We Need to Do It God's Way
Monday April 22, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week in Easter
Reading (Acts 11:1-18) Gospel (St. John 10:11-18)
In the first reading today, we hear from the Acts of the Apostles the story of how Peter went from Jerusalem to Joppa and brought the Gospel message to some Gentiles. This was the first time that somebody who was not Jewish was able to hear the Gospel. These people then, hearing the Gospel and having even seen the angel that had appeared in his house, were converted. But those who were circumcised in Jerusalem were upset with Peter because they heard that he had gone into the house of some Gentiles. And how can somebody who is Jewish enter into an uncircumcised personís house? This would make him unclean. Then Peter goes on to tell the story of how God had shown him in a vision this sheet with all of the animals and how what God has made clean, Peter is not to call profane.
In the Gospel reading, then, we hear something a little bit similar: Jesus telling us that He has sheep that are not of this fold. Now we can see that, perhaps, in the original part and say, "Well, originally these were Jewish people that He was talking to, and the sheep that were not of the fold are the Gentiles." But I think we also need to look at our own time and recognize what it is that He is talking about. The sheep of His fold are the Catholics - those who are true Catholics. But He has other sheep who are not of this fold, and He is taking care of them as well. They are non-Catholic people. Most of them are Protestant, but there are some who are not. There are Jews and there are others who, at this point, are completely pagan. Yet because they have a sincere heart and they are seeking God honestly, the Lord is going to take care of them. And there will be one flock and one shepherd.
What is going to happen, in the not too distant future, is that many who will call themselves Catholic will wander away from the Lord, and many who are vehemently anti-Catholic are going to become Catholic - those who do not even know the Lord yet, but are people who are truly sincere in what it is that they are seeking. They are looking for the truth; they just do not know what it is yet. They too are going to be Catholic. There will be one flock and one shepherd. There will be a world where every person is a true Catholic. There will be a Catholic society; that is on the other side of the Triumph of Our Ladyís Immaculate Heart, and it is not very far up the road.
Now for those of us who already have this gift of faith that the Lord has given to us, we need to look at ourselves and ask a couple of questions. First of all - Is my heart open to these possibilities? Am I willing to accept somebody who perhaps has, even in their ignorance, spoken ill against the Church? Am I willing to accept people who donít even know Christ yet? Am I willing to teach them? Am I willing to help them? Am I willing to do whatever the Lord requires of me? A couple of days ago, we heard about Ananias having to go to Saul while he was lying there in Damascus, and he says, "Iíve heard about this guy! You know, heís persecuting the Church!" The Lord said, "You just go to him and pray. Just be obedient." The Lord will choose whom He wills.
The other part of the question we need to ask is - Are we going to be faithful to Christ? When things get very difficult, am I just a fair-weather Catholic or am I going to be with the Lord no matter what? It means that we have to get rid of any Pharisaical ideas we have because that is not the way it is going to work. The Pharisees thought they had this all wrapped up: how the Messiah was going to be, what He was to be, who He was to be, and so on. They died in their Phariseeism because they refused to see the truth. We need to be willing to let go of our own preconceived ideas, and we need to do it Godís way, not our way. That may not be real comfortable always, but it is what will be required.
We need to ask ourselves these things very seriously Ė not to be Catholic the way we think it is supposed to be, but to be Catholic the way Jesus Christ thinks it is supposed to be. Is that where our heart is? In other words, are we telling Jesus what it means to be Catholic? Or are we willing to allow Him to tell us what it means to be Catholic? Do we want to be a member of His flock and allow Him to be the Shepherd? Or are we trying to make ourselves the shepherd and telling Jesus to be the sheep? Ė "Weíll tell Him how to shepherd the flock." It does not work very well if that is what we try to do.
So that is the thing we need to think about and prepare ourselves for because this is not far up the road, as I mentioned. It is coming soon and we had better be prepared because things are going to be very different than they are now in the near future. If we are not fully prepared to do things Godís way, we are going to be left behind, we are going to wander from our Shepherd and we are going to be in a different flock that is not His. So we need to be very clear about who it is that we are following, and to follow Him wherever He leads because He and He alone is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.