Weekly Homilies

The Gift of a Home in Jesus (John 17: 11b-19)

May 12, 2024 Fr. Mark Suslenko Season 7 Episode 18
The Gift of a Home in Jesus (John 17: 11b-19)
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 18 of Season 7 for Seventh Sunday of Easter - May 12, 2024. Our Gospel reading is from John, Chapter 17, verses 11b-19.

Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed saying: “Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one. When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one. 

They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”

The Gospel of the Lord 

“The Gift of a Home in Jesus,” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut

God sent his son as savior of the world.  God sent his son as savior of the world.  As we hear that word - savior -  and, by extension, the word salvation,  where do our minds go in trying to understand what is meant by the words "savior" and "salvation?"  

Well, I would assume that for most of us, our thoughts would go to eternity, to heaven, and the hope that when we die and leave this earth, salvation will await us. That our life with God would then be our inheritance.  And so, if we think about salvation only in terms of some possible future time to come,  then it has the risk of not being very relevant to us here and tangible to us here.  So, is salvation just something to come,  or is it something that might be available now? 

Well,  let's think about some human experiences of salvation, of being saved.  Imagine, if you will, yourself or someone you know, or someone you read about. Perhaps you can picture someone who may have been on the Titanic the day that it sank.  Imagine being in a place of peril where you know, tangibly, that your life is at risk,  that your earthly existence is in jeopardy.  Try to imagine the fear and the anxiety that you would experience as a human being,  knowing that you are totally out of control and unable to do anything about the circumstances that are playing out before you and grappling with what you're experiencing. You see someone with the possibility of helping you who may be able to come and save you.  And as that person approaches and as that becomes more of a reality to you,  you begin to find yourself overjoyed with anticipation that your worst fears may not be realized, and you now have the possibility of being brought to safety.  And then that comes to pass.  The Good Samaritan finds his way to you, is able to rescue you and save you, and bring you to safety. Imagine the joy that you would experience, the profound sense of peace that would come over you when all of those anxious concerns and troubled feelings now no longer have any import and they drift away.  An experience of earthly salvation.  

As human beings,  we're constantly in dialogue with ourselves.  We're constantly trying to figure out our way through our problems the best way to resolve a situation.  Maybe we're in a difficult situation with a relationship and trying to find our way through.  And so we listen to our own voices.  We listen to the voices of others.  We listen to our own voices that may bring us to our fears and our anxieties and our preoccupations and our worries, and our obsessions, and so we find ourselves stuck.  We may be listening to the voices of others who may be expressing their desires for us, what they need us to be, who they need us to be,  how they need us to act.  And maybe the path of least resistance so they don't cause anyone to be upset with me.  Our own concerns, our own preoccupations, our own worries can consume us.  And our own voices can play over and over in our minds, where the voices of others can influence us in dramatic ways,  

Pope Francis and his apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel,  says that when our interior life with its concerns begins to consume us,  it moves us away from our need for others and for the poor,  and in fact, God's voice gets lost in the midst of the voices that are within us, the conflicting voices that echo between myself and others,  so that God's voice is no longer heard and the joyful feeling of his love is no longer felt.  And then we even lose a desire to do good for others.  And so there are ramifications when the only voice we're listening to is either our own or others. 

Now, there are situations in our lives where we can get ourselves in a real jam if the only voices we listen to are our own or the voices of others.  Those voices can cripple us.  And maybe there's folks here today who are crippled because of the voices they're listening to because their stories are being told about them.  And those voices can hold us captive. 

Can we imagine that, in Jesus' day, the folks who listened to him and witnessed him were very much in that same place, in a mold of understanding themselves in a certain way, of being told how to relate to others, what they should do, what they should say, who was important, who wasn't important, who was an outcast, who was in who God is and who God isn't? And all these voices are playing out in their lives. And then, here comes Jesus,  who has a different story, a different storyline,  and with an impression of his presence that is directly the opposite of what they've been experiencing. And so they're drawn to him. They wanna hear more about this good news of salvation.  And they have this intimate encounter with Jesus that then changes them.  And that change is salvation.  Because Jesus is the one who can save us from ourselves,  from the misconceptions we can have about ourselves,  from our tendency towards self-destruction.  It is Jesus who can raise us up out of a self-focus and preoccupation that then leads us to simply please ourselves,  first and foremost, and neglect the needs of others and of God as well. 

There's only Jesus who can release us from sin. It is only Jesus who can save us from isolation. There's only Jesus who can bring us peace.  Think of those voices that play out in our lives. Do they ever really stop? Do they ever really satisfy?  If we're honest with ourselves, if we relied on the voices of the world and the voices that play out within ourselves, will we ever, ever find a place of peace?  Will we ever get to a place where there is no more fear or worry?  It would seem to me that the voices of others and the voices that play out exclusively within ourselves are automatically on a path to fear and worry because the only way I can control my situation is to try to control it myself.  And when I can't,  who's gonna help me? 

Whereas Jesus, as a savior, gives us a gift that we can't find, and it's the gift of a home, a home.  You see, whether we realize it or not, we all want to find a home.  And we all come to this world with different understandings and experiences of what homes are like. For some of us, homes bring us to a place of happiness and contentment. For others, the idea of a home brings us to a place of discomfort and fear and not feeling very welcome and discord.  But, ultimately, in the bigger picture of life, the ideal home is a place where we can find ourselves always welcome, a place that we can always find the door open, a place that we can always go and be accepted and know that we are loved;  a place where we can truly find peace;  a place where we can find our true self, where we don't have to listen to voices of others telling us who we need to be, and we don't have to fall victim to our own preoccupations worries, and anxieties. A place where we can truly relax and be refreshed. Jesus offers us that home,  and I would suspect as he talked with those folks of his day,  he said to them, you don't have to be victim to what others are saying or how others are trying to control you or who you think you need to be or who you think God is. Come here and find rest. Find your home in me.  

And when they discover that kernel of love deep within, they realize that this person standing in front of them is really alive within them.  That that wellspring of love and mercy lives within, that that is where I can always find a home, that's the place I always come back to.  And when I understand that, and it opens up within me, I then experience joy,  and we understand when Jesus says that my joy may be theirs and their joy may be complete.  And so when we discover our home and we've opened ourselves to being saved by Jesus Christ,  then we certainly can go out into the world and share that good news with others. 

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.