Thursday April 21, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 13:13-25) Gospel (St. John 13:16-20)
Our Lord tells us today that if anyone receives the one He sends that person receives Christ; and because the Father has sent Our Lord, whoever receives Jesus receives the Father. Now if you stop and think about that, it means that if you as a Christian person are seeking to do the Will of God, anyone who receives you and receives the word that you bring to them receives Jesus. And because they receive the Lord, they receive God the Father; and if they are willing, of course, they will receive the Holy Spirit.
That is a pretty astounding statement when you think about it, for one of us, little people that we are, that we would actually be willing to go out to others to tell them about Jesus; and when that happens, Our Lord Himself is the one they receive, and through Him the Father. That shows the dignity God has given to us. It shows us also the way that He Himself has chosen to spread the Gospel. Being God, He could do it any way that He wanted. He could infuse knowledge right into people’s minds, but He has chosen instead that it would be brought about through human instruments. But we need to understand once again the dignity He has given to us in this work, that we can go out as mere human beings and what we are bringing to people is God, and when they receive us they receive God. That is a pretty astounding thing.
Now what exactly does it mean for us to do that? Well, Jesus makes it very clear at the very beginning of the Gospel reading today. After He had washed His disciples’ feet, He tells us that no slave is greater than his master and no messenger is greater than the one who sent him. And He said, If you understand this, blessed are you if you do it. We have to act upon this. That is, if Jesus was willing to make Himself the servant and the slave of all – and, indeed, in washing His disciples’ feet to make Himself lower than a slave – that is the attitude we have to have. If no slave is greater than the master, how is it that we would think that these are beneath our dignity if it was not beneath the dignity of Our Lord Himself? Why do we think that we should be served when the Lord came to serve? Why do we think that we should have the high-life when the Lord came to die?
You see, when we put it in perspective, we begin to realize the way that we are called to live, the way that we are called to bring the Gospel out to others. Certainly, it is through preaching the word, but as we have said so many times, it is especially through living the word. The word is Jesus. It is to live the life of Christ, and that is what people should see in us: the life and the love of Jesus Christ shining forth. That is what the Lord is asking of us, to make ourselves the servants of all, to serve others, and in so doing to bring Jesus Christ to them. If we are willing to be humble, if we are willing to get out of the way, the Lord Himself will work through us. In our humility and in our humble service, God Himself, through us, will be given to others.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.