Father Valan Arockiaswamy

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HOMILIES

Close Dear Audience,
For better understanding of the spiritual message behind this homily I kindly remind you to first read and contemplate the biblical texts before reading or listening to my preaching - a human reflection on the Word of God!

Twenty Sixth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Sep 27, 2015 Views 1870 Listen 26 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of Numbers (11:25-29)

The Lord came down in the cloud and spoke to Moses. Taking some of the spirit that was on Moses, the Lord bestowed it on the seventy elders; and as the spirit came to rest on them, they prophesied.

Now two men, one named Eldad and the other Medad, were not in the gathering but had been left in the camp. They too had been on the list, but had not gone out to the tent; yet the spirit came to rest on them also, and they prophesied in the camp. So, when a young man quickly told Moses, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp", Joshua, son of Nun, who from his youth had been Moses' aide, said, "Moses, my lord, stop them". But Moses answered him, "Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the people of the Lord were prophets! Would that the Lord might bestow his spirit on them all!"

(P) The word of the Lord.
(R) Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (19:8, 10, 12-13, 14)


(R) The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart.

The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul; the decree of the Lord is trustworthy, giving wisdom to the simple. (R)

The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the Lord are true, all of them just. (R)

Though your servant is careful of them, very diligent in keeping them, yet who can detect failings? Cleanse me from my unknown faults!

From wanton sin especially, restrain your servant; let it not rule over me. Then shall I be blameless and innocent of serious sin. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint James (5:1-6)

Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance.

(P) The word of the Lord.
(R) Thanks be to God.

Gospel

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (9:38-43, 45, 47-48)

At that time, John said to Jesus, "Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us." Jesus replied, "Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us. Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.

"Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were put around his neck and he were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go into Gehenna, into the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life crippled than with two feet to be thrown into Gehenna. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna, where "their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched"."

(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
(R) Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Homily

A rich married man lost all his money in a business deal and was flat broke. He told his mistress about it and asked, "In spite of the fact that I am not rich any more will you still love me?" "Certainly, honey", said the woman, "I will love you always even though I will probably never see you again."

Whom do you love? And why do you love whom you love? The Bible tells us that God is love. John (3:16) expresses God's love with these words: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life".

Four things stand out from this verse:

  • God loves "the world" which means God loves everyone.
  • God's love is imparted to us through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
  • The love of God is so great that He offers to everyone the greatest gift of all, eternal life.
  • Only those who trust in God will obtain this gift.

The Bible also talks about our love for God. Do we love God? Yes. We do but only some of us reciprocate, and some do not. How can we express love to God? The Bible encourages us to show our love to God by trusting and obeying Him. It means that trusting that whatever God asks us to do is for our own benefit, we have only to obey Him. Therefore, doing everything that God asks us to do is a way of expressing our love to Him.

The most profound way to express love to God is to love others as God loves us. We know that our Lord Jesus Christ told his followers, "Love one another as I have loved you", John (15:12). Writing to the early Christians John also writes, "Anyone who says "I love God" and hates his brother, is a liar, since whoever does not love the brother whom he can see cannot love God whom he has not seen", 1 John (4:20). James in his letter makes the same point when he uses the Latin word erga frequently to embrace acts of love toward all.

Over the past four weeks we have been reading James' letter to the early Jewish Christians. Throughout the letter James contends that true Christian faith produces good deeds, and he offers numerous practical examples to illustrate his point. First he urged us not to be merely hearers of the Word and observers of rituals and religious practices but also carry out God's commands to obtain peace and salvation. Then he instructed us to love people equally regardless of their race, color, position, status and wealth and he especially admonished us to treat fellow believers only on the basis of their spiritual relationship to God and their need. And then he encouraged us to demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ with all kinds of good and charitable works. Lastly he talked about the close relationship between wisdom and conduct. True peace in our life depends on the choice we make either to live according to earthly wisdom or Godly wisdom, which he refers to as "wisdom from above". In addition, he also stressed that we ought to eliminate two sins, jealousy and selfish ambition which are products of earthly wisdom.

In today's text James gives a stern warning to some people and a word of encouragement to others. He said, "Come now, you rich, weep and wail over your impending miseries. Your wealth has rotted away, your clothes have become moth-eaten, your gold and silver have corroded, and that corrosion will be a testimony against you; it will devour your flesh like a fire. You have stored up treasure for the last days." When James saw wealth luring away Christians from their devotion to Christ, and making them do lots of wicked things, he severely reproached them, particularly the wealthy farmers and tradesmen of his time who were hoarding food, clothes and metals until they rotted away or were ruined by moths and became useless for anyone.

And then he exposed how they amassed their wealth, and how they used them for personal indulgences. He said, "Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud. You have lived on earth in luxury and pleasure; you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter. You have condemned; you have murdered the righteous one; he offers you no resistance." He rebuked them for accumulating wealth by cheating the poor; by withholding their wages and condemning and murdering innocent people. But he also added, "The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts." These words were meant both to warn the rich and at the same time to console the poor that the oppressors will not go forever unpunished.

James' instruction to Christians more than two thousand years ago is still very relevant to us all today, regardless of our different financial status. James is neither against the wealthy nor does he discourage the acquiring of wealth. After all, Abraham, the Father of our faith, was a wealthy man, and yet he walked with God. In the Book of Genesis (13:2), Abraham is described as being wealthy in livestock, silver and gold. The Gospels narrate many stories and parables of Jesus that encourage us to multiply our talents. What James condemns is greed, selfishness, the acquisition of wealth through dishonesty or theft, the unfair exploitation of workers, the use of wealth to control and oppress others, and a lack of compassion toward those who are genuinely in need. Therefore, no matter who we are and what we do, it is important that we make money honestly and live in harmony with God and our fellowmen.

Let us be aware of the temptation to make money to the exclusion of God and of others. We are not to make money to become rich but to have the means of benefiting others. We are to use wisely the things our Lord has entrusted to us. We are to see the presence of the Incarnate God in all people especially the poor and disadvantaged. Jesus said, "I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me drink... I was naked and you clothed me... Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters, you did it to me", Matthew (25:35).

In the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus does not say that the rich man exploited Lazarus. He merely shows that the affluent man had no concern for the sick beggar lying outside his gate. If we ignore God's commands to share our bread with the poor, clothe the naked, welcome the strangers, and care for the sick and prisoners, like the rich man, we too will never belong to God. Let us, therefore, by doing God's will, avoid both sins of commission, the doing of harm, exploitation, inequality, injustice, oppression, and the sins of omission, the failure to stop such wrong doing, indifference to the plight of the poor and marginalized, and be rewarded with love, joy, peace and salvation.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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