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 14 for Easter Sunday: April 4, 2021. Our Gospel reading is from John, Chapter 20 verses 1-9.
On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don't know where they put him."
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
The Gospel of the Lord
“It's Not All About Us,” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut
Very often, when we're trying to comprehend mystery, especially mysteries that at first may appear to be three separate events, it's a good exercise to try to connect the dots. Such is the case with the profound mysteries that we have been celebrating Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and today at Easter. Three apparently separate events but linked together though in truth to present a bigger picture of our faith. To help us along the way, we've been using some of our spiritual friends, Dom Helder Camara, who was a Brazilian Bishop in the 20th century. Saint Oscar Romero, and also today, too, St. Augustine.
As we gathered on Holy Thursday, we reflected a bit on service, and we realized that we often do a great job at trying to meet people's needs when there's food drives, diaper drives. We respond over flowingly to try to help those who don't have as much as we. But every Christian in their life of faith, when they become serious about who they are and their belief, realizes that just trying to meet those needs isn't enough; that we have to ask the question why.
Why is there so much pain? Why is there so much want? Why is there so much disregard for human life?
As we ponder those bigger questions, we also begin to realize that all of those problems are the result of us. Either collectively as the whole of humanity, or individually, we have contributed to the ills of our world. And even, not if directly, then sometimes indirectly, by turning a blind eye.
And looking at all that is around us, all that is broken, and we look at ourselves is mere human beings, where do we turn for an answer? Where do we look for a solution? And that brings us to Good Friday. We realize as we look at ourselves that we look not just at us, but each one of us is also made in the precious image of God; the spark of God's own presence exists in each human soul. We are created in the image of the divine to protect that image, to keep it sacred, to keep it holy, and to do all in our power to keep it undefiled.
So Jesus dies on the cross to cleanse the image of God, to cleanse it, because humanity, today's humanity, has soiled it so badly. Soiled it so badly.
It's soiled by our selfishness. It's soiled by our enslavement to systems, to social orders, to entitlement, to securities, to the idol of the eye. It's soiled by our sinfulness. And we need someone to set it straight, to restore it, to make it whole again, and that's the One who has died for us.
But it doesn't end at the cross. We come here today seeking to complete that story even more, because the one who dies on the cross does not remain in death, but opens the gates of life eternal, the joy of the resurrection, the new life of Christ. Because the only thing that can remedy sin, the only thing that can remove selfishness, the only thing that can take away the cruel inequities that exist among us is love, which really is God.
Only the power of God can heal that which is wounded; can restore that, which is lacking: the power of the resurrection, Christ's risen presence living among us
You know, in Pilate and Jesus were dialoguing before his crucifixion, jesus reminded Pilate that he was truth, and Pilate smugly looked at him and said, "what is truth?"
Well, truth, in essence, is Christ. It's the kingdom of God. That's truth. The truth that we are part of a bigger picture here. It's not just about us. And so a question we can ask ourselves today, as we celebrate the resurrection, is whose kingdom do we serve? Do we really believe that we are called to work tirelessly to build up the kingdom of God, or are we working tirelessly to build up our own; to protect our own securities, to protect our own entitlements, to protect our own needs?
Because of the belief in the resurrection that draws us all here today, we've all made a very powerful statement of our faith. We have been baptized, baptized. And in being baptized, we have taken on Christ. What are we doing with it? What are we doing with it?
God needs us to be his microphone. God needs us to be his messenger. God needs us to be his prophet. And as we hear those words today, we may be looking at our lives and saying, "I'm just a simple person. I'm not called to be a microphone or a messenger or a prophet."
But yes, you are. Even in the simplicity of your lives, we all have conversations with one another, with our family, with friends, in the workplace.
Does our baptism, does our faith ever find its way into those conversations? Is it ever brought to the table of our lives? We have the ability, even amongst those closest to us, to be microphones, to be messengers, to be prophets of a faith that we believe, a faith in the kingdom of God,
When talk comes of death, he bring life. When talk comes of pain, we bring healing.
Saint Augustine had a profound quote, which really centers us on who we are as Christians, and who we're called to be. He says a Christian is a mind through which Christ thinks. A mind through which Christ thinks. A heart through which Christ loves; a heart through which Christ loves. A voice through which Christ speaks; a voice through which Christ speaks. And the hand through which Christ gives help; a hand through which Christ gives help. That's describing each one of us who has been baptized.
You know, one of the most beautiful moments in a person's spiritual lives and it's one of the greatest awakenings that a person can have as they delve into their relationship with God and broaden it and deepen it is the moment we realized that we are nothing more than an instrument of God. We are nothing more than an instrument of God.
God has given us our mind. He's given us our heart. He's given us our soul. He's given us our very life. Only He knows the span of our time here on earth. Only He knows what we are able to do, and has given us each one of those precious gifts for us to use as his instrument, as we are able, and as we find ourselves to be each one different than the other, each one in our own unique way.
It's not about us. It's not about us.
As we look out at the world, the world is confused. The world is broken. The world is going through an identity crisis. It doesn't take much to see the pain, to see the want, to see the despair,
You know anyone who has ever been around a child who's been hurt, maybe they got this pretty serious scratch on their arm or a bruise, and one of the first things they do is they come running for mommy or daddy to show them this wound cause they're crying and it hurts so much and mommy or daddy goes and tries to reach for it, and they say, "No, don't touch it. I'm afraid you're going to make your hurt more. So they twitch and they recoil back, because they don't want you to touch it because they're afraid you're going to hurt them more. When we have a sore that hurts and someone tries to touch it, we twitch. Think of society in this way.
Think of all of the sores that are inflicted on society, that are found in our world. Sores that destroy life. Sores that destroy human beings. Sores that inflict pain, that keep alienated, abused, and broken.
When the prophet or the messenger or the microphone recognizes that sore and someone tries to touch it, society twitches, " No, don't touch that."
But the voice says, "You need to tend to that. You need to rid yourself of that. You need to heal that."
And that's our voice. See, that's the voice of God speaking.
As we live in this world that needs healing, that needs the resurrection, that needs love; that needs love.
In a few short moments, we're going to renew our baptismal vows again. Simple questions, but profound faith. And we're going to do that with a firm, "I do." And as the complete those vows, we're left with another question: "Is proclaiming that faith in word only all we have the courage to do?”
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.