Friday March 15, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Lent
Reading (Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22) Gospel (St. John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30)
In the readings today, we see a very clear indication of how careful we must be with our own ideas about the way things are supposed to be, whether it is these people in the Gospel who would say, "Maybe even the authorities are convinced that this is the Messiah. But still, we are not even supposed to know where he comes from, and we know where this man comes from," - the reality was that they did not know, but they assumed that they did - or in the first reading where we hear the words "they thought not aright" because they thought they understood what it meant to be able to say, "The just man says that God is his Father; therefore, God will deliver him. Let us condemn him to a shameful death because if, in fact, God is his Father, God will free him from that and then we will have proof."
Well, of course, we know that when it did come to the Just One being condemned to a shameful death, God did free Him from death - but not the way the average person would have assumed. One would think that if we would say that God is our Father, He would not allow us to have to endure such a horrible thing. But when we look at Our Lord, when we look at all the martyrs throughout the history of the Church, we know better than that. It is a matter that God frees us from the bonds of death - not that He frees us from having to endure death itself. But He frees us from the shackles of death so that death does not hold us down.
So as we look forward now to Passion Week and to Holy Week, always we can look beyond: We know that there is the Resurrection. But we also have to recognize the working of God, the wisdom of God, which is beyond anything that we can understand. This is why Saint Paul would say that he preaches (and we continue to preach) the Cross of Jesus Christ. He says, "It is absurdity to the Gentiles and it is a scandal to the Jews. But for those who believe, it is the wisdom and the power of God." It does not seem like anything that would naturally be considered to be wise; it seems like the uttermost weakness, and yet we know that, in the Cross, is the fullness of power.
When we see that God works in these ways, then we must be very careful; of course, we have been taught about that from the time we were young. So when things happen in our daily lives, we must be very cautious about the way we judge those things because we have to see it from Godís perspective, not from the natural perspective. Our natural inclination is going to be to size things up according to our own way, and then we will be considered among those who erred in their thinking (because they thought not aright) because we did not judge the hidden wisdom of God. We must be very careful to judge everything according to the Cross of Jesus Christ, according to the wisdom of God, and to look beyond to be able to see that God is not going to work the way we normally assume that He will. But rather, He works according to the pattern of the Cross, according to the Passion of Our Lord. And the way He frees us from that is not to free us from the suffering - but to free us through the suffering - so that on the other side of it we will be able to share with Our Lord in the glory of His Resurrection.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.