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!

Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Jul 11, 2021 Views 65 Listen 1 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Amos (7:12-15)

Amaziah, priest of Bethel, said to Amos, "Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah! There earn your bread by prophesying, but never again prophesy in Bethel; for it is the king's sanctuary and a royal temple."

Amos answered to Amaziah, "I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The Lord took me from following the flock, and said to me: Go, prophesy to my people Israel."

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

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (85:9-10, 11-12, 13-14)


(R) Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.

I will hear what God proclaims; the Lord - for He proclaims peace. Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him, glory dwelling in our land. (R)

Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss. Truth shall spring out of Earth, and justice shall look down from heaven. (R)

The Lord Himself will give His benefits; our land shall yield its increase. Justice shall walk before Him, and prepare the way of His steps. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians (1:3-10)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without blemish before Him. In love He destined us for adoption to Himself through Jesus Christ, in accord with the favor of His will, for the praise of the glory of His grace that He granted us in the beloved.

In Him we have redemption by His blood, the forgiveness of transgressions, in accord with the riches of His grace that He lavished upon us. In all wisdom and insight, He has made known to us the mystery of His will in accord with His favor that He set forth in Him as a plan for the fullness of times, to sum up all things in Christ, in heaven and on Earth.

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

Gospel

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark (6:7-13)

Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick - no food, no sack, no money in their belts. They were, however, to wear sandals but not a second tunic. He said to them, "Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave. Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them."

So they went off and preached repentance. The Twelve drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

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

Homily

You may have heard these quotes before. "One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas I'll never know." "Some people claim that marriage interferes with romance. There's no doubt about it. Anytime you have a romance, your wife is bound to interfere." "Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men - the other 999 follow women." These are humorous quotes attributed to Groucho Marx, an American comedian and film actor who died in 1977. Most of his quotes probably sound weird and confusing but in the end they all begin to make some sense.

Similarly, Saint Paul's letters contain many complex passages that are very hard to understand and interpret. Many of us are incapable of fully understanding the depth of Paul's thoughts and faith in Jesus Christ. And because of difficulties some people tend to ignore his writings. But all his writings hold powerful messages. His letter to the Ephesians is generally acknowledged to be one of the richest and most profound in the New Testament. Today we read one such text from his letter to the Ephesians (1:3-14). Bible scholars say that the text in fact was one long sentence in the original Greek text of the Bible but the translators have split it into smaller phrases so that they could be more easily understood. And yet some of us may still find it quite complex.

From the Old Testament times God has made available to all human kind a wealth of blessings. The Bible teaches us that we receive two types of blessings from the Lord: Temporal and Spiritual. What are the temporal blessings? Psalm (37:25) reads, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread." In Psalm (34:9-10) we read, "Fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing." The Book Exodus (23:25) says, "But you shall serve the Lord your God, and He will bless your bread and your water; and I will remove sickness from your midst." From the Book of Deuteronomy (5:33) we hear, "You shall walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess."

It is written in the Second Book of Chronicles (1:12), "Wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you. And I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings who were before you has possessed nor those who will come after you." In Luke's gospel of the New Testament (12:22), Jesus said to his disciples, "For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on." Saint Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians (9:8) tells, "God is perfectly able to enrich you with every grace, so that you always have enough for every conceivable need, and your resources overflow in all kinds of good work."

From these passages of the Bible, we learn that food, water, good health, land, wealth, honor, knowledge, wisdom, possessions and many other good things are the temporal blessings from God. What are the spiritual blessings? According to Paul every spiritual blessing is in Christ. There are no spiritual blessings outside of Christ.

In his letter to the Ephesians (1:3-14), Paul puts down many of these spiritual blessings:

  • In Christ we are the "chosen people" (v.4). Yes, God in His sovereign grace has chosen us to be His believers among millions of people.
  • In Christ we have become "adopted children" (v.5-6). Yes, as Christians we are legally adopted sons and daughters of God's family.
  • In Christ we have "redemption by his blood and the forgiveness of transgressions" (v.7-8). Yes, we are slaves to sin, and condemned to eternal separation from God. But Jesus paid the price to redeem us from slavery to sin and eternal consequences of sin. That's to say, through redemption we are forgiven and reconciled with God.
  • In Christ we are blessed "with the knowledge of the mystery of his will" (v.9). Yes, God has made known to us His plan of salvation which was in Him from the very beginning.
  • In Christ we are chosen to "accomplish God's purpose according to His will" (v.10). Yes, God has made us partners in the plan of salvation.
  • In Christ we are given the "gift of the Holy Spirit" (v.11-12).
  • In Christ we are blessed with "inheritance" (v.13-14). Yes, our inheritance is the gift of salvation waiting for us in heaven. As God's adopted children, we have been assured an inheritance from our Heavenly Father.

Spiritual blessings are far more valuable than the temporal or material ones. These blessings are the key benefits of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. These blessings are for inner peace, happiness and strength. They are perfect and eternal. Moreover, these blessings are readily accessible to everyone who is in Christ Jesus. The way to be in Christ is to repent, or turn away from our sin, Acts (17:30).

What is the message for us?

This passage from Ephesians reminds us of God's determination to bless humanity through His Son, Jesus Christ, who represents all humanity, and we are given our entire lifetime to gratefully recognize both the temporal and spiritual blessings, use them wisely and more importantly pass them on to others in a manner that makes our whole life meaningful, fruitful and purposeful. But sadly many of us either choose to ignore or squander or fail to pass on the blessings, particularly the spiritual ones.

Saint Paul recognized and acknowledged the goodness and relentless love of God toward humanity and therefore, could proclaim with great joy, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ", Ephesians (1:3). He praised God who chose to bless us in Christ both with temporal and spiritual gifts.

As believers in Jesus Christ, God has blessed us with spiritual blessings that are worth far more than anything in this material world. We have done nothing with our strength to get these spiritual blessings, for they are given to us because of what Christ did on the cross. Furthermore, these spiritual blessings will never pass away. Therefore, let us always thank and praise God for these blessings. And let us take advantage of these blessings and access them on a daily basis and, pass on them to our children, friends and others for His glory.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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