May God’s Will be Our Very Life
Tuesday May 25, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Seventh Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 20:17-27) Gospel (St. John 17:1-11a)
In the Gospel reading, Our Lord says something that is a little bit frightening. He says, I do not pray for the world, but only for the ones that You have given to Me out of the world. When we look at the mess that we have in the world today, we can understand why. Our Lord did not pray for the world, nor did He pray for the worldly. The only ones that He prayed for were the ones who were going to believe in Him. Now that is a great benefit for those who will accept Him, but it helps us to understand why the Lord is allowing some of the things to happen that He is.
The real hard part for us, of course, is that as the things of the world get worse it has an effect on each one of us, and it can affect us in one of two ways. It can affect us by either making us stronger in our faith, or it can affect us by sucking us right into its own mess. There are many who are being brought right down into it, but there are also many who are rising up against it. And so when Our Lord says to His heavenly Father in His high priestly prayer, I have been glorified in them, we just stop and think about those words. Here He is praying that God the Father will glorify Him and that God will give to Him once again the glory that He had from before the world began, and we recognize that this is His crucifixion and His exaltation in heaven. But then He says that He has been glorified in His apostles, as well as in those who would believe in Him. And what a wonderful thought, that Jesus has been glorified in each one of us because we are the ones who would believe.
Now if we are going to be glorifying Our Lord, it requires then that we have to do His Will. It requires that, just as He was rejected and crucified, the same is going to happen in us. He has prayed for us. What a consolation! He knew that we would be alive in this time; He knew what the world was going to be like. He is allowing the world to go the way that it has chosen, but He prayed for us. So the grace is there for each one of us to remain faithful, to be strong, to be bold in our faith. What we have to do now is to ask ourselves, “What does it mean for me to glorify Christ?”
Saint Paul could look at his life and say, Here is the ministry that God has called me to, and the only thing that matters is that I finish, that I do the Will of God. Life is of no importance to me. Is that our attitude? Life is of no importance to me. In our society, life is all that seems to matter; and, of course, all the pleasures and worldliness that go with it. That is not the Christian attitude. Our Lord is looking forward to His death – and He tells us that is His glory! Do we look at things that way? Or do we look at our glory as the things we own because we have a more impressive house or a more impressive car or some other junk that is better than somebody else’s, and therefore we think that is our glory? Then we become like the ones Saint Paul speaks about when he says, Their glory is their shame, because if we are caught up in ourselves instead of in Christ then the very things that we should be ashamed of are the things that we find to be our glory, just like the ones who want to immerse themselves in the unfortunate things of this world. Our glory has to be about doing God’s Will.
If Jesus is glorified in us, it is not because of anything worldly; it is because of our faith in Him and because of the way we have lived our lives. That is what He is looking for from us. Considering the condition of the world right now, He needs us more than ever to be faithful, to shine as the lights in the darkness, to do as Saint Paul says when he calls all these people to him and says, I don’t take responsibility for anyone’s blood because I never shrank from telling you the fullness of the truth. Can we say that? Or is being politically correct more important? Is watering-down the truth in order to be accepted more important? Is denying Jesus so that we can glorify ourselves more important? If we are to be glorifying Jesus, and if He is to be glorified in us, it is only by doing God’s Will, by living the truth in all of its aspects, and by recognizing exactly what it means for us: that our life is for heaven, not for earth.
Therefore, with Saint Paul, we can honestly say, “My life means nothing to me.” Our lives are here to serve God and to serve the people that He puts in our paths. But we are sojourners; we are strangers; we are aliens in this world. Our lives are for heaven, and so we want to do the best we can do here in serving the Lord. But our goal is not here; the real goal of our lives is to get out of here so that we can go to heaven. That is why Saint Paul would say that his life means nothing to him; all that mattered to him was the ministry to which God had called him. So what needs to matter to us is our vocations and everything that follows from them and making sure that we are seeking God’s Will and doing God’s Will in our day-to-day lives. When we are doing that, then we can look at it and say, “It’s not me that matters; it is Christ that matters. And if it is Christ that matters, then my life is as nothing because my life is at His service. He is the Lord of both the living and the dead. If He wants me to die, then praise Him! I get to go home. If He wants me to stay here, then I glorify Him by being crucified with Him.” Either way, it is a win-win situation. But if we are caught up in the self then we glorify the self. And the ones who are glorified in themselves in this world are the ones who will be with the one who tried to glorify himself, and that is not where we want to go. We are not here to glorify self – that is what Satan did. We are here to glorify Jesus, Who came into this world to glorify God; that is our call as well. If we put God first, everything else falls into proper order and we recognize then that all that matters is doing God’s Will and glorifying Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.