Weekly Homilies

Prophet of Truth (Matthew 6: 1-6)

July 04, 2021 Fr. Mark Suslenko
Transcript Chapter Markers

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 you're listening to Season 4, Episode 24 for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary time. : July 4, 2021.  Our Gospel reading is from Mark, Chapter 6, verses 1-6 .

Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples.  When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him

were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this?  What kind of wisdom has been given him?  What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?  And are not his sisters here with us?”  And they took offense at him. 

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.”  So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.

The Gospel of the Lord

“Prophet of Truth” by Father Mark S. Suslenko, Pastor, SS. Isidore and Maria Parish, Glastonbury, Connecticut

Our world, our country, today more than ever, is witnessing a lot of division and confusion. These are indeed challenging times. And that division finds itself in all avenues of societal life, and really is the result of a struggle people are having with a pivotal question. And the question is this: what is truth? What is truth? 

You see, because one group says that this is true. Another group is saying, this is true, and the conflict ensues over these two  different interpretations about what is true. You know, it's interesting before Jesus was crucified, Pilate asked that very question of Jesus: what is truth?

What is truth? And as we assemble here today, that same question becomes ours to not only ask, but then to answer: what is truth?

If we look at the world in which we live our society, what is asked of us, how we must conduct the business of our lives, the whole ball of wax, we sail through all of that with the boat of our lives, trying to navigate and negotiate the storms and the challenges and the whatever that come along the way of that journey. But as with any vessel, what keeps it focused and anchored? What keeps it in proper direction? Prevents it from overturning? Prevents it from getting lost? Preventing it from being disorientated, confused? Maybe the boat of your lives is confused and disorientated at this point and off axis. So, how do we find our way through all of this stuff of our world and make sense out of it?

What is truth? We know in this world in which we live, we could easily, easily buy into some illusions about ourselves. And the illusion first and foremost is what I want is what I can get. What I see is my own goals and needs I am entitled to have and achieve. So nobody can tell me that one thing or another is preferred; if I feel that it's where I'm at, then so be it. And you have to accept where I am.

And this world wants to convince us that it's all about just tolerance and accepting, but there's no challenge, no challenge. So, for you and I on our own life's journey, we all know the importance of acceptance, of embrace. After all, if we didn't have people in our lives who accepted us, embraced us, loved us, nurtured us as the person we are, we wouldn't be who we are today. It's essential to the journey. It's essential that, even with the brokenness of our lives, to find a home, to find a welcome. We need that. We yearn for it. It's necessary to find a place where we're not judged. We're taken on face value.

But for any of us, it doesn't end there. You see, if it's the world of everybody gets a prize and everything is okay, then the benchmarks are removed. There's nothing to strive for. There's no better to be had. There's no goal to achieve because the goal is what I bring. That's it. Everybody gets a prize..

So I don't have to exert myself. And so in this particular thing, the truth becomes what I need it to be, what I want it to be, what I see it as, and not anything more.

And so, in pursuit of this, we live. But is that truth? Is that truth?

For any of us, the other side of the story is learning to deal with the challenges and learning to deal with the person who doesn't think I'm perfect, and who's willing to tell me so. The person who is willing to offer correction, guidance, benchmark, a truth.

How do we deal with that aspect of our lives when somebody looks at us and challenges us? Now, as I look back on my own life journey, yes, there's a lot of affirmation, a lot of love, a lot of support, a lot of encouragement. And all of those things are very important to me, but I have to be honest with myself and look back at those people who took the risk along the way to point and say, "You're off mark, Mark."

What you're doing is unhealthy. What you're doing is self destructive, et cetera, et cetera. And in doing this, hope the challenge, offered the challenge, gave the insight to think differently about who I am and where I'm going. And without that challenge, the growth doesn't come. But we're so reluctant to receive that from one another. We're afraid of the challenge. We're afraid of the confrontation for a whole myriad reasons.

We have at our disposal, our faith; the whole of salvation history from the beginning of time through now and continuing; the body of the church, charged with preserving that faith; that beautiful legacy of truth. Within that body of faith are the timeless always and everywhere "givens" about life, about how God sees us, about who we are, about how God made the world.

Each of us, in our faith journey, have to figure out those negotiables, non-negotiables, so that we too can find that direction for the vessel of our lives through all that life is going to bring us.

Flannery O'Connor had a great quote about truth" Truth does not change according to whether we can stomach it."

Truth does not change according to whether we can stomach it.  It isn't just about what I want or what I think I need. There's a higher level to truth. It's something to which I aspire. And so the question that we all have to deal with and put into the mix, in addition to what is truth is: to what do I aspire? What has my allegiance? To whom do I go other than myself? And that body of truth directs us to the timelessness of God. First and foremost, to the reverence due God's name, and, the foremost of God in our minds and hearts, the dignity of human life, the sacredness of human life. The sacredness of creation and the need to put into our comings and goings the Beatitudes, so that our world reflects God's vision.

This is challenging stuff that the person of faith has to be willing to take into their world and do even when it's hard to do. To take stock in who they are and where they're going. Because it's so easy to get caught up in the mix. 

C. K. Chesterton had a great quote about truth. He said, "Fallacies do not cease being fallacies just because they become a fashion.” Fallacies do not see cease fallacies just because they become a fashion. And see, what happens in our world because of who we are as human beings, we're so easily influenced. We can buy into these illusions and begin to think that the illusion is the truth and then act in accord with the illusion and not the truth.

It's the truth that is always the truth, not the illusion. And we have to make sure we have that first and foremost in our minds and hearts, as you go through the challenges of life.

And then doing so, we can find ourselves more focused and more centered, because we are all called to be prophets. We are all called to be prophets. For we need a prophet ourselves and we are called to be one for others. And that's a challenging endeavor, and one that's not always met with acceptance. 

But how do we discern a good prophet from one that is not a good prophet? 

Well, we look to Jesus and how he did it. And Jesus, although He challenged, always did it, first and foremost, with compassion, but also with the intent to heal and make whole. And so there was always that goal to heal and make whole. You see if somebody's voice is beckoning us, into one thing or another, creating more division than unity, then we're pretty convinced that that voice has an agenda to it. If the voice is leading us to the center and helping us navigate through the challenges, then there's a good chance that that is a voice to trust.

And so, as we move into the lives of others, may we have the courage to be that voice for others, but then maybe also have the courage to receive that voice from someone, because the fact of the matter is in the big picture of life, if there is faith and we have that piece anchored firmly, and we truly believe that God is in control of this, then God can take that faith and bring healing and wholeness, and bring us where we need to go, because we're going to listen correctly. 

But if we don't have faith, then, most likely, we have fear and God's not going to be able to do much. Because faith and fear can't coexist. And so if I'm afraid to bring that news, then I guess we're pretty much stuck with a world out of control, with no axis to follow, wondering who it is and where it's going.

Father Mark Suslenko  is the pastor of SS. Isidore and Maria Parish in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Learn more about our parish community 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. 

Gospel: Mark 6: 1-6
Homily: Prophet of Truth