Friday September 20, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
Reading (1 Corinthians 15:12-20) Gospel (St. Luke 8:1-3)
When we look at the readings today, we could ask ourselves, "What is the difference between us and these people who gathered around Christ when He was alive in this world preaching the Gospel - Mary Magdalene, Susanna, Joanna, the Twelve, and so on - where does the difference lie?" The difference, Saint Paul makes very clear in the first reading, is in the Resurrection. These people followed Jesus because they heard Him preaching the truth. They liked what He said; they saw His life; they were inspired by His life and edified by what He was doing. Yet, at the same time, all they could do was say, "Well, we have hope that he is going to be who he says that he is." But we also know that until the time of the Resurrection, the disciples really did not believe because they did not understand what it was all about. They locked themselves in the room out of fear. So they had hope that maybe Jesus was who He said He was, but they really did not have the faith that He was who He said He was.
It is very different for us because we not only have the preaching of the Gospel that Jesus Himself preached, but we have the preaching of the fullness of the Gospel which the apostles have preached - and that centers around the Resurrection. Jesus also preached the Resurrection, but it was misunderstood as to exactly what He was talking about. Now we have much greater clarity as to what He meant, and as Saint Paul makes very clear: If Christ is not raised from the dead, we are the most pitiable of all; our faith is useless.
That is what it really comes down to. It is the central point of all human history; the most important moment in all the world is the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. So for us, what we really need to ask is, do we believe in the Resurrection? Not just do we believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but do we believe in our own resurrection from the dead, that our bodies are going to rise from the dead, that our bodies are going to be glorified (or just the opposite if we go the wrong direction)? Do we really believe that our bodies, these bodies right here sitting in the pew, are going to be reunited with our souls, that they too will share in the glory of God, that they are going to be part and parcel of who we will be for all eternity?
These are things that we cannot grasp; we have no experience of it. But we have faith, and it is what our faith teaches us. If we do not believe this then everything we believe is in vain. We can believe in all the teachings of the Church because we see the logic in it, but it is not about the logic; at this point, it is about the subjective element of faith. Do you believe in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and do you believe that you are going to rise from the dead? Your soul is immortal and your body is going to remain forever from the moment that it rises from the dead on the last day of the world until all eternity. Do you believe that? If the answer is "no" then everything else is in vain because nothing else matters.
Why believe in somebody who was crucified if he did not rise from the dead? The Romans crucified thousands of people - why believe in Jesus? We may as well believe in Buddha or Mohammed or Zoroaster or any of the other people that came along and made ridiculous claims about who they were but could not back it up. Jesus told us who He is, and He proved who He was - and He continues to do so. On our part, we must not only hear what He teaches, we need to embrace it, we need to believe it, and we need to look at that point of the Resurrection because Saint Paul is making this very clear. This was the essence of their preaching of the Gospel. This is what the people believed. And if Jesus is not raised from the dead then our faith is in vain.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.