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!

Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year C)

Jun 26, 2022 Views 164 Listen 4 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the First Book of Kings (19:16b, 19-21)

The Lord said to Elijah: "You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah, as prophet to succeed you."

Elijah set out and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat, as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen; he was following the twelfth. Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him. Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said, "Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you." Elijah answered, "Go back! Have I done anything to you?" Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them, he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh, and gave it to his people to eat. Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.

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

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (16:1-2, 5, 7-8, 9-10, 11)


(R) You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Keep me, O God, for in you I take refuge; I say to the Lord, "My Lord are you. O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot." (R)

I bless the Lord who counsels me; even in the night my heart exhorts me. I set the Lord ever before me; with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed. (R)

Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices, my body, too, abides in confidence because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld, nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption. (R)

You will show me the path to life, fullness of joys in the presence, the delights at your right hand forever. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians (5:1, 13-18)

Brothers and sisters: For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.

For you were called for freedom, brothers and sisters. But do not use the freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.

I say, then: live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want. But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

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

Gospel

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (9:51-62)

When the days for Jesus being taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem, and he sent messengers ahead of him. On the way they entered a Samaritan village to prepare for his reception there, but they would not welcome him because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this they asked, "Lord, do you want us to call fire from heaven to consume them?" Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." Jesus answered, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head."

And to another he said, "Follow me." But he replied, "Lord, let me go first and bury my father." But he answered him, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." And another said, "I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say farewell to my family at home." To him Jesus said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

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

Homily

One evening a man walks into a bar and tells the bartender, "Give me a pint of beer please before the problems begin." The bartender obliges and hands him a pint of beer. The man quickly finishes the drink and says, "Give me another beer before the problems begin." This goes on for a few more rounds until the bartender finally asks the man, "Sir, how about paying for these beers first?" "Oh... you see," I told you, says the man, "Now the problems begin."

Before baptism, there seems to be no demand on us to manifest our faith in Jesus Christ. But as soon as we are baptized, regardless of whether we are infants or young children or adults, we are called upon to live for Christ. Yes, from the time of our baptism, we are under constant pressure to be a good Christian. For instance, just because we are Christians, we are often expected to be kind, patient and forgiving. One might ask, why are we constantly reminded to fulfil our obligations and promises to God and others? It is because those of us who claim to follow Jesus Christ consistently fall short of living up to the high goals Jesus has set for us. Today's gospel can help us better understand this aspect of our Christian life.

Jesus set out on his final journey to Jerusalem. In the time of Jesus, from Galilee to Jerusalem, it must have been a three-day journey through the villages of the Samaritans. Who were the Samaritans? The Samaritans were descendants from various tribes, and they lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. They worshipped Yahweh and read the Torah as did the Jews. In some respects, they were stricter in their observance of the Mosaic laws than the Jews. But because they were a racially mixed society, the Jews hated the Samaritans and considered them to be no longer "pure" Jews. The Samaritans, on their part, had developed a hatred for the Jews, who seemed to be judgmental.

The ill-feelings increased when King Cyrus, who lived about five hundred years before Christ, gave the Jews permission to return to their homeland from their Babylonian exile and rebuild their temple in Jerusalem. The Jews refused to let the Samaritans help rebuild the temple because they felt the Samaritans were not true Israelites. The Samaritans, having been rejected by the Jews, built their own temple on Mount Gerizim and worshipped God there. So, at the time of Jesus, the ethnic and religious hostility between these two groups certainly was more intense but Jesus had to make his way through a Samaritan village. When the Samaritans refused to show hospitality to Jesus because He was going to Jerusalem and not to their Temple, the disciples obviously were hurt and angry, and they wanted to strike back. They wanted Jesus to display His power and teach the Samaritans a lesson. They asked Jesus to bring down fire from heaven to destroy the Samaritans. But Jesus reprimanded them because God's power was going to be shown in a much different way.

And then as they were journeying by another way, three people wanted to follow Jesus. The first one said to Jesus, "I will follow you wherever you go." When someone offers himself to follow Christ, the natural reaction is for Him to encourage him. But Jesus seemed to discourage the prospective disciple by saying, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." It is not clear if this expression was used in response to what had happened to Him in the Samaritan village or even to His being buried in a borrowed grave later on. Whatever the case, Jesus let the potential follower know, forthrightly, the cost of following Him.

That is to say, following Jesus would not be following someone who could offer him the luxuries of a comfortable home or comfortable life because Jesus Himself did not have even a place to lay His head. Jesus did not turn the man away. Jesus only allowed the man to make the final decision himself. The other two men wanted to follow Jesus at their convenience. One of them wanted to follow Jesus after burying his father and the other after saying farewell to his family at home. Jesus said, "Let the dead bury their dead. But you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." And to the other He said, "No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God."

In each case, Jesus' response pointed to the radical nature of the commitment and the cost a disciple or a follower must be willing to pay. Jesus used the occasion to teach His disciples who were indeed following Him, rather than to potential followers, about discipleship and about the implications of following Him. He wanted to warn them of their impending suffering because of Him. He knew that His disciples would soon have to leave behind the comforts of their homes, familiar places and acquaintances and relationships and other things and go completely to unknown places and bring the good news to the people.

What lessons can we learn from this gospel story?

Throughout His ministry, Jesus respected the right of every person to choose or reject Him and His message, and even final salvation. That's why Jesus refused to curse the Samaritans. Let us all be like Jesus. Let us not be angry or upset with those who reject Jesus and His message of salvation. Let us not hurl curses at those who mock and ridicule our faith in Jesus Christ. Let us not worry too much about the ones that are weak in the faith, but pray for them. If certain people choose to follow Jesus at a more convenient time, let us give them the opportunity to make a personal decision to follow Him in their time.

And at the same time let us focus on our personal faith journey. Let us follow our Lord Jesus completely and sincerely. Let us follow Him despite opposition and obstacles. Let us remember Saint Paul's injunction that "For freedom Christ set us free, so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery", Galatians (5:1). Let us remember the cost of our following Jesus. It requires personal sacrifices and perhaps even giving up normal family responsibilities in order to concentrate completely on serving the Lord. Let us remember that since Jesus suffered, all of us, His disciples can expect to suffer also.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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