Tuesday April 23, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week in Easter
Reading (Acts 11:19-26) Gospel (St. John 10:22-30)
Yesterday, we spoke of how Our Lord may indeed call us to do something a little bit different than what we would anticipate as we move along in this extraordinary time in the Churchís history. Today we see exactly how that works. Here we have the ultimate Pharisee: Saul of Tarsus, who tells us himself that he surpassed all of his peers when it comes to righteousness based upon the law. He had lived the Pharisaical way to the extreme, even to the point of persecuting the Church of Christ. Now, in Godís sense of humor, He takes Saul of Tarsus and has him go preach to the Gentiles - not to the Jews, whom he would have been able to debate with and address in any kind of setting because he knew the law upside down and inside out, better than anyone. He had learned from Gamaliel, who was the greatest rabbi of all time, and he had surpassed everyone. Instead of sending him to the Jews, God sent him to the Gentiles, the ones whom he hated with a passion, the ones that as a Pharisee he would have considered literally to be equal with pigs (which, for the Jewish people, were as unclean as you could become). So God says, "Now, take all of your preconceived ideas, all of your arrogance, all of your self-righteousness, and go preach to these people that you were condemning."
It is when we see things like this that we can then stop and ask the question, "What do you think God is going to ask of me?" Each one of us needs to ask that question. We would like to assume that God is just going to keep us in our "comfort zone"; I think we should all know better than that by now. It does not work that way normally with the Lord. He is going to ask us, sometimes, to do the very things that we do not necessarily want to do. Yet what He is going to ask of us is to be able to be His voice, to be able to bring the sheep to the Shepherd, because as He told us in the Gospel, His sheep will hear His voice and they will follow Him. What an incredible blessing to be able to be the voice of the Lord.
But, again, we need to ask ourselves, "Are we willing to do that?" All of us would stand up and say, "Yes, that is what I want to do!" until you stop and see what He did with Saint Paul. Then you say, "Do I really want to do that? Do I want to go preach to people that, in my heart, I may have even been prejudiced against? Do I want to take the risk of being stoned to death like they tried to do with Saint Paul - and beaten and whipped and all the other things he talks about? Am I willing to do whatever the Lord wants me to do?" Then it becomes a little bit more than just to be the voice of Christ.
We have to understand that the voice of the Lord is not accepted by many, many people. In our society, the vast majority of people do not want to hear the voice of the Lord, but His sheep will hear His voice. Are you willing to be that voice? Are you willing to be the sheep in the midst of wolves? Not to make yourself look like a wolf so that you are going to be hidden, but to be a little lamb surrounded by wolves and trusting in the Lord: that He is your Shepherd and there is no snatching out of His hand. If the Father has called you to eternal life and you are giving yourself over to Christ and you are trying to live the life that He is asking of you, then He has made that promise: He knows you, you follow Him, He will give you eternal life, and [you will] never perish because no one can take you out of His hand. What a beautiful promise. We need to trust that promise. It is the word of Jesus Christ. And we need to stop trying to disguise ourselves as wolves so that we can go out and be just like everyone else and we wonít get devoured. We need to trust in Christ and we need to be His little sheep. We need to follow Him and we need to hear His voice. We need to go out into the midst of wolves, and we need to be His voice and bring His Word to others.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.