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 this is Episode 1 of Season 5 for the first Sunday of Advent: November 28, 2021. Our Gospel reading is from Luke, Chapter 21:verses 25-28, and 34-36
Jesus said to his disciples: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.
“Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”
The Gospel of the Lord
“Advent: Rediscovering Life’s Zeal” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut
I think all of us can agree that the anxieties of daily life can often leave us very tired. There's just so much to do, and time seems to fly by so quickly. Tasks that used to be easy, seem to be more complicated, and the agenda of our routines just play out over and over again. There's always something yet to do, something we forgot to do, something we are being made today.
In the midst of all of the comings and goings of daily worlds, there's also the larger picture in which we find ourselves quite immersed. There's so much information coming our way constantly. We're connected to almost every facet of our world. A lot of those messages sometimes are confusing. They're uncertain. We see injustice playing out in all corners of the world.
As we go about the routines of our life, we can find ourselves not only physically tired at the end of each day, but emotionally and spiritually as well. All that happens to us and all that presents itself to us, whether we realize it or not, affects us.
We may know with our minds where we want to be. We may know the route that we would like to follow. We hear our Lord saying today, "Be vigilant. Be watchful. Stay awake." But yet our hearts and our souls often lead us in another direction. They speak a different story.
Because all that is happening around us, the situation in which we find ourselves, can begin to harden us a bit. And we may say with our lips that we desire to love God and to love our neighbor, yet our hearts often are too tired to do so. Or we just can't find the resolve to pursue.
And so we can find ourselves battling a bit with apathy. We can find ourselves becoming a little bit more cold, disconnected, remote. We can find ourselves becoming more concerned about ourselves, with not much energy for someone else. We can even find ourselves more frustrated and a bit more angry, impatient.
As you look in the mirror and you see the reflection looking back at you, do you see a sparkle of life in your eyes? Does the person looking back at you possess the zeal for life? A wonder? A joy? An awe? Or as the person looking back at you appearing a bit dull, maybe a little lifeless, maybe a little bit overwhelmed with anxiety, with fear, with worry, maybe a bit stressed.
Be vigilant at all times. God's world, and indeed our very selves, sparkles with the divine presence. God is bouncing all over the place, but if we're so consumed with what is before us, we don't have the ability or the energy always to look around, and to look without, and to look within, to find the power of God's love. And we miss these God surprises.
The task of Advent is very simple. Short time is simple but very difficult to do. Because during these next few weeks, we're asked to do three things: to stop, to look, and to listen. You know, life can truly harden us. Even our own individual journeys can cause us to recoil within, and close ourselves off from taking risks, from taking adventures, or even living life. It's easy to just go about the routine, to kind of be carried along rather than jumping in and immersing ourselves in the whole experience of life. The whole experience of being human. We often just don't have the energy to look for anything else other than what is before us; to stop, to look, and to listen.
There's this sparkle in our world. God is still talking with us. God is still present with us. God is asking us to prepare for his coming. But we need not a heart that has been hardened, not a heart that is somewhat apathetic, not a heart that is drowsy, not a heart that is cold.
We need a heart that is warm, that's open and receptive to receive the gift of love, to receive the sparkle of life within, to receive the zeal and the enthusiasm and the joy that only God can give.
Because when our heart can receive, truly, the son of God, then we are able to share that love we have found with others. And that truly is the joy and power of Christmas. When what we have come to know ourselves is then freely given to others.
And so as we journey through this Advent time, may we create the space in our lives to stop, to look and to listen; to try to discover the sparkle and the zeal of life; the joy of living. To try to be less influenced by the anxieties and the pressures and the demands and all that's pulling at our time and our hearts, and to rediscover the joy that is ours as people of faith, and to be surprised by God, as he continues to reveal himself to us, so that when we gather again at Christmas, we do so with hearts that are ready and eager to receive the Lord, who desires nothing more than to come to us. .
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.