Friday April 12, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Second Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 5:34-42) Gospel (St. John 6:1-15)
In the readings today, we see two different perspectives on the way Jesus was understood. First, we see the wrong perspective. That is, people said, "This is the prophet who is to come into the world." In that they were correct, but they were going to come to make Him king. Jesus went back up into the mountains where He could be alone because the kind of king they wanted to make Him was a political Messiah, a bread king. He filled their bellies so they wanted to make Him king. They saw signs and wonders so they wanted Him to lead the nation. He did indeed work signs and wonders, and He did indeed come to lead all the nations – but to lead them to Heaven, not simply to be able to provide them with something in their stomach or political leadership.
Then we look to the first reading and we see where the truth lies. We first see Gamaliel, who, interestingly, is Saint Paul’s teacher, the greatest rabbi ever to have lived. He is the one who stands up and says to the people: "Have nothing to do with these men because if this is from God, you are going to be kicking against the goad; but if it is human, it is just going to die out." They flogged the disciples anyway, and the disciples rejoiced that they could suffer on behalf of the Name. The same disciples who would have made Jesus a king now recognize the truth of His kingship. They would not have been willing to suffer with Him; now they rejoice that they can suffer on behalf of the Name.
But it goes even beyond that because then they go out and preach. "Everyday," it says, "in the temple and at home, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." Not a political king anymore, but Messiah. Not someone who is simply going to save the nation from the Romans, but Someone who will save our souls from Satan. Not someone who is going to give us some bread, but Someone who is going to give us Himself to feed the soul, Someone who has come into this world so that we could enter into eternity. That is what they now understood. He was not just a great man. He was not just a prophet. He is the Son of God, and He is the Messiah.
That is what they finally understood. And when they knew that, then they would be willing to take on their share of the Cross because they understood that only in the Cross was salvation. When they would be willing to preach Jesus Christ as Messiah, and truly the King - not the way they understood previously, mistakenly, but truly the king - then they would be willing to go and preach Him, and to live as He had lived.
That is exactly what the Lord is asking of each of us. Are we trying to make Him into something that we want Him to be? Or are we accepting Him for who He truly is? If we are accepting Him for who He truly is, then we must be willing to take up our share of the Cross, and to rejoice that we would be found worthy to suffer on behalf of the Name.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.