May 14, 2002 (Audio) Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Feast of St. Matthias, Apostle
Reading I (Acts 1:15-17, 20-26) Gospel (St. John 15:9-17)
Our Lord tells us that He no longer calls us slaves, but He calls us friends. The reason that He calls us friends, He tells us, is because He has made known to us everything that He has received from His Father. If this is the case, we see the kind of relationship that the Lord has called each one of us into. It is to be a close associate, not just an acquaintance, it is to be a friend, but He is really even calling us to something deeper. On our own part however, I think if we were honest, we would probably all have to admit, we have not been real good friends to Our Lord. We have probably violated that friendship many, many, many times over. We have sinned against Him time and again, and yet because of His friendship, because of His love for us, He continues to take us back. Beyond just being a friend, the Lord then tells us what it is that is required of us, and that is to love.
Now there are different levels of love. We see, for instance, in the 21st chapter of St. Johnís Gospel, where Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him. He first asks Peter if he loves Him with charity, with the highest kind of love. Peter says, Lord you know I am your friend. Jesus asks, do you love Me, once again, with charity. The second time Peter says you know I am your friend. So the third time Jesus says Peter, do you love me with the love of a friend. Peter says, Lord you know everything, you know that I love you, as a friend. The word that is used there is a different word.
What the Lord is asking of us is to at least love Him as friends, but not to stop there. In other words, He has lifted us up, just as we heard in the psalm, from the dung heap, to place us with the princes of the people. He is asking us now to not simply be mindless servants, (we can certainly be freely chosen slaves of the Lord in the sense that St. Louis de Montfort speaks of) but He places us in a friendship, on an equal kind of basis with Him. Then He asks us to go beyond that. He gives to us the grace, but the choice has to be ours. He is not going to force us to love Him. Not only will He not force us to love Him as friends, He will not force us to love Him with that perfect kind of love, that higher love, the kind of love with which He loves us.
He tells us there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends. He has demonstrated the charity for us, and asks that we would return with friendship. Yet at the same time, He invites us to love Him with charity, with the highest kind of love, to lay down our life, if we want to call Him a friend, and to go beyond just the natural kind of friendship, to a supernatural union with Jesus Christ. He is inviting us to that, not requiring it absolutely, but He is calling us to it. He is giving us the opportunity to make that choice to lay down our lives, for the One who laid down His life for us, to die to self so we could live for Him, and more than that to die to self so that He can live in us and through us.
That is the only way that we are going to be able to love Him with that divine love is if He dwells in us. If He lives through us, then it is with His own love that we are loving Him in return. He literally will take us from the level of being slaves, from the level of nothingness, through Baptism in which we are raised up, and then through our own choice to unite ourselves perfectly with Him, and love Him not only with the love of friendship, but with perfect friendship, with a marital kind of love, with perfect charity in union with Jesus Christ. That is the glory that He is calling each one of us to, but it comes with a cost, to lay down your life for your friend.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.