Weekly Homilies

Finding Rest for the Soul (John 20: 1-9)

March 31, 2024 Fr. Mark Suslenko Season 7 Episode 13
Finding Rest for the Soul (John 20: 1-9)
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 13 of Season 7 for Easter Sunday - March 31, 2024. Our Gospel reading is from John, Chapter 20, verses 1-9.

On the first day of the week, Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them, “They have taken the Lord from the tomb,

and we don’t know where they put him.” So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb. They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first; he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.

When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place. Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed. For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.

The Gospel of the Lord

“Finding Rest for the Soul,” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut

From Holy Thursday to Good Friday to the vigil of Easter to today,  we have reflected on our souls... on our souls.  We all acknowledge that we have a soul, but reflecting more deeply upon it can bring us into a greater spiritual mystery.  On Holy Thursday, we reflected on the very beautiful reality that Jesus, in the Eucharist, his body and blood, enters into our very soul and transforms us into him.  Saint Augustine had the revelation that.  you're not going to transform me into you, but that I am going to transform you into me by the gift of myself and your soul.  being transformed into Christ, we then are called to act like Christ in the daily world in which we live, in our thoughts, in how we view life, but also in how we encounter and process our own lives.  And then, being like Christ,  Life may ask us to then go to the cross,  and we will be asked to suffer.  And we must do so willingly, as did Jesus,  purely out of the love of God. 

Our suffering and our hardship is not something to run away from or eliminate, but we must keep our eyes fixed on the crucified one and see this cross as the cane upon which we lean as we journey through those rough patches of our lives. And then today, we celebrate the gift of the resurrection,  but what does that really mean to our souls?  How does that gift that God gives us take root deep within us and become a promise that we really want to strive after and achieve?  

First of all,  what is our soul?  We've all learned that we've had one and that this soul will leave our body and go to life eternal when we die.  But what is it, exactly?  I think we sometimes just equate it to a life force or some energy,  or maybe some of us have even concluded that we really don't have one at all, but I'll just pretend that we do and go through the motions. What is this soul?  Well, if we reflect on that a bit.  We can begin to see our soul as the core of our identity, our uniqueness.  It's what makes me, me, and you, you, the essence of ourselves.  It is the truth of who we are. This body that we live in isn't who we are. Who we are is the indwelling soul that is planted within it.  That unique, indelible person that is embodied by only you and you alone: that uniqueness of ourselves. 

When we begin to ponder that a bit and consider the awesomeness of that,  that God only makes one.  Of all the people that have ever traversed this earth of all time and any that will ever come after us, there is only one of us.  No one else can occupy the space of my existence and do with it what I can do with it. We are unique creations unto ourselves, one of a kind only. And the uniqueness of that creation not only is something we treasure now but here's something else to think about: we've already met God.  I don't know if you realize that or not about yourselves, but you and I have already met God because God didn't just poof us into existence here in this world. That's soul that is our uniqueness, our identity,  our treasure, was molded and fashioned and created by God and then placed within us in our mother's wombs, closely and intricately woven into every fabric of our being to become a part of what we see here.  

So, that depth of soulness that we have once lived with God first before it was given as a gift to us. He knows us that well that he has fashioned and made us.  So what does he want to do with this gift that he has given us, this soul that he has bestowed upon us? What's the whole point and the aim of this existence?  And so, if I had to ask you today in one word to tell me what does God want to see happen with our souls? One word to answer that question.  In your minds, what would that answer be? What would God want to do with this soul? Now, I'll give you the answer in a moment, but you probably have not thought about it.  

The answer to that question is rest. Rest,  R-e-s-t. Rest.  Now as you hear the answer to that, you mean God wants to just give rest to our souls? Yes. That is ultimately what God wants to do with our souls, to give them rest. Now, why is that the case? Well, think about it for a moment.  All of us can only go so far in our daily lives before we have to rest.  You know, when we were younger, and we used to pull those all-nighters, we could do that for just so long, and then that was it.  Not only did we not wanna do that anymore, but we couldn't do that anymore because we don't have the gas to do that anymore.  And so we know how much we need our rest, and most of us treasure a good night's rest.  We've all had those times when we've woken up, and we've been disturbed at night for whatever reason, and we wake up cranky and miserable and make everybody else cranky and miserable because that's just where we are that day because we didn't get sufficient rest. Rest is restorative. Rest is important for us to be able to pick up again and do what we have to do. Similarly,  those who work know the gift of vacation time to unplug from the duties of work to get some rest.  And so when we rest, we're revitalized. We're rejuvenated. We're restored, and we can get back on track and do things again. Without rest, we falter.  So what God wants to provide the soul is rest.  In fact, we pray when somebody dies, eternal rest grand unto them, O Lord.  

Last night, we had the very beautiful reading from Genesis that talked about the creation of the world, and God just doesn't create and just let it all happen. God creates specific things, just like he creates this specific soul that you have. He creates the mountain. He doesn't just let it all go.  But what does God do on the seventh day? God rested. He rested. He got rejuvenated.  And so eternal life, when we leave this world, and we go to the nest, is promise of resurrection, is the promise of eternal rest, of eternal rejuvenation, of eternal restoration, when we can be moment by moment in all timelessness at our best at all times, ready and willing to be who we are as God created us.  And that is the gift of eternal salvation, of redemption, of what we celebrate today is the gift of eternal rest, of always being alive and at our game in Christ for all eternity. 

So what happens when we enter into this eternal life?  Well, God giving us this eternal rest then illuminates our souls. We are enlightened. We understand things as we don't understand them. Now we see things as we don't see them now,  and we understand that we have been infused and transformed totally into Christ,  God's only begotten son,  and we now are at home to then work with God in the acts of creation and the salvation of souls. We work with God.  And that really is what eternal life is, is the gift of this rest. 

Saint Thérèse of Lisieux had a wonderful quote that we can use, and I'll close with this today to help us put our life into perspective. She said,  "The world is thy ship, not thy home."  The world is thy ship, not thy home.  Sometimes, we live and act as if this is all we get.  My friends, this is just the beginning of something more incredible and wonderful,  of surprises and things we can't even yet imagine because we are only dimly lit, and we still have all of this wonderful inheritance of God's grace to receive in life eternal if we so desire it and if we work for it. 

Now, let's face it: when a ship traverses the seas, those waters get rocky, the boat shakes, and our lives get difficult.  Sometimes, it seems like we're going to sink, but God keeps our boat going because he is the one who is the power behind us, leading us home to where we really want to be and know that we need to be.  And so we share this joyous gift with others today because it takes our lives and transforms them into something wonderful and creative and exciting to look forward to and embrace. But it does require some hard work. It's not gonna just come easily.  And if we truly desire this eternal life with God, we will want to work for it and do all we can to achieve it so that when we do close our eyes in death, we do so with confidence, knowing we did our best to be with the one we love the most. So today is a day of hope and a day of joy. Spread that where you go; even just with a smile, you can uplift someone's heart with a kind act, a compassionate ear, or a gentle touch.  It doesn't take much to give someone the hope we celebrate here today. 

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.