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!

Easter Day (Year C)

Apr 21, 2019 Views 187 Listen 6 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (6:3-11)

Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For a dead person has been absolved from sin. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.

We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

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

Gospel

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (24:1-12)

At daybreak on the first day of the week the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day." And they remembered his words.

Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial clothes alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.

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

Homily

There was a man who used to constantly go into a small locked room in his house and come out looking troubled. Eventually, one day, a neighbour asked him, "Hey, I have seen you many times going into the room and then coming out disturbed - by the way, what is in the room?" "The room is empty", the man replied, "but every time I enter, I feel like someone is in the room. I think someone is stealing the emptiness." "Show me!" the neighbour said. The man reluctantly the opened the door and both went in. Once they were in the room, the neighbour said, "There is no one in this room except you and me." "It is getting worse!" screamed the man, "Yesterday there was only me in here but today there are too many."

In ordinary usage, the word "empty" has a negative connotation. It generally evokes a feeling of anxiety or sadness for not having or lacking something, such as, an "empty room", an "empty bottle", an "empty pocket", and so on. By contrast, an "empty tomb" evokes feelings of elation, happiness, excitement and joy, particularly among Christians. Because there is a powerful and mysterious but true story behind the empty tomb, which is known as the "Easter" story.

All the four gospel writers, Matthew (28:1-10), Mark (16:1-7), Luke (24:1-35) and John (20:1-9) report the details of the Easter story differently. Yet, they are remarkably united on some fundamental facts, especially, the discovery of the empty tomb. When we put all the pieces together, the wonder of the empty tomb story shines out in even greater glory.

According to the Gospels, on the third day after Jesus' burial, some women went to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. When they arrived, they found the stone covering the entrance of the tomb rolled away and the tomb empty. As they were standing there in a state of shock, disbelief and fear, an angel appeared and comforted them saying that Jesus was not among the dead but among the living; He was alive and had risen from the dead. When they heard this, they quickly went back with great joy and told some of Jesus' disciples about it. Understandably enough, not only did the disciples not expect this, but they also did not believe their report. Nevertheless, they got up and ran to the tomb. Perhaps, the closer they got to the tomb, the more concerned they became. Eventually, upon entering the tomb, they saw the burial clothes but not the body of Jesus, and one of the disciples believed in the resurrection, John (20:4-8).

Following this event, Jesus appeared to His other disciples many times, and gradually took away all their doubts, fears, and sorrows, and filled them with trust, courage, joy and peace instead. Thus, the empty tomb of Jesus Christ became a sign of a gain, not a loss; of courage, not fear; of trust, not doubt; and of joy, not sadness.

In fact, in the scriptures, there is still much more to the empty tomb.

  • The empty tomb is an indication of the futility of life without God. Without God, we would have no life at all. Remember, as soon as Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the only tree He had told them to avoid, they became aware not only of their nakedness but also of an emptiness deep in their souls, Genesis (3:1-7). Because through their disobedience they damaged their relationship with God and with each other.

    We too know that emptiness. When we rebel against His right to be our Lord, consequences follow, just as they did with Adam and Eve. Our rebellion ruptures our relationship, first with God, and secondly with others. When the relationship is ruptured, it creates a gap, and then, it soon gives ways to confusion and emptiness. Yes, indeed, when we do not involve God every area of our life, we would wallow in abject emptiness. However, we can never fill it with some new experience or acquisition. We will remain empty, for only God, through His Son Jesus Christ, can fill that emptiness. At one point in John (15) Jesus says, "Live in me as I live in you. The branch cannot bear fruit by itself, but has to remain part of the vine; so neither can you, if you don't remain in me", John (15:4).

  • The empty tomb is also an indication of the futility of the power of Satan. The Bible says that the consequence of sin is death, eternal separation from God, Romans (6:23). But God's only Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth to pay the penalty for our sin, so we would not die eternally separated from Him. When Jesus died on the cross, He fully paid, once and for all, for our sins and offered us complete forgiveness and eternal life, 1 Peter (2:24); Romans (6:24).

    Now, with the empty tomb, Christ has destroyed Satan's powerful weapon, death. He has rendered Satan powerless to condemn us and to enslave us by our fear of death and judgment. That is, we will not be judged by God according to our sins; rather we will stand before God robed in Christ's own righteousness. As it is written in the book of Revelation, we "will not be hurt at all by the second death", and "the second death has no power over us", Revelation (2:11; 20:6).

Today, as we stand once again before the empty tomb, with awe and wonder, with praise and adoration, with thanksgiving and gratitude, we shall pray to our Risen Lord Jesus Christ that He may show us in the emptiness of our lives, the fullness of His glory; that He may give us courage to endure all disappointments, hardships, trials, uncertainty, distress and sadness; that He may free us from the fear of death and dying; and that He may fill our hearts with hope, love, joy and peace.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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