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!

Easter Sunday (Year C)

Apr 17, 2022 Views 164 Listen 1 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (6:3-11)

Brothers and sisters: Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For a dead person has been absolved from sin. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.

We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as being dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

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

Gospel

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (24:1-12)

At daybreak on the first day of the week the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were puzzling over this, behold, two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised. Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on the third day." And they remembered his words.

Then they returned from the tomb and announced all these things to the eleven and to all the others. The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James; the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles, but their story seemed like nonsense and they did not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb, bent down, and saw the burial clothes alone; then he went home amazed at what had happened.

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

Homily

One morning an old man sitting on a park bench was sobbing. A passerby saw this and asked him what was wrong. The old man replied, "I have a young wife at home. She is beautiful and kind. Every morning she rubs my back, makes me pancakes, sausages, and freshly brewed coffee. The passerby asked, "Well, then why are you crying?" The man said, "She makes me homemade soup for lunch and gives me fresh fruits, cleans the house and then watches television with me for the rest of the afternoon." The passerby continued, "Well, then why are you crying?" The old man said, "For dinner she makes me a gourmet meal served with wine and my favorite dessert and then we cuddle until the small hours." The passerby said, "Oh! That's great. You must be happy for having such a wife. But why in the world are you still crying?" The old man replied, "I can't remember where I live."

Despite the brighter moments and beautiful blessings all around you, do you still feel like something is missing in your life and you just can't figure out what it is? If you do, then today's gospel account can enlighten you and give you an insight into what you are missing and, why you are missing it and, where and how you can find it.

On Good Friday from the gospel of John, we read that with Pilate's approval, Joseph of Arimathea took down the body of Jesus from the cross and buried Him in his tomb. The women who had followed Jesus also witnessed the body of Jesus being laid in the tomb. Then they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

However, I am sure that the crucifixion and death of Jesus had affected them so much that they did not really rest. It must have been a day of anger, pain, sadness, grief and disappointment. The next day, very early in the morning, these women went to the tomb fully expecting to find the dead body of Jesus. Instead they saw that the stone had been rolled away but they did not find his body. The tomb was empty. While they were looking around in fear, two men, thought to be angels, asked the women, "Why do you seek the living one among the dead? He is not here, but has been raised. Remember what He said to you while He was still in Galilee", Luke (24:5).

Yes. They weren't seeking the living; they were seeking a dead body. They did not go to the tomb to see their friend, master, Lord and Savior alive. They only went to the tomb to collect his body so that they could anoint it and give it a proper burial. But they could not find the body. How could they find the living Jesus among the dead? They did not realize that He had already risen and He was alive. Jesus was not among the dead but the living. The women and the disciples were to go back to the beginning of Jesus' ministry and remember all that Jesus taught them.

Lots of people, believers and non-believers, Christians and non-Christians, are still seeking Jesus among the dead. Many scholars, who have read and studied all about Jesus for many years have not found Him yet. Many priests and nuns who closely follow Jesus and preach about Jesus have not found Him yet. Many people, who trace the sign of the cross every day, have not yet found the living Christ. All these people all have one thing in common. They are all seeking the living Jesus among the dead. In other words, they do not yet truly believe that He is resurrected and that He is present among them.

If we want to find Jesus, we must seek Him among the living. However, first and foremost we must know what we are seeking. Let us recall what Jesus has to say about this. Saint John (3:16) says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." So, if we are seeking eternal life, not temporal or worldly life, we will find Jesus. In the gospel of Matthew (6:31-33) Jesus says, "So do not worry; do not say, "What are we to eat? What are we to drink? What are we to wear?" It is the gentiles who set their hearts on all these things. Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on His kingdom first, and God's saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well."

In other words, if we are seeking God's kingdom and God's saving justice then we will find Jesus. In fact, if we seek the things of God as a priority over the things of the world, all the things we need will be given to us as well. In John's gospel (14:2-3) Jesus says, "In my Father's house there are many places to live in; otherwise I would have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you to myself, so that you may be with me where I am." That's to say, if we are seeking Jesus to lead us to God's House then we will find Him. Jesus also says, "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.", Matthew (11:28-29). So, if we are seeking rest for our souls not just for our body then we will find the living Jesus.

However, if we are seeking Jesus to receive eternal life, to know God's kingdom and justice, to enter into the House of God and to find rest for our soul, where can we find them? Are we seeking them in the right places? Let us go back to the Lenten reflections to see where the right places are.

If we are seeking the living Jesus in the "world" where temptations are plentiful or if we are seeking the living Jesus among the group of people who do not share our beliefs, values, and principles or if we are seeking the living Jesus among the people who drag us to do bad things or among those who discourage us from our suffering and sacrifices for the right things or for the sake of the gospel of Jesus or if we are seeking the living Jesus while living a wild life, like the prodigal son or the woman caught in the act of adultery or if we are like the Scribes and Pharisees who find fault with others and treat others as sinners or try to harm God and others then, we will not be able find the living Jesus.

So, what are some of the right places where we might expect to find the risen Lord?

  • We can find the Risen Lord or the Living Jesus in the Scriptures. In Matthew (4:4), Jesus says, "Human beings live not on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God." The gospels tell us of Jesus and his love. The Old Testament gives us the background and the letters of Paul and other apostles help us understand and appreciate love, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, patience, understanding, knowledge, wisdom and how to use material things properly and how lust and power and many other things can cause us our downfall. If we read the scriptures prayerfully and listen to the voice of God faithfully, then we can find the living Jesus.
  • We can find the Risen Lord or the Living Jesus among God's people. Who are God's people? God's people are those who profess and live the same faith like us. Jesus says, "Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in their midst", Matthew (18:20). That is to say, when we pray with the other members of the Church, Jesus makes His presence known to us, binds us together and makes us a family or community of faith. Family worship time is the best time to feel the presence of the living Jesus.

    Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta puts it beautifully, "The family that prays together stays together; and if you stay together, you will love one another with the same love with which God loves each one of us. Love begins in the family. Peace begins in the family. Where there is love, there is unity, peace and joy." Holy Mass is another wonderful way to experience the living Jesus. In the Holy Mass, as a community of faith we proclaim and reflect upon the Scriptures and recall the mystery of Jesus' life, death and resurrection which Jesus commanded us to do in remembrance of Him. Hence, it is important that we regularly and actively participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and become part of the living Jesus.

  • We can find the Risen Lord or the Living Jesus among the poor and suffering. Jesus says, "Whatever you did for one of these least brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me", Matthew (25:40). In other words, when we honor and serve the poor both materially and spiritually, we honor and serve our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Mother Teresa is one of the true believers who understood the words of Jesus and saw Him in the poor, the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, the naked, the sick and the imprisoned. In so doing she provides us with an example of a Christian who can find the living Jesus in the scriptures, in the bread and wine of the Holy Eucharist and in the poor and needy.

So, let us open our hearts, look for signs of Jesus' presence and embrace Him as the Lord and Savior of our life.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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