April 4, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thursday in the Octave of Easter
Reading (Acts 3:11-26) Gospel (St. Luke 24:35-48)
In the Gospel reading, Our Lord tells His disciples that repentance for the forgiveness of sin is to be preached to all the nations in His Name. It is the Holy Name of Jesus that is so powerful, and that is precisely the point that Saint Peter makes after healing this man who had lain at the Beautiful Gate every day for years and years. The people come to Solomonís Portico and see this man whom they all recognized, and Peter said something which is very beautiful. He says, "Why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety?" It was not because of any personal holiness on his or Saint Johnís part; it was not any power of their own. But Peter then goes on to tell them that it is in the Name of Jesus that this man is healed. So it is in the power of the Name of Our Lord.
And Jesus, then, tells His disciples that they have to have faith. He says, "Why do you have these questions and doubts? You need to have faith." That is precisely what He is going to ask each one of us. Why do we doubt? Why do we question? What is it that we need? If we are looking for some kind of scientific proof, it is not going to be there. This is not a question of proof in a scientific way; but rather, this is a question of faith - and for one with faith, no proof is necessary. As they say on the other side of that: "For one without faith, no proof will ever be sufficient." It does not matter how many people are healed in the Name of Jesus, it does not matter how many miracles are worked in the Name of Jesus, for someone with no faith, they are not going to believe it anyway. But for those with faith, it is not the miracles and all of those things that are necessary. Those give evidence to the reality in which we believe, but they are not the reason for which we believe. The reason why we believe is because Our Lord Himself has told us and we have faith in Him. That is all that is necessary.
Remember, Jesus told us that the greatest man born of woman is Saint John the Baptist. Yet Scripture even testifies that John worked no miracles. So here we have the greatest man and he worked no miracles. It was not about personal piety; it was not about any power that was his; it was about the Person in whom he had faith, and he did the Will of God in all things. That is all we are being asked to do as well. It is not about signs and wonders or extraordinary things; it is about loving God and having faith in Jesus Christ, whom He sent. That is all God is asking of us.
But it is not that distant faith. It is not merely an intellectual thing where we can say, "Well, yes, I believe in Jesus." Many people can say that. But it is a question of how much faith in Jesus Christ impacts your life. How much has it changed your life? How deeply has it affected you? Or is it just something that we keep at an armís distance as sort of an objective, logical kind of proposition where we could ask the simple question "Do you believe in Jesus - yes or no?" and we can all answer yes. That is not going to get us very far. Our Lord said that not all who say, "Lord! Lord!" are going to enter into the kingdom of Heaven. And so it is not just about a generic thing; it is about having faith - not questioning - and living that faith in Jesus Christ, allowing that faith to touch us at the deepest level of our being, and molding our lives around that faith so that we become molded into the very Person of Jesus Christ. Then, with Peter, we would be able to say, "It is no piety of our own; it is not any power of our own; but rather, it is faith in the Name of Jesus Christ that has healed us and made us whole."
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.