January 2, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Friday Before Epiphany
Reading (1 John 2:29-3:6) Gospel (St. John 1:29-34)
In the first reading today, Saint John tells us that we have received an anointing from Him which remains in us, and because of this anointing we have the knowledge and we have everything that we need. Now this is going to be very, very important to us to know that God has not abandoned us as things grow more difficult in our world. It is going to seem to many people that God has just forsaken us, but in fact we have the knowledge that God has chosen us. We know that we are baptized into Jesus Christ; we know that we are His children. But it is that spirit of the antichrist that we need to be so careful of, that is, as Saint John tells us, that the liar is the one who denies Christ and the antichrist is the one who denies both the Father and the Son. And so when someone comes along saying that there is no God or that this one is not God or that this one is equal with others, that is, that there is no difference between Jesus and anyone else, it is really the same person that all of these various religions are talking about, therefore, Jesus is the same person that the Jews are looking for, Jesus is the same one that the Buddhists are expecting, He is the same one that the Hindus are expecting, the same one that all the others are looking for they just call Him by different titles and there is no difference between all of them. The fact is that the others do not believe in God and they are not looking for Jesus. But this is the watering down of the truth and it is a denial of the Father and the Son because they do not believe in God. What they believe in is in themselves. They believe in some sort of higher power but they do not believe in God. The spirit of the antichrist is alive and very well in our world, and these are the lies that are being pushed.
But we have the truth and we know that it is the truth. Now that might sound like an arrogant statement, but it is just like if you were taught mathematics from someone that you knew you could trust and you knew that 2 + 2 = 4 and everyone around you started trying to tell you something different; you can put your feet firmly on the ground and say, I know that this is correct. I dont care what anybody else says, I know that this is right and the rest of you are wrong. That is exactly what we are able to say. We have the fullness of truth and it does not matter what anybody else has to say we know what the truth is. Sometimes it is not always easy. Most of the time it is not politically correct and it is going to get you shunned very quickly, but it does not matter because the truth does not change.
We know the truth and in that anointing which we have received, which is the anointing of the Holy Spirit Himself given to us in a special way for those times when we need it the most, we have the guarantee that the grace will be there to be able to stand firm and make our noble act of faith. That is not a guarantee that we will stand firm because we have to cooperate, but it is a guarantee that the grace necessary to stand firm will be given and the grace necessary to be able to acknowledge the truth will be given. We need simply to be very careful not to be swept away by any of the lies that are going to be brought forth. As things get worse and it seems that God just does not exist because we pray and He does not show Himself and things keep getting worse and worse and worse, we must be very careful at that point not to fall prey to the temptation to somehow believe that God does not exist. Once again, the spirit of antichrist, just in a different form.
So you have, Saint John tells us, an anointing which provides not only the knowledge but provides union with Jesus Christ. It does not matter how difficult things become, the reality is that you are united with Christ if you are in the state of grace. Again, if you think about it by another analogy, if a married couple is having grave problems in their marriage they are fighting with one another, they cannot stand one another for the time being, they do not even want to see one another it feels like they are not married. It feels like there is a complete separation and maybe their souls were never joined together and maybe everything is on the rocks. But the fact is they know that they are married. It does not matter what it feels like, the reality that their souls are united is still there even if things are in serious trouble. So too with us, we know that we have the Holy Spirit, we know that we have received that anointing from Christ, and it does not matter how bad things get in the world and what it feels like as if God has abandoned us we know that He has not because we know that we have the truth and we have the Holy Spirit given to us to lead us into all truth. We need not worry, but rather we need to pray and we need to remain faithful. It is precisely what Jesus told the apostles: Pray that you will not be put to the test. Or pray, at least, that when the time of difficulty arrives that you will be able to cooperate with the grace of the Holy Spirit and remain steadfast and faithful to Jesus Christ in all things.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.