Tuesday April 19, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Fourth Week of Easter
Reading (Acts 11:19-26) Gospel (St. John 10:22-30)
for the gift of our new Holy Father
formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
In the Gospel reading today, the people come to Our Lord and say to Him, How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us so plainly. Now He had told them very plainly, but they did not want to listen. That was exactly the point He was making to them, and it is the same point He makes to us. We know He is the Christ, the question is: what difference does it make to us? How much do we really want to believe that this is the reality? Not objectively, but subjectively. What does it mean to us to say that Jesus is the Christ? (The Anointed One of God is what that means, or the Messiah.)
When we read in the first reading what it meant to the people, they went and they preached Him. They brought the news about Jesus Christ to anyone who was willing to listen. At first they went only to the Jewish people, because they were Jewish at the time, and they preached to the people in the synagogues. But then they started reaching out to the Gentiles as well. Now not everybody is called to be preaching with words, anyway but all of us are called to preach by our actions. By the way that we live our lives, we are called to bring Christ into the world, to bring Him to other people. People should see in our lives something which is entirely different from what they see almost anywhere else in this world because there is something entirely different in one who is living their life for Christ as opposed to the way that most people in this world live.
So as we look at our own lives, we can honestly say, If it really means much to me to say that Jesus is the Christ, then the way that I live my life is going to be different, different from what most people live. That is the first thing we can look at when we ask that question about ourselves, because He has told us Who He is. The people of old refused to listen. The people of today refuse to listen as well. So we need to make sure that we are listening, that we are paying attention to what He is telling us. The second thing, if we are going to believe in Him, is to trust Him. We see the people in the first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles being spread all over the place because of the persecution. On the natural level, of course, it looks like a terrible thing. Yet it was precisely this that brought about the spread of the Gospel. So we see how God brings good out of the evil that is inflicted upon us.
We simply need to learn to trust and to see what God is going to do. We do not see it initially; it requires trust as we go forth to do whatever it is that God is asking of us, which we may not fully understand ourselves at that time. We simply need to remain faithful to Him. Again, if we are going to say, I believe that Jesus is the Christ, then we need to let Him be in charge. We need to trust and we need to simply seek to do His Will. These are not easy things. It is easy to believe generically that Jesus is the Christ. So what? The devil knows that Jesus is the Christ and it does not mean one thing to him. We know that Jesus is the Christ. What difference does it make to us? What change has it brought about in our lives? What are we doing with the knowledge that we have? If we truly believe that Jesus is the Christ, then we need to trust Him, we need to put our faith entirely in Him, and we need to live our lives for Him. If we are doing that, we are going to live in a way that is completely different from the way most people live. That is what we need to be doing: to live the faith that we profess and to bring Jesus to the pagans and those who have fallen away from their faith, simply by the example of the way that we live our lives, because believing in Him will change everything in the way that we operate.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.