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 23 for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary time. : June 27, 2021. Our Gospel reading is from Mark, Chapter 5, verses 21-43 .
When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered around him, and he stayed close to the sea. One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, “My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.”
He went off with him, and a large crowd followed him and pressed upon him. There was a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years. She had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all that she had. Yet she was not helped but only grew worse. She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak.
She said, “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” Immediately her flow of blood dried up. She felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Jesus, aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who has touched my clothes?” But his disciples said to Jesus, “You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’”
And he looked around to see who had done it. The woman, realizing what had happened to her, approached in fear and trembling. She fell down before Jesus and told him the whole truth.
He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.” While he was still speaking, people from the synagogue official’s house arrived and said, “Your daughter has died; why trouble the teacher any longer?”
Disregarding the message that was reported, Jesus said to the synagogue official, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” He did not allow anyone to accompany him inside dexcept Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. When they arrived at the house of the synagogue official, he caught sight of a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly.
So he went in and said to them, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” And they ridiculed him. Then he put them all out. He took along the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and entered the room where the child was. He took the child by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum,” which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise!”
The girl, a child of twelve, arose immediately and walked around. At that they were utterly astounded.He gave strict orders that no one should know this and said that she should be given something to eat.
The Gospel of the Lord
“Faith Over Fear” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut
What brings us to faith? What brings us to faith? More specifically today, what has brought you to faith? You see, for many, we equate the word "faith" with "religion." And so if someone goes up to you and says, "Well, what is your faith?", the response normally is going to be Catholic. Or if you are of the Protestant denomination, I'm Protestant.
We tend to describe our faith in terms of our association with a religion, and while that is true, it only captures one element of our faith journey. Because our faith journey really can be described as a love story from unbelief to belief and all that transpires within.
As you look at the types of faith, we can put them in basically two categories: faith that is accessible, and faith that is inaccessible. So, for example, it is quite possible for someone who describes themselves as a faithful Catholic to do all of the things that are associated with being Catholic, attending Mass regularly, receiving the sacraments, saying the proper prayers and performing the proper ritual, and doing the proper gestures. So as you look at this individual, there is no doubt that this person is Catholic, but when it comes to their life and to their interactions in the world, their Catholic faith is left with the rituals and the devotions and the signs and the symbols, and doesn't find its way into any other venue of their life.
It doesn't find its way into their personal relationships in terms of their priorities, in terms of how they see the world, and the values of the Gospel. And so for all intents and purposes, that kind of faith is inaccessible because it's so limited that it's value is lessened. So it begs the question, then, what brings us to accessible faith? What kinds of things can make faith real and tangible for us? What can give it a relationship of usefulness in our life?
While there are many things that can bring us to faith, but I like to point out three this morning that I think are more important than others.
The first is an innate human longing for meaning and purpose. You know, we can disguise this ache that is in every human heart with all kinds of temporal things. We can pursue pleasures and earthly happiness, and we can mask it a little bit and invest ourselves into other things, sometimes disruptive things. But when we get honest with ourselves, there is a longing and an ache within our soul that cannot be satisfied by anything here. There's always this desire for more. This need to find meaning. To connect this life that I know to be mine with something greater than myself. To see my life journey as not just something that is here, but continues somewhere else if there's (an) eternal quality to me. More so than that, every human being needs to understand and appreciate and know deep within that they are valued and loved; valued, and loved. That their existence has purpose, has intention, is worthwhile.
Do you know how many people, especially children in our world. Do not feel valued and loved? How many children do not feel that their presence in this world makes a difference? How many adults in our world go through the motions of life every day, but inwardly feel that they do not have a purpose; they do not have meaning; they do not have value.
You know, the hardest words for people to hear are you are not wanted, you don't belong here. You have no worth. But yet those words are communicated, if not verbally then in actions all the time. But yet then there's this soul who believes now that they have no purpose and they have no worth reaching out for that understanding, for that love, for that connection. And they can either turn to very self-destructive venues, believing the lie that they've been told about themselves, or they can look elsewhere above and beyond the human, to God, who is the author of all life and the giver of all love and meaning and purpose, and throw themselves into that relationship with God and find their value on that greater eternal plane. Thus then illuminating their paths and giving them the courage and the strength to move forward.
Do we realize that our lives, as we know them, have a purpose; that each one of us are here for a particular reason? We may not know all the reasons that come into our existence, or why we're here. We may not always be able to specify them, but we are here on purpose, for a reason.
You know, St. Joan of Arc knew this when she was heading her mission to save France. She was confronted by some folks that said, "Aren't you afraid of what's going to happen" In essence, they said to her? And she said, "No,, I have God." And here's the powerful line "I was born for this." I was born for this. She knew that her purpose, one of the things that she was here for, was to do precisely what she felt she was called to do. And armed with her relationship with God, she did it and succeeded. Circumstance. You know, there's many times in our life where our circumstances in life just collapse. We like to believe that we can control things, but then we get to that point where we can't control something and we bump up against it, and we fall flat on our face, unable to control the inevitable.
You know, we might be that young woman who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, who's trying to figure out how to make her way through this terminal illness and then deal with her young children that she's leaving behind as a single mom. Or the person who finds himself in a very destructive relationship and doesn't know how to get out, and they're bumping up against this hurt and this pain all the time, and they don't know what to do.
Or the person as in today's Gospel, who believes their daughter has died, reaching out for some kind of assistance or help. There are those times in our life where we cry out for some answer, and whether we use the words or not, we essentially say, Jesus, help me, help me.
And while we may not see a change in the circumstances of our journey of what we are stumbling over and dealing with, the power of that cry is in the relationship that's established between me and God. Just like the power of today's story isn't in the cure, it's in the relationship that was established between the synagogue official and Jesus. And it was that relationship that sparked faith, not the cure
Circumstances. And then lastly, God. God inspires faith because God is the author of faith. We only have faith because of God. And if we allow ourselves to look beyond our own human mechanisms to what is around us, we can find ourselves caught up in the beauty of it all, in the intrigue of it all, and the mystery of it all. You see, we're so accustomed to wanting to plan things out. We have to know. We have to know. That we miss, then, the beauty of the mystery of life; the ability and spontaneity and joy that can come from not knowing something, and from being caught up in the spur of the moment of things that can bring us and lift us to a place that is way beyond just what we know on this plane.
And so God, through all that he is made, the wonder of human life, the specialness and sacredness of it all can lead us, then, through that to faith.
And in all of those things, faith becomes much more than an idea now, doesn't it? It becomes much more than just a thought, or a series of dogmas, or an association with something, or a specific ritual. It becomes something that I own.
But here's the catch: true faith, if it's going to be accessible to us, and this is the hard part of believing in God, requires a total commitment to God, a total self surrender, a total abandonment, a total trust. A taking of my life and putting it into the hands of God. Releasing the control. Releasing the control. Not worrying so much about the circumstances in which I find myself, but the relationship that is responsible for me being here in the first place. And trusting that God is going to do what God will do.
You know, the only path to joy, true joy, is faith. Because once we take that surrender and that leap, and place our total trust in our creator and in God, then that's the only time that we, as human beings, can release control over the circumstances of our life, and move away from our obsession with ourselves- our obsession with ourselves.
And that's one of our biggest problems: we're obsessed with ourselves. And until we get over that and move beyond it, we will never find the freedom and the joy that faith can offer.
Appreciate God for who God is. Appreciate yourself for who you are. And spend time joyfully celebrating that relationship that exists between you and your creator. Two friends desiring to have the hearts of one another. And then, when we do so, we're going to find two other friends in our life that we're going to discover as more essential than anything else we can acquire as a human being: hope and love.
And then we complete the circuit as God intends it. Faith, hope and love.
Do not fear. Just have faith.
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.