Friday March 26, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier   Fourth Week of Lent


Reading (Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22)    Gospel (St. John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30)


When we hear these words in the first reading, “The wicked said to themselves, thinking not aright…” these are very important words because what happens all too often is that when we try to put God into a little box it never works, we think not aright. We think we have it all figured out, but it never works quite the way that we think it is going to.


All you have to do is look at a few of the other readings that we have had recently. For instance, yesterday we heard about the virgin who would bear a son, and of course they thought that was going to be the daughter of King Hezekiah, 700 years before it actually happened, because that was the timing when the prophet Isaiah had spoken those words. We heard that God would give to the son of David, Solomon, the throne of his father David, and that his kingdom would last forever. Well, they did not expect it was going to happen the way that it did, and that this Son that God would raise up was the One Who would build a house for Him; not thinking it was going to be the house that Jesus was going to build (meaning a whole family of God), as opposed to thinking that Solomon was the one who was going to build the temple. There are many, many different prophecies that are similar to that. What would appear on the surface is one thing, and the reality of what God is going to do is something entirely different, something so different that there is really no way one would ever guess that is what it is going to be until after it happens and we look back and realize what God has done.


So when we stop to consider the various things that are to take place, we must be very careful to understand that we do not know exactly what, when, or how any of these things are going to happen. We can talk about various elements and so on, but the reality is that we do not know how God is going to do this. What we can be sure of is that if we think we have Him figured out, it will not happen in that way. So if you are absolutely certain that it is going to happen this way, I can guarantee you that you are thinking not aright because it is not going to be the way we think it is going to be. God is not going to be put into a box. His infinite wisdom is not going to be captured by our very limited wisdom, and our understanding is never going to be able to grasp the fullness of God.


Just like in the Gospel reading today, we hear the people trying to reason among themselves, “Is it possible that even the authorities have come to believe that this is the Christ? But wait! We know where he comes from, and no one is supposed to know where the Christ comes from.” Did they know where He came from? All they knew is that He came from Nazareth. They had no idea Who He was. Making the assumption based on what they could see that Jesus was the son of Joseph and Mary, they did not realize that He had been born in Bethlehem in fulfillment of what the prophet Micah had said. They did not realize that He in fact was not the physical son of Joseph. And so, once again, they made assumptions – and they were wrong. Because of their assumptions, they completely missed what God was doing because they thought they had God completely figured out. They knew how it was supposed to happen, and when it did not happen the way they thought it was going to happen they missed the boat entirely.


We need simply to be very, very careful. Do not assume anything when it comes to the way things are going to be. All we can do is to look at God and leave it in His hands, to go before Him and say, “We do know that things are going to happen, but we will wait. We will wait for God to show us what it is going to be and how it is going to be.” And we will only be able to understand when we look back after the fact to say, “This is how God decided to do it.” There are certain things we could know. For instance, the Messiah was going to be born, and we could know that the Messiah was going to have to die. But they did not understand any of those things and we would not have either if we had been alive at that time. Only afterwards could we look at it and say, “Oh, that’s how God decided to fulfill these prophecies.”


So too in our own day, God continues to work in the most exquisite ways. But if we think we have Him understood and figured out, we are going to miss almost every one of His works because we are looking in one area when He is doing something entirely different. We must be very, very cautious. Understand the points that we know are going to be, but how they are going to be, when they are going to be, and so on, that we cannot figure out. Just continue to focus on God, on His love, on His mercy, and we have nothing at all to be concerned with because He will do what He wants to do. If we are looking at Him, He will show us what He is doing, and then we will understand. If we are not looking at Him, but rather we are looking for something, we are going to miss it completely because it will not happen the way we think it is supposed to. It is that same point that we saw yesterday: We must keep our focus on the Lord. Putting our focus anywhere else is going to take our focus away from Him, so keep the focus solely on Jesus and He will lead you to the Father.


*  This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.