Weekly Homilies

Prepare for the Light (Matthew 1: 1-8)

December 11, 2023 Fr. Mark Suslenko Season 7 Episode 2
Prepare for the Light (Matthew 1: 1-8)
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 2 of Season 7 for the Second Sunday of Advent: Dec. 10, 2023. Our Gospel reading is from Mark Chapter 1, verses 1 - 8.

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way. A voice of one crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People of the whole Judean countryside and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they acknowledged their sins. John was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He fed on locusts and wild honey. And this is what he proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

The Gospel of the Lord. 

“Prepare for the Light,” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut

If I told you that this time next year, our parish was going to be visited by the Holy Father,  you'd want to be making some preparations.  There'd be a lot of things to get in order.  A lot of issues to attend to.  We'd have to decide how many tickets could be printed, how many seats could be given out,  and then there'd be a question of who would want to attend because there would be many in line wanting to be a part of that event. 

If I told you that next year Michael Jordan was going to come to our parish,  we'd see people in here we never saw before. 

If you want something, you will find a way to prepare to receive it.  When we want to receive something, we find a way to get it.  We've been saying all along that Jesus is coming.  Prepare the way.  But how much do we really want to put into that endeavor? 

I guess it really boils down to who is Jesus?  And do we really want what he has to give or say? 

When Jesus came and walked among us,  people were eager to receive a Messiah, and they were looking for a way out of the situation in which they found themselves politically. And at first, they looked to Jesus as the one who was going to fix the furniture of their lives.  It was only after some time that they realized that he was here to do far more than simply fix the furniture. 

Who is Jesus?  Well, I'm sure in our lives,  popes have told us who Jesus is. Bishops have reminded us who Jesus is. Priests have told us who Jesus is. Our parents told us who Jesus is. Scripture tells us who Jesus is. Traditions of the church tell us who Jesus is. So, we hear about who Jesus is from all of these exterior sources.

But if I asked you, who is Jesus for you,  what would be your response?  What is it about Jesus that captivates you, that engages you, that entices you, that pulls you into wanting to prepare to receive him when he comes again?  What is it that really makes doing that and putting all of the effort into it worthwhile?  Such as it would be worthwhile to prepare for a visit from the Holy Father, some other celebrity, or a dignitary who is coming by our way. 

Who is Jesus Christ?  It's an important question for each one of us to ask because the answer has dire ramifications. 

As we look within ourselves,  if we lived our life well,  and if we've made a few mistakes,  and if we've discovered a few joys,  we've realized one important thing about being human, and that is this:  that we can't produce our own happiness.  We can't figure ourselves out by ourselves.  We need someone else to help. 

And when we stumble upon that realization that we need someone else to help us, it's then that God begins to make sense and we begin to connect the dots and find our way to Jesus Christ.  When we begin to realize that Jesus can give us something that no one else can,  namely eternal life,  we find that desire, that yearning deep within us,  becoming excited and yearning for fulfillment.  We begin to realize that, of all of the things that we can prepare for in this world, preparing to receive Jesus Christ is the most precious gift we could ever give to ourselves:  to receive Jesus Christ. 

Pope Benedict said that only if people change will the world change.  And in order to change, people need the light that comes from God,  the light that found its way into the world, surprisingly,  the light.  

So, of all of the things that Jesus can give to us, the greatest blessing that Jesus brings is light.  When we believe in Jesus Christ, we then begin to see ourselves as God sees us. We begin to understand ourselves as God understands ourselves. We begin to see our world as God sees our world.  And we discover something that we cannot give to ourselves:  we discover life.  Not only in this world, but eternally with God forever.  Jesus is that light,  that light that we need in order to change how we live.  And once you and I begin to change how we live, the world will also change how it looks.

 But there's a problem with light.  How we understand it and how we interpret that word is going to make a difference in terms of whether we really want to anticipate the coming of Jesus or not.  Because if we hear that word light and we begin to think of a room such as this,  that isn't wonderfully lit but lit enough so that we can see.  It's comfortable to be in this type of light.  It provides for what we need.  We can produce a dimmer light to create a more relaxing atmosphere, such as we would do in moments of prayer. Perhaps the light of a candle that will produce the ambiance of warmth, or the light that comes from a fireplace that accomplishes the same thing.  When light makes us feel good, when light makes us feel welcome,  when light makes us feel alive and connected, light is good.  

And so, when we hear Jesus speak of being the light of the world and the gate to eternal life and the bread of life and the comfort of those who mourn and the mercy that is needed by sinners, when we hear Jesus talk about being compassionate,  about love, 

god's unconditional care and regard for his children,  when we hear Jesus speak about peace,  it produces that warmth and that ambiance that we desire.  But there's a different kind of light.  There's the light that we don't often want and the one that is hard to receive.  It's that type of light that you experience when you go to your optometrist, and they look into the very center of your eye. It's that piercing light that, by its very nature, causes you to tear, the very piercing light that you cannot wait to move your head away from because it is so penetrating and so pointed.  

Well, Jesus is that kind of light, too.  Jesus is that light that causes us to think twice about how we live,  the priorities we establish for our lives, how we structure our world.  It's that light that Jesus brings when he says,  do no harm to those who hurt you,  love your enemies, and do not be violent.  It is that Jesus that challenges us to work to right the wrongs of injustice to make sure that all people are  able to share in the goods of God's creation.  It is that Jesus that causes us to think twice about greed and to worry less about our own bank accounts and the livelihood of my brother and sister more. 

That particular light is a light that we don't often want to receive,  but all of those ambiances, the subtle and the dim and the piercing, all come with the package of Jesus.  And so when we anticipate his coming,  we anticipate not only the solace that we will receive when we meet God face to face in heaven,  but we anticipate that piercing light as well that shakes us to the core,  causes us to change, causes us to think twice about the things that matter to us more than others,  to reprioritize our life and to love at all costs, even those who hurt us so deeply.  

So as we gather here today, on this second Sunday of Advent, we are asked to prepare the way of the Lord,  to prepare the way for the light of Christ to prepare the way for that which will change our world or can change our world if we allow ourselves first to be changed.  May we continue on our Advent journey, eager to welcome the Lord in all of his fullness when he comes again in glory. 

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. 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.