Tuesday June 3, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Seventh Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 20:17-27) Gospel (St. John 17:1-11a)
In the Gospel reading today, we hear the beginning of what is known as the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus from John 17. At the Last Supper, as Our Lord prays this prayer to His heavenly Father, it is the prayer of our High Priest. There are a couple of points in this prayer that we really want to be able to look at.
First of all, the Lord telling us that He has given glory to the Father and now He is asking the Father to give back the glory to Our Lord, the glory that He had from the beginning. And He says this is so that He can give eternal life to all of those who believe in Him. Then He says, “This is eternal life, to know You, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent.” That is the key to everything: to know God, to know His Will, to be united with Him in all things. What we all desire is eternal life. We want to go to Heaven, but the Lord tells us exactly how we are to do that – to know God and to know His Son, Jesus Christ. Of course, in order to do that we need to know the Holy Spirit so that He will lead us into all truth, and Jesus is the truth. He tells us, “Everything that is Yours is Mine and everything that is Mine is Yours,” so to know Jesus is to know the Father because They are one. And so that is what we have to be striving for.
Then He goes on. It is not enough that He is glorifying the Father and the Father is glorifying Him, but He prays for those who are in the world and then says something that is rather astounding. First, He says, “They are Yours and You have given them to Me.” And therefore He says, “I have been glorified in them.” Think about that. Not “I will be glorified in them” – “I have been glorified in them. He is glorified in those who believe in Him because they have believed that the word He spoke came from the Father, they have accepted it, they have believed it, and they are living it. That means, for each one of us, that if we are truly accepting the Word of God as spoken by Our Lord and as taught to us by His Church, we are giving glory to Jesus Christ. What a wonderful thought, that we can give glory to Christ now. It is not just something that we have to wait for. It is not something that we can say, “Well, if I can be martyr then I can give glory to the Lord.” It is not even a matter of being able to wait until we get to Heaven. But we glorify Him now if we are doing what we are told to do: knowing God and Jesus Christ, Whom He has sent.
This is why it is incumbent upon us to take up the life of prayer, to seek that union with Christ, to get rid of the sin in our lives, and to strive for holiness so that we can glorify God and we can give Him the most glory possible. That was the goal of Our Lord. We as His followers are to walk in His footsteps, which means we are to give glory to God, the most glory that we can. If you really stop to think about it, we need to ask ourselves very simply one question: When it comes to glorifying God, how much do you want to glorify Him? Do you want to give Him the least amount of glory that you possibly can? Or do you want to give Him the most glory that you possibly can? It is a tragic thing in the lives of many Christians that we want to see how much we can get away with and still manage somehow to get to Heaven. “If I can just eke it into the very last place of Heaven,” we think, “then I’ll be all right.” If that is all we do, praise God. But if that is all we are striving for, that is a sad, sad reality.
We need to try to glorify God as much as we can because the glory of God has been given to each one of us in Jesus Christ, and He expects that we are going to be able to respond in like manner. Saint Paul could say that he glorified God. He called the people of Ephesus together and he could say in all honesty, “I never shrank once from telling you what was for your own good.” He taught the fullness of the truth. And when it came time for him to die, he could stand before them and say that honestly. He lived the faith and that is why he could write to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight. I have run the race. I have kept the faith. And now I await the merited crown that awaits me.” That is what each one of us is called to as well, to accept the Word of God, to live it, and to allow ourselves to be glorified in Christ, and in turn, to glorify God by knowing Him and doing His Will.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.