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!

Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Aug 2, 2020 Views 136 Listen 1 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (55:1-3)

Thus says the Lord: All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come receive grain and eat. Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy? Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare. Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.

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

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (145:8-9, 15-16, 17-18)


(R) The hand of the Lord feeds us; He answers all our needs.

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all His words. (R)

The eyes of all look hopefully to you, and you give them their food in due season; you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. (R)

The Lord is just in all His ways and holy in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (8:35, 37-39)

Brothers and sisters: What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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

Gospel

A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew (14:13-21)

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. The crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. When it was evening, the disciples approached him and said, "This is a deserted place and it is already late; dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves." Jesus said to them, "There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves." But they said to him, "Five loaves and two fish are all we have here." Then he said, "Bring them here to me," and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over - twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, not counting women and children.

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

Homily

There is a story told about a rich business man, who on holiday by the sea, comes across a fisherman, lying lazily by his boat. He asks him, "Why are you not fishing?" "Because I have caught enough fish for today" the fisherman replies. "So why don't you catch some more?" the business man continues. The fisherman answers, "What would I do with more fish?" The business man says, "You could sell them. Earn more money. Buy more nets. Catch more fish. Make more money. Buy more boats. Employ more people. Get really rich, like me." The fisherman says, "So, what would I do then?" "You could sit down, relax and enjoy life", says the business man. "What do you think I'm doing now?" says the fisherman.

Friends, few people ever reach that level of contentment. Lots of people are discontented with their lives. Some describe discontent as man's worst enemy. Speaking of discontent, a poet writes:

"As a rule, man's a fool.
When it's hot, he wants it cool,
And when it's cool, he wants it hot.
Always wanting what is not."

Yes, these words are so true for many people. What about you? Are you content with your life? If you are truly content, be very grateful for all that God has done for you already. If you are not then perhaps today's first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah could help you learn the secret of being content in any situation.

Today's text is taken from Chapter 55 of the book. In order to understand the text we must go back and take a look at the preceding two chapters. There, Isaiah foresees two things.

  • He foresees seven hundred years into the future and tells how Christ would come and suffer and bear our sins and die in our place and rise again.
  • He also foresees great blessings that will come to us as a result of Christ's birth, death and resurrection.

One of the blessings is that it was not just to Jews whom salvation would come, but to all peoples. The Jewish people were just a part of the plan of God to save the entire human race. Therefore in the text today we hear Isaiah speaking of God's invitation to all peoples on Earth. God invites people to come to Him so that He can offer them something unique, special and precious which the world cannot give.

Then God uses symbols to describe the gift. The Lord says, "All you who are thirsty, come to the water! You who have no money, come receive grain and eat. Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk. Why spend your money for what is not bread; your wages for what fails to satisfy?" Who are the people invited by God? He invites all who are thirsty. Thirsty people refer to both those who have and those who do not have. First, He invites those who are broken. That is to say, He invites those who have no money, no strength, no motivation and no hope and therefore feel disgruntled. Second, He invites those who are self-sufficient. That is to say, He invites those who have money, power and strength and yet feel empty and unfulfilled.

For those who seek him, the Lord offers three basic needs - water, milk and wine. First, He offers them water. Water is one of the most important elements for life on Earth. The human body is composed of sixty to seventy per cent water. Water keeps human beings alive and is also used for cleansing. In the Bible water is a symbol of life and an agent for cleansing or purification; it also refreshes, restores and gives birth to new beginnings. So God gives people the water of life that sustains them.

Second, God offers milk. Milk is essential for healthy growth. It is the first food newborn babies are fed with because it contains all the essential nutrients needed to help a baby grow into a healthy child. In the Bible, milk represents the Word of God. So God gives the Word, the nutrients to help people grow in spiritual strength.

Third, God offers wine. No matter how strong, powerful and stoic human beings may seem to be, in everyone, there is a desire for excitement or for something that is pleasing. In Old Testament times, since water was scarce, wine was a necessary alternative rather than a luxury, and it came to symbolize sustenance and life. Besides, wine is also associated with joy, celebration, and festivity. So God gives the gift of joy. Yes, He gives to those believing and trusting in Him, the ability to experience peace and joy.

And then, the Lord implores, "Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare." He reminds us that these gifts of water, milk and wine are the best food and drink and they are offered free and in great abundance. Finally, the Lord reveals the truth behind these symbols - water, milk and wine. He says, "Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David." The Lord begins by saying "Come to the waters, ...come for wine and milk..." but ends it with "Come to me...". Come to me means God Himself is the living water and the nourishing milk and the exhilarating wine. Moreover, He says He wants to make a covenant with people so that they can enjoy these gifts forever. What kind of covenant is He referring to? The same kind of covenant he made with King David. In Samuel (2:7), the covenant between God and David is said to be sealed with a steadfast and everlasting love. This means that when people go to God, He unites Himself to them in an eternal and unbreakable bond of love.

Friends, each of us belongs to one of the two groups the Lord speaks about - either we are among those who are broken or desperate because we do not possess much or those distressed and dissatisfied because they feel empty and discontented despite having everything. Many of us always want what we do not have. We are always striving for more - more money, more success and more things. We spend our wages on what is not bread and on material things which fail to satisfy us. No matter how much we achieve, how much we possess, we still hunger for more. Too often, we are looking for contentment in the wrong places. We place our hopes in our possessions and relationships which are only temporary rather than putting our hope in God. Friends, if you are thirsty and distant from God go to Him, and take the water, milk and wine which He offers free and in great abundance to you and drink them. Restrain from spending money on what does not satisfy. Listen carefully to what He says. He says we can live and experience His steadfast love. We shall have tremendous peace and contentment no matter what state we are in while we are waiting for God to work out His will in our life. God is the source of our life, our strength and joy.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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