saying that says: If you want to know Godís sense of humor, just make a plan. It is not going to happen the way that you planned it.
We cannot try to back God into a corner. We cannot think that we can pigeonhole Him, nor can we think that we will tell God what the truth is, or what the knowledge is, or what the light is, or anything else. That is Godís doing in us, but we try to do it the other way around. If we are humble and we get ourselves out of the way, then it is all ours. The access to it is there always. The problem lies within us: We are in the way most of the time; we think we know how it is supposed to be and so we approach it from that perspective rather than approaching it with humility and asking the Lord to teach us. That is where our trouble comes.
So today the Church places these readings before us to be able to help us to know that it is all there. The fullness of truth is within our grasp. Indeed, the Fullness of Truth dwells within us if we are in the state of grace, and we dwell in Him. What we need to do now is simply to allow ourselves to be humble, to get out of the darkness of our own pride and be able to humble ourselves so that He can fill it with light, so that He can fill it with knowledge, so that the Word can speak within us and we will know the fullness of truth. It is there to help us to discern right from wrong, good from evil, truth from lie. There are lots and lots of lies that are floating around and we need to make sure we are seeking the truth - not assuming that we already have it. Some of it we know. There are objective truths - the dogmas and doctrines that the Church teaches - but then there are some things that are not known and we cannot assume that we already understand it and know it, otherwise, the Lord will come to each one of us on the day of our own visitation and we will miss Him because we thought we knew what He was supposed to be like and He came in a different form; He spoke to us in a voice that we did not understand or recognize and we will miss Him. The only way to make sure that we are in union with Him is to be humble, to pray to the Holy Spirit, and to allow Him to lead us into the fullness of the Word, who is Jesus Christ.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.