Thursday May 12, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Seventh Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 22:30; 23:6-11) Gospel (St. John 17:20-26)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord prays that we would be one, that we would be one in Him; and, as such, that He would live in us and His heavenly Father would be living in Him. If His heavenly Father is in Him and He is in us, then obviously the heavenly Father is in us as well. So the gift that Our Lord is giving to us is His very self. But since He is the truth, if there is union, that unity is going to be in the truth because the unity is going to be in Christ. He prays that we would be one as He is one with the Father. There is no division between Jesus and the Father; the two are one, as, of course, they are one also with the Holy Spirit. There is but one God although there are three Persons, so He prays for that kind of unity among us. The difficulty, of course, is that we are sinners, and we unfortunately fight that unity because of our pride. And the devil gets right in there and he stirs up things so that he causes division.
Now there are going to be different ways of being able to approach things, and the Church allows a wide spectrum of differences with regard to spirituality, for instance. But when it comes to dogma, there is no spectrum of what we can believe. The truth is very clear. It is objective. It is the same for every single person throughout the world. It does not matter which culture we are from; it does not matter what time we live in; the truth remains the same. The same truth that was two thousand years ago still is today. It has not changed at all because it cannot.
So if we look into our hearts and we say to ourselves, “I don’t agree with what the Church teaches; I don’t believe what the Church teaches,” then we need to look at the fact that what we are doing is actually using our own free will to reject the explicit prayer of Jesus Christ. Jesus prayed that we would be one, and that unity, once again, can only be in Him. If we are not united in Christ, we are not united. We could both agree to do something that is entirely sinful, but obviously we do not have true union – we have two selfish people who are agreeing on something that is going to benefit each selfishly. If we are in agreement about the truth then we have two people who are striving to be selfless, we have two people who are seeking union, not in something which is wrong, but only in that which is right. And He prays that we would be brought to perfection in this union. The only way we are going to be perfect is in Him, once again.
Now He even goes one step further and makes a truly astounding statement. He says, Father, they are Your gift to Me. That is one you can ponder for the rest of your life. You are the gift of the heavenly Father to Jesus Christ. You and me. I was talking with somebody yesterday and said, “Thank goodness God has bad taste because look at who He picked.” Why would He choose us? Because we are the least, because we are the worst, because we are the weakest, because we are the most helpless, on and on the list could go. When we see it from that perspective, for us to choose to go against the truth, for us to choose to reject the teaching of the Church, for us to choose to reject Jesus Christ is utter foolishness and pure arrogance, because when we realize how small and weak we are, why would we stand up and rebel against God and say that we know better? “I’m stronger, I’m smarter,” whatever, absolute insanity is all that is. We are a gift from God the Father to His Son. If that is the case, we need to be humble and we need to be grateful. We need to strive to be able to accept and embrace and live the fullness of the truth because that fullness of the truth is Jesus Christ, to Whom we have been given. And that is where we will find the fulfillment of His prayer: when we use our free will to be able to recognize the truth about Him and the truth about ourselves, and we use that free will to embrace that truth and to conform ourselves to that truth so that in the truth we will be one.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.