April 2, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
Reading (Acts 2:36-41) Gospel (St. John 20:11-18)
In the readings today, we see what we would almost consider a contradiction. We hear Saint Peter telling the people in the first reading to save themselves "from this corrupt generation". We can certainly say the exact same thing. As we keep pointing out, Pope Pius XII, back in 1958, said that we live in the most sinful society that history has ever known. Well, that was 1958; it looks pretty saintly compared to what we have today. So we can honestly say that this is a thoroughly corrupt generation, and we are to save ourselves from it. Yet, we say that in order to do that we need to hang onto Jesus. But Jesus, in the Gospel, looks at Saint Mary Magdalene and says, "Donít cling to Me." And so then we are stuck in a quandary and we say, "Who are we supposed to hang onto?"
It was not a question of hanging onto Jesus; it was a question of the way Saint Mary Magdalene was trying to hang onto Our Lord. That is, she wanted to have Him right there for herself and it could not happen that way. She wanted Him the way that He was before, but He was resurrected now. She did not even recognize Him at first.
Now that same lesson is one that needs to be understood by all of us because things happen in our lives, and our question is just like hers. It is not quite "Where have you laid Him?" but we tend to ask Him, "Where are You? Why have You abandoned me? Why have You left me alone in the time of my need?" And yet, He is right there; it is just that she did not recognize Him Ė and neither do we. But He is always right there.
When we do recognize Him, then what we tend to want is to make Him in our own image, and we want to cling to Him in our own idea of what He is supposed to be. That is why He said to her, "Do not cling to Me because I have not yet ascended to My Father." We cannot have Jesus the way we want Him; we need to have Him the way He is. And what it needs to be is exactly the opposite for us; that is, we need to become the way He wants us - not trying to make Him the way we want Him to be for ourselves. We need to let go of our ideas of what He is to be so we can allow Him to be the way He really is.
That is the only way we are going to change. If we think He is going to be the way we want Him to be, it is not going to work because that means we can just stay the way we are: We can have our own idea of the way He is supposed to be and nothing happens in our lives since we refuse to change to become like Him because in our minds we want Him to change to become like us. But He is resurrected and He is not just like us any longer: His body is glorified. Even before the Resurrection, He was not just like us because He did not do things the way that people wanted Him to; He did what His heavenly Father wanted Him to. That is what we need to learn.
We need to look to Jesus, to know that He is there, indeed, to cling to Him. Not to cling to our idea of Him, but to cling to Him as God and Man, as resurrected from the dead and ascended into Heaven. We need to cling to Him as our Messiah and Lord. Not to our idea of Him, not to the way we want Him to be, but we must cling to Him as He is. We must cling to Him as the only One who is going to be able to free us from this generation which is thoroughly corrupted, and not try to make Him into the image of one who is corrupted with this generation because, even in His humanity, He is risen above it. His body is glorified; it is no longer earthly; it is in a new form. We, then, who are members of Christ in that new form, have to go away from this generation to rise above it just as He did. And we need to cling to Him, not according to the pattern of earth, but according to the pattern of Heaven, so that we can be reformed into the image and likeness of the risen Jesus Christ.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.