Wednesday December 31, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier
Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas
Reading (1 John 2:18-21) Gospel (St. John 1:1-18)
In the first reading today, Saint John tells us that we know it is the final hour because the spirit of the antichrist is present in the world. He says, “Many such antichrists have appeared coming from our own number.” But yet the one who is the antichrist has not yet appeared on the scene. The spirit of antichrist is not merely in one person but is in many people and has been around for 2,000 years, as there have been many people in the spirit of antichrist who have arisen, and, of course, there are many even in our own day. The spirit of antichrist is also a spirit of deception, so he points out to the people that they have an anointing which comes from God so that they have all knowledge and that knowledge they have is the knowledge of the truth. And he tells us that a lie has nothing in common with the truth; therefore, he is writing to the people because they have this truth and they are to hold firm to that truth.
Now in the Gospel reading, when we hear about Our Lord coming into the world, Who is the Word of God, the one Word which God spoke in all eternity, and God Who is truth speaks only the truth and there is no lie within Him – as Saint John again makes very clear, because God is the truth and a lie has nothing in common with the truth, it is not even possible for God to speak something which is untrue – so if Jesus is the Word of God (and He is) therefore that Word spoken by God in all eternity is absolute truth, the one Word of truth spoken and in it is contained all truth. Saint John the Baptist, we are told, came to testify to the truth. Even though he himself was not the light, he came to give witness to the One who was coming into the world, Who is the light of the world. Yet, at the same time, we are told, “The world was made through Him but did not know Him.” And worse than the fact that they did not know Him, they did not accept Him. Even when He came to be able to say, “I am He,” they rejected Him. “He came to His own, but His own received Him not.”
Then there are another whole group of people, and among that group of people Saint John tells us that these are people who are not born just of simple natural generation, they are not born by the will of a man, they are not merely of the flesh, but they are born by the Will of God and they are the ones who will accept the Word of God. They are the ones who are going to receive the grace to become truly children of God and to live according to that grace. Now what we need to be able to recognize is that each one of us is counted among those numbers. We are the ones who are called to be the children of God, but we realize that there are many people who are baptized into Jesus Christ and there are many who do not live as the children of God, but just the opposite. As Saint John tells us, regarding the spirit of the antichrist, “they came from our number”, which means that they were people who were baptized but they rejected the grace of their baptism and they chose sin over righteousness. They chose the ways of Satan over the ways of Jesus Christ.
It is a very subtle point. It is very obvious when you look at the two points, Jesus or Satan, but Satan is not stupid. He is very subtle, the most subtle of all the creatures that God made. And so he gets us on little points: “It’s not that big a deal. No one will know. It’s a private thing, after all. It’s okay if you do this. You can believe that. You don’t really believe these other things do you? Just don’t tell anyone and it’ll be okay.” So we do our deeds of darkness in the darkness, and somehow we think that God, Who is light, is not going to see them and is not going to know. We have chosen Satan over God. Now if we look into our lives and we see that that is what we are doing in whatever form it happens to be taking, then we need to reject it because we realize that if we are choosing a lie over the truth, if we are choosing to sin rather than to walk in righteousness, if we are choosing anything which is in violation of the teaching of Jesus Christ as given to us through His Church, then we have chosen the spirit of antichrist. We have rejected Jesus Christ and we have chosen Satan; it is just that simple.
We have to look very seriously as we come now to this last day of the year and we begin what has been promised (by those reputed to be mystics, anyway) to be a rather momentous year, a rather interesting one, if nothing else. We have some pretty serious choices to make. Are we going to choose Jesus Christ? That means to choose the truth and to live according to the truth, to live according to our supernatural generation, our rebirth in Jesus Christ, and therefore, to live the life of Christ, which means to shun sin, to shun falsehood and deception in any form, and to live according to the truth. The truth is a Person and the truth is found only in one place, that is, in the Roman Catholic Church which Jesus Christ Himself has founded, and you will not find it anywhere else in the world. Period. And so we have that choice: Are we going to live it or are we not? We can no longer play footsie with Satan. We cannot say, “Well, I want to look like a good Catholic, but I also want to do this other thing that I know the Church condemns.” It is not possible. If we do that, we are choosing hell for ourselves. We need to be very clear about the choice we are making. A few moments of selfish pleasure for an eternity in hell, is that the exchange we want? Are we like Esau, where we give up our birthright as the firstborn of the Son of God so that we can have some kind of selfishness, some kind of lie, some kind of pleasure, whatever it might be? Are we the reprobate who looks good on the outside but really is choosing sin over righteousness?
Jesus came into the world, He came to His own, and His own accepted Him not. You are His own now, and you have the choice to accept Him or to reject Him. It is not enough to say, “I believe that Jesus is God.” We reject Him with our actions; we reject Him with our choices. He is the fullness of truth and in Him is all truth. If we have chosen any lie over the truth then we have rejected Jesus Christ, not with our words but with our choices and our actions. That is what we need to look at. Do we accept Jesus Christ in His fullness or are we trying to find a way around the truth, in which case, we have accepted the spirit of antichrist, we have chosen Satan, and we have rejected Jesus Christ? Jesus came into this world so that you could be saved, so that you could have a rebirth which is supernatural, and so that you could have eternal life. The choice lies now with us and there is no in-between. It is Jesus Christ or it is Satan. It is heaven or it is hell. It is life or it is death. It is just that simple: the truth or a lie. Which will we choose?
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.