For Many, This is Our Last Chance to Turn to God
Tuesday May 11, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fifth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 14:19-28) Gospel (St. John 14:27-31a)
Our Lord tells us in the Gospel reading that He gives to us His peace. That is the gift He left to us. And He tells us that with His peace we do not need to be afraid; in fact, He makes it extremely clear: Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. These things are going to be very important for us. He tells us that He told us all of this so that when it happens we may believe. He tells us also that the prince of this world is about to come; and while he has no power over Our Lord, nonetheless, this is what needs to happen. Our Lord, knowing what was going to be happening to Him, was at peace in His own heart. He knew that He had to suffer and die, He knew that the devil was going to have his moment, but He also knew that when it was all said and done that He Himself was going to be victorious.
We have the exact same knowledge. We know the power that the devil has. All we have to do is walk outside and look around. These days, you do not even have to go outside; just turn on the stupid TV set or the radio and you can see and hear very clearly the power that the old boy has because he is everywhere, or at least that is what he wants us to think. He is not. He has been given great power, but that is an opportunity for us to be able to make some choices as to whom we will serve.
As Saint Paul told us in the first reading, we are going to have to undergo many trials before we enter the kingdom of God. That is not an option. If you think about Saint Paul and the context of it, we hear that he was stoned to the point of being taken for dead and dragged out of the city. He gets right back up and walks back in and starts to preach all over again, and then goes to these other places and tells the disciples to continue on and that they too are going to have to suffer if they want to enter the kingdom of God. And so it is for all of us.
The real tragedy is that we have things rather backwards. The devil has incredible power right now and the way he is using that power is to try to make things easy for everybody. The tragedy is that none of us seems to be too terribly afraid of that – we like it. We like the money; we like the ease; we like all the stuff the devil is offering to us, all the materialism, all the sensuality. I do not see too terribly many people who are afraid of it. But the thought of being with Our Lord is something that terrifies people, that is, the thought of judgment. To have to stand before the Lord and know that we are going to be judged, that is something that frightens people. Isn’t it sad that we are not afraid to be with Satan, but we are terrified to be with Jesus? That says something pretty unfortunate about ourselves when that is the reality of our lives.
The fact of the matter is that there are going to be some things in the next couple of months that are going to shake the world, and it is going to be terrifying unless we have faith because we will have to rely solely on God. If we do not, we are going to fall. The choice is completely ours. We can be afraid, we can pull into ourselves, and we will have no hope. Or we can turn to God, we can be at peace, and we can be filled with hope. It is just that simple. The Lord has given us His peace, and He has told us not to be afraid, not to be afraid of anything. In the context, He tells us that He is going to the Father and He is going to come back to us, and that in His Father’s house there are many mansions. So He is telling us that ultimately we do not even have to be afraid of death. If we are doing God’s Will, we have nothing at all to fear – nothing.
If we were trusting in God, we would be rejoicing that things are happening. We need to. It is time that we stand up and say, “It’s about time that God intervenes in this world.” And it is not going to be a singular intervention; it is going to go on for a while. The evil is going to get more evil, but the good are going to get even better. So we have, again, that choice to make. We have to make a choice for Jesus Christ and be at peace with that choice. The only alternative is to be with Satan. If we stop and think about it, the way the world is going right now, if most people are perfectly at peace with Satan and they are terrified of Jesus, what is going to happen on the Day of the Lord? They are going to run from God, and they are going to turn to the devil because he is the one who has provided for them all of the nonsense and all of the garbage they have filled their lives with. Turning in to the self, in that case, is the same thing as turning to the devil because we are turning away from God.
It is critical that we pray, that we have our focus proper, that we are turning to God, that we are seeking God, that we look to Him for everything, and that we put our faith into practice because that will be the only option; there will be no other. But that is the choice we have to make. And just as it is with death – that at the last moment of our lives we have to make that ultimate choice – if we are accustomed to saying “yes” to God, we will say “yes” to Him in that last choice; if we are accustomed to saying “no” to God and turning from Him to ourselves, in that last moment of life we will probably once again turn away from God. So now, if we are accustomed to turning to God in prayer, then when things get really ugly we are going to turn to God in prayer. If we are accustomed to turning away from God, if we are accustomed to cursing Him when things do not go our way, then when things get really bad we are probably going to do the same thing. This is our last opportunity now to make that choice to turn to God, to immerse ourselves in prayer, and to get accustomed to doing that because very soon it will be too late and we will not have that option any longer. Jesus made perfectly clear the way that His disciples should be: not to be troubled or afraid because His peace has been given to each one of us.
The homily from the First Friday All-Night Vigil is now available.
See the May Calendar for the May 8 entry.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.