Reading (Acts 14:5-18) Gospel (St. John 14:21-26)
As Our Lord is speaking to His apostles, Saint Jude asks Him, “Why is it that You have revealed Yourself to us and not to the world?” It is a very important question and one that all of us need to ponder. Saint Paul, in this town of Lystra by the town of Derbe, basically says to the people the same thing: that God, in past generations, let the Gentiles go their own way but He did not leave Himself without witness. All the various things that He has done and continues to do and all the vestiges of God that we can see in the clear order of creation and the beauty of things makes very evident that there is a reflection of God even in creation. And so the answer to the question of why He has revealed Himself to us and not to others is that in fact He has revealed Himself to others, but maybe not as clearly.
So we still need to ask that question of why. It is purely a matter of love; it is God’s free choice. Like Saint Paul, when he saw that this man who was lame from birth had the faith to be healed, he then, in the Name of Jesus, healed the man; so too, the Lord in His mercy has given to us the faith necessary for salvation and now we have to act upon it. For a man who had never walked in his life to hear the words, “Stand up straight and walk,” one would wonder if he really thought he was going to be able to do such a thing. What was his first impression when that was spoken to him? And yet when we look at ourselves and say that the Lord has given to us the faith necessary for salvation then we have to ask, “What are we doing with it? What is our response to the Lord?” What if that man would have just kept lying there and said, “Well, I’ve never been able to walk before – I’m certainly not going to be able to now!” He would not have walked. He had to have faith to stand up.
For us, the same is true. We have that faith there, just as this man did, but we have to act upon it now. We have to use that faith, make an act of faith, and begin to serve the Lord as we are called to do. And the wonderful thing is in Our Lord’s answer, which He does not exactly answer directly, He says to Saint Jude, “Whoever keeps My word, My Father will love him, and We will come and make Our dwelling in him.” What a beautiful, beautiful statement! It is the answer to the question that Andrew and Philip asked Jesus back in the second chapter of Saint John’s Gospel. It sounds like the dumbest question in all of Scripture. They came to Jesus and He said, “What can I do for you?” and they said, “Lord, where do you stay?” If we had one question to ask of Jesus, do you think we would ask Him where He stays? But the question is actually a little different from that. If it is not a bad translation, the Greek really says: Where do you remain? And here He answers it. “We will come to him and tabernacle in him” is literally what it says. “We will pitch Our tent within him. We will make Our dwelling with him.” That is where He remains: in the hearts of those who keep His word, in the hearts of those who have faith and act upon it. That is what Our Lord is seeking from us.
And if we are willing to make that act of faith – in essence, in faith to stand up and walk – then the Lord’s promise is that He is going to come to us with His heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send, and They will pitch Their tent within us, make a dwelling within our hearts. That is the promise of Our Lord, and that is what He is offering to each one of us if we will be able to recognize the faith that He has given us and if we will act upon it. God will not be outdone in generosity. All we need to do is make that one act to come to Him. Obviously, it is a daily thing that we need to do, but then He is going to come to us and He dwell with us so that we will be able to find Him right inside of ourselves. We need not look for Him all over the place; we simply need to go into our hearts and there He will be. For anyone who is in the state of grace, the Trinity dwells within and that person literally becomes a temple of the Most Holy Trinity. Saint Paul calls us temples of the Holy Spirit, but where one of the Persons of the Trinity is, all Three are present. So we are truly temples of the Trinity, a dwelling place for God in the spirit, as Saint Paul tells us. And so that is the promise of Our Lord. That is the guarantee that is offered. If we will recognize the gift that He has given to us in having revealed Himself to us and in having done so, now what remains for us is to make that act of faith and to live it.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.