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 16 for the Fourth Sunday of Easter: April 25, 2021. Our Gospel reading is from John, Chapter 10, verses 11-18
Jesus said: “I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.
This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”
The Gospel of the Lord
“Discerning the Good Shepherd’s Voice,” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut
I am sure that all of us at some point in our lives has had someone come up to us and say, these are similar words: " If you did it right the first time, you wouldn't have to be doing it again."
Usually those words come after we've encountered a project gone wrong, or at least one that hasn't met its life expectancy. It can often happen with those "do-it-yourself" deals that come in a box with a set of what we refer to as "directions" that'd we then take out of the box and discard, because we know how to do it the right way. And then after a failed attempt, we realize that we maybe should have consulted them to avoid the disaster that has occurred.
Sometimes we're just impulsive about stuff in our lives. We want to get to the end result as quickly as possible. And so we find ourselves rejecting important steps along the way, because we just simply want to get it done, plain and simple. And so our impulsivity can get the best of us.
Whatever the reason, we often don't put all of the effort, the care and the attention into things in our existence.
This is even true of ourselves.
We often don't realize and take the time to ponder the fact that human beings, you and I, also come with an owner's manual: a set of directions to follow in order to be who we are as a child of God.
God doesn't just put us here to fend for ourselves without any places to turn for guidance and direction. He gives us plenty, and he gives us the direction to do so. And so, as you go about the business of our lives, we find ourselves approaching decision-making, opinions, thoughts, and ideas, sometimes from a place of only ourselves; our own reference point and need, or what seems to be popular at the time, or what seems to be just simply the trend of the world.
We forget that we come with a whole value system of faith. As we go about our life, there are many voices that are vying for our attention; many voices conditioning how we think about ourselves, and how we then proceed to act. And so we have to be diligent in sifting through those voices to make sure that we're listening to the proper voice:, the voice of the Good Shepherd. Because when we take that owner's manual that God provides us for ourselves for what it means to be authentically human in bold print at the top, it says proceed no further; follow the voice of the Good Shepherd.
The values that we bring to life are all found in the Gospel. We are people of faith and, as people that faith, that faith colors how we perceive human beings and how we think about the issues of our day. It is with that voice of the Good Shepherd that we're able to talk about life issues, our interpersonal issues, the planet in which we live, our relationships with one another.
It is because of that voice of the Good Shepherd that things like justice, and peace, and equity, dignity of human life, and all of those other major, major concerns that weigh heavily upon us all find a context and meaning. Without that voice, we don't have the proper cornerstone upon which to think about who we are, where we're going and who God intends us to be.
It is no wonder then, because folks don't always listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd that we find ourselves very disjointed, confused, and even blatantly wrong. And so we have an opportunity today to do a bit of self-reflection. We always don't put the attention that's necessary into our lives. After all, we are only human, and we do often err and sin. But the corrective for that is a good dosage of self-reflection.
Even the great philosopher. Socrates said that an unexamined life is not worth living. We, too, have to create the space, the spiritual space to ponder deeply who we are, where we've been, and where we're going. We have to think about those bigger issues of life. Ask the bigger questions. Because in doing so, we will be led by God's grace to him, and able to in all of the midst of the conflicting and confusing voices of our lives, begin to discern the voice of God, which is truly the only voice of truth.
So may we, this week listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, learning to discern his voice amidst the others that vie for our attention, and follow where God desires to lead. .
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.