May 11, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 18:23-28) Gospel (St. John 16:23b-28)
Jesus tells us in the Gospel reading this morning, that the hour is coming when He will no longer speak in figures, but will tell us clearly about the Father, and then whatever we ask in His name the Father will give us. He goes on to tell us, “I do not say that I will ask the Father for you. For the Father himself loves you,” and that is the important point that we must understand. It is Our Lord who is the mediator between us and our heavenly Father, and yet because we are incorporated into Jesus Christ, we are one with Him. So we ask in His name because, in a sense, we stand in His person. We are members of the Lord, and so we can ask with the authority of Christ.
When Our Lord tells us that the “Father loves you because, you have loved Me and have come to believe that I came from God,” that is not again just the intellectual acceptance of the truth: God loves me because he loves everybody; Jesus is God; He is the second person of the Trinity; He came from the Father; therefore I believe it. That is a good catechism lesson, it however is not the way of the spiritual life. The way of the spiritual life means that we have to take that truth that we already know in our head and believe, and we need to get it down into the heart. The simple reality is most of us simply do not believe that the Father loves us. Most of us, if push comes to shove, really have to wonder how much we love Jesus. Are we willing to suffer for Him? Are we willing to die for Him? Are we willing to endure anything for Him? Are we willing to be known as good Catholics? It is not to be pharisaical Catholics who are going to beat people over the head with things, but rather Catholics who practice what it is that we preach. It is to be Catholics who preach the fullness of the truth, not merely the elements of intellectual truth, but also the deeper elements of charity, of faith, of hope, of obedience, of all of the virtues.
Do we live what we preach? When people see us out on the street, or in the workplace, or in the marketplace, do they know that Jesus Christ has been among them? Or do they see somebody who is more like the Pharisees, who is running around judging people and condemning them because we think ourselves to be better than others? If that is the case we have to say that we are not loving Jesus. We are not loving the Father. That does not mean that we do not try to correct and to point things out to people and instruct and help and so on, but it means that the way that we do it must be in charity, not in arrogance. Americans specialize in arrogance, and unfortunately it is not limited to Americans. It is a problem for us. To be humble and to be charitable, neither of those comes naturally to any of us. We all need to work on these things.
We know the truth. I am not questioning anybody here as to whether or not you know your catechism. That is all up here in your head. But what I question of myself, and I would question everybody here is, how much has what is up here in the head made it all the way down here to the heart? The longest journey in the world is about 12 inches from the head to the heart, to be able to take what is in the head and to get it down to the heart, so that we can live what we believe. So we can ask the Father anything, absolutely anything, in Jesus’ name and it will be given to us, because we love. Because we love the Father, that is what Jesus said, and because we believe that the Father loves us. We will live that faith, not simply that we will believe it and pound people with it, but rather that we will live it in love and in humility. That is what God wants, people who worship Him in spirit and in truth. He does not want people who come with a head full of knowledge and try to tell God how to be God, but rather people who come to Him in spirit and in truth, in humility and in love, and they worship Him. That is what He is looking for. That is something that unless any of us is perfect, then we still have a long way to go. There is much work to be done, until we come to the point where we have reached the day where anything that we ask in Our Lord’s name will be given us, because we love the Father and the Father loves us.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.