Wednesday April 30, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier   Second Week of Easter

 

Reading (Acts 5:17-26)   Gospel (St. John 3:16-21)

 

In today’s Gospel reading, Our Lord tells us that He came into the world not to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through Him; but then tells us that there already is a judgment that is passed on the world, and the verdict is nothing other than the fact that if we do not accept the Son of God, we have rejected the light and we have chosen darkness. We need then to look for ourselves at precisely what He points out. We have to ask ourselves, “Do we prefer the darkness or do we prefer the light?”

 

Now there is a point where we present ourselves in the light for everyone to see, and perhaps what happens is that we put up a façade. It is a pretty common problem that most people do. We put up a nice façade to make ourselves look good in the eyes of others, but in reality what we are doing is being phony. If we are not living exactly when we are out in public what we would be living when we are alone, it is the same problem. For instance, one thing we could sometimes look at is how we act if we are alone in the church. Then as soon as we hear the door open and somebody else walks in, what do we do? Do we have to suddenly change our posture to make ourselves look real pious when somebody else is coming in because we were not being that way before when we were alone? So we see these little things. Do we act differently when there are other people around? Not just other people – you are probably so accustomed to your family that you act like yourself and it is not always too impressive – but when there is company around, when you are at work. When you are in a place where it is not your normal place to be, do you act differently from the way you would act in a place where you are comfortable? These are some things that we can look at because if we are suddenly changing the way that we act in order to try to impress somebody, there is something of the darkness that remains within us. It is not that we are preferring the darkness to the light necessarily, but it is that we have not completely chosen the light.

 

If we are truly in the Light, Who is Jesus Christ, we will simply walk in the Light. We have nothing to hide, nothing to fear. We just need to be ourselves because it is the Lord Who is living in us and through us. We have no reason to be ashamed of Him, and so we allow Him to shine through us. If, on the other hand, the only time we really want to do that is when we are in a comfortable place because we know that the people around us also like the Lord and they are not going to reject us but we would not want to be known fully this way because other people might not accept us very well then we are still walking (partially, at least) in the dark. We need to come into the light.

 

There are people who will reject the light – lots of them – and the Lord had pointed that out already. He came into the world but the people preferred the darkness to the light. If they are already condemned, it is because they do not believe in the Name of the only-begotten Son of God. And so we have to expect that people like that are going to reject anything that resembles Christ. That means they will reject us if we are living the life of Christ, and we know that. But the real question is: Should we change to become like them because they do not like Jesus, or should we be like Jesus and accept the fact that people reject us because of Him? I think we all know the right answer to that question. And so it is time that we stop changing to become like the darkness and continue to walk in the light. If they want to reject the light, let them reject the light. But we need to be careful that we do not reject the light, or at least that we do not become fair-weather friends of Our Lord: that we walk with Him when it is convenient but we hide Him under the bushel basket when it is not convenient.

 

If the light is burning, it needs to continue to burn; we cannot turn it on and off. The light of Christ has to shine in us always. If we are going to walk with the Lord, we are going to walk in the light. We cannot be ashamed of the light or embarrassed of the light, but in the midst of the darkness, we have to shine brilliantly like a light. And we live in a world of darkness today, so it will be very evident if we live in the light and if we bring that light out into the world. We may get some ridicule for it and we may be rejected – well, we will be, not may be – and we know that. Yet, at the same time, that light will attract many, many people and then we will be able to do exactly what the apostles did. That is, we will not preach ourselves but we will point beyond ourselves, and we will let the people know that the light is not ourselves – the light is Jesus.

 

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