Weekly Homilies

The God Perspective (Mark 8: 27-35)

September 12, 2021 Fr. Mark Suslenko Season 4 Episode 30
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 30 for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time:  Sept. 12, 2021.  Our Gospel reading is from Mark, Chapter 8, verses 27 through 35

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi.  Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” 

They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” 

And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” 
Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” 

Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days.  He spoke this openly. 

Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  At this he turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan.  You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.  For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”

The Gospel of the Lord

“The God Perspective” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut

Here's an interesting question to ponder: how many times today, how many times today, did you find yourself including God in the moments of your life? How many times today did you find yourself including God in the moments of your life? Now, when I asked that question, I don't mean just offering a prayer to God, or taking time to specifically think about God, but how many times in the course of our lives today did you bring God into the moment of your life?

This is an important question because we're very much aware of our own human consciousness. We're very much aware of ourselves: what we want, what we feel, what we think, what we do. We're very comfortable in our own skin, and we look at the world through our own set of eyes. We make judgements. We form opinions. We receive information. We process that information and it all gets funneled through this person I know to be myself and where I am in light of those things. 

Our own human consciousness is something that we grow into and develop as we begin to age from young children to adults. And that consciousness begins to change, and we understand ourselves as an independent, integral person. But then with that human consciousness that we know, that we present to the world that we're familiar with, that is our very self is also a God consciousness. And that's how God thinks about the world, how God sees the world, how God feels about the world, how God envisions human life. So you see, we may see ourselves one way and then there's God seeing it another way. And so you have human consciousness and God consciousness. Now the goal of a spiritual life, ultimately, is to try to bring those two things together so that when we look out at the world, when we look at our lives, when we encounter experiences, we don't just process it through our own set of lenses, but we begin to bring God's eyes, heart, and mind and essence to the vision as well. I began to see it as he does. 

This may seem like a trivial thing, but it really isn't because it changes the way we view creation. It changes the way we think about ourselves as human beings. It changes how we approach a problem or a situation. It changes how we work out conflict. It changes how we prioritize our life and how we then pursue moment-to-moment, day-to-day making choices and plotting out the course of our existence. 

Human consciousness can often be limited. Human consciousness can often find itself in error. This is precisely what happened with Peter who was so close to Jesus one would think that if anyone had the God perspective, it would have been Peter. And he looks at Jesus and he correctly says, "You are the Christ." That's a correct answer. Jesus is Christ. Jesus is the Messiah. But he came to that conclusion from his human perspective. And that human perspective didn't include the important pieces of the puzzle: that the Messiah, the Christ, had to suffer; the Messiah, the Christ, had to be betrayed; the Messiah, the Christ, had to die; the Messiah, the Christ then was going to rise from the dead. 

See, Peter didn't want to admit that piece. His human consciousness said no, the  Christ will hop, skip, and jump over those things because he's the Messiah. He's the Christ. Peter didn't factor that in because his human sensibility says, like ours does, the way through our human life is to avoid the suffering, to avoid the disappointment, to avoid the anxiety, to avoid the rejection, to avoid the fear, and to run away from death as quickly as possible. You see, our human consciousness gets too focused on preserving what we see and know here to even think that there might be something bigger going on if we change the lens and look at it from God's perspective.

And so Jesus got a little, little bit unnerved by Peter and actually rebuked him and said, "Get behind me, Satan." You're not looking at this through God's eyes. You're looking at it through your human eyes. We've got to bring that vision together. Yes, I am the Christ, but I have to suffer. I have to be betrayed. I have to die and then rise.

And you may not like that, but that's the journey. See, that's God's vision. That's the way God sees things. And so for us, as soon as our life gets uncomfortable, we want to scurry to try to make it comfortable. Again, that's human nature. That's human nature. When we're facing our mortality, we want to quickly adjust that, change it, stop it, put the brakes on. No, we can't do that. 

Facing death, especially the death of someone we love so dearly, is probably one of the most difficult things that we ever will encounter. And we struggle with this and we have a hard time accepting this. We have a hard time placing it within the sense of life. And so we fight it, fight it constantly. Fight it constantly.  

And we can't trust God with our pain, that's the problem. We have a difficult time trusting God with our pain because our human vision says, "I'm going to control this. I'm going to fix this. I'm going to work with this. I'm going to escape this. Because I don't want to be here in this uncomfortable moment. I want to be over there where it feels better." And we don't trust God with the negative and the hurtful and the uncomfortable. 

But yet that's exactly where God is, because what Jesus was actually saying to Peter, and he's saying to you and I as well, is that the way to our life, the way to the essence of ourselves, the way to what really matters and means something for us isn't by hop, skipping and jumping over betrayal, suffering, death. It's by working through that and trusting that God is going to do something with that to bring us to a better place. Just as (He) did with Jesus: worked through all of those things to bring us to the resurrection. 

Because God is always working. And this is the part we have a hard time figuring out. God is always working. God is always creating. God's not giving us the burdens. Don't ever think that, but God is using what is going on in our life, the struggles as well as the joys to bring us somewhere, to teach us the lesson. So even those things we despise, even those things we regret, even those things that are distasteful, even those things we find hurtful, God can use to bring us to a better place. God can transform them into something that is new and life giving. 

You know, St. Augustine says, "Trust the past to God's mercy. Trust the past to God's mercy. Trust the present to His love, and trust the future to His providence, to His providence." And those are very wise words because we constantly beat ourselves up over what we did or failed to do in the past, and we get stuck. Well, we have to trust that to God's mercy. God has already forgiven it. It's all over. It's done. Because here in the present has God's love, ready to embrace us and lead us and transform us. And then there's the future, which, if we let go with the past and living God's love and trust that God is working in all of this is going to be a cooperative effort between myself and God to bring us to a better place and better life; a newness of life. 

And so our human consciousness and God's consciousness have to come together. And as we view the life that we live in the world in which we live, it's problems, all of its conflicts, all of the confusion, stop for a moment and look at all of that stuff as if you were seeing it through God's eyes. I guarantee it's going to look a lot different than it does when we look purely from our own perspective, our own desires and our own needs.

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 8: 27-35
Homily: The God Perspective