Wednesday April 9, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier   Fifth Week of Lent


Reading (Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95)  Gospel (St. John 8:31-42)


In the Gospel reading today, there is an interesting twist because we hear at the beginning of the reading, “Jesus said to those Jews who believed in Him…” And then as it goes along, Our Lord tells these people, “You are trying to kill Me.” So these are the ones who actually believed in Him – or claimed that they did – and yet at the same time, they were trying to put Him to death. They were stuck in the middle someplace. On one level, they had faith; and on another level, they did not. I think if we are honest with ourselves, we will find that we ourselves are not all that much different. That is, we believe in the Lord, and yet sometimes we hedge our bets, sometimes we are just not entirely sure, sometimes we back off a little bit. We really have to ask ourselves, “Where is our faith in Christ?”


The Lord told us that He has spoken what He has heard from the Father; and He told them that if they were Abraham’s children, they would be doing the works of Abraham, and if they were God’s children, they would be doing the works of God. Now we, for our part, call God our Father. And if Our Lord were to stand here today, He would say to each one of us, “If you were God’s children, you would be doing the works of God.” So we can look at that and ask ourselves, “Is that what we are doing?” These were people who believed in the Lord to a certain degree, just in case maybe He was actually the Messiah. “But in case maybe he’s not the Messiah, well, you know, we don’t want to give too much credence to this guy. We cannot be like that.


We have to look at this very seriously and ask ourselves, “Where is my faith? If I am going to profess that Jesus Christ is Lord, that He is the Messiah, that He is the Son of God, that He alone is the Savior of the world, then that needs to be the focus of my life.” That needs to be number one. There is not anything else. Everything that we do in our lives will be done, then, in Christ, for Christ, and so on. Is that the way that our lives are? Or are we finding ourselves saying, “Well, yes, I believe in Jesus but at the same time, I don’t find myself focusing exactly that way,” which means that it is not one hundred percent? We are hedging our bets too, just like the people in the Gospel reading. We are maybe not trying to put Him to death, and yet at the same time, we are not really living His life either, which means that, if He is not living in us, we are, in essence, putting Him to death because we are the only ones He has now to live His life through. If we do not allow that to happen then we are the ones putting Him to death.


If we believe in Jesus Christ then there is no other, and there is no room for another because there is only one name given to us in the whole world by which we can be saved – and that is the Name of Jesus Christ. So it is either in or out; it is hot or cold; it is on or off. There is no in-between; we do not “kind of” believe in Jesus. If we are going to believe in Him, it needs to be wholeheartedly. We need to put our entire being into that. It needs to change the way we live and it needs to change the way we are, how we define ourselves, how we think about things, how we approach things. We cannot be like these people He was talking to who claimed to believe in Him and yet, when push came to shove, they were not faithful to Him and they really did not believe.


So we now, who are His members and His followers, have that choice to make. It is not “Do we believe in Him sort of?” – “Do we believe in Him for the most part?” – but – “Do we believe in Jesus Christ, pure and simple?” That is the only question that matters; otherwise, we are going to hear on the Day of Judgment, “Did we not do this in Your Name and did we not do that in Your Name? Did we not cry out ‘Lord, Lord’?” He will say, “I tell you, I do not know who you are. You knew the truth and you decided not to follow it.” There is but one Lord; there is but one Messiah; there is but one Son of God. There is no hedging and there is no backing off. We have a choice to make. It is either for Jesus Christ or it is against Him.


*  This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.