Tuesday April 20, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Second Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 4:32-37) Gospel (St. John 3:7b-15)
In telling us in the Gospel reading that we have to be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, we are told that the Holy Spirit blows where He wills; and yet at the same time Our Lord tells us regarding this that He knows what it is that He is speaking about, that He understands it. The teachers in Israel, He says, did not understand what it was that He was speaking of. He tells us that what He is speaking of has to do with heavenly things, to be born again from above. Ultimately, He goes on to tell us that this has to do with His crucifixion, that when He is lifted up from the earth He will draw all things to Himself.
We put all these pieces together and then look at what we hear in the first reading. We hear that the community of believers was of one heart and one mind. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. That is the Holy Spirit touching the lives of many diverse people and bringing them into one. It is bringing all into one in Christ, Who is the Truth. And it is by the Holy Spirit that we can come to accept the truth because some of the truth has to do with things that we would not be able to fully understand, like the Trinity or the Incarnation. If we believe that Jesus Christ is God, that is something that is beyond the senses to be able to recognize. We can recognize that He is a man because we could see Him, we could hear His voice, we could touch Him, but to be able to say that we believe that He is God requires something that is beyond ourselves. But if we are going to say that He is God, then, again, it also tells us something about what He says. Every single word that comes out of His mouth is the Word of God. Therefore, to say that we believe in Him so that we have eternal life is to say that we believe in the Person of Jesus Christ and therefore we believe in His teaching. We believe everything that He says because He is God. If He is just a man, there is no reason to believe everything that He says. He may be a truthful man, but when he speaks about heavenly things, things that are beyond human comprehension, there would not be any necessity to believe Him. But because He is God, He speaks of what He knows, which is exactly what He tells Nicodemus, that we know what it is and we understand what it is that we believe.
So for us, it is to be able to understand that He is God. He speaks of what He knows and we believe in Him and we believe in every single thing that He teaches. It is the only possible way that we are going to be of one heart and one mind. The beauty of being Catholic is that it is universal, that people from Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, North America, and every other continent on the planet can be of one heart and one mind. When you think of the cultural backgrounds, when you think about the way people live and the things that they do and then to be able to recognize that we are all one in the Holy Spirit because He has led us into all truth, which is the work of the Holy Spirit, so that all can be of one heart and one mind in Christ.
If someone does not believe in the fullness of the truth, then they are no longer of one heart and one mind. They have separated themselves, at least to some degree, from Christ. They may say that they believe in Jesus, they may even say that they are Catholic, but when they are Catholic and do not believe in the fullness of what the Catholic Church teaches they are no longer of one heart and one mind. They have separated themselves. They have made themselves part of something else.
If we see the way the Holy Spirit works and we see the way Our Lord works, what we want to strive for is perfect union with Christ, to accept the fullness of truth. That fullness of truth is Jesus Christ. To accept anything less is to accept less than the fullness of Christ; and to accept anything less than the fullness of Christ is to cut ourselves off, at least to some degree, from Our Lord. It is to no longer be of one heart and one mind in Christ, but rather it is to say, I want to do it my way. I want to make up my own mind. I want to be the arbiter of truth. I will decide what is right and what is wrong. I will decide what is true and what is false. That is not ours to do. Jesus is the arbiter of truth because He is the Truth, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth. That is the purpose for which He founded His Church.
So it is made rather easy for us to be able simply to say, The truth is something that I enter into. The truth is something that I accept and embrace. The truth is not something that I am the one who has to decide and dictate; that is for the Lord. And if I am going to accept Jesus Christ, if I am going to understand what it is about which I speak, then I have to ask the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth, to lead me to the fullness of truth the fullness of Truth Who is Jesus Christ the fullness of truth which subsists only in the Catholic Church.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.