Tuesday May 3, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Sixth Week of Easter
Reading (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) Gospel (St. John 14:6-14)
Our Lord tells us in the Gospel today that no one comes to the Father except through Him. Now if we are going to go to our heavenly Father through Our Lord, then the question is how. How is this going to be accomplished? Saint Paul, in the first reading today, tells us that what is of first importance is that Jesus died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose from the dead. That is the means by which we go to our heavenly Father. If we are going to come to the Father only through the Lord, it is going to be only through His death and Resurrection. It is the only way.
We do not believe in a Jesus Christ who is not crucified and who is not risen. What good would it be? It would be like saying that we can go to the Father through one of us (because we have not been crucified and we are not resurrected either, as yet). So what would it mean? It would be worthless.
It is of first importance, Saint Paul says, that Jesus died for our sins. That is the first thing he wants people to understand. Recall that when he talked to the Corinthians he said, When I was among you, I decided to speak of nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. That was the point of Saint Paul’s preaching. Anything else, he said, would have taken away the power of the Cross. And so for us as Christian people, we must keep our focus specifically on Jesus Christ crucified. There is no other way to go to our heavenly Father. It is only through the wounds of Christ, only through the blood that He poured out for us on the Cross, only through the open wound in his heart, that we are able to enter into glory. There is no salvation apart from the Crucifixion, so it is not possible to focus anywhere else if we want to be able to enter into eternal life.
And so we need to keep our focus solely on the Lord – but on Jesus Christ crucified. Certainly we can focus on the Resurrection, but there is no Resurrection without the Crucifixion. Regardless of what mystery it is that you might want to focus on, it matters not as long as you do not deny in any way, shape, or form the Crucifixion. If you want to look at the Risen Christ Who had appeared to all of these people, if you want to focus on the Glorified Christ as He is seated right now at the right hand of His Father, it matters not as long as we are focused on the One Who was pierced for our offenses, Who was wounded for our sins. He maintains those wounds even now. Even in His glorified state, He still has the holes in His hands and in His side and in His feet. He still has His heart wide open to us because it was pierced with a lance. It is in that way that we have access to the Father – and only in that way.
That is the point of first importance, Saint Paul tells us. That is the Gospel message: that Jesus Christ died for our sins. Anything other than that is not the Gospel. Therefore, anything other than that is not going to be true prayer because it removes Jesus from the Cross; or shall we put it the other way, it removes the Cross from the Christ, and you cannot. There is no Christ without the Cross. And not only is there no Christ without the Cross, but there is no salvation for any of us without the Cross. It is not only a matter of looking at the Cross of Jesus in our prayer, but it is a matter of uniting ourselves with Jesus on His Cross so that we are able to share with Him in the work of salvation. As we pray and we look at that crucified Lord, it is not just to look at a distance, it is to be one with Him, to be united with Him, to be crucified with Him, so that we can be glorified with Him, as Saint Paul would say. That is what our lives are to be about. That is the point of first importance. Anything else and we fall into the problem that the Jews and the Greeks had: the Cross becomes a stumbling block or it becomes foolishness. But for we who believe, the Cross is the power of God and it is the wisdom of God, and the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ for our sins is the message of the Gospel which is of first importance.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.