Wednesday April 17, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week in Easter
Reading (Acts 8:1b-8) Gospel (St. John 6:35-40)
Jesus tells us today in the Gospel that even though we see Him, we still do not believe. And so, He tells us that we have to go to a deeper level. It is not enough, as we have spoken over the last couple of days, merely to acknowledge Him, to know who He is; we need to know the depths of the Person of Jesus Christ. Now, of course, Jesus is God and He is infinite; we will never know Him fully, perfectly. But, being that He is infinite, it means that every day we can know Him more and more. That is what He is looking for. He wants us to know Him to the point where there is no doubt left in our mind, to the point where we have total confidence in Him. He wants us to know Him to the point where we are completely in love with Him. That is what He is looking for.
When we do that, one could ask, "What will it look like?" We have just a glimpse of it in the first reading today when we hear about Philip and how he went down to a town of Samaria and preached Jesus as the Christ to the people. He cured people and he cast out the demons. The miracles that he worked were such that the people who heard believed. It was not just words – they saw it backed up by his life.
It may be that we are not going to be casting demons out of people, but it should be such that people will not only hear our words speaking about Jesus, but they will see a life that is in accordance with the words that we speak. They will be able to recognize in us that the Person we are speaking about is truly God, and that we have absolute unswerving faith and confidence in Him. And they will be able to see that it is Him working in us and through us. That is what the Lord wants.
Otherwise, we fall exactly into the same category: We see, but we still do not believe. It is not that the people did not believe in who He was; they just really did not believe in Him because they could not understand. We will never understand fully either. But God is not asking us to understand; He is asking us to believe. And not only just to believe at a surface level, but to believe deeply, to put our entire being into that statement of faith so that it is not merely a confession on the lips, but rather, it is going to be a life that is lived in union with Jesus Christ. That is what the Lord is looking for.
We receive Him in Holy Communion and we wonder why nothing happens (or so it appears to us that nothing happens). We come to Mass every day and we go out unchanged – and why? It is because at the very depths of our heart we are still not letting Him in. We believe at an arm’s distance, but at the very core of our person we are still keeping the Lord out because it would require too much for us to believe at that level.
The Lord is asking for and looking for people who believe at that level. That is what we need to be willing to do: to get to that point where there is no doubt, that we are willing to allow God to mold us according to His image and likeness, that we are willing to allow Him to live in us and through us. Then we will not only be able to say that we believe in Jesus, but we will be able to present a life that is truly holy and is going to be an example to the people.
That is what Philip did, and that is exactly what we can do as well. What we need is to have the same kind of faith as Philip, and to allow the life of Jesus Christ to change us, to be willing to allow the Person of Jesus Christ to live in us and to live through us, and to bring Our Lord out into the world by our words and by our actions.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.