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!

The Nativity of the Lord (Year A)

Dec 25, 2022 Views 134 Listen 1 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (52:7-10)

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings glad tidings, announcing peace, bearing good news, announcing salvation, saying to Zion, "Your God is King!".

Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the Lord restoring Zion. Break out together in song, O ruins of Jerusalem! For the Lord comforts His people, He redeems Jerusalem. The Lord has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations; all the ends of earth will behold the salvation of our God.

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

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6)


(R) All the ends of the Earth have seen the saving power of God.

Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done wondrous deeds; His right hand has won victory for Him, His holy arm. (R)

The Lord has made His salvation known: in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice. He has remembered His kindness and His faithfulness toward the house of Israel. (R)

All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; break into song; sing praise. (R)

Sing praise to the Lord with the harp, with the harp and melodious song. With trumpets and the sound of the horn sing joyfully before the King, the Lord. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Hebrews (1:1-6)

Brothers and sisters: In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, He has spoken to us through the Son, whom He made heir of all things and through whom He created the universe, who is the refulgence of His glory, the very imprint of His being, and who sustains all things by His mighty word. When He had accomplished purification from sins, He took His seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high, as far superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God ever say: You are my son; this day I have begotten you or again: I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me? And again, when He leads the firstborn into the world, He says: Let all the angels of God worship him.

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

Gospel

A reading from the holy Gospel according to John (1:1-18)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be. What came to be through Him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God. These are they who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, the one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me." From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed Him.

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

Homily

A patrol police officer once saw a young man strolling around a park alone, late at night. Having become quite concerned, the officer approached the man and asked him, "Hello, young man, what are you doing out here so late at night?" The man replied, "Sir, I lost my sleep somewhere and I am searching for it."

For some reason, a lot of people in today's world feel that they have lost not just their sleep but also their happiness, joy, peace, purpose and meaning in their lives and, therefore, they keep searching for them. Believe it or not, there are also many people who feel that they do not know who they are and where they are going. If you are going through a similar experience, please remember that you are not alone. Instead, you can look to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, whose birth we are commemorating at this Holy Festival of Christmas. Let me tell you another story.

Once there was a rich man who, with his only son, had a passion for collecting art. They had collected most of the rare works by great artists in the world and displayed them in their house so as to be fairly seen and appreciated by others. They also often sat together and appreciated those works. But one day when a war broke out, the son left home to serve his country. A few weeks later, his father was notified that his son had been killed while rescuing a fellow soldier.

About a month later, just before Christmas, there was a knock on the door. As the father opened the door, he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hand. The soldier introduced himself to the father saying, "I was a friend of your son. I was the soldier for whom your son gave his life. Your son often talked about you, and your love for art. And then handing him the package, the soldier said, "I'm not really a great artist but I think your son would want you to have this." The father opened the package. It was a portrait of his son, painted by the soldier. Though it may never be considered a masterpiece, the father was very much captivated by the painting because the soldier had captured the personality of his son so well. He thanked the soldier and offered to pay him for the portrait. But the soldier declined, saying that it was just a gift. Then he went away.

A few months later the old man became ill and died. An auction was held to sell all of the art works, and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the great paintings. The auction began with the painting of the man's son. The collectors were a little surprised that the first painting on the auction was the soldier's modest rendering of the man's son. The auctioneer pounded his gavel and asked, "Who will open the bidding with $100? There was complete silence. Then someone from the crowd callously called out, "Who cares about this painting? It's just a picture of his son. Let us skip this one and go on to the important paintings."

Many other people echoed in agreement. But the auctioneer replied, "No, we have to see that this painting goes first. Now, who will take the son?" Finally, a voice came from the back of the room. It was the old gardener who had worked all his life for the father and his son. "I would like to have it. l will bid the $100", he said. The auctioneer called, "Will anyone go higher?" But no one wanted to bid higher. Of course, and by all means, they didn't want the picture of the son. Instead they wanted the more famous paintings for their collections. After a long silence, the auctioneer pounded the gavel and said, "Going once. Going twice. Sold for $100." Cheers filled the room and someone shouted, "Now let's get on with the rest of the collection." But the auctioneer laid down his gavel and announced, "The auction is over." In stunned disbelief someone spoke up and asked, "What do you mean it's over? What about all other paintings? They are worth millions of dollars." The auctioneer replied, "I'm sorry. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son, gets it all."

Today on this special day of Christmas, we are told that the will of God the Father is, "whoever takes His Son, Jesus, gets all things". Yes, indeed, "all things" as Jesus Himself has promised to supply every need we have when we ask in prayer, full of faith, Matthew (21:22) and John (14:13; 16:23).

The Bible is filled with hundreds of what the apostle Peter called "most extraordinary and precious promises", 2 Peter (1:4). These promises are not like the casual, incidental, unimportant promises which we, human beings, so often readily make to one another and then forget. For various reasons, we easily change our minds and break our promises. But God is not like us; He doesn't change His mind. His promises are definite, explicit declarations that we can count on, Numbers (23:19). Because He alone is "trustworthy in all He promises and faithful in all He does", we can have full assurance that what He has pledged will indeed be realized in our lives, Psalm (145:13). What is significant is that in each promise God pledges what will or will not be done or be given or come to pass.

We can divide God's promises into Old Testament Promises and New Testament Promises. The following are some of the promises found in the Old Testament:

  • God promised to bless Abraham and, through his descendants, the whole world, Genesis (12:2-3). This promise, called the Abrahamic Covenant, pointed to the coming of the Messiah for whom Abraham and his descendants looked forward to, John (8:56).
  • God promised Israel to be their God and make them His people, Leviticus (26:12-13).
  • God promised that if they search for Him, they will find Him, Deuteronomy (4:29).
  • God promised prosperity to the obedient and destruction to the disobedient, Deuteronomy (30:15).
  • God promised to forgive the sins of the individuals and nations, restore their fortunes, and open the road to fellowship and blessing, 2 Chronicles (7:14).
  • God promised blessing for those who will delight themselves in His Word, Psalm (1:1-3).
  • God promised to fulfil the deepest desires of the human heart, Psalm 103 and Daniel (9:9).
  • God promised to be the vigilant watchman over His people, Habakkuk (2:1).

The following are some of the promises which we read in the New Testament:

  • God has promised eternal life to all who believe in His Son, Romans (1:16-17). Eternal life is God's greatest gift given to every true and obedient believer in Jesus Christ, Romans (6:4, 23).
  • God has promised that all things will work out for good for His children, Romans (8:28).
  • God has promised to comfort us. Speaking of the comfort or consolation of God, Apostle Paul says that God "comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us", 2 Corinthians (1:3-4).
  • God has promised new and abundant life in Christ, John (10:10) and 2 Corinthians (5:17).
  • God has promised heavenly and spiritual blessings, such as peace, joy, satisfaction, contentment, wisdom, and true spiritual power. These spiritual blessings are not reserved for a select few but rather for all whom He has chosen and adopted as His children; and all who live in holiness and righteousness all the days of their lives, Ephesians (1:3).
  • God has promised protection and peace in every situation, when we pray, Philippians (4:6-7).
  • God has promised to supply our needs, Matthew (6:33) and Philippians (4:19). Not that we get everything we want, but our needs will be taken care of because we are more valuable than the birds, whom He feeds, Matthew (6:26).
  • God has promised forgiveness. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just, to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all iniquities", 1 John (1:9).
  • God has promised to finish the work He has started in us. God does nothing in half measures. Apostle Paul affirms "He who has begun a good work, will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ", Philippians (1:6). Furthermore, says Paul, "nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord", Romans (8:39). This is a very powerful promise for all believers.

Beside these promises, the gospels record many other promises that our Lord Jesus Christ has made during His time on earth.

  • He has promised eternal life to those who trust in Him, John (4:14).
  • He has promised abundant life to those who follow Him, John (10:10). Abundant life is not about having plenty of everything in the world, such as money, property, wealth, relationships, and opportunities but true happiness, joy, contentment, satisfaction, fulfilment and peace.
  • As the Good Shepherd, He has promised to protect, defend, and care for us, His sheep, John (10:28).
  • He has promised to give rest when we are weary and burdened, Matthew (11:28-30).
  • He has promised power from on High, Acts (1:8). With this power, just as Christ came to glory through suffering, we too can overcome and rise above our hardships, Acts (17:6) and 1 Peter (1:6-7).
  • He has promised to return for all of us who have followed Him here on earth, John (14:2-3).

What is the message for us?

  • God has made these and many more promises which we read throughout the Bible - from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation, in order to, first of all, teach us about His incredible character and nature - that He is faithful, merciful, just, true, loving, patient, forgiving, kind, and so much more; second, to encourage, strengthen our faith in His Power, and give us hope for the future; and finally, to inspire and motivate us to love and honour Him.
  • Although these promises were limited to specific individuals or particular groups of people in different times, in different situations and under different covenants, such as the people of Israel and the early followers of Jesus Christ, they do have universal application. So, we too, as current believers, can legitimately appropriate all these promises as our own if we truly believe in His promises, humbly obey His Word and fervently pray for their fulfilment.
  • The celebration of Christmas each year serves to remind each and every one of us that God has made these promises to us, and He keeps them, and that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, Hebrews (13:8). God never changes. He has proved His trustworthiness by sending His Son Jesus, the long-promised "Emmanuel" meaning "God with us", and has made all His promises available to us through Jesus, Matthew (1:22-23).

    As Apostle Paul writes, "In Him all the promises of God have come to be an Yes", 2 Corinthians (1:20). That is, just as the gardener in the story who bought the portrait of the son and consequently was able to inherit the entire estate, including all the paintings, we are reminded today that when we come to Jesus Christ; when we accept and believe in Jesus as our Saviour, not some of the promises or part of the promises but all the promises of God find their "Yes" in Christ; all the promises are ours immediately and fully.

  • May you take encouragement from the message of the angel that Jesus is "Emmanuel" all the days of your lives. May you truly believe that God's promises are specifically to you and apply them directly to your lives or to whatever situations you are in today. If you feel as if you have lost not just your sleep but also your happiness, joy, peace, purpose and meaning in your life because of your addiction to alcohol, gambling or, pornography, or sin of greed, selfishness, envy and pride, or anxiety about job, money, security, health, or relationships, or fear of enemies and fear of death, or you are looking for happiness, peace and joy in all the wrong places. It is high time to turn to Christ and discover the joy and peace He alone can give.
(P) Amen.

I wish you and your families and friends a Happy and Blessed Christmas. May God bless you and keep you!

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