Thursday May 27, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Seventh Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 22:30; 23:6-11) Gospel (St. John 17:20-26)
We hear Our Lord speaking these words in the Gospel, praying that we would be one in Him, praying that the Father will be in Christ and Christ will be in us and that we will be in them. We just stop again to think about the dignity that the Lord has given to us. He tells His Father in this prayer, They are Your gift to Me. Just think about that. You are the gift of our heavenly Father to Jesus Christ – you! Imagine that! God chose you from all the world to be a gift to Jesus Christ. That is a pretty astounding thing. Now we could ask ourselves, “Have I been much of a gift to Him?” That might be a whole different matter. But the fact of the matter is that God has given each one of us as a gift to the Lord.
In turn for that, the Lord wants each one of us not only to be united together, but to be united in Him. Now this is where the most important point comes, and that is where our point of unity is. Our unity has to be Jesus Christ and it has to be the truth, because even though there can be two people both saying that they believe in Jesus, if they do not believe in the fullness of the truth then they do not believe in the fullness of Jesus Christ and therefore they have no unity. There are a few points upon which they may be united, but the Lord asks that they would be brought to perfection. The only way to be brought to perfection is to be completely transformed into Jesus Christ; that is what perfection is. And the only way one can be transformed into Jesus Christ is to accept and live the fullness of the truth because Jesus is the truth. He wants us to be one, which means He is praying that we will accept the fullness of the truth and live it so that we will be one.
But it is not enough, once again, just to believe in the truth – we have to put it into practice. It is not enough to say that our minds are in agreement, but rather He is praying that we will be truly one; that means the fullness of our being, the mind and the will, to put the head and the heart together. If we are one in truth and in love then we are going to be on the same page doing the Lord’s work. Now as we know from looking at the saints over the last 2,000 years, we will have different apostolates. The fact that we are not necessarily doing the same thing does not mean we are not in full agreement. We can look at the gifts and talents that God has given to each of us, and we can say, “Yes, it’s best that you do this because I can’t; but I’m in full agreement with you in doing that,” just as you can be in full agreement with other people but you are not able to do what they are doing. In this way, we all make up the Mystical Body. We are all united in the same work; we are just doing different parts of it.
This is our dignity. This is our glory here on earth. And the Lord is praying that through us the world will be able to see that God sent Him. The only way the world is going to see anything is by the way we live our lives. We have to be that beacon out in the darkness. So just think what this means, what the Lord is saying: that we would be united together, that we would be united in Him, and that we would be one in Him just as He is one with the Father and the Father with Himself, so that we would be one with them. It means to be united with God, to be brought into the unity of the Holy Trinity and to be one with God.
Now that sounds like it is something beyond us, but it is not; that is what we are called to for all eternity. In heaven, everyone believes the fullness of the truth, everyone lives the fullness of the truth, and no one is going to get to heaven until they do! In heaven, everyone will be one in the Mystical Body because we will all be united in Christ. In heaven, we will be in God and God will be in us and we will be one. There is no reason why that cannot start now; that is what His prayer is! So we have to realize that if it is not happening – and this is the prayer of God Himself – then there must be a problem on our part because there is certainly nothing wrong with His prayer. It is a perfect prayer, and it is a prayer for each one of us. If that is the case, then we need to really study this prayer. It is in John 17, the high priestly prayer of Jesus. We need to look at what it is that He is praying for and recognize that this is who He wants us to be. Not only that, but since He is the One Who created us, this is who He created us to be! This is our dignity: to be absorbed into the love of God; to be absorbed into God Himself, Who is love and Who is truth; to allow God to dwell in us and to be perfectly united, to be one in God, to be one with one another. That is what Our Lord is desiring for us.
There is only one way that happens, and it is not by simply giving lip service to the Lord by saying we believe in Him and then reject Him with our actions; but rather it is to know and to love and serve God. That is the way. And when we are loving God the way we are supposed to based on the truth that we have accepted, then the service to God and to one another will bring us into perfect unity even in this world – union with God and union with one another. So we recognize that as we do this, it is nothing other than preparation for eternity. That is what God wants. He has shown it to us in a most glorious way in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony where He unites the two to be one in heart and mind and in service to one another and their family, but then He wants that also on the universal level. And so we need simply to look into our own minds and our own hearts and ask ourselves, “Am I accepting the truth? Am I loving the truth? Am I living the truth?” If we are, we will be united with one another. If we are not, there will be division. It is just that simple. And the point of truth, the point of love is Jesus Christ.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.