Medicine from the Altar of God
Tuesday March 23, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Lent
Reading (Ezekiel 47:1-9, 12) Gospel (St. John 5:1-16)
As we have spoken many times, this little stream that comes out from under the altar, from under the temple, is the exact same place that makes the pool of Bethesda, the pool that this man who was ill for 38 years had been lying next to with many other sick people. The stream that filled the pool is the stream that came out from underneath the temple. Now this spring that was there is reminiscent for us, and it is exactly what the Lord uses to be able to show that even though there is this pool that is there for people to be healed, there is someone far greater than that. We recall Our Lord’s words that we have “someone greater than Solomon here” and so on; but we also have someone who is greater than the temple made by human hands, because we have the One Who is the Temple of the Lord. “Destroy this temple,” He said, “and I will raise it up in three days.” His own body is the temple where people are going to be healed. And it is on the Sabbath, it is on the Lord’s Day, so as the people come to the Lord, they are going to find healing in Christ.
Well, that temple, which is the Body of Christ, we have present among us in the Blessed Sacrament. And it is the place where people can be healed. The problem that most of us face is the same one that this man had. Jesus looks right at each one of us and says, “Do you want to be healed?” because He can see that we have been sick for a very long time – a very long time. But the problem is that most of us do not want to be healed; we do not want to change. This man did not really want to change either because he knew that if he got to that pool (it was 40 feet deep and he was a paralytic) and was not healed that he would sink to the bottom. More than that, if he was healed he could not lie there anymore and beg alms; he would have to go out and work; he would have to live a different kind of life. And so even though on one level he wanted to be healed, on another level he was not so sure because he was not sure what his life would be like. Just like us.
We know that if the Lord heals the spiritual paralysis of our souls we are going to be very different from the way we are today. We do not know what that is going to look like, and we are afraid. Now the tragedy of all of that is we know that if our souls are healed so we can do what God wants us to do, we will actually become the person that God made us to be instead of the person that we have made ourselves to be. God will tear down the façade and He will actually make us into the person that we are supposed to be. But because we are the ones who made the façade – with the help of Satan – we are afraid to tear it down because we are afraid of what is on the other side. We are afraid to have to face the ugliness of the sin and the brokenness that is within, so we keep the façade up and we keep looking at the façade, saying, “I don’t want to take it down because I don’t want anybody to see the ugliness that’s on the other side of it.” But it is God Who created what is on the other side of it. And so any ugliness that is there is really the façade that we have put up, not the reality that God created.
But the devil is right there telling us that we really do not want to do this. “This would be a terrible mistake! This will be something that will be an embarrassment you will not be able to live with. Don’t do it!” he tells us. Tragically, we listen to him. We believe him. The only person who has a vested interest in making sure that we do not get healed is Satan; he is the only one. As long as he can keep telling us that we do not really want to do this – “This would be a bad decision! This would be a huge mistake!” – and as long as we listen to him, he has a home; he gets to stay. As soon as that façade comes down and the wounds are healed, Satan has no home; he gets booted right out. So as long as we remain in fear and as long as we remain in the lie, Satan has an abode and he has power over us in that way.
It is time that we tear the façade down. The stream that will heal, the stream that provides so the trees will bear fruit and their leaves will be medicine flows from the altar of God. It has from Old Testament times; and now, more than ever, it continues. Every day that we are at Mass, that stream is renewed, the spring comes gushing forth from the altar of God. And in the Blessed Sacrament we have the fruit of the tree of life that continues to heal. The question again is: Do we want the healing power that the Lord is willing to provide? Are we willing to look beyond the façade? Are we willing to get to the reality of the problem and deal with the real person that God wants us to be? There is nothing to fear because what God made is beautiful, it is perfect, it is what will glorify God the most, and it is what will be the best for us.
Do not listen any longer to the lies of Satan. Get into the stream that flows from the altar. Open your heart to the grace that God is giving you through the Mass and through the Blessed Sacrament. Allow Him to heal your soul so that on the Day of the Lord you will be able to stand before God completely whole and healed and living according to the way that God created you, being the person that He made you to be in all of the splendor, in all of the beauty that He desires for you, because He made you in His image and likeness. He made you to love and to be loved. If only we are willing to tear the façade down and allow God to heal us, we will be whole, we will become the person God made us to be, we will find true joy and happiness for ourselves – and, at the same time, we will give God the greatest glory.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.