Tuesday May 15, 2001 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fifth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 14:19-28) Gospel (St. John 14:27-31a)
This homily was given at a retreat that Fr. Altier is preaching in Wyoming.
Before I say anything else, I think I need to apologize. Yesterday was the Feast of St. Matthias and I totally forgot all about it. We will blame it on the altitude or something but I totally missed St. Matthias' Feast day. Today as we celebrate the Feast of St. Isidore, in answer to your prayers for rain, look what God has provided. Praise Him. When I got up this morning and looked out the window, it reminded me of when we were ordained. The day that I was ordained it was a beautiful blue sky, and nice cool morning. It was just gorgeous. A couple of weeks later we went up to the ordination of some our classmates in Bismarck, North Dakota. It was raining, and it was raining pretty hard. We got there and we were all lamenting for them about how sad it was that on their ordination day it was pouring rain. We went into church and the first thing the Bishop did when he began Mass was to thank God for the rain, because they had had a drought for so long. It just put it in perspective. It was a wonderful thing. So we will praise God today that He has provided the rain for this drought stricken area.
When we hear what the readings have to say it does go right along with this today. First of all we hear the Apostles say that we have to endure many hardships before we can enter the kingdom of heaven. This is not what most of us like to hear or what we like to think about when it comes to getting to heaven. Suffering is not the norm for the American people. But it is something that is absolutely required. We hear the Lord basically telling us the same thing, "I am not going to speak to you any longer, because the prince of this world is at hand." He said that people must know that He is doing exactly what the Father has told Him.
As He prepares for His Passion, for His Crucifixion, He looks at His disciples, and He tells them, "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." We have to consider the context of this whole thing. This is during the Last Supper. This passage came from John chapter 14. He is telling this to His disciples as He is looking ahead to the next day when He will be crucified. He is looking ahead to going out to the garden, probably within an hour and He is telling His disciples, "Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." In the most difficult moment of His life, that was His advice. He tells us in that moment that the gift that He gives us as a parting gift, is peace, the peace that the world cannot understand. (We will talk more about that when we get to "Blessed are the peacemakers" in a couple of days.) It is a matter that that peace is there if we want it, but it comes only with trust.
That is what the Lord tells us that we have to trust Him, and we have to trust the Father. He will provide for us. It is that story I was telling you yesterday. The man got through the communist checkpoint and he started praising God. The Lord let him know it was the right song but on the wrong side. Today we are praising God for the rain, but we should have been praising Him yesterday, and the day before, and the day before, and weeks and months before that as well, because His will is being done. While we have great cause for rejoicing for what is happening presently, we have to remember that we had much to rejoice in all along. We have to always keep in mind that we need to praise God in anything no matter how bad it may seem at the moment. It is part of God's providence for us. As part of His providence it is somehow the best for us.
What we need to do when we get knocked down is we need to get right back up. Think of what St. Paul did in the first reading today. They stone him. They think that he is dead. He stands back up and what does he do? He goes right back into the town and starts to preach again. Most of us would probably look for the next town and see if we could get as far away as we could. We would need to take care of our heads and a few of the other wounds inflicted from the stoning. But he did not. He got right back up and went back into town and he started to preach once again. So what we need to do when we see the way that God works with us is know that Paul understood the need to suffer, that he understood that this was part of God's providence. Remember early on when the disciples were preaching in the Temple. They were arrested and then they were whipped and beaten. They rejoiced that they were found worthy to suffer on behalf of the Name. We need to look at these things in the midst of our struggles. We need to praise God that He has counted us worthy to be able to share in His passion. It is not the way the people of the world would think, but that is the Christian way. We need to look at God. We need to keep our hearts focused on Him. We need to remain at peace. We need to trust. As the Lord said, do not have any fear but trust in Him. Do not let our hearts be troubled or afraid but keep our trust solely in Him. If our hearts are focused on Him then we will have that peace: the peace which was His gift, the peace which the world cannot give.
Note: Father Altier does not prepare his homilies in advance, but relies solely upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.