Wednesday May 28, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Sixth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 17:15, 22-18:1) Gospel (St. John 16:12-15)
In the first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear about Saint Paul going up to Athens to the Areopagus and preaching to the people there. It is a rather brilliant sermon that he preaches based on the various things that he had seen, and at the end of it he made only a couple of converts. As he pondered this on his way to Corinth, he made a realization, that is, he never once spoke of Jesus, never once mentioned the Name of Jesus, and never once mentioned the Cross of Jesus. He spoke about their poets. He spoke about their shrines. He spoke about all the different things that they would be able to relate to, but he never once mentioned the Lord.
And so when he wrote to the people of Corinth, he said, “I have made up my mind to speak of nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” So we see the brilliance of this man speaking on the natural level – and it netted him almost nothing. But when he went to different places and he preached a message of which he says to us, “To the Jews it is a scandal, and to the Gentiles it is absurdity. But to those who believe, Jesus Christ, the wisdom of God, the power of God,” he understood that while the Greeks might think this was absurdity, it was the truth, the only truth.
We see where this difference lies then. Jesus tells us in the Gospel reading that the Holy Spirit is going to take from what is the Lord’s and He will declare it to us. He is going to declare to us the fullness of Jesus Christ and the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the only means to salvation, and the only way that people are going to be saved is in the Name of Jesus Christ. Saint Paul learned his lesson and he vowed that he would never again speak of anything but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Now we know from what we heard that because of his message he was stoned and he was beaten and he was whipped. People did not like the message always. But he could not back away from it because he knew it was the only means by which these people could be saved. It is no different for us. Jesus told us that the Holy Spirit is given to us to lead us into all truth. He also tells us that He Himself is the truth. And so the Holy Spirit is given to lead us to Jesus Christ and to lead us to the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ because it is our only hope and it is our only means to salvation.
We need to learn this lesson as well: that there is only one name given to us by which we can be saved. And we are not doing anyone any favors by not speaking it to them. If we do not live according to Jesus Christ and we do not speak according to Jesus Christ, we might be really nice people but we are not being Christian. There is a big difference in that. We have fallen into this Christian apathy in our society where all that matters is that you are nice and you are sincere. Well, I do not think we can even say that about Jesus or about Saint Paul. When Christians are nicer than Jesus – Who called people “broods of vipers” and other things like this – He would not fit very well in our society. Jesus Christ spoke the truth. Saint Paul, Saint Peter, Saint John, all of them spoke the truth, and the truth is only one – and that is Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
So with Saint Paul, then, we can learn the lesson and say, “May I boast in nothing but the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ. For through it I am crucified to the world and the world to me.” When we are crucified with Christ then we are united with Him and we will speak nothing but Him in both our words and our actions. That is what the Christian life is to be: united with Jesus Christ in everything. That is why the Holy Spirit was given to us: to lead us into all truth, to lead us into the very essence of the Lord Jesus Christ so that we will speak and live nothing but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.