Father Valan Arockiaswamy

Father Valan

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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!

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year B)

Jan 31, 2021 Views 84 Listen 2 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of Deuteronomy (18:15-20)

Moses spoke to all the people, saying: "A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kin; to him you shall listen. This is exactly what you requested of the Lord, your God, at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, "Let us not again hear the voice of the Lord, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die." And the Lord said to me, "This was well said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him. Whoever will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it. But if a prophet presumes to speak in my name an oracle that I have not commanded him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, he shall die.""

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

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (95:1-2, 6-7, 7-9)


(R) If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.

Come, let us sing joyfully to the Lord; let us acclaim the rock of our salvation. Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us joyfully sing psalms to Him. (R)

Come, let us bow down in worship; let us kneel before the Lord who made us. For He is our God, and we are the people He shepherds, the flock He guides. (R)

Oh, that today you would hear His voice: "Harden not your hearts as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the desert, where your fathers tempted me; they tested me though they had seen my works." (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the first Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians (7:32-35)

Brothers and sisters: I should like you to be free of anxieties. An unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord. But a married man is anxious about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is anxious about the things of the Lord, so that she may be holy in both body and spirit. A married woman, on the other hand, is anxious about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction.

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

Gospel

A reading from the Gospel according to Mark (1:21-28)

Jesus and his disciples came to Capernaum, and on the Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught. The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes. In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!" Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!" The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him. All were amazed and asked one another, "What is this? A new teaching with authority. He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him." His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

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

Homily

An astrologer told a king that his favorite mistress would soon die. Sure enough, the woman died a short time later. The king was outraged at the astrologer that his prediction came true. He summoned the astrologer and commanded him: "Now you tell me. When will you die?" The astrologer realized that no matter how he answers, the king would surely kill him. So he said, "My King! I do not know when I will die. But I know when I die you will also die three days after me."

In today's first reading from the Book of Deuteronomy we read Moses' prediction of a prophet like him, would be raised by God for Israel. Who is the prophet he was talking about? A brief look back into the history of Israel will help us understand the prediction better.

From the Book of Genesis we learn that sometime between 2000 and 1700 years before Christ, God appeared to Abraham, a devout man belonging to a nomadic tribe and, instructed him to depart from his ancestral worship of idols and, worship the only one true God and also to leave his country and go to a new land called Canaan which is today believed to be roughly located in the area as modern Israel. God made many wonderful promises to Abraham. One of God's promises was that if Abraham followed God's command, he would be blessed with many descendants and a land flowing with milk and honey. Abraham was seventy-five years old when he began his journey to the Promised Land. When he finally arrived in Canaan he realized that it was already home to many tribes such as the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, and so on. Not long after Abraham had entered Canaan, a severe famine hit the land. Abraham moved to Egypt. When the famine was over he moved back to Canaan and built an altar and offered sacrifices to the Lord.

Abraham had two sons: Isaac by his wife Sarah, and Ishmael by his maid servant Hagar. Isaac had a son named Jacob who in turn had twelve sons. These sons became the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. The name "Israel" which means "God rules" was first given by God to Jacob, Genesis (35:9-10). Jacob's most beloved son, Joseph, was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers. While in captivity, Joseph rose to become the most powerful man in Egypt next to Pharaoh. When a severe drought plagued Canaan, his very brothers came to Egypt, begging for grain. Ignoring their past mistreatment of him, Joseph gave them grain and convinced them to stay in Egypt. There, they became so numerous, strong and prosperous that the Egyptians in their jealousy and fear enslaved them. They were slaves for about four hundred years.

Once God spoke to Moses through a burning bush and gave him the commission to lead the people out of Egypt. From then he became the prophet, leader, teacher and the mediator between God and the people of Israel. God gave His messages and instructions, including the statutes and judgments, to people through Moses. God also performed many amazing miracles and wonders through Moses before and during their journey through the desert. Moses was the first person to be told of God's identity as Yahweh which means I AM in reference to the fact that God has always existed and will always exist. When Moses desired to see God's glory, God appeared and spoke to him face to face. For forty years Moses led them through the desert, overcoming many obstacles, but died before he reached the Promised Land. Just before his death Moses announced to the people that God would raise a prophet like him among their own kin and they were to listen to this prophet.

Though after Moses, there was a succession of prophets, including Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel and others, there are many similarities and parallels between Moses and Jesus and their lives. Like Moses, Jesus has been received as prophet, priest, leader, and deliverer. None of the other prophets had all of these features. Just like Moses, Jesus has stood in the presence of God the Father, and has received first-hand the words of God to share with the people. Like Moses, Jesus was chosen from among the people of Israel. He did not descend from heaven like an angel but rather became a human being and was one through and through. Like Moses, Jesus had face to face contact with God the Father. Like Moses Jesus has acted as the mediator between God and the people in the way of conveying God's will to them. In fact Jesus is far greater than Moses. Jesus is the Son of God, and Jesus is God. To know Jesus is to know God the Father, John (14:9). In today's gospel passage we read the power and the authority of Jesus being confirmed. It is said that as people listened to Jesus speak they were astonished at his teaching. And then when he proved his authority by casting an evil spirit out of a man they were once again amazed. It was not the first time. On many occasions the people clashed when it came to the issue of Jesus' authority from God. They didn't like what he said and what he did. They rejected him and his teaching. Eventually they crucified him.

Moses' exhortation to the Israelites is also a reminder for us to listen to this prophet. Jesus continues to speak to us with so much authority and power. His words are God's words. If we honor and recognize the authority of God's Word it can give us so much strength, comfort, direction and hope. Unfortunately, despite our profession of our faith in Jesus, like many unbelievers, we also perhaps fail to recognize the authority of Christ, or stop listening to his Word. Sometimes we probably tend to say that Jesus' Word has no authority over our life. Let us come to Jesus again today and ask for his forgiveness. Jesus Christ forgives us for every sin we commit in our life. He forgives us even for those times we ignore his authority and push aside his Word. Jesus not only has the power and authority to teach and judge us, but also has the power to forgive us our sins and heal our body, mind and soul.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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