Monday April 15, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 6:8-15) Gospel (St. John 6:22-29)
In the Gospel reading today, Our Lord challenges us and tells us not to be working for food that perishes, but for food that will last to everlasting life. That food, he tells us, is to do the Will of God. When asked, "What is that? How do we do the works of God?" He said simply, "Believe in the One whom He sent." Now that sounds pretty easy, but it is not. It is not a matter of saying, "Do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah? Do you believe that He is the Christ?" That is just an objective statement. Obviously, we all believe that or we would not be sitting here at this hour of the morning. The question is are we willing to change our lives because we believe in Him, and to do the work which He began? That is what will be required. If we are going to profess our faith in Jesus Christ, then we have to live our faith in Jesus Christ. That is not an easy thing to do because, as mentioned many, many times, it is going to make us different from the way that most people are in the world.
Look at what happened to Stephen. He was dragged before the Sanhedrin and he was lied about. He was slandered, and he had to sit there and listen to all of that. He spoke the truth but the people did not want to hear it. Finally, of course, they stoned him. Are you willing to do the same? Would you be willing - if it came right down to it - to stand before any tribunal, whatever and whomever, and profess your faith in Christ? Would you be standing there like Stephen with your face looking like an angel? Or would you be sweating and trembling at the thought of what might happen to you - "What are these people going to do? What are they going to say?" Stephen did not worry about that. His faith in Jesus Christ allowed him to remain totally at peace because the Lord promised that if you are ever dragged before the magistrates, He would give the words and the wisdom, which your adversaries can neither contradict nor take exception to. Stephen was totally at peace. He was not worried about himself; all he was concerned about was the truth and making sure that Jesus Christ, Who is the truth, was heard and understood.
Is that where our hearts are? Do we have that kind of faith? Or do we simply say, "Well, personally I believe in Jesus, but I donít want to bring Him out into the world. What would people think?" Now most of us probably would not actually say that, but if we look at our actions, I think that if we are honest we would have to admit that is the way most of us live our lives. We are afraid to bring Jesus out into the world because we are afraid of what people are going to think. Consequently, we spend all of our time and effort working for food that perishes, trying to please the people around us, who are going to die; trying to make sure that we are looking out for ourselves, and all that is going to pass away; rather than seeking to bring Jesus Christ to people so they can live forever; rather than making sure we are doing the work of God so that we are building up treasure in Heaven, which "neither rust nor moth can destroy".
That is what Our Lord is looking for. Not merely to say, "Yes, I believe," but to go to the next step and to do the work of the One. If we profess our faith in Jesus Christ, then we need to live that faith in Jesus Christ - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - and make sure that the way we live and the way we speak will always and in every circumstance give glory to God.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.