Weekly Homilies

Dying and Rising with Jesus (Luke 24: 35-48)

April 14, 2024 Fr. Mark Suslenko Season 7 Episode 14
Dying and Rising with Jesus (Luke 24: 35-48)
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 14 of Season 7 for Third Sunday of Easter - April 14, 2024. Our Gospel reading is from Luke, Chapter 24, verses 35-48.

The two disciples recounted what had taken place on the way, and how Jesus was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and b ones as you can see I have." And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.

While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, "Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said to them, "Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

The Gospel of the Lord 

“Dying and Rising with Jesus,” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut

As we look out upon our world, we can see the patterns of dying and rising dancing within the fabric of life. For example, we're all very accustomed to the seasons of the year. We know that when fall comes, the leaves of the trees will indeed fall, that the tree that once had green and luscious leaves will seem to have died and that we go through a period of waiting until new buds appear and new leaves are born.  

This pattern of dying and rising is testified to in the life of Jesus Christ as we listen to what he says and we watch the way of his cross. This pattern of dying and rising is seen as he encountered his intense suffering, the crucifixion on the cross, his death and resurrection. We hear him speak of this dying and rising and how he taught in words and images such as, "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat."  

As we listen to him speak, as we watch the example of his life, we can find ourselves wondering, even if just a bit, whether it all could possibly be true, whether there really is new life to come. As we witness the changing of times and seasons, our human experience tells us how that story ends. We know that when the leaves fall, and the tree goes dormant, that new life will come. It's just a matter of time and patience. But when it comes to Jesus Christ himself or, indeed, ourselves, we do not yet know how that story turns out, and we cannot be sure that what he said is true. 

As we ponder this pattern of dying and rising, as we look at our own lives, we can also see in the stories of our lives that same pattern as well. I think all of us can testify to times in our life when we have had to die to something we loved and treasured to find ourselves reborn into something else. We've always had to leave something before we can find something deeper or better. If each one of us wrote the story of our life, those kinds of images and words would certainly be a part of its description.  

So, as we look at the resurrection and consider the words of Jesus, how can we gain some affirmation, some sense of assurance that, yes, what Jesus says is true? 

It is possible to do so, but it's not going to come from our brains and what we read in the book. It's not gonna come from what we necessarily learn. It can only come from one place, and that's through an encounter with Jesus Christ himself, an encounter with Jesus Christ himself. Then we will know for certain that what Jesus says is true, and we will also know as we consider our own mortal lives that when we breathe our last in this life, that that same will be true of us people of faith as well.  

Think about our encounters with one another. Imagine yourself for a moment at a place in your life where you might be a little bit sad or depressed. Maybe you're pondering a problem, maybe you're going through a difficulty. And you meet somebody whom you don't know for the first time, and they seem to be a very jubilant, positive person, and they greet you in that very warm space of your lives where you are welcomed, and you exchange some words, and you get to know one another, and you find yourself being lifted up a bit, renewed, so to speak, and in a better place than before you met that individual. 

What really has transformed you? Is it necessarily the words that were spoken and what they said, or was it the quality of their presence and what they left with you on a deeper level? I think all of us have to admit that when we meet somebody who deeply affects us, it's more the quality of their presence rather than the words that come out of their mouth that leave the greater impact. 

And so it is with Jesus himself. If we walk along the road of life trying to seek his presence with our whole heart, mind, and soul, how will we know that we have met the Lord? It'll come by what we bring away from our experience. If we see Christ in the Eucharist or in moments of prayer, or as we're reflecting or journeying through the instances of our life, through perseverance and through hard work, the hard work of prayer itself, we will find ourselves slowly changed inwardly. We will find ourselves liberated from our fears and our anxieties. We'll find ourselves needing less to control the circumstances of our life, more apt to accept things as they are, even as the will of God. We will develop an inner peace, a deeper understanding, a different understanding of how things are put together and what's important. We'll find ourselves becoming more resilient, especially when those dark clouds come over our lives, and we find ourselves nudged toward that place of doubt. We'll find ourselves more rooted, firm, and convicted in our faith and in our beliefs, more focused on what we know is to come because we've been touched in the depth of our soul by a presence, and that presence is Christ himself.  

If we allow the Eucharist to be who it is for us, the presence of Jesus himself, it can open us up, open our minds, and bring us a gift of peace that we cannot find anywhere else. This gift of peace, this understanding, this newness of mind and heart, this resilience and hope are all gifts of having encountered Jesus Christ. 

You see, we may not recognize him when we place ourselves in his presence. We may not immediately see him, but we will know that we have met him by the way we inwardly change, by what happens to us, and by how we are transformed. We often think of the resurrection as something that will only happen tomorrow, but the resurrection is really something that is happening right now in the now moments of life when I open myself up to the new life that God wants to provide to me today at this moment. Because we know the truth of the resurrection is this: God always wins. The frailty of this life never takes hold. There is always something more to come, and love abounds.  

So here's an exercise you can do, perhaps as you're sitting here in church today or when you get some quiet moments this week, but open yourselves up to the presence of God. Search into the depth of your heart and soul and find that place, that sacred place, where you and God exist alone. And imagine God saying to you these very powerful but simple words: peace be with you. Peace be with you. And allow yourself in that moment, free from the cares and concerns of your life, to truly experience that gift of peace and see how it transforms you. See how it changes you. See how it turns you to a greater assurance and conviction and resilience that love always conquers, and God always wins. The gift of that peace: hold onto it for as long as you can, and then, most importantly, share that with those you meet. 

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.