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!

Third Sunday of Advent (Year B)

Dec 17, 2023 Views 539 Listen 2 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (61:1-2a, 10-11)

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; He has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God.

I rejoice heartily in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul; for He has clothed me with a robe of salvation and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels. As the Earth brings forth its plants, and a garden makes its growth spring up, so will the Lord God make justice and praise spring up before all the nations.

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

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (1:46-48, 49-50, 53-54)

(R) My soul rejoices in my God.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked upon His lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed. (R)

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. He has mercy on those who fear Him, in every generation. (R)

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has come to the help of His servant Israel, for He has remembered His promised of mercy. (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians (5:16-24)

Brothers and sisters: Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it.

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


A reading from the Gospel according to John (1:6-8, 19-28)

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.

And this is the testimony of John. When the Jews from Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to him to ask him, "Who are you?", he admitted and did not deny it, but admitted, "I am not the Christ."

So they asked him, "What are you then? Are you Elijah?", and he said, "I am not." "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No." So they said to him, "Who are you, so we can give an answer to those who sent us? What do you have to say to yourself?" He said, "I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord, as Isaiah the Prophet said." Some Pharisees were also sent. They asked him, "Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ or Elijah or the Prophet?" John answered them, "I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie." This happened in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.

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


One evening a young man called home on his cell phone, telling his parents that there was heavy traffic on the road and that he would be very late getting home. His elderly Mom started worrying and said to her husband, "I hope he'll be okay." The husband told her, "There is nothing to worry about. It's just a delay. You just relax in the meantime."

There is no doubt that words such as these might serve as a source of comfort in times of grief, sorrow, sickness, trouble, distress, loneliness, despair and difficulty. But our problem is we all get impatient when something is delayed. No one likes to wait. Moreover many of us are easily angered or overly frustrated when we are forced to wait. We don't like it when we have to stand in the queue at the bank. While queuing at the supermarket we don't like it when the customer in front of us is frantically looking for coins or credit cards. We do not like to wait when the traffic light turns red. We don't like it when the priest makes some announcements after communion. For some of these minor kinds of waiting, we may just put up with them. But we certainly may not enjoy waiting for some other, more serious things in life such as waiting for a person to be married, waiting for an interview, waiting for a job, waiting for a change in others, waiting for God to answer our prayers and so on. We do not realize when we are impatient it is no longer our problem, it is everyone's problem. Impatience affects relationships, our work and our mental well-being.

Imagine! The people of Israel waited for thousands of years for the first coming of the Messiah. God did come on His own terms and in His way in the person of his Son Jesus Christ as the prophets had prophesied. As He lived and taught in their midst, the people kept waiting for Him to establish an earthly Kingdom which would liberate them from foreign occupation and make them powerful in the world. But Jesus' crucifixion devastated them and shattered their hopes. After his resurrection when he appeared to his disciples, they asked him whether it was time for him to restore the Kingdom of Israel. He only told them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait. As they waited in the upper room the Holy Spirit descended upon them and, gave them the gift of tongues, prophecy and interpretation. But that didn't mean the time of waiting was over for them. They then began to wait for the second coming of Jesus as he had promised to return. When he did not come as quickly as they had expected they became weary and impatient. False prophecies and different interpretations about his coming also greatly exacerbated the conflict and caused confusion among the believers. Some people believed that Jesus would come again as before preaching the message of love and healing people. Others expected that he would come at the end of time and, some others saw his coming at the time of our death. Many people did not believe that Jesus would ever return and thus began to ignore the prophecies and teachings of the Apostles altogether. They began to ridicule the believers and extinguish the Spirit of God.

Having learned that the believers were divided over the matters of faith, the apostles particularly Saints Peter and Paul wrote letters of hope and encouragement. On the first Sunday of Advent we read Paul's letter to the Corinthians in which he exhorted them to thank God unceasingly for His grace in Christ and for all the gifts, particularly for the gift of discourse and knowledge. Last Sunday we read Peter's instruction to the early Christians to conduct themselves in holiness and devotion and be at peace as they waited for the Lord's return. He said that the coming was delayed because God was waiting for the repentance of all. Today we hear Saint Paul's writing to the Thessalonian Christians in which he said, "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything. Retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil."

Rejoicing means to be joyful or to be delighted or to be glad. Paul wanted the Christians to be rejoicing and not just be happy. Happiness often depends on circumstances, places, people, moods or emotions whereas joy is constant and is from deep within. One can have joy when all is well, but he or she has the ability to generate the same feeling even when all is bad as well.

Pray without ceasing. Paul encouraged them to never stop praying. Prayer is much more than just saying some words to God at select moments. Prayer is being in contact with God or being conscious of His presence at all times.

Give thanks in all circumstances. Paul exhorted them to give thanks in all things - not only for the sunny days and happy moments but also for hardships, adversities, disappointments, pain and suffering.

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything. Retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil. Paul urged them not to put out the Spirit of God. In other words, he suggested that they should not ignore the prophetic words inspired by the Spirit of God because of differences in human interpretation and understanding but rather test them in their daily life for their quality or authenticity and then, finally hold on to what is good and avoid what is evil. However he reminded them that all were happening according to the will of God for us in Christ Jesus, and that God will not fail them, for He is faithful. He was convinced that "the God of peace will keep the spirit, soul and body" blameless for the return of Christ. That's to say, every aspect of a person will be protected by God and they will be on the right side of God at the judgment when Christ returns.

Friends, Paul's exhortation to the Thessalonians could be also the divine mandate for us. Let us patiently wait for the coming of Jesus Christ as he has promised, whether the coming could mean at the end of ages or at the time of our death or while reading the scriptures or while praying or walking on the road and, at the same time cooperate with the Lord and do our part. Let us make every effort to keep our body, mind and soul blameless - by rejoicing always in the Lord, by thanking God for everything and in all circumstances, by praying without ceasing, by keeping ourselves open to the Spirit of God and by testing the teaching of Jesus Christ in our daily life and by choosing what is good and avoiding what is evil - until he comes in glory.

(P) Amen.

God Bless You!

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