May 8, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 17:15, 22-18:1) Gospel (St. John 16:12-15)
Our Lord in the Gospel tells us that when He comes, being the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit is going to lead us to all truth. St. Paul in the first reading when he goes to the Areopagus, says to the people in Athens that he sees that they are religious in every way, even to the point of having a shrine to a god unknown. Then he says, “What you have now been worshipping unknowingly, I am going to reveal to you.” He tells us that in the past God overlooked some of the ignorance of the people, but now He demands that we repent. As we look at this point and see where St. Paul is leading the people, he lets them see that God wants the people to seek Him, and then lets us see that it is not even going to be that easy. He says perhaps even to grope for Him and find Him even though He is not very far from any one of us.
The point is that if we really want to know Him, it is going to take an effort on our part. It is going to be a struggle for us as we begin the process. As we get closer it becomes easier and easier, but at the beginning it is not an easy task. Even though we have been taught from the time we were little children, and as little children we can accept very easily the things that our parents teach us, none the less as we grow older, we begin to realize that the knowledge that we have in our heads, does not necessarily translate to the heart. We know about God, the question is do we know God. Even though in Him, as St. Paul points out, we live and move and have our being, do we know that He is our Father and we are His children. Even though we share in the Divine nature, we share in the Divine life through baptism, still we have to grope for God. We have to claw and scratch and try to struggle along to be able to grow in this relationship with the Lord. We have to be able to not only grow in the knowledge of God, but more than that to grow in the love of God so that we will be able to have union with God. That is what the Lord is desiring.
He may in His mercy have been overlooking some of our ignorance and some of our lack of effort in the past, but the time has come where we need to put that aside. With our whole being we need now to struggle to the fullness of the degree of our ability to try to seek this union with the Lord, to find where the Holy Spirit is leading us. We need to allow Him to lead us, to not try and tell Him the direction we ought to be going, because after all we can see where it has led us. It has not necessarily led us to union with God. In fact, I can guarantee that if we are doing it our own way that it has not led us to union with God. So it is time that we allow Him to lead us, and to lead us to the Lord, to union with the Lord within our hearts. That is what He desires.
What we had been seeking unknowingly, has now been made known to us through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us and will lead us to all truth. He will lead us to Jesus Christ who is the truth, as well as the way and the life, and to the union with Christ which He desires for us. It is not a union of knowledge, but a union of love in the depths of our hearts. That is why the Holy Spirit has been given to us. That is what He desires more than anything. That is what is going to be necessary for us, if we want to share the fullness of life with Christ, in union with Him, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.