Monday December 29, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier††† Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Reading (1 John 2:3-11)† Gospel (St. Luke 2:22-35)
Saint John, in the first reading, tells us that whoever says they are in union with Christ and know Christ and yet do not walk in the same way that He did is a liar. Now does that mean that one does not know Christ at all? No. What it means is that the union with Christ is not perfect. In other words, if we have achieved that union with the Lord, that complete union with the Lord, that is when there will be no more sin in our lives, that is when we will truly walk in the light. That is what we see with Simeon. He was a righteous and devout man. He was united with God and the Holy Spirit could work in him in a profound way, not only to the point that he knew he would see the Christ before he died, but even beyond that to be led to the temple at that exact moment to be able to hold the Child in his arms, to be able to understand Who this Child was. He was a man who was walking in the light. There was nothing in him to cause a fall because he was not sinning; he was not holding anything in his heart that was against the Will of God. Yet, even with that, he was able to see exactly Who this Child was, that this Child would be the light that would be to the nations. He would be the One Who would bring the truth to many, the same truth that Simeon had already accepted and the same light that was already filling his heart.
That is precisely what each one of us should be striving for. It is already true that we know the Lord to some degree. For most of us, at a bit of a distance; for some, definitely trying to grow in union with Christ and perfect that union; but for most, that is still a long waysí away. But at least we are on the road. What is important right now is that we are spending the time in prayer, that we are striving to grow in virtue to overcome sin in our lives, to root out those areas that lead us away from God, and to seek that perfect union with the Lord. That is what the saints have all found. That is what Simeon knew. And Saint John tells us that we will know that that is the case, that we have achieved that, when we walk just as He walked, when we are doing the Will of God perfectly in our lives, when that is first and foremost in our minds. That is when we are walking truly in the light.
Otherwise, most of us are walking generally in the light, but yet there are still areas of darkness where we try to hide, areas of our lives that we try to keep in a hidden manner so that it does not come out, either because we are afraid of it or because we are ashamed of it or because we like it and we do not want to give it up. It is one of those three things that we have to be able to see within our own selves. Only Jesus, Who is the light, can show that to us. That requires that we have to go deep within our own selves and allow His light to shine within our hearts to be able to show us what is hidden in the darkness. Recall that He Himself told us that anything hidden in the darkness will be exposed in the light, and He is the light which will expose everything that is hidden.
Now the question we have to ask is do we want to have everything exposed? Do we really want to look at it? Are we willing to deal with it? Are we ready to accept the fact that this stuff is there, that it is real, and that it needs to go? That is what we have to be about. Now if we just look at it that way, we might back away. To put it into a much more positive way of looking at it, are we ready for deeper union with Jesus Christ? Do we want to do the Will of God? Are we seeking to grow in holiness? Do we want perfection? Those two things are just the same coin on the opposite side. Which way do we want to do it? If we want to remain in the darkness, if we want our lives still to be hidden away (those areas of our lives, at least, that we have kept for ourselves), then we keep Jesus at an armís distance. He is there and we keep our eye on Him, but we do not want to let Him in. But He wants to be inside. He wants us to be in union with Him. He wants us to walk just as He walked, which means that we are to live the life of Christ, that He is to live in us and through us.
So I beg you, open your hearts and let the light of Christ shine in the darkness so that what is hidden will be exposed in the light and everything in the darkness will be revealed so that you can walk in the very footsteps of Jesus Christ.
*† This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.