Thursday April 10, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fifth Week of Lent
Reading (Genesis 17:3-9) Gospel (St. John 8:51-59)
Now, for us, as we have seen many times, Jesus is our covenant and we are incorporated into Him. So once again, for us, far beyond any claim to being an American, we are first and foremost Christian, Catholic. Saint Paul says, “Our citizenship is in Heaven and it is from there that we await our Savior.” We are members of Jesus Christ. These are truths that we know and we can protest this fact and say, “Yes, I am a member of Jesus Christ.” The question is the same one that Jesus will be able to pose to the Jews: Are you living it? Are you following the covenant of which you are a member? Are you allowing Jesus Christ to live His life in you and through you? Are we being faithful to the promises we have made in Baptism? Are we doing what we are supposed to do and what we claim to be? Lip service is pretty useless. We can say that we are Catholic all day long, but if we refuse to live according to the Catholic faith, what good is it? If we claim to be followers and members of Jesus Christ but live in a way that is contrary to the way of Christ, what good is that?
We know who He is, and we know what it means to be incorporated into this covenant. Now we need to be faithful to what it is that we have promised. That is where the challenge comes in. We cannot give lip service to Jesus; we have to live it. And to live it means to allow Him to live in us and through us, to live His life, to bring Christ into the world. Not just to say that we are followers of Christ, but to be members of Christ and to allow our lives to be molded after Him, to allow Him to live in us and through us. That is what this requires. And so, when the Lord would look at these people and challenge them, so today He looks at us and He challenges us. Knowing the covenant into which we have entered, knowing the vows that we have made to Him, He comes to us and He tells us the same thing that He tells them. He challenges us the same way that He challenged them. He tells us that He is God and that He knows the Father, but so do we, because He told Saint Andrew, “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” So we are completely without excuse. We need to make sure that we are living the faith that we profess, to look at that challenge of the Lord given to these Jewish people, who are going to claim to be children of Abraham but did not live the covenant, and now for us, as we claim to be members of Jesus Christ, it is not enough just to say it – we have to live it.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.