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!

Palm Sunday (Year C)

Apr 14, 2019 Views 86 Listen 4 Downloads 0
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Gospel Reading

A reading from the Gospel according to Luke (19:28-40)

Jesus proceeded on his journey to Jerusalem. As he drew near Bethphage and Bethany at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples. He said, "Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. And if anyone should ask you, "Why are you untying it?" you will answer, "The Master has need of it."

So those who had been sent went off and found everything just as he had told them. And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, "Why are you untying this colt?" They answered, "The Master has need of it." So they brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks over the colt, and helped Jesus to mount. As he rode along, the people were spreading their cloaks on the road; and now, as he was approaching the slope of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of his disciples began to praise God aloud with joy for all the mighty deeds they had seen. They proclaimed: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest." Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples." He said in reply, "I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!"

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

First Reading

A reading from the Book of Isaiah (50:4-7)

The Lord God has given men a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; and I have not rebelled, have not turned back. I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.

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

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (22:8-9, 17-18, 19-20, 23-24)


(R) My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

All who see me scoff at me; they mock me with parted lips, they wag their heads: "He relied on the Lord; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, if he loves him." (R)

Indeed, many dogs surround me, a pack of evildoers closes in upon me; they have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones. (R)

They divide my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots. But you, O Lord, be not far from me; O my help, hasten to aid me. (R)

I will proclaim your name to my brethren, in the midst of the assembly I will praise you: "You who fear the Lord, praise him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him; revere him, all you descendants of Israel!" (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Philippians (2:6-11)

Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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

Gospel

Gospel Acclamation


(R) Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name. (R)

The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Luke (22:14-23, 56)

For the full version of the text see our Good Friday » posting.

Homily

Isaiah, which in Hebrew means, "the Lord is salvation", lived in Jerusalem in the kingdom of Judah about 700 years before Christ. He was the first of four Major Hebrew Prophets, along with Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel, who prophesied the coming of Jesus Christ, Isaiah (9:6-7). The Book of Isaiah is one of the most important and poetic books in the Bible: it is believed to be the work of more than one author partly because of the different styles of writing, vocabulary and the differences in the prophetic messages. The book, therefore, is generally divided into three parts. The first part, composed of chapters 1-39, is attributed to the Proto or first and real Isaiah and, the second part, from chapters 40-55, to the Deutero or second Isaiah whilst the third part, from chapters 56-66, to the Trito or Third Isaiah.

A dominant theme in the second part of the Book is that of "servanthood". Four texts in particular, which are also collectively called the "Servant Songs" describe the call and work of a certain "servant of the Lord" or "God's servant." In the first song, the Lord Himself introduces His servant as the one whom He has chosen, in whom He delights and His Spirit abides, and to whom He has given the work of redemption, Luke (42:1-11). Specifically, this is to proclaim the good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, sight to the blind, freedom to the oppressed, and healing for the sick.

In the second song, the servant presents himself as the one who has been called "from the womb" to restore the children of Israel to the Lord and to make them as a light to the Gentiles so that they too will recognize His "saving power", Luke (49:1-13). In the third song, the Servant identifies himself as the one who obeys and responds to the will of God, Luke (50:4-10). In the fourth song, the Lord portrays the servant as the one who suffers and dies, but later is "raised high and greatly exalted", Luke (52:13-53:12).

Today's first reading is part of the third song, Isaiah (50:4-7). In the verses preceding today's text, the Lord tells us about the purpose and mission of His servant, Isaiah (50:1-3). The Lord reveals Himself as the faithful husband who, through His servant, wants to forgive his "unfaithful" and "forsaken" but not "divorced" wife, Israel and to restore her to the place of blessing. What we read today is part of the servant's response to the Lord's mission.

First, the servant is crystal clear about his Master's authority. He reveals that he is not acting on his own, but on his Master's behalf. He points out that he has already been trained by the Lord Himself to know and speak the word that will help to sustain the weary. Nonetheless, he is awakened each morning to hear what the Lord speaks. Thus, the servant makes known that his training, his every word and deed come from a greater authority - the Lord Himself - and that he continues to learn by listening to his Master just like any other true disciple or student does, Isaiah (50:4).

Secondly, the servant attests His submission to suffering. He confesses that, unlike Israel, he has not rebelled nor turned away from God, even if His mission involves physical, mental and emotional suffering, like persecution, mocking, whipping, beating, pulling of his beard and so on, Isaiah (50:5-6).

Thirdly, the servant expresses unwavering confidence and assurance in the help of the Lord. He believes that, because the Lord is the source of his calling and with the Lord's help, he will not be put to shame. Instead the Lord will vindicate his honour. Thus, the Lord Himself becomes the source of the servant's confidence and hope in the midst of suffering.

In the Bible, the term "Servant of the Lord" has been applied to individual people, certain groups of people, and the nation of Israel. However, this expression applies to Jesus of Nazareth more than anyone else. There are many instances recorded in the gospels in which Jesus is depicted as the Servant of the Lord that is spoken of in Isaiah. In several discourses, Jesus, as a servant of the Lord, read and expounded the prophecies of Isaiah, Matthew (20:25-28; 23:11); Mark (9:35; 10:43-45).

In addition to these things, the Gospels recount that:

  • Jesus preached the Good news of the kingdom of God and performed many miracles to show that He was from God, Matthew (4:23; 9:35); Mark (1:14-15).
  • Jesus frequently spoke of His inseparable and reciprocal relationship with God and called God, His Father, John (5:43; 8:42; 10:30; 12:49; 16:28).
  • Many times, Jesus claimed that all of His words and actions were coming from His Father, Matthew (4:23, 9:35); Mark (1:14-15); Luke (4:18); John (5:19, 30; 7:15, 8:18, 28).
  • Jesus was fully God, and yet, fully a man on this earth amidst humankind, who often slipped away to the wilderness and equipped Himself with the power to speak the words that would help sustain the weary, Mark (1:35); Luke (5:16; 6:12); John (5:19).
  • Jesus was mocked, beaten, spit upon and crucified, Mark (15); Matthew (27); Luke (23); John (19). Thus, Jesus manifested Himself definitely as the Suffering Servant that the prophet had announced, the long - awaited Messiah who would be faithful and obedient unto death, Philippians (2:8).
  • By faith, Jesus gave Himself to God. By faith, He submitted to suffering and shame. Therefore, at His resurrection, He was vindicated by the Lord God. Paul writes that God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, Philippines (2:9-11).

What is the message for us?

  • God Himself has chosen all of us, Christians, as His servants and has specifically assigned a place that He wants us to be in, a task that He wants us to do, the time that He wants us to act on, and a people that He wants us to serve.
  • The Word is our training manual to be servants of God. Like Jesus, we should constantly seek our Father's guidance so that through His Word, we can bring the Light of Christ to those in darkness, including comfort, hope, and life to people trapped in discouragement, despair and suffering.
  • We should allow ourselves to be trained by God so that, like Jesus, we too can speak boldly with an instructed tongue, even in the face of ridicule, mockery, and opposition.
  • Just as Christ did, we should also show our loyalty to God by being obedient unto death. Obedience to God proves our love for Him, demonstrates our faithfulness to Him, glorifies Him in the world, and opens avenues of blessing for us, 1 John (5:2-3; 2:3-6); 1 Peter (2:12); John (13:17).
  • Like Jesus, we also must put all our hope and trust in God. We should be confident that our God will uphold us and not deceive us; He will always assist us in the midst of our trials and will not bring on us the humiliation of trusting in a false hope.
(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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