Weekly Homilies

Transform Me Into You (John 13: 1-15)

March 28, 2024 Fr. Mark Suslenko Season 1 Episode 11
Transform Me Into You (John 13: 1-15)
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 11 of Season 7 for Holy Thursday - March 28, 2024. Our Gospel reading is from John, Chapter 13, verses 1-15.

Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.

So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”

 Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
 So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’  and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.

The Gospel of the Lord

“Transform Me Into You,” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut

As human beings,  we often find love to be a very difficult and tricky thing.  I think we all have to admit that it's easy to love someone who loves us back.  And as long as our relationships are nourished  and positive and working,  loving can be a very beautiful thing.  We know that we crave it and we also know that we want to give it. 

But here's where it gets a little bit tricky  when love meets things like betrayal.  When love meets things like dishonesty,  when love meets things like vengeance,  when love meets things like hatred,  when love meets things like disappointment,  then love becomes difficult.  Then we find ourselves pulling back on our love,  of putting conditions on it.  And sometimes if we're hurt enough, we convince ourselves that we're really the victim,  and now we have to take vengeance and become the victimizer,  and then this cycle of violence ensues.  You hurt me  and now I'm going to hurt you.  And so we fail in love.  

The conditions that we placed upon love and how we process all of that in our minds, finds ourselves even justifying these acts of violence, of convincing ourselves that it's okay to having been victimized, to then become the victimizer.  But, you know, Jesus,  and I'm really convinced of this, washed everybody's feet.  I am sure he even washed the feet of Judas,  who was the one who betrayed him.  He didn't place any conditions  on love,  and he looked, even those who nailed him to the cross in the eyes with love. 

And so we celebrate today this gift of the Eucharist,  which is really God's persistent love. Think about that for one moment. God never quits on loving  God's love is persistent,  and he's going to keep loving and keep loving,  regardless on what kind of ground that love falls upon and how it's received. 

Meister Eckhart had this great quote  about the Eucharist.  He said that  Jesus  took himself away as God and man.  And we all know that story, right guys? How after the resurrection, Jesus was taken up to heaven in the Ascension, body and soul.  Jesus took himself away as God and man,  but then he gave himself as God and man as another self  in  a silent vessel.  He clothed himself with the cloak of the likeness of bread. 

So God took himself away  and then gave himself back in another form.  God's love is persistent and  see, we try to wrap our brains around this. Well, how can it be?  But you know, when you look out at the mountains and all of creation, if we look at the actions of God that we believe in, as we look about at our world, if we believe that God became man in Jesus Christ, all of these mysteries of faith are all about a God who Himself is inexplicable. We cannot explain God. And so how do we think we are going to explain the gift of the Eucharist? Of how God comes to us under the form of bread and wine?  It's something in which we must stand in silence  and simply absorb the mystery  It is, as with many things, an act of faith,  and we can't allow our doubt  and our questions and our fears  to keep us from assenting to and accepting  that act of faith.  

You know, St. Augustine wrestled with his faith so much, very much like us.  He struggled, he sinned and  he came back to God and he left again and came back and left.  And one of the things he found himself, understanding  of what God revealed to him,  was that with the Eucharist,  he said, "Augustine, you're not gonna transform me into you,  but you  will be transformed into me." You're  not gonna transform me into you. You are going to be transformed into me.  You see, we want to make God  our own creation. We wanna put him in our God box so that we can understand him,  and then once we have Him in the God box, and we understand him, then maybe I'll give myself over to faith. Maybe then I'll throw both of my feet in  and ascent  to this belief. 

But God doesn't wanna be put in our boxes.  God wants us to be transformed into him. So there's a good prayer tonight.  After you receive the Holy Eucharist and you return to your pew to pause in silence and place yourselves in the silence of the presence,  and say, Lord, I believe I really believe  transform me into you.  Lord, I really believe, tonight believe, transform me into you.  

You know, there is within every human being this beautiful essence of a soul  and that soul contains the spark of the divine, God's spark, his own presence.  Deep within each one of us  is this spark.  It's this place that doesn't know pain, it doesn't know confusion.  It's this place deep within us that longs for and needs to be united with its Creator,  to the one who shares that same essence.  When we ingest food, that food enters every part of our body and becomes useful to us.  When we consume the Eucharist, that Eucharist enters our bodies and becomes one with us. And God's presence touches the beauty of our souls.  But we need to be a little bit detached from the world  in order to truly perceive and understand this gift of presence.  Because a soul that is tethered to earthly concerns  is not going to want to come to the feast.  A soul that is overly tethered to the five senses  is not going to want to come to the feast.  In fact, we can easily talk ourselves out of needing to come to the feast.  But God is persistent.  His love is persistent. He's always here,  waiting for that moment for us to come.  

Saint Theresa  of Calcutta  says, you know, when you look at the crucifix,  you see  how much Jesus loved you then,  but when you look  at the sacred host,  you see how much Jesus loves you now,  in spite of those times that we don't live up to the gospel,  despite those times that we turn our back,  despite those times that we lack faith,  and despite those times that  we overtly reject him,  Jesus still loves us now.  Lord, I believe  transform me  into you. 

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.