Friday April 26, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week in Easter
Reading (Acts 13:26-33) Gospel (St. John 14:1-6)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord tells us - promises us, really - that He is going to prepare a place for us and that He will come back to us and bring us to Himself so that where He is, we also can be. But in order to do that, of course, we have to make sure that our hearts are properly disposed. He says to them, "You know the way," and He says the same thing to us.
Now the question is - do we really know the way? We know that He is the way, but do we even understand what that means? We know that He is the only way we are going to get to Heaven, but it is not just a matter of sitting back and saying, "Well, Jesus is the Savior and that is how one can get to Heaven." It is to say that we must walk in the footsteps of Christ; we must conform ourselves completely and perfectly to Jesus Christ. That is the way. If we live the life of Jesus Christ in this world, then we have found the way, then we will live the truth, then we will have found the life. That is what the Lord wants for each one of us. He wants life abundantly for us in this world, and He wants eternal life for us in the next. He Himself is the only way that is going to happen.
So, for us, it is not just as if you were going to go someplace and someone had gone before you and said, "I will go and I will open the door. Itíll be open when you get there." That does not quite do it. You still have to travel the road that is going to get there; it is just that someone else had already opened the door. That is what it would be like if we said, "Jesus is the Savior. He went ahead of us to Heaven and opened up the door for us! So itís now open. We can enter in!" but we would still need to know the road we have to take to get there. Today, He lets us know that it is not just enough to say that He has gone ahead of us to prepare the place, but rather, that He Himself is the road that we have to walk - not just to walk in the same path - He is the path. And He is the truth, so we have to walk according to the truth.
He is also the life, so it is not just to be able to go there, but it is a state of being for us, even now. We have to be conformed - indeed, we have to be transformed - into Jesus Christ, into His life, into His truth, so that we are walking according to the way. That is what is required, and that is why He can say to Thomas, "You know the way." That is what He says to us: "You know the way." You know Him and He is the way. He alone is the way. We need to choose it. If we already know the way we have to walk, then the choice is ours as to whether or not we are going to walk it. Are we willing to do what it is that He is asking us to do?
We know exactly what it is going to require from each one of us. Saint Paul laid it out for the people very clearly in the first reading. He said, "Even though they found no grounds for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to put Him to death, and when they had accomplished all that was written about Him, they took Him down from the tree and placed Him in a tomb." That does not sound like the way most of us want to walk. But then you have to keep reading; do not stop there. "But God raised Him from the dead." There is only one way that we are going to get there, and that is the cross, that is to be united with Jesus Christ so that we will be put to death. Not necessarily put to death in a physical way, but put to death in a spiritual way so that we will die to self, so that what we have made of ourselves will no longer exist, but rather, it will be Him.
When we can get rid of everything that is not Jesus Christ within ourselves and replace it with everything that is Him, we will have been crucified. We, as the individual that we have formed ourselves to be, will have been put to death and we will have risen to new life because it is His life and He is the life. We will live the life; in fact, we will have the life. The life will be us Ė not just that it will be ours Ė it will be us; we will be the life at that point because we will have been conformed to Jesus Christ. We will, then, be walking the way because we will have found the truth. Not the truth that we thought it was to be, not to live the life that we thought it was supposed to be (because that is a lie), but rather, the life of Jesus Christ, and that is the truth. It is one and the same: the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.