Father Valan Arockiaswamy

Father Valan

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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!

Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Jul 23, 2023 Views 599 Listen 3 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of Wisdom (12:13, 16-19)

There is no god, besides you, who have the care of all, that you need to show you have not unjustly condemned. For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.

For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved; and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.

But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you. And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.

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

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (86:5-6, 9-10, 15-16)

(R) Lord, you are good and forgiving.

You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in kindness to all who call upon you. Hearken, O Lord, to my prayer and attend to the sound of my pleading. (R)

All the nations you have made shall come and worship you, O Lord, and glorify you name. For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds; you alone are God. (R)

You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity. Turn toward me, and have pity on me; give your strength to your servant. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans (8:26-27)

Brothers and sisters: The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches the hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will.

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


A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew (13:24-43)

Jesus proposed another parable to the crowds, saying: "The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. The slaves of the householder came to him and said, "Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?" He answered, "An enemy has done this." His slaves said to him, "Do you want us to go and pull them up?" He replied, "No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.""

He proposed another parable to them. "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a person took and sowed in a field. It is the smallest of all the seeds, yet when full-grown it is the largest of plants. It becomes a large bush, and the birds of the sky come and well in its branches."

He spoke to them another parable. "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of what flour until the whole batch was leavened."

All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables. He spoke to them only in parables, to fulfil what had been said through the prophet: I will open my mouth in parables, I will announce what has laid hidden from the foundation of the world.

Then, dismissing the crowds, he went into the house. His disciples approached him and said, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field." He said in reply, "He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear."

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


One day a father took his four year old son out shopping. When lunch time came, the two of them went to a coffee shop. They ordered a sandwich and when the waiter had brought the food, the father said, "Son, we'll just have a silent prayer." Dad got through praying first and waited for the boy to finish his prayer, but he just sat there with his head bowed for an unusually long time. When he finally looked up, his father asked him, "What in the world were you praying about all that time?" With the innocence and honesty of a child, he replied, "How do I know? It was a silent prayer."

Prayer is a channel of communication between God and us. Many of us understand the importance of prayer because from the beginning of time people have looked up at the skies and believing that the creator of the universe is somewhere up there, offered prayers and asked for help from Him. From the scriptures we learn that Abraham prayed, Moses prayed, every prophet prayed and so did our Lord Jesus. We also know the power of prayer. Prayer enables us to have a personal and intimate experience with God. Prayer helps us to know and understand ourselves and others. Prayer fills our life with greater peace of mind and heart. Hence, we are not only encouraged to pray to God only in times of trouble but at all times, and to be consistent and persistent in our prayer.

However, we often have to struggle with praying. There are times, when we pray, words don't come easily. I am sure you have had one of those moments in life when you just couldn't find the right words to tell the Lord how you feel and what you are going through. Friends, it is consoling to know that we are not alone in our struggles with prayer. Many of the saints including the great apostle Paul struggled with it. That's why in his letter to the Romans he writes, "The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches the hearts knows the intention of the Spirit, because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will", Romans (8:26-27).

Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. What is weakness? Weakness means lacking in something. We do not have what it takes. We have all kinds of weaknesses:

  • Physical weakness - the lack of physical strength because of old age, illnesses or hunger.
  • Emotional weakness - a lack of positive response or reaction during times of frustration, anger, disappointment and despair.
  • Spiritual weakness - lack of faith or little faith. Spiritual weakness can become an excuse for sin.
  • Intellectual weakness - the lack of ability to know God's will.

In his letter to the Romans Paul is not talking about our physical or emotional or spiritual weakness but our intellectual weakness. He reminds us that because of our intellectual weakness we do not know how to pray as we ought. Perhaps Jesus realizing that prayer is a struggle, gives us a basic outline of how to pray in the gospel of Matthew (Chap. 6). He instructs us on the kinds of things for which we ought to be praying. We should start with honouring God's Holy Name. Then we should pray for God's righteous kingdom to come; for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven; for daily bread and the forgiveness of sins. Perhaps it is easy for us to just pray "The Our Father". The problem is that we don't know how to pray properly in specific circumstances. When we engage in prayer we usually ask for what we want or would like, but we do not know or care what God wants.

The reason why we cannot pray as we ought to is we have no power to predict what the future holds or know what is best for us. Any of our prayers may result in something good for us or it may bring ultimate harm. William Barclay, a famous Scottish theologian, says that often we are like a child who wants something which is harmful. But God as a parent refuses our request or makes us do something we do not want to, because He knows what is best for us, far better than we do ourselves. For instance, when praying for an elderly sick person should we pray for healing or a peaceful death or courage to accept the illness? When praying for people in financial hardships, should we pray for God to help them win a lottery or to provide them with the money needed or ask Him to help them cultivate a contented heart? When praying for a job should we pray for any old job regardless of the salary or for a particular job with a particular salary or the patience to wait for a job with good pay and benefits? Likewise, we often do not know what to pray for in specific situations. Since we are weak in knowing the will of God, Saint Paul says that the Spirit who dwells within us, comes to the aid of our weakness and offers prayers to God on our behalf. This does not mean we do not have to pray or engage in prayer. We still have to pray though we often have to struggle with it. Our effort is necessary, because unless we engage in prayer, we will receive no help. What Paul is teaching us here is that the Spirit is at our side when we pray.

How does the Spirit intercede for us? Paul says, "The Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings." He tells us that the Spirit intercedes for us with groans, "words" we cannot understand. Sometimes when we grieve the death of a loved person, we may utter many words in prayer and, yet they seem to be so inadequate. We cannot pray aright because of our limitation or weakness. We just do not know what we should be bringing to God in prayer. And yet there is a deep hunger for comfort and peace within us. Paul reminds us that the Spirit within us and by our side looks deep into our hearts and sees something within. He hears our words though we have not even uttered them. The Spirit expresses our prayers in a spiritual and heavenly language which God the Father understands. The Spirit groans on our behalf. The Spirit takes all our weak prayers, interprets them, and offers them to God in a right and acceptable way. Since the Spirit intercedes in accord with God's will, His prayers are always answered. God's will is not thwarted by our weakness in prayer. This is a great encouragement for us. God's will, will be fulfilled in our lives despite our weak and inadequate prayers.

Friends, first let us remember that God knows our weaknesses and he is there to help us. He will never leave us alone. He will not stand silently by in our suffering. We shall always with gratitude remember that when we pray, the Spirit always joins us, so that we do not pray alone. Best of all, he is praying for us according to God's perfect will. Second, to the best of our ability, we shall submit ourselves to the will of God. The Greek philosopher Socrates once said to his disciples that they could pray for good things but not to specify them, instead they should leave it to God to decide what the good things are. Yes! Following our Lord Jesus, let us pray, "Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine", Luke (22:42) and "Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit", Luke (23:46) and like Mary said, "Let it be done to me according to your word.", Luke (1:38).

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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