Monday May 9, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Seventh Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 19:1-8) Gospel (St. John 16:29-33)
In the Gospel today, Our Lord begins by looking at His apostles, who are telling Him that they now believe that He is from God, and says to them, Do you really believe? He then goes on to tell them that an hour is coming when they are all going to be scattered and they are going to leave Him quite alone. In the face of that, He tells them that He has told them this so that they would have peace in Him. In the world, He says, they will have trouble, but He has conquered the world.
Now this is a very, very important point for us to understand. We will have peace only in Christ. In nothing else are we going to find the peace that we desire. He has told us that we are going to have trouble in this world, so why do we keep looking for some sort of worldly peace? Why do we keep trying to find fulfillment in the things that the world has to offer? Material things are not going to do it. Money is not going to do it. All of the things the world has to offer – the selfishness, the pleasure, the entertainment, and so on – will never bring peace. It brings a moment of enjoyment. It might bring a little bit of sensual pleasure, and then as soon as we walk away all of that is gone. So we realize that there is nothing lasting.
But if we are truly going to live the faith that we profess, then we are going to have trouble. This world, as we have tragically remade it from what God made, has become a pretty ugly place to be. We have maniacs who are now telling us that they are planning attacks on the United States and on the Vatican. It is not a happy place to be a Catholic these days. Thanks be to God! We actually have an opportunity to suffer for our faith. And we are going to find out, just like the apostles did, if we really believe.
We have been given everything. Just as we saw in the first reading, Saint Paul baptized these people in the Name of Jesus and laid his hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. We have been given everything. We have Jesus, we have the Holy Spirit, and, of course, God the Father right inside of us. And they are right here before us in the Blessed Sacrament. We have the sacraments. We have everything the Church offers, all the teachings, everything. So it is easy on one level to believe. Now the question is putting that belief into practice.
Are we really going to live what we profess? We have been given everything to do so, but the only way we are going to be able to put it into practice is if we are seeking that peace in Christ. If we are going to try to be at peace with the world then we have walked away from Christ leaving Him quite alone, as He told His apostles they were going to do at the time that He was persecuted. The Church is going to be persecuted and the Church is Christ. Are we all going to be scattered? Are we going to go our separate ways? Are we going to leave Him all alone on the Cross? Or are we going to remain faithful to Him? We all want to say that we will remain faithful, but there is only one way – and that is if we are seeking Him, if we are seeking our peace only in Him. If He is just a part of our life, even a rather peripheral part, we are going to walk away because it will not be politically correct, it will not be fun, it will not be pleasurable. If we are going to seek peace with the world, we will have no peace in Christ.
Unless Jesus Christ is the center of our lives and unless we are united with Him in the depths of prayer, we have no reason to think that we will remain faithful. The Lord has made very clear to us that there is only one way, and that is to find our peace in Him. So we can search our hearts and we can ask ourselves, “Where do I seek my peace? Am I seeking it in the things that the world offers? Or am I seeking it in Jesus Christ?” If we are finding our peace only in Christ then we are on the right track, then the Holy Spirit can work within us and keep us faithful. But if we are seeking the things of the world then there is another spirit that will be working in us, and we can be reasonably assured that we will wander from Christ when that day comes.
We want to remain faithful and we have been given everything to do it. He has conquered the world, and He has given us the Holy Spirit so that we –with Him – can conquer the world. Now we need to put it into practice, to go beyond the material, to go beyond the sensual, to go beyond the self, to seek only Jesus Christ and to find our peace in Him.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.