Allow Jesus to Live in You
Saturday April 20, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week in Easter
Reading (Acts 9:31-42) Gospel (St. John 6:60-69)
In the Gospel reading today, we see very clearly the point of the distinction between the objective and the subjective elements of faith. In the objective element, Our Lord tells His disciples that they must eat His flesh and drink His blood or they have no life. Some of His disciples began to murmur. They said, "This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?" Jesus said to them, "What if you were to see the Son of Man rising to where He was before?" and then went on to point out that only those who are called by the Father are able to come to Him. And so, those whom the Father has chosen are going to have the faith - and the faith is going to be in the Eucharist.
But that is the objective element of faith. There was a group that did not believe even in the objective part. That is, do you believe Jesus Christ is truly present - Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity - under the forms of bread and wine in the Blessed Sacrament? Now I suspect all of us would answer "yes" to that. Judas, on the other hand, answered "no". But unlike the wider body of disciples who "walked with Jesus no longer" (verse 6:66 in St. Johnís Gospel), Judas decided to stay with Jesus even though he did not believe. He did not have the faith in what Jesus was preaching so when Our Lord talked about the fact that they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood, this was something that Judas totally rejected. And when Our Lord gave him the Eucharist, rather than Jesus entering his heart, he rejected the Lord and "Satan entered his heart" Saint John tells us.
That is where the subjective element of the faith comes in. It is not enough just to say that we believe Jesus is really present in the Eucharist. That is the Catholic belief, and we have all been taught that from the time we were children; we all know it. It now comes down to the subjective element. We see what happened to Judas on the one hand: that he rejected Jesus, and Satan entered his heart, and when Satan entered his heart he went out and betrayed the Lord. On the other hand, for those with the subjective faith, it is not just a matter that we receive Jesus into ourselves, but the subjective part allows Jesus, then, to enter into our hearts and to take over our lives. On the other side of that, Judas demonstrates how Satan will do the same thing.
If we allow Jesus to enter into our hearts and to take over our lives, then we are going to become like the example we see in the first reading of Saint Peter - Peter, now filled with faith. He had the objective faith when he said to Jesus, "Lord, to whom are we going to go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe that you are the Messiah." But in receiving Holy Communion and offering that sacrifice of thanks - of "taking up the cup of the Lord" that we heard about in Psalm 116 - Saint Peter opened his heart to be able to receive Jesus. It was only in denying Jesus that Peter was able to do this: When he recognized his own weakness, when he recognized that [although] he had the objective faith, he did not believe what Jesus was really saying and denied the Lord; in turning around and being treated mercifully and accepting Godís mercy into his life and no longer trusting in himself, then Peter was willing to give his heart to Jesus. Then when he offered Mass, Jesus entered into his heart. Then Peter could undergo a transformation. The Holy Spirit certainly came upon Peter at Pentecost, as we know. But as Peter continued to grow in that subjective element of faith, he was able to raise a paralytic and then raise a woman from the dead. People would line the streets hoping that Peterís shadow would fall upon them so they would be healed.
Now it does not mean that if we open our hearts and let Jesus in that we are going to be raising the dead and healing paralytics; it is up to the Lord to make that determination. The question is - are we willing to allow Him to do that if it is His Will? Are we willing to allow Him to do with us whatever He wants? Sadly, most of us would say "no". We want to say, "Yes, of course I want Jesus to do with me whatever He wants." But if we were really honest with ourselves, the answer is "no". We would not want that because it would require change; it would require letting go; it would require a different kind of faith, not only in the head, believing what the Church teaches; but in the heart, saying, "If I allow myself to be conformed to Jesus Christ, whom I receive in the Eucharist, then I am going to live the life of Christ. He is going to live in me and through me, and He will fulfill His promise that we will see even greater things than what He Himself did when He was on this earth." But most of us do not believe that can happen, so we do not allow Him in. That is the Judas aspect of each one of us. Judas did not believe the objective part so it is not that Satan is entering our hearts, and it is not that we are rejecting Jesus when we receive Him in Holy Communion; it is just that most of us do not accept Him fully. We do not allow Him to take over our lives.
We need to reject that spirit of Judas that is within each one of us, and we need to look at Saint Peter. We need to see that in our pride we have all denied the Lord in one way or another. We need, then, to be afraid of our own selves. We need to rely on the Lord entirely and solely, and we need to open our hearts and quit trying to do it our way and let Him do it His way. Let Him have His way with each one of us. In so doing, we will be conformed perfectly to the image of Jesus Christ as we receive Him day after day and week after week in Holy Communion. We will live the life of Christ. He will live in us and through us, and He will demonstrate, in and through each one of us, even greater things than what we have seen.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.