Wednesday April 6, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Second Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 5:17-26) Gospel (St. John 3:16-21)
In the Gospel reading today, we hear the words: God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him, and that whoever does not believe in the Name of the only Son of God already has condemnation because they do not believe. Then Saint John goes on to make a little bit more clear exactly what this means, lest someone again fall into the trap of thinking that all you have to do is believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world and therefore you can do anything you want and you are still going to go to heaven. So Saint John tells us that Jesus came into the world, but people preferred the darkness to the light because their deeds were evil and because of this they live in fear. They live in fear of judgment.
Now we can look at our own lives, then, and say, “All right, we all believe in the Name of Jesus.” Now, the question is: if we knew that we were going to have to stand before the Lord on this very day, would we have confidence or would we be afraid? Would we be concerned about what it is that our judgment might be because of what we have done? because there are things that we have not confessed? because there are things that we try to do in the darkness, that is, to keep things hidden, to maybe make ourselves look good on the outside but what happens on the inside or what happens when no one is watching sometimes might not be so good?
The Lord says that we need to bring our works into the light because if they are in the light there is nothing to be afraid of. There are two ways that we can understand that. If there is something that is hidden, we need to bring it to Confession, to bring it into the light so that it can be forgiven, so that it can be removed, so that the Lord will take away the sins that are there and we need no longer be afraid because of them. Number two, it means the things that we do we would not be afraid to do if there were all kinds of people watching because we are not doing anything wrong. That is the way we need to be, to have total confidence because what we are doing (or seeking, at least, to do) is the Will of God. And if we are doing the Will of God, then we have nothing to fear.
You see again in the first reading the way that the Lord is going to work with this. We have Peter and John being arrested and thrown into prison. The angel opens up the prison door, lets them out, and says, “Now go right back into the temple and continue to preach.” He did not say, “Okay, now you’re free – hide! Stay away from them so they don’t arrest you again. If you go to this place, you won’t be noticed.” That is not what he did. He let them out of prison and told them, “Now go right back and preach again. Tell them about Jesus.” So we see the same pattern: We have to be in the light. It does not mean that we all have to be out preaching and doing all kinds of public things; but it means that in all of our lives there are people who are part of our lives, and the way that we act needs to be in Christ. The way that we live needs to be truly upright. We need to be living as children of the light.
If we are living in darkness, whether that is the darkness of sin or the darkness of freely and willfully chosen ignorance because we do not want to know the truth lest we would have to live it, whatever the darkness might be, we need to let the light of Christ into that darkness so that anybody and everybody can see that our works are done in Christ. And when our works are done in Christ, then we have absolutely nothing to fear because when we are living in the light then we are living in love. As Saint John tells us, perfect love casts out all fear, because if you are doing everything out of love for God and love for neighbor then there is no fear at all because you will know that everything you are doing is being done for the right reason and in the right manner, and that the light of Christ is shining in you and through you. In that way, there is nothing at all to fear. When we are living the life of Christ, then the words spoken in the Gospel today will be given to us, that whoever believes in this way – in the Name of the only Son of God – has salvation.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.