Weekly Homilies

Become Like Me (Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26)

June 02, 2024 Fr. Mark Suslenko Season 7 Episode 20
Become Like Me (Mark 14: 12-16, 22-26)
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 20 of Season 7 for the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ  - June 2, 2024. Our Gospel reading is from Mark Chapter 14, verses 12-16, 22-26.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples said to him, "Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He sent two of his disciples and said to them, "Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.” The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

 While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing,
 broke it, gave it to them, and said, "Take it; this is my body."
 Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, "This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

The Gospel of the Lord 

“Become Like Me,” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut

St. John Vianney is known for saying that there is nothing so great as the Eucharist.  If God had something more precious,  he would've given it to us.  There is nothing so great as the Eucharist.  If God had something more precious,  he would've given it to us.  As you gather today,  celebrating this wonderful Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ,  it would do us well to pause for a bit and reflect on our own relationship with Jesus Christ, present in the Eucharist.  

To understand that relationship more fully,  it is best to reflect on some of the things that Jesus said and did in his public ministry.  One of the things we can observe is how he called people to the Gospel.  He said two very simple but powerful words:  follow me.  Follow me.  Interestingly enough,  nowhere is it to be found on Jesus' lips or anywhere in the New Testament the words "worship me."  Jesus never said that. He said, "Follow me."  

If we reflect a bit on those very powerful but simple words, we can imagine why he chose "follow me" over "worship me."  Jesus was always very humble.  He always made it a point to direct things to the Father:  the way, the truth, and the life he said of himself,  always giving due honor and glory to his Father.  And I would also suspect it has something to do with the way we can often misinterpret the word "worship."  Worship can easily run the risk of being something that is empty and somewhat meaningless.  We can easily reduce it to a bunch of rituals and protocols that really have no dimension beyond themselves.  Worship can easily be reduced to something that is done in church but has little merit in the practicality of our lives.  Whereas the words follow me make a claim upon us.  They inherently ask us to change;  to think about things differently,  to leave one way of living and embrace another way of living.  Those words follow me and their implications to become like Jesus and to do like Jesus then gives meaning to our worship because now the aim and the goal of worship is to become like Jesus, to do like Jesus, and to follow Jesus.  It now comes with a personal investment,  and that's what we are called to examine today: our personal investment in the Eucharist.  

You know, last week, we reflected on the beauty of the Trinity, and we remarked about the harmony that exists among the persons of the Trinity.  Each one knows who the other is, and there never is a question about who does what and how they are meant to interact.  Well, it's often overlooked about the Trinity,  but is nonetheless very powerful and real,  is the Trinity is never separate from one another.  They're always present together.  And so while we gather to celebrate the Eucharist and the bread and wine is transformed into the body and blood of Christ, what we see is Jesus,  but we have to remember that Jesus always points to the Father.  The Father is always pointing back to Jesus, and they both are pointing to the Holy Spirit.  And so when we receive the body and blood of Christ, we receive the entire presence of God and the harmony that God brings to our souls.  When we receive the gift of the Eucharist, we are, in fact, saying, "Yes, Lord, I want to follow you.  I don't always do a good job of that. I don't always keep my relationships in proper order.  I don't always act with virtue.  But I bring myself back wanting to follow you, and I need the strength of your presence in order to do so.  We're saying in a very real way, Lord, I want you to choreograph my life.  I want you to show me how to put the pieces together. I want you to direct my steps.  

We mentioned last week that it's not enough just to walk alongside the Trinity,  the presence of God.  And it certainly is of no benefit to walk with God behind us as if we are driving our own bus and charting our own course.  That can lead to a disaster.  The only way to be a disciple is to follow behind God,  to allow God to lead, to allow God to direct, to remove the power of our own self-will, and allow God's will to be done.  Hence the words, "Follow me." Follow me.  Become like me.  Do like me.  

And so the Eucharist is not simply something, but it is the incredible essence of the presence of God himself entering us in the most intimate way with the power of transformation, of changing us from one way of living to another.  That's why our procession today is so incredibly important.  It's not only a testament and a witness of our faith here within our town and to the world,  but it's also a testament of our faith amongst ourselves and a reminder to us of who we follow.  We don't walk in front of Jesus, present in the Eucharist.  We don't walk beside Jesus, present in the Eucharist. We follow behind Jesus, present in the Eucharist, reminding ourselves as we walk the streets that it is God's will that needs to be done, not my own. 

The other beauty of the Eucharist is that it's the only place where you and I and every human being can touch their dignity and their specialness in the eyes of God.  The fact that each one of us has been in created with intent and on purpose and is loved intimately, unconditionally by God himself.  When we receive the Eucharist, we receive that presence of love within and that blesses us and affirms us,  and celebrates our dignity and the specialness of all human life.  

When we go out into the world today, we are reminded that faith is not something that stays in church but that faith comes with us as we are renewed and as we are nourished and go about the business of our daily lives.  Faith locked behind doors is useless.  As we go out into those streets today, following the presence of Christ, we are reminded that we live in a world that needs to understand its dignity,  a world that is often embraced by injustice, a world that is often very harsh and broken.  It is a world that struggles and a world that is lost. 

The message we bring is the message of truth, of justice and peace,  and of transformation.  Imagine this for a moment: if every human being knew their inherent dignity as a son or as a daughter of God if everyone understood that God has a special claim on their soul, that they are loved unconditionally unlike any other,  how different our world would look.  Our political systems would change.  Our socioeconomic systems would change. The way we conduct the business of our lives would change.  And that gift of harmony that God promises to give us and so desires to give us, a harmony of understanding who we are and how we belong to one another and to God in this world, would be understood and made real.  

Jesus stands before us again and says, "Follow me. Become like me. Do like me."  As we leave this church today if we take those words seriously and allow the blessed gift of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ, to change us into God's image himself. 

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.