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 33 for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time: October 3, 2021. Our Gospel reading is from Mark, Chapter 10, verses 2-16
The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked, "Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?" They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, "What did Moses command you?" They replied, "Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce and dismiss her."
But Jesus told them, "Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, no human being must separate."
In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this. He said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.” And people were bringing children to him that he might touch them, but the disciples rebuked them.
When Jesus saw this he became indignant and said to them, "Let the children come to me; do not prevent them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it.” Then he embraced them and blessed them, placing his hands on them.
The Gospel of the Lord
“The Origin of Love” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut
Whenever I have the wonderful opportunity to witness the marriage of a couple. It becomes also an opportunity to enlighten and to reflect on the greater virtues of love. Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who many of us will easily remember, said that it takes three to make love: you, your spouse, and God. It takes three to make love you, your spouse and God.
Now sometimes we hear those words and we begin to think, okay, so what's being requested here is that in the context of our marriage, we need to include a habit of prayer. That what's really being highlighted here is the need for prayer within our married lives or in life, in the single world as well. And while that is definitely true and virtuous, the wisdom of those words goes far deeper.
You know, all of us are very familiar with that very eloquent description of love that's given to us by Saint Paul. Love is patient. Love is kind. We know those words in the sentiments well. As those words are spoken and we begin to get an image of what Saint Paul tells us about love and what love in essence really is all about we begin to almost look at what he's saying through a perfect lens and find ourselves saying I, how do I even begin to love as is directing, as he is indicating when you think of the power of love, and we look at our frail lives and how difficult it is for us to love at times, how often we trip over ourselves and how often we find ourselves loving so imperfectly. And sometimes because of the agenda of our lives, we find ourselves even with the ability to hurt someone.
And so in the whole essence of this power of love, we listen again to the words of the Archbishop. It takes three to make love: you, your spouse, and God.
Do we ever stop in think where love comes from? You know, I think we're so accustomed to just accepting it as a part of our lives that we just see it as a part of the package deal of who we are., Love is part and parcel of what it is to be a human being. It's how we come into the world. We're hardwired to love.
And we know that the virtue of love, giving of love and receiving love is so incredibly important to us becoming a full functioning human being that we simply just take it for granted. But those words that St. Paul utters and other profound reflections on love, really point us in another direction: that maybe love is not just something that comes with the human package, per se.
The First Letter of John in the New Testament has three powerful words in it. Very simple words, but powerful words.
God. Is. Love. God. Is. Love.
And so as we ponder those three simple words, we begin to awaken our minds and hearts a bit to the origin of love.
It's not just something that comes because, but it's something that is given to us intentionally by God as the very gift of himself in us. Think about that for us. It's not just a gift from God, but it's the gift of God's own self in us. And so our ability to love in the first place isn't due to just our own efforts. It's due to the power of God doing that in and through us. And so by its very nature love is sacred.
This is why Jesus connects all those dots in his teaching about love of God, love of neighbor, love of self. It's not just because, but it's by virtue of the fact that all of those things all come from the same source and, thereby, are sacred.
And so what I do to my neighbor, what I do to someone else, Is done as well to God; they're inter linked. They're all part of the bigger deal. So, when I love another human being, it's not by my own merit. It's by the grace of God who gave me the virtue of love in the first place. My job is to nurture it, to protect it, to grow with it, to understand it, to follow it, to preserve it, and to do it in the best way that I know how. So, therefore, as a human being, married or not, our first priority is to purify as much as we can our ability to love. To remove as many of the barnacles that we can possibly remove, as many of the failings and the trip-ups that we can bring to our relationships so that when we do begin to love another human being, we do it with an absence of ourselves not with the burden of ourselves clouding it all up.
And so the sacredness of love has the ability to flower and flourish when we see ourselves as vehicles of that love, not owners of it. That our job is to be stewards of the love that God has placed within us to give it freely to others and not to hoard it and to see it as that which binds the, all of us together as brothers and sisters in Christ and beyond.
That's why the Church is so careful to preserve the sanctity of marriage. It is because it is in that intimacy that even in a more special way, the high calling of human beings is brought together and celebrated in the intimacy of married love. And something powerful and wonderful happens in that encounter, not just on a human level, but on a sacred one; a sacred one.
And so we hear those words, "what God has joined we must not divide," that there is a oneness that is caused when two people exchange those vows together. And it's a oneness that the Lord uses then to proclaim his good news to others. So as we gather today and we consider the virtue of love, let it lead us back to God.
You know, and often remark to those couples, just beginning their marriage that what they're feeling inside today, that excitement, that love the energy, that power is the presence of God working and acting in and through them, just like it is in all of us; that that life and that desire is really a desire, ultimately, to see God face-to-face. And so let our human loves lead us back to divine love, which then teaches us about the author of love and then allows us to purify our efforts, however, feeble, at times, they may be.
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.