Wednesday March 13, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Lent
Reading (Isaiah 49:8-15) Gospel (St. John 5:17-30)
We hear the words of Our Lord that the Father has sent the Son into the world, that the Father who has life in Himself has given to the Son to have life in Himself and to give life to whomever He wishes, and that all judgment has been given over to the Son because He is the Son of Man. He is not [only] God, but He has taken on our human nature to Himself. And because He has been tempted in every way that we are, He knows by experience what it is to be human; therefore, all judgment has been given over to Him as the One who has experienced it all.
And He tells us that, to anyone who loves the Father, the Son is going to be merciful. Whoever hears His Word and does what he has been told, is also going to be judged with mercy. So we have great hope in this. When we see the fact of what our heavenly Father has done in sending His Son so that He would come into this world, live a human life, and die for us; it is in this way that we can understand, clearly and completely, what we heard in that first reading when Zion would say, "The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me," and God says, "Can a mother ever forget her child or be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even if she could, I will never forget you." What a wonderful promise and what a glorious way we see that promise fulfilled. Any mother is going to willingly place herself in the line of suffering before she would allow her children to suffer. But God has done even more. What any mother in her heart would certainly do - that is, to die so that her children would live - God has done. He has not forgotten us and He has not forsaken us.
Even though it feels that way sometimes, even though we look around and we see all the awful things going on in the world and we wonder where God is or how long He is going to tolerate it or why He allows these things to happen, we do not need to question it. All we need to do is keep our own self focused on Him, lest we take our eyes off of Him and fail to heed His word and no longer do what He has told us. As long as we are faithful to Him, we have nothing to fear at all because we will rise to life and we will be judged mercifully by the One who judges honestly. But if we get frustrated and give up on our faith, no longer believing because we do not see any proof of our faith - we do not see what we think to be the proof that God is at work in the world and we give up and walk away - then our judgment is not going to be a pleasant one.
Ours is not to judge God, to wonder why He is not doing things the way that we think He ought to. Ours, rather, is to remain faithful and to know that His love is even greater than what the best mother in the world would have for her children, that what He has done is beyond what even the most perfect mother would be able to do for her children. And because we already have all the proof that we need - and really, all we needed was His word to be enough proof, but we have it in action: we see Him on the Cross; we see what He has done for us; we see Him and receive Him in the Eucharist; we know the forgiveness of our sins in the confessional - there is no need for proof; we have it all.
All that is left for us, now, is to listen to His voice, to heed it, and to do what He has told us to do: to remain faithful to Him to the end. If we remain faithful to Him (and we know that He is faithful to His word) then He will give life to us. We will hear His voice and we will rise to a merciful judgment. That is what is being offered to us - not to stand in judgment of God, but to make sure that we are seeking to do His Will so that on the day when we are judged we will receive a merciful judgment and rise to life.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.