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!

Pentecost Sunday (Year C)

Jun 9, 2019 Views 24 Listen 1 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles (2:1-11)

When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, the apostles were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were.

Then there appeared to them tongues of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard the apostles speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, "Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God."

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

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (104:1, 24, 29-30, 31, 34)


(R) Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth.

Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord, my God, you are great indeed! How manifold are your works, O Lord! The earth is full of your creatures. (R)

If you take away their breath, they perish and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth. (R)

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord be glad in his works! Pleasing to him be my theme; I will be glad in the Lord. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (8:8-17)

Brothers and sisters: Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness. If the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.

Consequently, brothers and sisters, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, "Abba, Father!" The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

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

Gospel

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (20:19-23)

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you."

When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

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

Homily

One day a mom told her little son to clean his room but each time he went in, he got distracted by all the toys and he put nothing away. She went in and said to him, "Stephen, what did mom tell you to do?" "Clean my room", he said. "And did you clean your room", she asked. "No" he replied quietly. She disciplined him and then helped him to pray and confess his error to God and ask Jesus to help him get his room cleaned. He seemed to respond really well to all of this and she thought, "Wow, prayer really works." But Stephen just got down and sat in the middle of the room, doing nothing. In frustration she asked, "Stephen, what are you doing?" He replied, just as frustrated, "Oh, Mom! You prayed to Jesus, right? I'm waiting for him to come and help me clean my room!"

Do you hear and obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit to change your way of living? Or though you hear the promptings you ignore them and, continue to wait for Him to come and clean up the mess in your life for you?

Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans, a part of which we heard today, speaks about two kinds of life, namely the life of the flesh and the life of the spirit, and he draws a sharp contrast between these two. He says, "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the spirit, if only the Spirit of God dwells in you." What does Paul mean by being in the flesh and being in the spirit?

The word "flesh" means body. There are many references to the "flesh" in the letters of Saint Paul but it rarely refers to the physical body. He often refers "the flesh" to the person who is controlled by "self" and the desires of the self. He speaks of the whole person - body, mind and soul - who longs and strives for the demands of the flesh or one's own desires, which Paul believes are destructive and sinful. In his letters to the different communities he mentions different people having different destructive forces in them such as pride, ambition, greed, hatred, envy, arrogance, lust and so on. He, therefore, points out that people who are ruled by their sinful selves or desires of the flesh cannot please God. In contrast to the concept of the flesh, Paul says that "the spirit" is dominated by the "Spirit of God" and God's desires. The Spirit of God is the Holy Spirit which proceeds equally from the Father and from the Son and, the Spirit of God desires that we embrace love, forgiveness, compassion, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, self-control and peace. Hence, he tells us that only those who are in the spirit or seek what God desires, can please God. In short, as Jesus said it is mercy that God desires more than sacrifice Matthew (9:13).

Paul then goes on to observe, "Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him." Paul reminds us that the sacrament of baptism alone is insufficient and that we must have the Spirit of Christ within us to belong to Him and to be a member of the Church, His body. In other words, a true Christian is one who has the Spirit of Christ within him and listens to the promptings of the Spirit. If we do not obey the promptings of the Spirit who is a special gift given to us at Baptism, we may lose the Spirit and as a result, we do not belong to Christ.

However, Paul encourages us to remain in Christ. He says, "But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is alive because of righteousness." What he means is that a true Christian may struggle against the sins of the flesh and give into or succumb to the demands of the flesh on occasions, but the spirit of God is still in the person because of the person's faithfulness and remorse for sin. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is promised to those who love Christ and ask for the forgiveness for sins. As Jesus said, God indeed comes to call not the upright but sinners Matthew (9:13). He loves those who truly seek forgiveness for sin.

Paul, then, warns the Christians of the danger of following the flesh, "Consequently, brothers and sisters, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live."

Paul's point is that we owe nothing to the flesh but owe everything to the Holy Spirit, because while the works of the flesh lead us to unhappiness, misery and death, the deeds of spirit lead us to happiness, peace and a life of grace. To those who live according to the Spirit of God, two precious gifts are given:

  • The Spirit makes us children of God. As His children, we have an intimate relationship with our God the Father. We have the special privilege of speaking to Him and calling Him, "Abba, Father!" We can tell him our joys and sorrows. We can confidently go to Him with our troubles, trials and fears.
  • The Spirit makes us heirs of God. As heirs, we are given love, peace and all that belongs to God our Father.

Let us examine our life. Are you living according to the flesh? Or according to the Spirit? If you are living in the flesh then remember the warning of Paul that we bring condemnation and death upon ourselves. We deprive ourselves of our own peace, joy and life. However, we can seek forgiveness for our sins through Jesus Christ and enter into a new way of life through the Holy Spirit. If you are living in the spirit, then let us rejoice and praise the Lord and strive for more peace and life in Him.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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