Homily: The Holy Family


Sunday after Christmas – Cycle C
Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
(Si 3:2-6. 12-14; Col 3:12-21; Luke 2:4-52)
We celebrate today the feast of Holy Family. The feast was established in 1921 by Pope Benedict XV. This feast is meant to be “a day for Christian families to examine themselves by comparing their way of life with that of the Holy Family at Nazareth.
Preoccupied with the dangers that threaten families everywhere, in 1981 the late Pope John Paul II issued a letter, addressed to all Christians to render them aware of the role that families are called upon to play in the church and in the world.
In today’s Gospel St Luke gives us a vivid picture of the Holy Family. St Luke affirms certain characteristics visible in the family at Nazareth.
First of all it was an intensely religious family. It submitted itself to the commandments of the religion.
St Luke writes, “Every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover.
It was obligatory that all male Jews living within a reasonable distance of Jerusalem were bound to go on pilgrimage and worship at the temple. Three times a year. This obligation is prescribed in the book of Deuteronomy.
“Three times a year
All your men folk are to appear before Yahweh your God
In the place he chooses:
At the feast of unleavened bread,
At the feast of weeks
And at the feast of Tabernacles

The people living far away went up to Jerusalem once a year. This tradition was strictly observed by Joseph and Mary. So St Luke says “every year the parents of Jesus used to go to Jerusalem.”
The first lesson the Holy Family puts before us is to obey the commandments of the church. Attend Sunday Masses and Masses on the days of obligation. Introduce children to the activities of the church and the parish. But today in the fast pacing world we do not have time to attend full mass even on days of obligation. The only convenient thing to avoid is the church activities. Many try to limit their visit to the church only for special occasions in their life. Such people find uncomfortable when they make their visit once in a blue moon. This approach should change. We should encourage our children to participate in all the activities of the parish and actively participate in the liturgy.
Let’s recall the words of Simonies Gruenberg “Home is the place where boys and girls first learn how to limit their wishes, abide by rules, and consider the rights and needs of others.”
The next characteristic is initiation given to the children at the right time.
St Luke writes: “When he was twelve years old they went up for the feast as usual”.
A Jewish boy was declared an adult with all rights and obligations at the age of thirteen. Parents would take their children once a year before he was bound to attend. So Jesus was taken to the temple at the age of twelve.
The distance between Nazareth and Jerusalem was about 112 k m (70 miles). At that time most of the travelling was done on foot. The journey was often dangerous too. In spite of all the hardships they never failed to observe the prescriptions of the religion.
This perfect obedience of Joseph and Mary reminds us that we should never postpone administering sacraments on our children. Communion, confession, confirmation are now done at our convenience instead of the prescribed age. It passes a wrong message to the children. The leniency given by the church is often exploited. And sacraments are unduly delayed. Joseph and Mary carried out their obligations well on time that is why we read “Jesus stayed back in the temple.”
Our children too often stay back, in the theatre, in the park, in the game centre, and learn the wisdom of the world.
Instil these values in them and you will hear the good news that your children stay back in the church, listening to the word of God.
Again, the Holy Family was one that came together. We read in the Gospel “In the evening they went to look for him among their relations and acquaintances.”
When people went for pilgrimage they travelled in large groups together. Men in one group and women in another. Children could go with either group. But Joseph and May were particular that they should come together in the evening for meal and for rest... It is a great lesson to be imitated. One of the evils of modern civilization is lack of time for the families to come together. It began as a part of urban life. But now it has captured even the rustic population. Due to the busy schedule of and shift duties of parents children do not see them even for days. And on weekends they go for social engagements. Children are deprived of the company of parents and they get involved in internet chatting and mobile messaging. Once children get addicted to them it will be a herculean task to bring them back. So dear parents follow the example of the Holy Family and find quality time to share with your children. The words of Thomas Jefferson are not worthy: “The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family”
The Holy family was one that rejoiced in their union. St Luke writes “They were over come when they saw him”
Today’s first reading sets forth a beautiful guideline for the families to be followed.
It invites the children to have deep respect for their parents, particularly when they are old.
The second reading also conveys the same message
Dear brothers and sisters, As we celebrate the feast of the holy Family of Nazareth let us imbibe the lessons the Gospel puts before us from the Life Style of the Holy Family and mould our families too after it.
“Nor need we power or splendour, wide hall or lordly dome;
The good, the true, the tender -- these form the wealth of home”. - (Sarah J. Hale)
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Sunday Homily: Christmas

Christmas - 2009

Isaiah 62:1-5; Acts 13:16-17; 22-25; Mathew 1:1-25

Jesus is the light of the world

Second Word War lasted for about 6 years. It shattered the peace, joy and hope of millions. Soldiers began to experience the futility of war and longed for a dawn of peace. But peace seemed an utopia. A blood chilling night of December 24. German soldiers hid themselves in the cold bunkers watching for the movement of the enemy, the English soldiers who occupied the opposite dark bunkers. Death hung over their heads like the sword of Damocles.

Heaven provided a contrast with clear sky, shining with twinkling lights and free from the fire emitting war planes... It rekindled in their hearts the sweet memories of Christmas. Stars and candles, plum cakes and chocolates, Christmas trees and carols flashed through their minds.

Then there emerged a light from a bunker “a candle”. All the enemy canons were directed to it. Soon one more make its appearance. Then another, and another. The whole area was lit with bright candle lights. Instead of cannons all came out with candles. A Christmas in a battle field. In the place of bullets they exchanged sweets and sweet memories of the divine song of the angels

“Glory to God in the highest

And peace to men of goodwill”

Dear brothers and sisters. December 21st is the shortest Day for the year in the Northern hemisphere. After that the length of the day progressed. So the Romans, in ancient times celebrated the feast of light. And the celebration fell on 25th December.

St John says in his Gospel:

“In the beginning was the word.

The word was with God, and the Word was God.

The Word is the true light that enlightens all men.”

St Paul, in today’s second reading proclaims that Jesus is the radiant light of God’s glory.

The light comes from the east, goes the wise saying... The sun rises in the east and slowly dispels the darkness that engrosses the world.

Today we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the ever shining light of God’s glory. St John quotes the words of Jesus, “I am the light of the world.” In John’s language light stands for goodness, for holiness, for live, for joy, for life and for God himself.

We are all familiar with the importance of light. In India it is customary that a light is lit and placed in the front of any house. It dispels the darkness in the house.

When Jesus was born a huge light, never seen before, appeared in heaven. It proclaimed the birth of a divine child, and the wise men followed its path in search of the child.

The star, the song of the angels and the message of the birth of Jesus divided the human race and put them into two camps. Herod and the high priests found their throne challenged; they conspired against the child, they hatched plans to annihilate the light. They spent sleepless nights pondering over it.

But on the other hand the comet was a joy for the simple shepherds, the wise men and the whole creation. They flocked to the manger to glance at the new born babe, the promise of ages.

As the comet stands above us brightly lit, proclaiming the birth of Jesus let’s recall the words of Isaiah (52:7-10)

How beautiful on the mountains

Are the feet of one who brings good news,

Who heralds peace, brings happiness and proclaims salvation.

May the peace of the infant Jesus reign in your hearts and houses.

Satish: admin@oois-dxb.sch.ae

Instrument of Peace

When you feel angry with your friend,
do not express it. Hold it for a moment.
When you feel to shout at your neighbour,
delay it by a breath.
Before you point your finger at your co-worker,
wait for a second.

And these fractions of seconds
will transform you
into men and women of peace.

Sunday Homily: Advent 04C

4th Sunday of Advent

Micah 5:1-4; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45

The foundation to establish peace is submission to the will of God...

Repeated prophecies about the coming of a messiah abound in the sacred writings. But these prophesies were shrouded in obscurity. A clear picture of the messiah is given in about 700BC by prophet Mica. We listened to his description in the First reading.

The Messiah is a man like us. He will be born in Bethlehem, and he will bring peace. He will restore harmony in nature, harmony among creatures, harmony between man and man, and harmony between God and man.

How will peace and harmony be restored? It is not by sacrifice, neither by holocausts but by submission to the will of God. The letter to Hebrews postulates it. “God, here I am! I am coming to obey your will.” This is the new law established by Jesus; obey the command of God. The one who does it will be hailed by ages. Mother Mary submitted herself to the will of God, so Elizabeth called her “Blessed are you among women.” And the whole world for the last 2000 years has been hailing her as “Blessed.” This is the theme of the today’s Gospel.

Whenever harmony among men; harmony between God and man was lost God sent his messengers to restore peace and harmony. That mission is continued even today. Today we are the chosen instruments to bring peace to the world.

Any attempt to bring peace is held in very high esteem. Nobel Prize is awarded as recognition of individual’s endeavour to establish peace. Volunteers enroll themselves in the National and International organizations to bring peace to the world. Yet peace remains a mirage. Because most of our attempts are like building castles on the sand. Devoid of a strong foundation, they collapse. Today’s second reading and the Gospel affirm that the foundation to attain peace is submission to the will of God.

On the morning of the 4th of December 1982 in Melbourne (Australia) Nick Vujicic was born. His parents were shocked because their first born had neither hands nor legs. A baby boy without legs and hands. It took a number of months of tears, questions and grief before coming to term within their own hearts. Nick grew up with the support of his parents and gained strength to challenge his own destiny. Now young and has a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce. He is also a motivational speaker and loves to go out and share his story with others. In his speeches he emphasizes that God has a plan, and we must accept the plan of God and submit to the will of God. These words come from a man who does not have hands and legs. That makes it all the more meaningful.

St Francis of Assisi is recognized as a man of peace. His message revolutionized Assisi and spread to the ends of Italy and to the whole Christendom. The call of Gandhiji to give up violence and love peace crossed the boundaries of India, and worked miracle in Mont Gomery (America), through Martin Luther King.

How did these small men achieve great success? Only by listening to the call of God and with the unconditional response, “Here am I lord to do thy will.” That was the prayer of Jesus throughout his life, even at the last moments in Gethsemane and Calvary, “O father, let Thy will be done.”

But our prayer often happens to be “Lord let thy will be done in heaven, and let my will be done here on earth.”

Everywhere we want our ideas to be accepted, we want everyone to recognize us, we expect everyone to behave as we want them to, we desire everyone to think as we want them to. So there arises disagreement and discontent. They proliferate from individual to the family, from family to the society, from society to the nation, and from the nation to the international level. Harmony gives way to chaos. We try to avoid those who do not agree with us. Some try to annihilate those who do not agree with them. And it gives rise to bloodshed and homicide.

Dear brothers and sisters we may not be able to establish peace in the Middle East. We may not be able to bring peace to Vietnam. We may not be able to set peace between China and Myanmar. But we can exert our influence around us, in our work place, and in our society. We should remember that:

“Little drops make an ocean.”

Little drops of water
Little grains of sand
Make the mighty ocean
And the beauteous land
Little deeds of kindness,
Little words of love,
Make our earth an Eden,
Like the heaven above
And the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages.
Of eternity.

-Mrs. J. A. Carney

When you feel angry with your friend, do not express it. Hold it for a moment. When you feel to shout at your neighbour, delay it by a breath. Before you point your finger at your co-worker wait for a second. And these fractions of seconds will transform you into men and women of peace.

Let us pray with St Francis, “Lord make me the instrument of your peace.”

Then we will be ready to welcome Jesus into our silent, holy hearts where all is calm.
-Photo of Nick Vujicic

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-->admin@oois-dxb.sch.ae

Sunday Homily: Advent 03C

C. 3 Sunday of Advent


(Zeph 3:14-18; Phil 4:1-7; Luke 3:10-18)


Love for our neighbour turns us into precious grain for the Lord


In today’s Gospel John the Baptist tells his listeners that “His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn in a fire that will never go out.”


John clearly tells us that there are people who can be compared to precious grain, while others in God’s eyes are useless chaff or husk. Who are these grains? They are the ones who share one of their two tunics with their brothers; the ones who share their food with those who don’t have anything to eat; the ones who do their duty justly, and be contend with their pay.


The shortest way to reach God is our brothers, who are around us. The lesson John conveys is that any person can attain salvation if he is concerned about his neighbour’s needs. A person may be truly poor, but no one is so poor as to be unable to help his neighbour in some way or other.


Love for neighbour is at the core of the message of the prophets, the message of John the Baptist, and the message of Jesus. Love for neighbour is the very essence of the Gospel.

The great poet Urlloor wrote:


“There is no wonder if God becomes invisible to those

Who do not have eyes to see their brothers?”


The story relating to Poonthanam is very thought provoking.


One day the Lord assured Poonthanam that He would visit him. Poonthanam prepared delicious food and waited for the Lord. Then a boy came to him. He requested Poonthanam to give him at least a little food to taste. But Poonthanam drove him away.


Then came a traveller. Poonthanam turned him away without showing any hospitality.


The third visitor was an old man. Poonthanam refused to treat him too. He waited for the Lord’s arrival, but he was disappointed since god did not visit him till the night fall. Then he went to bed.


The Lord came to him in his dream. Poonthanam asked him:

“My Lord why did you not keep your word? I waited for you the whole day.”

The Lord replied, ‘I came to you thrice but you refused to welcome me.”


Poonthanam learned a great lesson - The invisible god makes himself visible to us through our brothers.


Whenever social justice was at stake, God intervened. He sent his prophets to raise their voice against it.


Saul raised his hand against Gibeonites (2 Sam 21:2) and God punished them with famine that lasted for three years.


King David raised his hands unjustly against his subject Uriah, and took his wife. God’s judgment fell on him through the voice of Nathan (2 Sam 12:11).


When injustice spread in the society, and men rose against men, Ezekiel condemned it and prophesied against them.


The message of John reminds us that one who wants to find place in the presence of God should be willing to share his belongings with his brothers.


Often we tend to limit the concept of sharing with the material possessions alone. Along with material possessions we can share many things, our talents, our time and our sympathy.


The following poem has a good message:


I lay in sorrow, deep distressed

My grief a proud man heard;

His looks were cold, he gave me gold.

But not a kindly word.

My sorrow passed - I paid him back

The gold he gave to me:

Then stood erect and spoke my thanks,

And blessed his charity.


I lay in want, in grief and pain:

A poor man passed my way.

He bound my head, he gave me bread,

He watched me night and day.

How shall I pay him back again?

For all he did to me?

Oh, god is great, but greater far,

Is heavenly sympathy.


A sympathetic glance, an innocent smile, a kind word and a gentle touch can often work wonders in the life of many.


People gathered around Jesus to listen to his words of kindness. Even on the way to Calvary, crushed under the weight of the cross, he stopped to console the lamenting women of Jerusalem.


Dear brothers and sisters God wants us to be generous with our brothers. To be kind and gentle to them. Our acts of generosity and kindness will turn us into precious grains in the sight of God.


Satish admin@oois-dxb.sch.ae