Thursday March 10, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Lent
Reading (Exodus 32:7-14) Gospel (St. John 5:31-47)
Our Lord, in the Gospel reading today, tells us that Moses, in the Scriptures that he wrote, testifies on behalf of the Lord; he (Moses) speaks of the coming of Christ. And yet He says that the very people who claim to be following what Moses had written do not want to believe in the words that Moses wrote. He says, If you do not want to believe what Moses wrote about Me, how are you going to believe what I tell You? It makes perfect sense because if these are people who claim that the words of Moses are divinely inspired and yet they do not want to accept them, how are they going to accept the Lord when He comes to say, “I am the One of Whom Moses spoke”? But He also tells us that John the Baptist testified on His behalf, that the works He does in the Father’s Name testify on His behalf, and that God the Father Himself testified on Our Lord’s behalf.
When we look at the whole situation, then we ask our own selves, “How much different are we from these people to whom the Lord was speaking?” We have all of that testimony, we have the testimony of two thousand years of saints, we have the teaching of the Church, and still we do not really want to believe. We like to pick and choose what we are going to believe about the Faith, but even that is a little different. It is a question of believing in the Person of Christ. We know in our heads, just like the people in the Gospel reading when they would say that what Moses wrote was true, we know Who Jesus is and not one of us here would deny Who He is. We know that He is the Second Person of the Trinity, we know that He is the Son of Mary, that He is fully God and fully man, we know He is truly present in the Eucharist. There are lots and lots of things that we can say about Him and none of us would deny one little ounce of it. Still, we do not want to believe in Him. We believe about Him, but we do not want to believe in Him. That is where we get ourselves in trouble. The Pharisees believed everything about Moses and they were correct, but they did not want to believe Moses. Our Lord has spoken. Do we want to believe Him? Do we want to believe in Him? It is not just believing about Him – it is believing in Him. That is the point we need to look at within our own hearts, within our own lives.
This is why in our day we see so little with regard to the power of God at work. Just like when Our Lord went into His own hometown and He could not work any miracles there because of the lack of faith, that is what He is dealing with in His Catholic Church now, such an incredible lack of faith. And we do not see the power of God at work because we do not allow the power of God to be at work, because we just want to believe about Him but we do not really want to believe Him. This is the point that we need to look at. It is the point that we need to embrace. But it is also the point that is going to require some major changes in our lives, which is why most of us do not want to do it. We are afraid, and that needs to change.
So we need to sit down in prayer and we need to go into the heart and we need to look very, very seriously at this. You look at the first reading and Moses stood in the breach before God to turn back His wrath against the people, and the people put their hope in Moses; except, as Our Lord said, Moses will be the one to accuse them because they claimed to put their hope in him yet they did not want to believe him. Jesus has stood in the breach to turn back the wrath of God from us and we say that our hope is in Christ, but just like the Pharisees we do not want to believe Him either. That needs to stop. We need to look at what He has said. We need to look at what He has done. We need to look at Who He is and all of His promises. We need to allow them to sink deeply into our hearts, and we need to allow them to be the very things that give guidance to our lives.
That is what He is looking for. Not that we believe merely about Him, we need to do that too, but that we believe in Him. And believing in Him means that we change our lives to allow Him to be the One Who is in control, to allow Him to be the One Who gives direction, to allow Him to be the very center and purpose of our lives.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.