Weekly Homilies

How's Your Lent Going? (Mark 9: 2-10)

February 28, 2021 Fr. Mark Suslenko Season 4 Episode 11
Transcript Chapter Markers

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 11 for the Second Sunday of Lent: February 28, 2021.  Our Gospel reading is from Mark, Chapter 9, verses 2-10

Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them,  and his clothes became dazzling white,  such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.

Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses,  and they were conversing with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus in reply,  “Rabbi, it is good that we are here! Let us make three tents:  one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”

He hardly knew what to say, they were so terrified. Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them;  from the cloud came a voice,  “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to him.”

Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.

As they were coming down from the mountain, he charged them not to relate what they had seen to anyone, except when the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept the matter to themselves, questioning what rising from the dead meant.

The Gospel of the Lord

How’s Your Lent Going? by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut

Several years ago, I had the wonderful privilege of meeting a man named Peter. Peter, by many standards, would be considered homeless. But he lived, for lack of a better word, in what's called a “tent community.” And these tent communities exist in most towns in cities, well hidden, of course, from public eye, in the woods.And here people build rudimentary dwellings that are comprised usually of things like cardboard pieces or found lumber, canvas blankets and the like. It is a place that protects them, at least a little bit, from the elements and the place that they call home. 

When I met Peter, it was through the grace of a man who was advocating on behalf of these folks. He would leave them bags of groceries and toiletries and such that would help ease their burdens a little bit.  But he also went a little bit further than that and tried to advocate for some more secure housing. In the area at the time, some folks were taking dilapidated housing and transforming it into apartments for these folks so that they could have a better standard of living, and gain some sense of well-being and independence. 

And as I said, Peter was a very humble guy. He would gladly accept the gift certificate to McDonald's to get a cup of coffee in the morning or pastry or a bit of food, but he never really wanted or asked for much else.

And so it was a wonderful day when Peter could finally. have his apartment, his place where he could move out of this rudimentary tent dwelling into something that was cleaner and more secure. And I remember the day that we showed him his new place and gave him the grand tour and he looked and he saw the newly appointed furnishings.

It was a very simple, small place for a single man. But as I said, it was much better than what he had been in before. And he looked, and he was very gracious and very happy with what he saw. And you remember him closing the door behind him as we left that apartment that day, Peter never returned to that apartment, at least to live. They found the key that he was given that day at the doorstep the next day. He preferred his tent. He wasn't ready yet to transition to another type of living situation. 

So in light of that story, I asked a very pointed and profound question today: How is your Lent going? How is your Lent going? We often approach Lent like we approach the Peters in our life. We assume that if something looks good on the outside, that it's going to automatically change the inside or, that if things look good on the outside, that somehow the inside is going to just simply catch up, and that's not entirely true.

For many folks, Lent becomes a task; a task of doing certain things, whether it's removing things from their life that they consider creature comforts or stumbling blocks, or putting something else in, but for that 40-day period. It is simply a matter of adjusting this and tweaking that, and kind of moving through that 40 days.

And then when Lent is over, we simply return to what we did before, whether it's returning to the chocolate that we gave up for Lent or the glass of wine that we put aside, or the behaviors that we were accustomed to prior to our journey. Other folks, as they look at the season of Lent, do nothing. It's simply another season of the year; another thing that they have little use for. 

But for others, Lent is about a journey of transformation, of attitudes and thoughts. How I consider others. How I look at myself, my relationships. How I view, God, the gospel, creation and others begins to change and be transformed. And so I ask again, how is your Lent going?

We're into the season enough where if we’re truly invested in this spirit of transformation, in this spirit of change, that we would be experiencing at least on some level, some rumblings of our spirits, some tweaking going on inside some discomfort, perhaps over what we've decided to remove from our life or a bit of uneasiness that what we've decided to put in. That as we journey through these days that sense of transformation, that change, should burn within us, almost like our muscles burning when we decide to embark upon exercise, that quivering, that sensation, that change is what transformation is all about, because it's not enough just to change the outside.

The insight has to come along with it. We have to ready ourselves to accept this new life. And it really involves listening to a call, and the call comes distinctly, though quietly, from God. And it's the call to new life - to new life. 

You know, Saint Teresa of Calcutta makes a very good point about that voice of God. And she says, “silence is necessary for listening.” Silence is necessary for listening.

Because if there are other things cluttering our hearts, other things grabbing at our attention, we're not going to be able to hear the voice of God. And that's what happens to us in our lives. You get so consumed with everything else that we don't really attune ourselves, discipline ourselves, to listen for anything other than what is noisy around us; for what is obviously vying for our attention.

And so we don't always listen, or are able to hear that voice of God calling us to new life. It's to a life of transformation. It's to a life of change. And ultimately, that life of change is offered as a radiance of being that awaits us as we journey from this life to the next; the fullness of who we shall become is not even yet known by us.

We are very much still a work in progress on this journey of becoming and being transformed and changed into this. resurrected, transformed, transfigured self. And when the disciples saw Jesus transfigured before their eyes, they, too, didn't quite understand what they were seeing. It took them a while to truly allow that to settle, so that what they saw on the outside was matched with what they felt on the inside.

And then they were able to see and know it is in listening to this call from God to new life that we begin to embark upon this journey. This journey where we leave those things that tether us, those things that weigh us down, those things that hurt us, those things that capture us, and move more fully into a life of freedom, where there is a greater desire to risk on behalf of the Gospel to look at our brothers and sisters on our journey of faith as one family together.

And so Lent is all about finding a new dwelling, and God prepares that new dwelling for us. It's paved with a path of faith, hope and love. It is a new dwelling of our transformed, transfigured, resurrected self. It is a new dwelling of freedom. Are we ready to move in? 

And so I ask again, how is your Lent going? It's not too late to change our course and take up the challenge.

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. 

Gospel: Mark 9: 2-10
Homily: How's Your Lent Going?