Wednesday May 12, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fifth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 15:1-6) Gospel (St. John 15:1-8)
Our Lord, at the Last Supper, had told His disciples that He was about to be glorified by God and God would be glorified in Him. Today He tells us what is required for us to give glory to God. He says, By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become My disciples. That is how we are going to give glory to God. Not by doing things the way we want to do them, but rather by being true disciples of the Lord, by being those who learn from Christ and put His teaching into practice.
As we see in the first reading, that is not always an easy thing. There was dissension within the early Christian community as to whether or not the Gentile converts were required to become Jews. Did they have to become circumcised and follow the Mosaic practice? The disciples had to make a determination as they prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to guide them, knowing that if they chose that the Gentile converts did not have to be circumcised, they were going to lose a fair number of people. Those who had been Pharisees were going to reject Christianity because they would not accept the way the Holy Spirit was leading things. The disciples, however, could not worry about the politics of it all; they had to worry about what God’s Will was.
That is exactly what we have to be concerned with as well. These days, everyone seems much more concerned about everybody’s feelings and whose feelings might get hurt, what is politically correct and what is not, what is going to bring in more money, what is going to be the easiest for everybody else to be able to swallow. Who cares? God can provide all the money that He wants to give. We do not have to worry about cow-towing the people because they have money. God can provide all the people that He wants because we are all made for the truth, and the truth will set us free. So we do not have to worry about being politically correct in order to try to save someone’s feelings. That is not what it is about.
We have to uphold the truth, and we have to live the truth. The Lord tells us that the only way we are going to bear fruit is if we remain in Him and He in us. Only when we are grafted onto the Vine are we going to be able to bear fruit because only when we are grafted onto the Vine do we have the life-giving sap that flows through the Vine and into the branches. If we cut ourselves off from Christ, we are going to wither and become a branch that will be thrown into the fire.
We look around in the Church today and we see there are lots of such branches. There are lots of people who do not want to do what God wants them to do because someone might be offended. Imagine the apostles looking at it that way: “We really shouldn’t go into the Gentile towns and preach because someone might be offended. We shouldn’t go into the synagogues and tell them about Jesus because they might be offended. And in the synagogues especially we shouldn’t ever say that our own chief priests handed Him over to the Gentiles to be crucified because they would be offended.” When you read the Scriptures, you will find the apostles doing exactly the opposite. They even looked right at the chief priests and said, “You did it,” and they were whipped and beaten. They were stoned, they were rejected, they were thrown out of town, and they continued to preach the truth. It was politically incorrect; it was not accepted; it hurt people’s feelings. But they continued to preach the truth.
Now we have to be clear that we are not to be obnoxious about the way we approach things, but neither can we water down the truth. Remember, Our Lord told us, If you deny Me before men, I will deny you before My Father in heaven. It is a denial of Christ to refuse to uphold and teach the truth, and that is what is happening in all too many places these days. So we have to learn from what Our Lord is telling us. The only way we are going to bear fruit is if we are faithful, if we are rooted in prayer so that life-giving sap is filling us so we will be able to bear fruit, and if we are teaching and upholding and living the truth.
It is beneath a person’s dignity to refuse to tell them the truth. It either suggests that, number one, they are not worthy of hearing the truth, which goes against everything we believe; or it would suggest that they are unable to hear the truth, which again goes against everything we believe; or it suggests that we do not believe that it is the truth and therefore we are not going to teach it to people, which again goes against everything we believe. And so we realize, then, that if we do not live it and teach it, we are going against the very thing that we profess. In so doing, we deny Jesus and we deny our own selves.
The Lord is very clear with us today about exactly what needs to be done. We need to bear fruit by remaining in Him and by living and teaching the fullness of the truth. By this will My Father be glorified, He said, by your bearing much fruit and being My disciples.
** NOTICE **
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.