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!

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year C)

Jul 21, 2019 Views 141 Listen 1 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of Genesis (18:1-10a)

The Lord appeared to Abraham by the terebinth of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, Abraham saw three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: "Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest yourselves under the tree. Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way." The men replied, "Very well, do as you have said."

Abraham hastened into the tent and told Sarah, "Quick, three measures of fine flour! Knead it and make rolls." He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice steer, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. Then Abraham got some curds and milk, as well as the steer that had been prepared, and set these before the three men; and he waited on them under the tree while they ate.

They asked Abraham, "Where is your wife Sarah?" He replied, "There in the tent." One of them said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son."

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

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (15:2-3, 3-4, 5)


(R) He who does justice will live in the presence of the Lord.

One who walks blamelessly and does justice; who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue. (R)

Who harms not his fellow man, nor takes up a reproach against his neighbor; by whom the reprobate is despised, while he honors those who fear the LORD. (R)

Who lends not his money at usury and accepts no bribe against the innocent. One who does these things shall never be disturbed. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians (1:24-28)

Brothers and sisters: Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God's stewardship to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

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

Gospel

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (10:38-42)

Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."

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

Homily

A father sends his small boy to bed and watches television. Five minutes later the boy calls,
"Dad..."
"What?"
"I'm thirsty. Can you bring a glass of water?"
"No. You already had your water. Turn the lights off and go to sleep."
Five minutes later the boy calls,
"Dad..."
"What?"
"I'm thirsty. Can I have a drink of water?"
"I told you no. If you ask again, I'll come and spank you!"
Five minutes later the boy calls again:
"Dad..."
"What!"
"When you come to spank me, can you bring a glass of water?"

Brothers and sisters, there are times when we are so self-absorbed, so occupied with our concerns, needs and worries, we fail to observe and understand the needs of others. In the same way we also fail to notice the appearance of God.

One of the greatest teachings of the Bible is that Yahweh or the God of Israel desired to have a personal relationship with his people. In his desire to establish a relationship with His people, God took the initiative and revealed himself to them. Many Biblical stories demonstrate God's immense love for His people and His desire to be their God. He made himself known to His people in many ways. He appeared to them in dreams and visions. He appeared through natural events such as fires, winds, storms and earthquakes. He also appeared in human form. It was often a face to face encounter between God and His people. Jesus Christ is the greatest manifestation of God to humanity.

Today we read one of the ancient stories of an encounter between God and Abraham, our Father in Faith. God physically appeared to Abraham with two other men. They spoke to each other face to face. Although it is difficult to grasp the full significance of this event, today's text affirms that God chose the time, place and person on his own to reveal himself. God's manifestations were designed to elicit a human response and help them to enter into a relationship with God.

Abraham was called by God to leave his home and family to go to the land God had prepared for him. Full of hope and expectation of a better life, Abraham and his wife Sarah set off to find the Promised Land. They had no idea where they were going. They just put their trust in God. Years went by but there was not any sign of land or children as had promised by God, "descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky" Genesis (15:5). They might have wondered sometimes whether all their hopes and visions were lost and, all their hardships, efforts and sacrifices were in vain.

One day as Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent in the heat of the day and perhaps contemplating the past, he looked up and saw three men standing in front of him. He instantly recognized that it was God himself in the form of a man along with two angels by his side. Abraham ran to meet them. He bowed to the ground and greeted them with supreme courtesy. Abraham addressed one of them saying, "Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go past your servant." He called him Master or Lord and he referred to himself as their servant. He requested them to stay on as he hurried to fetch some food and water. He told his wife Sarah excitedly to prepare bread, curds, milk and meat for them. He waited on them under the tree while they ate. Then they conversed with Abraham and, Abraham poured his heart out to them. In answer to their question, "Where is Sarah your wife?" he perhaps also expressed his anxiety of not having a child and the disgrace he and his wife endured because of that. Or God saw in Abraham gladness as well as sadness. That's why God said, "I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son."

What is the message for us?

To have an encounter with God we do not have to travel to the far ends of the universe or wait for an opportune time and place. In other words, you do not have to say that you will wait for Sunday to go to church and encounter God. Like Abraham we merely have to open our eyes, our heart, our mind and our soul all the time. In good times and in bad, and in joy as well as in sorrow, during work and conversation with others, while walking and travelling, while praying and reading or hearing the Scriptures, let us keep our mind, heart and soul open to God. Because God desires to have a personal relationship with us, He therefore appears to us and speaks to us clearly, anywhere, anytime and in any circumstance.

Yes! God chooses the time, place and person on his own to reveal himself to us. There is a true story of such an encounter by a young, devout and God fearing woman. Well I just heard the story today. She was jobless for about two years despite her qualifications and competence for doing a job. She still constantly only prayed for the will of God in her life. Two months ago even though she was sad, she took the courage to go back to her country after seven years of studying and working abroad. Back home her family and friends saw her return as a disgrace. But she surrendered herself totally to God's plan. This morning after Holy Mass, a stranger greeted her in church and volunteered to help her find a job. What do you think? Don't you see it is a miracle? Perhaps most of the people who have, or read or hear about, such experiences regard them as coincidences. But the young woman has accepted it as more than mere coincidence. She has recognized it as God's appearance in human form to alleviate her fear and anxiety about her future. So let us be always ready to recognize and notice the manifestation of God around us and within us.

Then we should welcome God just like Abraham did. When we recognize God in any form, let us not be afraid or hesitant to welcome him gladly into our heart and home just as Abraham did. Without a warm welcome, God cannot find his dwelling in us. At the same time, let us be humble before his presence and, greet him with our utmost reverence and love.

And then let us serve Him. How do we serve God? Abraham served God and the angels with some food and water. If we see God in human form, hungry and thirsty, of course, we can provide him his needs. In Matthew (25:35) Jesus says, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome." In Hebrew the word "ebed" means "serve" but it also means "worship" and "obey". Therefore we can also serve the Lord by our obedience to Him. We can worship Him, honor Him praise Him, and bless Him. We can, like our Mother Mary, contemplate the goodness of the Lord in our hearts, sing the words of praise on our lips and glorify him in our actions.

When we recognize God, welcome Him into our midst and serve him wholeheartedly, He opens the door of conversation with a question like the question He put to Abraham. He asks, "What are you in need of? Or what are you searching for? Or what do you want me to do for you? Or what is troubling you?" He will talk to us about things no one else will talk or care about. He will give us a chance to pour our hearts out about our burdens, hurts, pains and disappointments. When He does come, let us courageously pour our heart out to him. Jesus says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest" Matthew (11:28).

However, we also must listen to what he says to us. Unlike Sara who laughed at the promise of God that she would have a child by the following year, Abraham humbly accepted and believed in the promise. He was willing to wait one more year as God had promised. He obeyed God and his will. So also we must talk less and listen more to Him. Sometimes that's the hardest of all. Often we spend the whole time talking about ourselves rather than listening to God. That is why prayer is often so disheartening. When we go away from a time in prayer or worship or scripture reading or encounter with the Lord, we should be able to say what we were saying to God as well as what the Lord was saying to us.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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