Friday March 11, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Lent
Reading (Wisdom 2:1a, 12-22) Gospel (St. John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30)
We hear in the first reading today about the way that the wicked are going to persecute the Son of God, the way that they are going to treat the Messiah, saying, “Let us revile him and condemn him to a shameful death. Let us torture him to see if we can have proof of his gentleness. After all, if God is his Father, He will free him.” It goes on and then it says that this is how they were thinking, but they were thinking not aright because in their sinfulness they were blinded.
What happens, then, in the Gospel is we have the same kind of confusion. The people, thinking their preconceived ideas of the way that things are supposed to be, and because they had predetermined what it was supposed to be, they refused to believe because it did not happen quite the way that they thought. As they looked at Our Lord and said, Well, we know where he comes from, and no one is supposed to know where the Messiah comes from; therefore, this can’t be the Messiah, the reality is that they did not know where He came from. They did not realize that He was the Son of God. They knew who His mother was. They knew that He was from Nazareth. But beyond that, they did not know the reality of His origin. They knew His human origin, but not His divine origin because there were things unseen. There was a mystery at work that they could not have grasped. And because they were trying to reason things through, they had no faith.
Now there is a point of reason where we have to be able to look at things and ask some serious questions so that we do not get led astray by anyone or anything coming along the way. But we have to realize when we are working with God that we will not be able to understand. Certainly, we should have figured that out by now. All we have to do is go back and look at the prophets of the Old Testament and we will see the various things that they predicted that have all come true; yet in the context in which they said it, who would have guessed the way that it was going to happen? If we had looked at it with our preconceived notions, we too would have rejected Jesus because we would have said, “It can’t be, because here is what the prophets said.” Well, when we look at what the prophets said, it was exact. But we would not have ever understood it that way on the other side, that is, before Jesus came. We can look at it with 20/20 hindsight vision, and we can say, “Yes, look at how it was fulfilled. It’s perfect.”
Well, now as we try to deal with things, we run into exactly the same problem. The struggle, of course, is always faith in Christ. We have some things very solid because we are looking back at them. There are other things that happen in the present and things that will happen in the future that we do not see clearly because we do not have the insight to be able to see it clearly. Therefore, like these people who were alive at the time of Jesus, we try to look at our rationalizations of things and we get it all wrong. We get in our own way. The problem is that we are trying to use our minds rather than to walk by faith. Saint Paul says, We walk by faith and not by sight. But we as human creatures like sight. We like to have it clear. We like to be in control. It is not going to happen. We have to just let go and trust. Our Lord has made it crystal clear Who He is and that He is trustworthy. So as things continue to happen, what we need to do is trust Him, to have faith. Otherwise, we are going to look at it and say, “No, no, no. This can’t be right because it’s not the way that I thought it was supposed to be.” Well, unfortunately for us, it is when we are on the other side – some of us perhaps having walked away from Christ because it did not happen the way “it was supposed to be” – that then we are going to say, “He fulfilled it perfectly, just not the way I expected it.” And depending from where we are looking at it, it may be too late to be able to make an act of faith at that point.
We need to have the faith now. We need to trust Jesus now. We need to get rid of our preconceived ideas because in our sinfulness we are blinded. In our sinfulness we think not aright, as it says in Wisdom. What we do know is what Our Lord has promised, and that is that He will be with us. We know anything that happens is part of God’s providence. We know that He is in control, that He is all-powerful. We do not have to worry about it. And so we need faith. We need complete, total, and absolute faith and trust in Jesus Christ. It is just that simple. But it is not a simple thing to do, and so we need to work at it. We need to work at letting go. We need to work at letting go of our preconceived ideas. We need to work at letting go of trying to figure it all out. We need to let go of all these things and allow the Lord to be in control. No matter what is happening, no matter what circumstances we find ourselves in, no matter what is going on around us, we need simply to keep our focus on Christ because we do know Who He is. We do not have to fear. We do not have to wonder. We do not have to worry because He is God. Everything is in His control, and as long as we are willing to have faith in Him then we have nothing at all to fear.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.