Weekly Homilies

The Quiet Strength of Hope (Matthew 23:1-12)

November 05, 2023 Fr. Mark Suslenko Season 6 Episode 37
The Quiet Strength of Hope (Matthew 23:1-12)
Weekly Homilies

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 37 of Season 6 for the Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary time: Nov. 5, 2023. Our Gospel reading is from Matthew, Chapter 23, verses 1-12. 

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach, but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people's shoulders,

but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.'

As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.' You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master'; you have but one master, the Christ. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, but whoever humbles himself will be exalted."

The Gospel of the Lord. 

“The Quiet Strength of Hope,” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut

Often it's beneficial in our times of prayer and reflection to take our minds and hearts off of the immediate peripheries of our life and turn our glance more universally.  It's good to take a historical perspective and to consider the greater expanse of time rather than just the particulars of what I'm encountering here and now. 

When we look at the bigger picture of life, our vision is widened,  and we become a bit smaller,  especially when we consider God's creation of the universe and the time it took for that to come to be.  We stop, and we ponder as we look back on time and space that for over 245 million years,  this very earth which we inhabit today was traversed by dinosaurs.  It was inhabited by reptiles.  And God made them all.  For 245 plus million years,  God's creation unfolded without our notice or participation.  So in every sense of the word, because God creates all things out of love,  and it's through the gift of God's love that things in life come to be,  that we can then conclude that God loved the dinosaurs and God loves the reptiles and God even loves mosquitoes. 

In fact, those very things we want to dismiss from our life that sometimes can be considered a nuisance, God also loves.  Because all things have a place in God's vision of life. 

But it wasn't until God created human beings that something special happened.  Because as God loved the dinosaurs and everything else that God created,  God fell in love with human beings.  We took on a special character in God's heart.  Because when he created human beings,  He put a very special part of himself within each of our souls. 

And each one of us carries a unique imprint of the divine image within.  This special character makes us beloved and gives us an intimate relationship with our creator.  A type of intimacy that all of God's other loves are unable to share.  It is uniquely ours.  And the story of this love affair that God has with humanity and our searching out of this God of love is all portrayed in our sacred scriptures in the Bible. 

And I don't think we often stop and ponder the wonderful legacy we have in that body of literature in that gift given to us by God.  When we stop and think about it, there's no other piece of literature at our disposal that interprets the human story as the Bible does.  There is no other piece of literature that we have at our disposal that opens up the wellsprings of a human heart and orientates it to truth. 

There is no other body of literature that can offer the hope of redemption that the Bible and sacred scriptures can offer.  It is in the pages of the Bible that human beings find the source and center of their being.  Where human beings find that gift of hope.  Where we can witness, in folks like Job,  the struggle that people encounter when trying to understand suffering. and a God of love.  It is only in the pages of the Bible, especially in the Psalms, where the human heart finds a voice to pray and how to utter and cry out to its God.  It is particularly found in the Psalms, where this voice cries out where humanity wants to understand how God acts in its life and where the presence of God is to be found. It is within the pages of sacred scripture that we find our stance in life and our station and can properly orientate ourselves not only to God but to one another and creation, too. 

Take the psalm that we sang today.  A very simple one, but one that is very powerful indeed.  For in those very few but simple words, we are reminded of the trap of pride.  We are reminded to keep our sights reasonable,  to not stretch ourselves too far or into too lofty of things,  to keep our focus humble and on the simple things of our pursuits.  

We are reminded that our source is really found in God. That as a child, a weaned child rests on its mother, so we rest in God, too,  and find our strength only in Him.  To find the source of our life and all blessings only in our Creator and in the intimate bond that we share with Him.  And that as a weaned child, with the strength and the nourishment we've received from God with us, we can then go out and encounter whatever life brings to us,  whether it be joyful or sorrowful, whether it be pleasant or suffering. 

We can encounter each day walking in joyful hope because we know that the promise that God extends to us will one day come true.  And we can then pace each step of our life with that confidence intact.  As we look out at our world,  is it not true that most people truly are looking for this certain hope?  This sense of certainty?  This sense of direction? This sense of being led and not alone?  

When we stumble upon this beautiful virtue of hope, we realize that it is acquired by faith.  That it is faith that leads us to hope,  that allows us to then develop this quiet inner strength, this inner confidence that can keep us focused,  that can keep us balanced, that can release us from the grip of fear,  that can keep us satisfied in the present moment of our life as that moment unfolds and is found.  

It is in the present moment of things, even in its brokenness, that hope's light is revealed. That love endures, and we can move forward in confidence. It is in the present moment of our life,  whatever station we find ourselves in, and in whatever condition our bodies are in that we can walk with the assurance of hope because we know that God continues to sustain us in life and shall continue to do so in the world to come. 

It is with that quiet strength of hope that the promise given to us through sacred scripture of redemption will be fulfilled, and we know that all things will come to be in God's time and in God's way.  Then, no matter what life brings us, We can always express gratitude,  not necessarily for the burdens that we are asked to share, but the one who allows us to carry them: God himself. 

We can express gratitude for God's gift of life eternal, and for the gift of dwelling with the very ones he created, his beloved.  Because yes, God does love the dinosaurs,  but he fell in love with us, and that makes a difference. 

Father Mark Suslenko is the pastor of SS. Isidore and Maria Parish in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Learn more about our parish community at www.isidoreandmaria.org. 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.