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!

Twenty Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Oct 18, 2020 Views 70 Listen 1 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (45:1, 4-6)

Thus says the Lord to His anointed, Cyrus, whose right hand I grasp, subduing nations before him, and making kings run in his service, opening doors before him and leaving the gates unbarred: For the sake of Jacob, my servant, of Israel, my chosen one, I have called you by your name, giving you a title, though you knew me not. I am the Lord and there is no other, there is no God besides me. It is I who arm you, though you know me not, so that toward the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is none besides me. I am the Lord, there is no other.

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

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (96:1, 3, 4-5, 7-8, 9-10)


(R) Give the Lord glory and honor.

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all you lands. Tell His glory among the nations; among all peoples, His wondrous deeds. (R)

For great is the Lord and highly to be praised; awesome is He, beyond all gods. For all the gods of the nations are things of nought, but the Lord made the heavens. (R)

Give to the Lord, you families of nations, give to the Lord the glory due His name! Bring gifts, and enter His courts. (R)

Worship the Lord, in holy attire; tremble before Him, all the Earth; say among the nations: The Lord is king, He governs the peoples with equity. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians (1:1-5b)

Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: grace to you and peace. We given thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father, knowing, brothers and sisters loved by God, how you were chosen. For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction.

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

Gospel

A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew (22:15-21)

The Pharisees went off and plotted how they might entrap Jesus in speech. They sent their disciples to him, with the Herodians, saying, "Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion, for you do not regard a person's status. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?" Knowing their malice, Jesus said, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Show me the coin that pays the census tax."

Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?" They replied, "Caesar's." At that he said to them, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."

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

Homily

There is a story about a mother and her three year old son. One morning the mother was doing embroidery. Her son who was sitting down and observing her work closely asked "Mom what are you doing?" She answered, "I am embroidering." He said, "Mom, looking from below I see only ugly threads. It looks so messy and jumbled." The mother smiled at him and gently said, "My son, you go and play for a while, and when I finish, I will call you to look at it." The boy went outside to play. Later the mother called her son and said, "Son, come and sit on my lap." When he sat down with her, he was surprised and thrilled to see a beautiful flower. He could not believe it, because from underneath only tangled threads were seen. Then the mother said to him, "My son, from underneath, it appears to be messy and untidy and you cannot see the pattern on top. It is a beautiful design. I was only following the pattern. Now when you look at it from the top, you can see what it really is."

Much later in life, the boy applies the experience in his relationship with God. He said, "Many a time I look up in the sky and ask, "My God where are you? And what are you doing?" And he answers me, "I am embroidering your life." And I respond, "But my life is so confused and disorderly. It looks so dark and meaningless." But God seems to tell me, "My child, live according to my law. Guide yourself with your heart and trust in me. One day I will bring you to heaven and put you on my lap and you will see the plan from my side. And then you will understand and see how beautiful it is.""

Friends, more than two thousand five hundred years ago, the people of Israel also perhaps had an opportunity to experience God's amazing plan in their life as prophesied by the prophet Isaiah. We already know that the Bible is full of prophecies. What is a prophecy? A prophecy is a prediction uttered by a divinely inspired prophet. Isaiah was one of the most influential prophets in Judaism. He lived and preached seven hundred years before Christ, during the time when the Assyrians had conquered the northern part of Israel and taken the people away to Assyria as captives. Isaiah predicted that a future Persian king by the name of Cyrus would carry out God's plan of liberation of the people of Israel from slavery. Isaiah writes, "The Lord says to His anointed, to Cyrus whom He says, whose right hand I grasp, subduing nations before him, and making kings run in his service, opening doors before him and leaving the gates unbarred. For the sake of Jacob, my servant, my chosen one, I have called you by your name, giving you title, though you knew me not."

Cyrus was called "anointed" which means set apart. The "anointed one," is a divinely chosen figure who would bring to fruition God's plan for his people and for all humankind. From the scriptures we learn that "anointed" was only conferred on the kings of Israel and not on the kings of other nations. But Isaiah foretold that Cyrus, the Persian king would be anointed the way the kings of Israel like Jacob and David had been anointed. Cyrus knew nothing of Yahweh, the God of Israel. Since his childhood he had probably worshipped only Persian gods. However, the prophet predicted that Cyrus would be set apart as king by God's providence, to fulfil His special purpose. God was going to use an unholy, foreign ruler to accomplish His plan of liberation. Some two hundred years later, about five hundred years before Christ, the prophecy was fulfilled in every detail. Accordingly Cyrus defeated the Babylonians, who had defeated the Assyrians, destroyed Jerusalem and taken the Israelites into exile. After his victory, he allowed the Israelites to return home; gave them permission to rebuild their temple and city and returned to them the gold and silver which Nebuchadnezzar, the king of the Babylonian Empire, had taken from the temple.

There are two lessons to be learned from the prophecy of Isaiah.

  • Even though God had allowed His chosen people to be taken captive He was still speaking to them through his prophets, in accordance with His promise to their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others. But the people were growing impatient and continually grumbling against God. They did not realize that God was preparing them as well as a foreign ruler to answer their prayers.

    During our times of hardships, trials and suffering we must remember that God is working in our lives, even in our darkest hours, to accomplish His purposes. We must not only believe that God exists, but also that He has the power to work through people whom He chooses to do His will. God selects people even from unknown land and faith, unworthy and ungodly persons to bring us the message of salvation. He comes to our rescue through the most unlikely people. He chooses to bring about good to us through many human beings. Therefore let us learn to live with difficult circumstances and pray for grace to endure them without murmuring until such time as God delivers us from them.
  • If God could anoint, guide, bless and use Cyrus who didn't even know the Lord to liberate the people of Israel, He would much more want to work through us who have at least some faith in Him. Hence, when we read of Cyrus being called by name and anointed for a special purpose, we ought to think of the time when each of us was called by name at our baptism, and charged with the responsibility of bringing the good news of Christ to all people, who stand always in need of further liberation. We must remember that it is God who is ordering our lives. He is God of purpose. Everything He does has a purpose. We were not baptized by accident nor decided on our own to follow Jesus Christ. We may have thought so at times, or have our doubts and fears about being Christian and waver with unbelief at times, or have many anxious misgivings about our faith in Jesus Christ. Even so, God is working in us. He has truly chosen us and placed us in a particular time and place to accomplish His great work for His people. Let us thank God for choosing us for purposes known to Him alone and, pray for the grace and the strength to remain faithful to His teachings and to the commitments He has given us.
(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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