If Only We Will Open Our Hearts
Monday May 3, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Easter
Reading (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) Gospel (St. John 14:6-14)
Our Lord, in the Gospel reading, is trying to convince His apostles that they really need to believe in Him. It is precisely the same thing that He has continually been trying to convince each one of us of for years and years and years. The problem for His disciples was that they struggled to be able to understand and to accept the fullness of Who He is, and the problem is no different for us. Now we could be tempted to say, “Well, if we look at that first reading, we are told that Jesus appeared to His apostles – some individually, some in a group, but they all saw Him in His resurrected form – but as we have seen in the last couple of weeks, that did not really make a whole lot of difference to them either.” They knew He had risen from the dead, but they did not quite understand yet what that was all about. Just the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead still had not changed their lives. It was an important point of laying the foundation so that they would be able to make those changes in their lives that were necessary, but it was not enough.
You see, it is a fact that nothing external is going to be able to do this for us. You can look throughout Scripture, you can look at your own life, and you look at the life of anybody you know. We can see external signs, we can see miracles that God works, we can do all kinds of things and see all kinds of things, but that is not enough by itself to get us turned around. It is a flash in the pan for most people when something like that happens. It is pretty wonderful, and all of a sudden you are on fire with love for God; but, within a week or two, you are right back to the way you used to be. “That’s ancient history now because, after all, we’re moving on.” Well, that is not enough.
What we need is something internal that is going to change, not something external. The external things can point to the reality, but the fact is that it still has to get to the heart before we are going to be able to make any kind of change in our lives. So the Lord continually pleads with us: Believe in Me. Believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me, as He said to Philip, or at least believe because of the works that I do. Again, we will sit back and say, “We do believe.” And I will respond for most of us: “We believe in our heads, but not in our hearts,” because we refuse to allow the Lord to get inside and change us – because we are afraid of the change.
The Lord tells us at the beginning of the Gospel that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no one can come to the Father except through Him; it is the only way. And knowing that, one would think that if we truly want to know the Lord and believe in Him – not, again, just believing in Him in an objective sense, but in a subjective sense – that we would then say, “I want to do everything I can to make sure that I am accepting this truth, that I am walking along that way, and that I am embracing that life. It means that I have to be in the Lord and allow Him to be in me.” Which is exactly what He prayed for in John 17: As He tells us that He is in the Father, and the Father is in Him, so He prays that we would be one.
It is not something which is beyond us, but it is something that is in fact within us. And the only way we are going to comprehend it is to go inside, to go into the heart, to enter into the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We are already there, but now we have to be able to accept it, to live it. That is the difficulty. We are there objectively; it is a truth. But subjectively, too many of us are far, far from Him. The Lord has His heart open to us. Do we have ours open to Him? He wants to live in us, but He wants us to live in Him. Again, if we are in the state of grace, that is actually happening; but most of us keep ourselves at a distance. We know the reality in the head, but we do not live it in the heart. So if the fact is that there is only one way to be able to go to the Father, and that is through the Son, then the question is – Why don’t we really want to go to the Father? The way is open to us, He has told us the truth of what we need to do, and the fullness of life is union with God. Why would we want to do anything else? It makes no sense.
The challenge to open our hearts, to allow Christ into our hearts, to enter more perfectly into His heart is something that can only be done in prayer – only in prayer – and only in the silent prayer: being one in that relationship with Christ in the depths of our hearts. That is what He is waiting for. That is what He is pleading for. There is nothing lacking on His side at all; it is only up to us. He continues to plead for us so that we can be one with Him as He is one with the Father, and that we would be brought into the intimate life of the Most Holy Trinity through the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. That is His desire for each one of us if we are only willing to open our hearts and allow Him in, and at the same time to enter into His heart and be able to love Him and allow Him to love us. That is what He is desiring. If we are willing to get on that way, to walk the Way Who is Jesus Christ, to accept the Fullness of Truth Who is Jesus Christ, then and only then can we have the fullness of life that He promises, and that Fullness of Life is Jesus Christ.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.