Hi everyone, and welcome to Weekly Homilies with Father Mark Suslenko, Pastor of SS. Isidore and Maria Parish in Glastonbury, Connecticut. We are part of the Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford. I'm Carol Vassar, parish director of communications, and you're listening to Season 4, Episode 9 for the Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: February 7, 2021. Our Gospel reading is from Mark, Chapter 1, verses 29-39
On leaving the synagogue Jesus entered the house of Simon and Andrew with James and John.
Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever. They immediately told him about her. He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up. Then the fever left her and she waited on them. When it was evening, after sunset, they brought to him all who were ill or possessed by demons. The whole town was gathered at the door. He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and he drove out many demons, not permitting them to speak because they knew him.
Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed. Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.”
He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”
So he went into their synagogues, preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee.
The Gospel of the Lord
Romance, Adventure, Achievement & God, by Rev. Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut
If you look at any list of best selling novels, you're going to find that most of them fall into one or more of these categories: romance, adventure, or achievement. Romance, adventure or achievement. Those three topics, captivate our attention. They draw us into their stories and bring us to a place of life and creativity.
In fact, as we look back on our own particular human experience, the stuff of our own lives, I would venture to say that if there were ever areas of regret, they would center around those three things as well: romance, adventure, and achievement. Those are the areas of our life where we often feel we may have fallen short, may have missed opportunities, may have made grave errors, or even fallen into sin: romance, achievement, and adventure.
And so as we look at the stuff of our lives, it's no wonder then that we often find ourselves looking back and almost wishing that we could redo something; go back to another time in our lives to relive a day, to make a different choice, to chart a different direction. We find ourselves actually saying, "if I knew then what I know now."
There is something intriguing about knowing the future, about knowing how things will play out, of where our lives will be tomorrow, six months from now, a year from now, 10 years from now. There's something interesting about being able to have the security of knowing. But then when we reflect a little bit more, we also realize that having too much knowledge is not always a good thing, either. If we knew how things were going to play out, what the roads of our lives would look like, then we could easily find ourselves becoming apathetic, anxious, worried, fearful, and stifled. The whole point of not knowing is what brings the zest to life, the wonder and the creativity to life: the romance to romance, the adventure to an adventure and the achievement to an achievement. It's going forth into the unknown that allows human beings to tap into their potential, to allow them to search and to soar and to find their deepest selves. To really test the waters of what they can do and what they cannot do.
St. Augustine even knew this back in his day. One of his more famous quotes is, "To fall in love with God is the greatest romance. To seek him is the greatest adventure. And to find him is the greatest human achievement." To love God is the greatest romance. To seek him as the greatest adventure, and to find him is the greatest achievement.
The task of a person of faith, of one who is serious about taking up that pursuit, of embarking upon that journey, is not to dispense with their own stories of romance, achievement, and adventure, but to wed them together so that they see the two as one: God, and you together on this wonderful adventure called life. This wonderful journey of salvation - two friends living life together and finding their way through the ups and the downs, the successes and the failures, the ebbs and the flows of whatever life will bring. When we allow God to come into us and heal us of our disappointments, of our anxieties of our regrets, we allow God to heal us of our control over life. And yes, even that desire to go back and redo a day, or redo a decision or rethink a situation. We begin to see that dwelling in the past and wallowing over all of those regrets really is useless at the end of the day, because God has already brought us through them. He's already fixed the problem and where we find ourselves today, if we journey with him, and bring his dream into ours, his journey into our journey, and allow him to heal us, to renew us, to refresh us and to orientate us on the proper road of life. To bring those two stories together so that in our journeys of romance, God journeys with us. In our adventures, God journeys with us. In our achievement, God journeys with us. The agendas come together and we live as one. That is what union with God is all about.
Imagine if Job knew how the story would end. It would have robbed him of all of the richness of his experience that he gained by wallowing in doubt, of wrestling with despair, of encountering hopelessness, just like you and I would be robbed of the richness of life if we knew how the story was going to end. We wouldn't drink as deeply as we do of life's experience. It is no wonder then, too, that where this story plays out the best, the wedding of humanity and God living life together and bearing fruit in sacred scripture, the Holy Bible, there are stories of romance. There are stories of adventure. There are stories of achievement. It's no wonder too, that in the 1995 Guinness Book of World Records, the Bible was the best seller ever.
And so the task for you and I today, if we have the faith in our heart to do so in the courage, is to invite God in, to journey together with him, to not abandon the dreams or abandon the adventures, not to give up on romance or to give up on adventure or to stop achieving, but to bring the two together so that we're on the same page, living life together and finding our way to eternity.
May God continue to bless us as we continue the work of the Gospel.
Father Mark Suslenko is the pastor of SS. Isidore and Maria Parish in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Learn more about our parish community www.isidoreandmaria.org. And follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Our music comes free of charge from Blue Dot Sessions in Fall River, Massachusetts. I’m Carol Vassar. Thanks for joining us.