Friday May 7, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 13:26-33) Gospel (St. John 14:1-6)
In the Gospel reading yesterday, Our Lord told us that whoever receives the one He sends receives Him, and whoever receives Him receives the One Who sent Him. And so anyone who receives anybody sent by the Lord receives the Father. The reason for that, as He pointed out, is because He and the Father are one, and we are one with Him. As we are baptized into Christ and if we are doing His Will, then we are united with Him. Therefore, we are united with the Father, so that as He lives in the Father and the Father lives in Him, so now He lives in us and we live in Him. And because the Father is in Him and He is in us, the Father too is within us, as well as the Holy Spirit. There is this unity that takes place. Now that is all incumbent upon being sent. As Our Lord was sent by His heavenly Father and we have been sent by Him, it is in this way that we bring Christ out into the world.
Now He reverses things in today’s Gospel, and He talks about where He is going. He tells us that we will be able to be with Him because in His Father’s house there are many dwelling places, and that He wants us to be with Him where He is; that He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We know the way that leads to the Father, He says, and that is Jesus. So if the goal for us is ultimately to be united with God our Father, there is only one way, that is, first to be united with Our Lord. And if we are going to be united with Our Lord – which we are, of course, because if we are in the state of grace then the Holy Trinity dwells within us; but the goal is also to dwell within the Holy Trinity so that truly the two are one, that is, not only that the Trinity dwells within us but to the point that we are completely conformed to God, that our will is transformed so that we will do only what God wills for us to do and that we would become perfectly united with the Lord – there is only one way, and that is to become perfectly united with Jesus Christ. Now the most perfect way to become perfectly united with Jesus is to become perfectly united with His mother because she is the one who will form us and conform us to her Son so that ultimately we will be transformed into her Son. But it is only through Christ that we are going to be completely one with God.
So we have this opportunity, which is the most glorious thing in the world, to be able to be at Mass, to be able to receive Him, to be able to adore Him in the Blessed Sacrament, to pray before Him, to open our hearts to Him, and to allow Him into the depths of our being. Even though He already dwells there, He is not going to force Himself upon us. He waits for us to make that free choice, and at each step He requires that we make that choice once again. It would be nice if we could just go to prayer and say, “Lord, everything that I am is Yours; take it.” But He, out of reverence for us, will not do that. He will take one step and then He will say, “Are you willing to give this to Me? Are you willing to open up further? Are you willing to allow Me in, even more than what you did before?” And at each step we have to make the choice to say “yes”. In so doing, we become conformed to Him. That is what He desires. But He is the Way, and so we have to make sure we are on that Way. We have to make sure that the way we are seeking to go to God is the only way that leads to the Father, and that is through Jesus.
That is going to happen only through prayer, through deep interior prayer. There is no other way. We have to seek union with Christ, and we have to seek that in the depths of our being in prayer. When you receive Holy Communion, you have the opportunity to remain after Mass. There is nothing more perfect. Jesus is right there within, and you can enter into the depths of your being and be united with Him there because He is sacramentally present. Not just present by His indwelling presence, as He is always when we are in the state of grace, but sacramentally present – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity – for a period of time after receiving Holy Communion. But then we need to have time also when we seek that union with Him in the depths of prayer. If you can make it to an adoration chapel, so much the better; if you can be at church, or at least if you have a place set aside at home where you are seeking Him every single day in prayer, that is the only way. Otherwise, the things that happen in our lives do not make sense to us and we tend to reject them. But if we are seeking Christ, then we have the grace to be able to discern what it is that we are supposed to do. If we are seeking Him, we are willing then to unite ourselves to Him – even in the Cross, even in the most painful things of our lives. If we are seeking Him in prayer, we do not waste our time doing foolish things because He will set the priorities in our lives and we will seek His Will only.
He has gone before us to prepare a way so that where He is we also may be. But in the meantime, He has sent us. And in order to be sent, we first have to receive Him so that where we are He also may be, and that is in the very depths of our being so that there is this wonderful exchange. If we are willing to open our hearts and allow Him in, if we are willing to do His Will and allow ourselves to be sent by Him, to bring Him into the world, then He has gone before us, no longer to send us, but to receive us so that where He is for eternity we also may be.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.