Monday May 5, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Third Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 6:8-15) Gospel (St. John 6:22-29)
In the first reading today, we hear that these people who came to debate Stephen did so because they saw the signs and the wonders that he was working, and, in essence, they rejected those signs and wonders and wanted to demonstrate that Stephen was an impostor. In the Gospel, at the same time, we hear Jesus telling us that these people were looking for Him not because they saw signs and wonders but because they had their fill of the bread. So rather than looking at the supernatural level, they were looking merely on the natural level. Their bellies were filled and that was as far as they could see. They refused to look at what God was doing, but they just saw somebody who could take care of their material needs.
We too need to look at those same things. When we consider what Our Lord has done, we have to ask ourselves, “Why is it that we want to believe in Him?” because He tells us that the work of God is to believe in the Name of His only-begotten Son. And so, do we want to believe in Jesus because of Who He is? Or do we want to believe in Jesus because of what we think that we can get from it for ourselves? The Jews at the time of Stephen were afraid of what was going to happen to their temple and their synagogue, and they wanted to destroy him. The Jews who saw what Jesus had done refused to look at God, but they only saw what they could get out of it for themselves. So in both situations it was something that was purely selfish.
For us too it can fall into that same category. Sometimes our relationship with God and our prayer life tends to be nothing more than “give me, give me, give me”. It’s what I want; this is the way I want to do it; I have an idea; I want it this way. That is not the way it works. If we are going to truly believe in the Name of the only Son of God, then it is to truly believe that He is God and that we are going to do what He wants, what He wills, what He chooses. We are going to seek the idea that He has. We want to mold ourselves into the very image and likeness of Jesus Christ. That is what we need to be trying to do.
But for the most part, we fall into the same category as these other people because it is a lot easier – for us, that is – to try to mold God into our image and likeness than it is to try to mold ourselves to His because we know all too well that none of us likes to change. The difficulty is that God cannot change, and therefore He is not going to be molded to us. And so if there is going to be any kind of transformation that is going to take place, if one or the other is going to be conformed, there is only way it can happen. Even though we do not like change very well, we know it is the only way. We are the ones who have to change. We are the ones who have to give up our own preconceived ideas. We are the ones who have to be willing to let go of our selfish ambitions and ideas. We are the ones who have to be willing to seek God’s Will and to try to carry it out in our lives. That is what it means to believe in the only Son of God. It is to recognize Who He is. It is to recognize who we are in relationship to Him, and to allow Him to mold us according to His image. That is the challenge the Lord places before us: to look beyond ourselves, to look beyond the selfishness, to look to Him, and to do whatever it is that He chooses for us to do.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.