Tuesday April 5, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Second Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 4:32-37) Gospel (St. John 3:7b-15)
In the beginning of the first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, we hear the words: The community of believers was of one heart and one mind. If we look at what is going on in the Church today, it is anything but one heart and one mind. There is so much infighting, there is so much disobedience, there is so much of everyone wanting to do whatever they want to do and thinking that they can make the rules or that they do not have to obey what is already there.
Now if this is the case, we have to ask ourselves why. It is ultimately because what is happening is that we are looking at things merely on the natural level. But Our Lord even says, If I tell you about things of earth and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you about the things of heaven? So if all we are doing is looking at the things of earth – and we are told that all of these worldly things are only going to cause us trouble, but we do not believe it anyway – we spend hours doing things that are not good for our souls: watching garbage on TV, surfing the Internet for filth, doing things that are just simply not good, not necessarily things that are even horribly sinful but things that are going to make us spiritually lethargic, things that are going to make our souls somewhat obtuse so that we are not going to be able to have the kind of clarity and zeal and so on that we really need.
What is happening is that we are not listening to the Holy Spirit. He has been poured forth, as Our Lord says, and He blows where He wills. He has been given to each one of us. And the reason, Jesus tells us, that He was given to us is to lead us into all truth; it is to make us holy. But the question, of course, is how much we want it because right in the exact same passage the Lord says, Just as the serpent was raised up in the desert, so the Son of Man must be raised up that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. That, again, is not just a generic “Well, I believe in Jesus, and therefore I’m going to heaven” because that is not true; rather it is to live according to the Holy Spirit Who allows us to be able to recognize Jesus lifted up from the earth.
If Our Lord is lifted up from the earth and we are to look upon Him in order to have eternal life, then we need to ask ourselves, “Why is it that we are spending so much time looking at the things of earth rather than looking at the things that are lifted up above the earth?” Saint Paul says that since we are already seated at God’s right hand we are to set our focus on the things above rather than on things below. We are to live in this world with our focus on heaven, but all too many of us have our focus on the things of earth. In the early Church, they sold everything they had and they lived a communal life. Now that is not what we need to do, but what we definitely need to do is look at, number one, the material attachments that we have, and number two, the areas where we are being pulled down because of the things that we have chosen to make priorities, things that are not good for our souls, things that gravitate against the spiritual life, things that are from below rather than from above.
We have to have our focus set where it belongs. Jesus has been raised up above the earth, and that means in His Crucifixion, it means in His Resurrection, and it means in His Ascension. But if that is the case, that means we need to be looking at what is above the earth, not what is of earth, or even worse what is from below. We need to make sure our focus is correct because it is only by looking at Jesus Christ raised up above the earth that we will have eternal life.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.