May 7, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 16:22-24) Gospel (St. John 16:5-11)
Our Lord tells us in the Gospel reading that it is better for us that He goes, because if He does not, we will not receive the Advocate. We recall that it was not until after the Lord had risen into heaven, and then sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, that the Disciples had received that gift. As glorious as it must have been for the disciples to have Our Lord with them for those three years, none the less, He was there like we are with one another. He was there next to them, outside of them, within reaching distance, they could touch Him, but He was not inside of them. Once the Holy Spirit came, He filled their hearts, and because the Three are one, not only did the Holy Spirit fill them, but then Our Lord Jesus and the Heavenly Father also filled them. So instead of having Jesus outside of them, they now had Him inside of them.
Where would we prefer Him to be? As wonderful as it is to have Jesus in the tabernacle, to be able to come and pray before Him, how much greater it is that we are actually able to receive Him in Holy Communion. It is not just to have Him there among us, but to have Him within us. When we begin to understand the glory that is ours that the Lord dwells within us, and we begin to allow Him to shape us and mold us into His own self, it is only then that we will be able to understand these words of His in the Gospel, that He will convict the world with regard to sin, to righteous and to condemnation.
He will convict the world with regard to sin because they do not believe in Him, and because they do not believe in Him, they feel free to do whatever it is that they want. We hear about Paul and Silas preaching the Gospel and getting beaten for it and thrown into jail. They are put into the innermost cell, because obviously they were the most wretched and notorious of all the prisoners in Philippi at that time, for having preached to them the means of salvation. They had rejected it, and in rejecting Him, they had rejected the truth. That is what sin is all about, it is a rejection of the truth. Not only do we act against the truth, but the reality is that when we are attached to a sin, we do not really want the truth. We like the sin better than we like the truth, even though we know that it is true, we do not want it. We push the truth away at an armís distance. We will acknowledge it in our heads, but we will not accept it in our hearts. That is why the world will be convicted with regard to sin.
Jesus will convict the world with regard to righteousness because He goes to the Father. Remember that they said that Jesus was possessed, they said He was crazy, they had all kinds of other things to say about Him. They finally killed Him, and put Him in the tomb, and assumed that that would be the end. But indeed the righteous one could not be held in death that His body would not undergo corruption. Therefore the world has been shown what righteousness is, not righteousness according to the worldly standards, but righteousness according to Godís standards. The only way that we are going to be able to go to heaven is if we are righteous according to Godís standards, and that we reject the ways of the world.
Jesus will convict the world with regard to condemnation then, because He says that the ruler of this world is condemned. The world condemned Jesus Christ. Jesus has condemned the ruler of the world. So again it comes to that dichotomy and the choice each one of us has to make. Are we going to follow the ways of this world, or the ways of Jesus Christ? The ruler of this world has been condemned by Jesus Christ, Jesus has been condemned by the ruler of the world, but the world has also been convicted with regard to righteousness, because Jesus has gone to heaven. The ruler of this world has his headquarters in hell. So that is where our choice lies. Who are we going to follow? Which conviction are we going to uphold? Where are we going to put our loyalties?
The world has been condemned regarding sin, righteousness and condemnation. Jesus has been condemned by the world concerning those same things, but only one has proven Himself true. That is where we need to make sure that our heart is focused, not just the mind to say yes that is the truth, but to let it into our hearts. To say that if that is the truth, then I must change my life, really allow my life to be changed by Him so that I can be like Him in all things.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.