Monday June 28, 2004 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Vigil of the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul
Reading I (Acts 3:1-10) Reading II (Galatians 1:11-20)
Gospel (St. John 21:15, 17)
In the second reading today from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul tells us about how he learned the Gospel. He says that it was by revelation from Jesus Christ that he learned the truth. It was not by anything that anyone taught him, but rather it was by the Lord Himself. The reason for this is that he was so zealous in his faith for Judaism, which was the revealed religion of God, that he was willing to destroy anything else that would seem to undermine what Judaism was about. However, when the fullness of truth was revealed to him by Christ, he realized that not only was Catholicism not in opposition to Judaism, but rather it fulfilled Judaism. Therefore, Saint Paul, who was so zealous for his faith, was now able to be equally zealous for the faith that he had been trying to destroy because he recognized in this new faith that there was the fullness of what he had been seeking, the fullness indeed of what he himself had been trying to preach.
And so we ask ourselves, “What exactly is this Gospel, the Gospel that Saint Paul had revealed to him by a vision of Christ, the same Gospel which the apostles had taught to them by Our Lord Himself?” It is wrapped up very succinctly in exactly what Our Lord told Saint Peter: Feed My sheep, tend My lambs. Ultimately, Follow Me. It is to follow on the way of Christ, to do exactly what He did, to walk in His footsteps. It is to do exactly what Jesus did and commanded us to do, and that is to love. It is just that simple. If we truly love God and we truly love our neighbor just the way that Our Lord Himself did, what we are going to find is that every single thing written in Scripture, every single thing that the Church teaches is perfect. It is in perfect accordance with the Will of God because it is truth. But the beautiful thing about this is that it is not just truth in an objective, propositional sort of form; rather, it is, number one, truth in a personal form, and, number two, it is truth which is revealed in love. It is truth, therefore, which is practiced in love – in love for the Person Who is truth and Who is love – because that Person, of course, is Jesus Christ, and Jesus is God. God is truth and God is love. Our Lord Himself is the fullness of God’s revelation of Himself, as Saint Paul makes clear in the first chapter of his Letter to the Hebrews. Therefore, we have the fullness of truth and we have the fullness of love. In Baptism, each one of us has been incorporated into that truth and into that love so that we are able to do exactly what we were called and commanded to do: to follow Christ, to feed the sheep, to tend the lambs, to give.
We look at what Peter and John did when they went to the temple. They looked at this man and said, “We have nothing. We have no gold or silver, but what we do have we will give you,” and they healed him in the Name of the Lord because what they recognized was their real treasure had nothing to do with anything monetary or material, but rather it was the Person of Christ and it was the salvation which comes to us only in Christ and the salvation which is found only in the truth and put into practice in love. That is the call and the dignity that each one of us shares. It is exactly what Our Lord is desiring for us. It has been given to us by way of revelation through the Scriptures, which are revealed by the Holy Spirit, but also it has been given to us by the teaching of the Church, the Mystical Person of Christ.
We have the fullness of truth, we have the fulfillment of Judaism, we have the perfection of the worship of Jesus Christ, we have everything at our disposal, and so we know exactly what we are called to: to follow in the path of Christ, to go with Him in love, to do the Will of God the Father. That is what we are called to: to seek the Will of God in prayer and to do the Will of God in love. In this, we will do exactly what Jesus did. We will live the fullness of the truth, we will put it into practice the way that He did, and we will be able to recognize that every single thing which the Church teaches is absolute and perfect truth because it has been revealed, not by flesh and blood, but by Jesus Christ Himself, Who is the truth revealed fully to us in human form and Who is a divine Person from all eternity, a divine Person defined simply as Love. Therefore, in our own capacity, we have the fullness of truth, we have the fullness of love, we have everything to be able to become saints and to live this out in its fullness by doing exactly what Jesus commanded: to love one another as He has loved us and to follow Him by doing the Will of God and giving ourselves in love.
*This text was transcribed from the audio recording with minimal editing.