Weekly Homilies

Jesus: The Living Cornerstone (John 10: 11-18)

April 21, 2024 Fr. Mark Suslenko Season 7 Episode 15
Jesus: The Living Cornerstone (John 10: 11-18)
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 15 of Season 7 for the Fourth Sunday of Easter - April 21, 2024. Our Gospel reading is from John, Chapter 10, verses 11-18.

Jesus said: "I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep.

I am the good shepherd, and I know mine, and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father."

The Gospel of the Lord 

“Jesus: The Living Cornerstone,” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut

In the front of the church, in the corner, is a stone that has etched on it. 1958. It is the cornerstone of the church. 

In order to build a building properly, the first stone that is laid has to be properly set. Now, a builder doesn't come onto a lot and just randomly decide that the first stone of the edifice will be here and, plop a stone there, and then go about the business of his or her work. The configuration and the determination of the place of the setting of that stone comes after a lot of research and knowledge and a lot of preparation that has gone into the determination of that spot as the spot to begin. Cornerstones are extremely important.  

We all have cornerstones in our lives as well. Whether we realize it or not, we all have a place out of which we operate for making decisions, for charting the direction of our life, for understanding the world, for understanding ourselves. We all start from a place of reference. We consult something. And the question becomes, what is that something that is the cornerstone of our lives? How do we know and understand things? And then what research do we do before we determine what stone to place there? What research do we do? How do we know?  

Well, as you look out and about our world, there are several ways we can know things. A couple of primary ones is, first of all, sensually, our senses: our sight, our hearing, our feeling, our taste, all tell us things about the world, what we prefer, what we dislike. We can go into a room and choose one thing over another because of how it appeals to us. And so our senses are very important for giving us knowledge of things. The sensual world expresses ourselves, and it engages us in reality.  

Another way we can know things is through our rational minds. We can study, dissect, and pull apart things to better understand their nature and how they're put together. We can consult the scientific world to learn about our bodies, what keeps them functioning, what is healthy and unhealthy, and the list goes on and on. And so our rational minds can provide us with knowledge.  

But here's something about the sensual and the rational, which are two major components of our ways of getting knowledge. They're both very limited because our sensual world doesn't often see the big picture, nor does our rational world often see the big picture. Both are very limited in their scope and can provide us only with a certain amount of information. So, where do we go then to correct our knowing? To see things in a greater light, to see the bigger picture of reality. But we have to look to only one place, and that's the place of our soul, the knowledge of the soul. 

And when we consider the place of the soul, it's often been called the noblest power -  the noblest power - because it is directed toward God. And it is our soul, the God dimension, that can bring light to our other ways of knowing and correct them, and flesh them out. So it is our soul that can direct our senses can direct our minds so as we look out at the world, our understanding becomes clearer, more perfect, and in line with the way that God sees things. 

Now, if we make a choice for a cornerstone based just on our senses, chances are the cornerstone we lay is going to be imperfect. If we make a choice of a cornerstone based simply on what we know with our minds, that too is going to come up very short and limited. The only way to make a choice for a cornerstone is to begin with our souls and to make a choice based on God's vision for ourselves and the world, and choose the only other cornerstone possible that is Jesus Christ, a cornerstone that is not a thing, but a person, a being, a cornerstone that is not dead in time, but living and alive. The cornerstone of Jesus Christ: it's the only way that, as people of faith, as human beings, actually, we can chart the proper direction of our lives and understand things as they are meant to be understood and make decisions as they are meant to be made. The living cornerstone.  

St. Augustine has a great phrase. He talks about the greed of the soul, the greed of the soul. It's important to understand this because our souls can also regulate our wants and our desires and put them into perspective as well. So if we want and we want, and we want the things of this world over and over again and never can seem to be satisfied in our wants and our needs, then there's no way that God can dwell within us. There's no space for God to get in because we're pursuing secular things, secular desires, and things only of this world. But when our eyes are fixed first and foremost on God, then Saint Augustine says a couple of things are gonna happen. First of all, nothing is gonna bother us, and nothing is going to distress us. And now, when you stop and think about it, he's absolutely correct, and it makes perfect sense. If our desires are purely fixed on God, then nothing in this world can distress us, and nothing can bother us because we're always going to come back to that living cornerstone of Jesus Christ. We're always gonna come back to that beginning and realize who we are and where we're going, and who's really driving the bus of life, which is not ourselves, but God. 

And so as we journey through life and we begin to wander away from the pasture that Jesus is calling us to, and we begin to feel anxiety, and if we begin to feel disappointment and distress as we wander away from the cornerstone of Jesus Christ, and we start to begin to feel fear and excessive worry and disappointment, then we need to find our way back to the truth of who we are and what is promised us in Christ. 

Well, how do we do that? Because as human beings, we are gonna wander. We are going to find ourselves straying away. And in and through it all, Jesus is saying, "Come back to me. I'm here. Refocus yourself. I'm here." Well, the only way we can do that is by developing a habit of prayer. Prayer allows us to fine-tune our senses so that they're not focused just on ourselves but become in tune with the voice of the Good Shepherd. Prayer allows us to begin to listen more deeply, but in the midst of all the noise of life, we can more easily recognize where we need to go and come home. Because if we don't listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd, if we don't attune our senses, we can find ourselves wandering and wandering and wandering. And then before long, we're off in the distance, unable to hear anymore the voice of the one who loves us. 

And so Jesus reminds us today that he is the cornerstone of our life. He has to be laid first, and we often and always have to refer back to that cornerstone as we traverse through life, wherever life brings us, because life is full of all kinds of pastures in which we can graze, but not all of them are where we need to be or where we ought to be because Jesus reminds us that he has what we ultimately need: a deeper faith, a more fervent hope, and a more real and full expression of love. May God's grace be born in us. Amen. 

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.