Caught Up in Jesus Christ
Wednesday December 29, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas
Reading (1 John 2:3-11) Gospel (St. Luke 2:22-35)
In the first reading today, Saint John tells us that we are to walk according to the commandments of the Lord. He tells us that we will know if we are doing this by keeping His word, and “keeping His word” means to walk in just the exact same way that Our Lord walked, to follow in the same path, to live the same basic life.
This is exactly what each and every one of us is called to do. This is also the greatest challenge of our lives because we like to walk the way we want to walk, and we do not want anybody else to tell us what path we are supposed to be on. We get pretty stubborn and pretty testy when it comes to actually having to do what God wants us to do, which is really pretty sad, because as Saint John tell us, the way that we can know we are in union with Him is to walk just as He walked. He tells us also that this is the way we know that we abide in Him.
What more would we want than to have union with Jesus Christ? What more could we want than to abide with Him? This is exactly what He told us we are supposed to do: He who abides in Me and I in Him…So we can look at these points that Our Lord Himself has told us, that we are to remain in Him, to abide in Him. And how do we know we are doing that? It is not simply by giving Him lip service and saying, “Well, I love the Lord.” It is not even by coming to daily Mass and then going out and living like a pagan the rest of the time. Rather it is to walk in the footsteps of Our Lord Himself, to live the life of Jesus Christ.
Now the question, of course, is, why are we so afraid to do that? Well, number one, we know where His footsteps walked – right up the mount of Calvary – and most of us are afraid of that. Even worse, however, most of us are afraid of being rejected and ridiculed just as He was. Is it not interesting that He says in the Beatitudes that we are blessed when people reject us and ridicule us and slander us and do all these things that most of us are so afraid of? We are not willing to walk according to the way of Christ because we are afraid the same thing that happened to Him is going to happen to us. Guess what? It will. So the choice is entirely ours. Are we going to follow the way of Christ or are we not? We know the cost, we know the price, we know what He has told us it is going to require of us: We are going to have to take up our cross and follow Him, we are going to be rejected, we are going to be hated, all of these things. Why is it something we get so worried about? It has to happen that way; otherwise, we get caught up in ourselves and not in Him.
If we find that we are not walking according to the way of Christ, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we will be the first to admit: “I am all caught up in me and I am not caught up in Christ.” We want Jesus but most of us do not want union with Jesus. Well, where do you want to spend eternity? In union with Jesus and looking at Him? Or in union with yourself and looking at you? That is the difference between heaven and hell. Heaven is looking at Jesus and being in union with Him for the rest of eternity. Hell is looking at yourself for the rest of eternity. If we look at it from that perspective, why would we want to do anything other than walk in the path of Christ? Why would we want to do anything less than seek union with Him? Even if we die in the state of grace, why would anyone want to say, “Let me just go to purgatory for years and years and years, and finally I’ll get to heaven,” if you can take care of most of that here?
We need to have the right disposition. Simeon had that. He sought union with Christ, and when he found Him he said, “Lord, now You can dismiss Your servant in peace.” How many of us can say that, that we have found union with Christ and we are ready to go home because there is nothing else standing in the way? If we cannot, then there is still something we are hanging onto, there is something that we are still caught up in ourselves with and we are not walking according to the way of Christ. That is the part that needs to change. Anything in us that is not in union with Jesus Christ needs to go. It is a hard thing but it is the best thing because in Christ there is no darkness but only light, and if there is something we are hanging onto that is not of God then in that part we are still walking in the darkness and we are caught up with ourselves. Our Lord does not want us caught up in ourselves; He wants us to be caught up in Him so that in this life we prepare ourselves for eternity where we can be caught up in Jesus Christ perfectly forever.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.