Homily: Holy TrinityC

Cycle C Trinity Sunday

Proverbs 8:22-31; Romans 5:1-5; John 16:12-15

One day St Augustine of Hippo was walking along the sea shore and reflecting on the doctrine of the Trinity. He suddenly saw a little child all alone on the shore. The child made a hole in the sand, ran to the sea with a little cup, filled her cup, came and poured it into the hole she had made in the sand. Back and forth she went to the sea, filled her cup and came and poured it into the hole. Augustine went up to her and said, "Little child, what are you doing?" and she replied, "I am trying to empty the sea into this hole." "How do you think," Augustine asked her, "that you can empty this immense sea into this tiny hole and with this tiny cup?" To which she replied, " And you, how do you suppose that with this your small head you can comprehend the immensity of God?" With that the child disappeared.

Like Augustine we may not be able to understand the mystery of the Trinity. But we can describe the mystery, in the words of the Athanasian Creed: "the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and yet there are not three Gods but one God." Jesus knew very well that the disciples and his listeners were not able to understand the meaning of his message. Jesus expressed it in today’s Gospel. "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now." Jesus revealed himself to the people gradually and as understandable to them. First He taught them to recognize in Himself the Eternal Son of God. When His ministry was drawing to a close, He promised that the Father would send another Divine Person, the Holy Spirit, in His place. Finally after His resurrection, He revealed the doctrine in explicit terms, bidding them "go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:18)."Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost, was instituted to honour the Most Holy Trinity. This Special celebration was introduced by the Early Church. St. Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury introduced it all over England and Pope John XX11 made this practice universal.

The importance of this doctrine lies in this: we are made in the image of God, therefore, the more we understand God the more we can understand ourselves. St. Paul tells us that through sufferings, endurance, the forming of character and hope, God's love is poured into our hearts through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Therefore the celebration of the mystery of Holy Trinity reminds us that we have to grow in unity like the perfect Unity that exists in Trinity.

God does not exist in isolated individualism but in a community of relationships. Therefore man can live, grow and find fulfilment only in and through society. John Donne expresses this reality, “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent … any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

No great objective can be attained by lone individuals. Several people have to strive together if even the simplest things are to be achieved. The great Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Wall of China, and the numerous wonders that arrest our attention and leave us baffling are just the result of human unity. The psalmist declares that “There is joy in unity- Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! (Psa 133:1). Jesus prayed for it (Jn 17:20-22). The Apostle Paul pleaded for it (1 Cor 1:10; 3:3-5; Phil 1:27; Phil 2:1-2). The church practiced it (Acts 4:32).

The greatest hindrance to unity is selfishness (Phil 2:4). When we strive to overcome our selfishness we will be able to contribute positively to strengthen our relation with others. The Latin saying, “By union the smallest states thrive, by discord the greatest are destroyed” should remind us of our role in maintaining unity in our parish, family and our society.

May God, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit shower their blessings on us and help us to strengthen our bond of unity.


Homily: Feast of Pentecost

Cycle C Feast of Pentecost.

Acts 2:1-11; I cor 12:3-7,12-13; Jn 20:19-23

One of the popular plays of William Shakespeare is “The Merchant of Venice.” Antonio, a successful merchant of Venice got into trouble because of his generosity. His friend Bassano requested him to lend him some money. Antonio agreed, but, as all of his assets were tied up at sea they went to Shylock, a Jewish moneylender. Shylock agreed to lend them 3000 ducats, but only if Antonio would sign a bond offering a pound of his flesh if the loan was not repaid in three months’ time. Antonio assented to the arrangement.

Unfortunately Antonio was not able to keep his word. The case reached the court. Shylock refused Bassanio's offer of 6,000 ducats, twice the amount of the loan. He demanded his pound of flesh from Antonio. Everyone present at the scene pleaded for the life of Antonio. But Shylock was adamant that he wanted the will to be carried out. Thus the court must allow Shylock to extract the pound of flesh. At that very moment, a young lawyer made his appearance to defend the case of Antonio. He argued that the bond allowed Shylock to remove only the flesh, not any drop of "blood", of Antonio. Thus, if Shylock were to shed any drop of Antonio's blood, his "lands and goods" would be forfeited under Venetian laws.
The young lawyer stepped in at a moment when Antonio was in utter hopelessness. He was sure that he would lose his life. But his arguments and reasoning brought hope to Antonio. He began to be reassured. The presence of an Advocate brought great change in Antonio.

The disciples of Jesus too were in great hopelessness after the ascension of Jesus. The message of resurrection gave them hope and courage. However, it lasted only for forty days. Again after the Ascension they confined themselves behind closed doors.

Then came the great miracle. They found the great advocate in their midst. The Spirit of God descended upon them like tongues of fire. It rekindled their hopes and ignited their courage. It transformed the ignorant men into possessors of divine Wisdom. It transformed the cowards into heroes and desperate men into dreamers.

The Biblical writer employed fire to describe the presence of God. Yahweh manifested Himself in the form of fire on many different occasions. Abraham saw the passing of a smoking fire pot and a flashing torch. And Abraham knew that God had descended to establish a covenant with him (Gen. 15:17). God appeared to Moses in Mount Horeb in a flame of fire. (Ex. 3:2-4). During the Exodus of the chosen people from the land of slavery to the promised land the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud and by night in a pillar of fire (Ex. 13:21).God descended on Mount Sinai to give the Ten Commandments in fire and smoke. (Ex.19:18). When Monoah and his wife offered burnt offerings the Lord descended to the Altar in flames. (Judg. 13:20). And fire came down from heaven at the consecration of Solomon’s Temple.

When Yahweh expressed His desire to be among the children of Israel, He manifested Himself as smoke and fire. The descending of the Spirit on the Apostles in form of fire serves as the symbol of divine presence among the Apostles. Besides being present among them the Spirit of the Lord showered its gifts on the Apostles.

Primarily, the Spirit re-established unity. Many accounts of the breach of Unity between God Men are given in the Bible. All of them were caused by man’s pride. In Genesis we read the story of the Tower of Babel. The people of the earth became skilled in construction and decided to build a city with a tower that would reach to heaven. By building the tower they wanted to make a name for themselves and also prevent their city from being scattered. God came to see their city and the tower they were building. He perceived their evil intentions, men were proud and they wanted to challenge God. So God confused their language. They spoke to one another as they used to, but they understood differently. On the day of Pentecost the spirit of God has re-established unity. People spoke different languages, but everyone understood in his language. Difference in language makes it difficult for people to communicate with one another. But the early Christians were able to grasp the meaning of each other’s message, because they spoke the language of love, the language of understanding, the language of selflessness, and the language of kindness. The feast of Pentecost demands from us that we should get united with God. Edmund Bruke wrote, “Whatever disunites man from God, also disunites man from man.” Once we establish our unity with God we can strengthen the unity at home, in the parish, in the place of our work, and in our society; among the members of the family, among our colleagues, among the members of our parish, and among all whom we come across. Secondly, the Spirit brought courage. At the trial scene Peter disowned Jesus and swore that he did not know him. But after receiving the spirit the same Peter proclaimed aloud the message of Jesus and called the people to repentance. The Spirit blesses us too with courage. When we accept it we too will be able to make our contribution to better the world. The words of Helen Keller are note worthy. “I long to accomplish a great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.”

Thirdly, the spirit brought the light of knowledge to the Apostles. When Jesus was speaking to them of his agony and suffering the disciples were contemplating on as who would be on his right and who would be on his left. They cherished the dreams of the kingdom where Jesus would take over the rule of the Roman Empire. But the descend of the Spirit revealed the meaning of the words of Jesus to them. They knew what their faith would demand of them. They knew what their responsibilities would be. They knew the meaning of Christian love. Their ignorance was wiped out. In the words of William Shakespeare, “Ignorance is the curse of God; knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.”

According to Kahlil Gibran “Knowledge of the self is the mother of all knowledge. So it is incumbent on me to know myself, to know it completely, to know its minutiae, its characteristics, its subtleties, and its very atoms.” The Apostles knew their strength and their weakness. And they accepted the supremacy of the Spirit in their life.

Dear friends the Holy Spirit is present in the Church as an advocate to plead our case. When we become receptive to the gifts of the Spirit the spirit will take its course in us too.


Homily: Ascension of Our Lord

Feast of Ascension of Jesus, Cycle C

Acts 1:1-11; Eph 1:17-23; Lk24:46-53

There is an interesting Zen story.

Two monks were washing their bowls in the river when they noticed a scorpion that was drowning. One monk immediately scooped it up and set it upon the bank. In the process he was stung. He went back to washing his bowl and again the scorpion fell in. The monk saved the scorpion and was again stung. The other monk asked him, "Friend, why do you continue to save the scorpion when you know its nature is to sting?"

"Because," the monk replied, "to save it is my nature."

It is in the nature of Jesus to offer himself for the salvation of humanity.

The scripture tells us that Jesus Christ was in the purpose of God before even the world was made. The coming of Jesus was not God's last ditch effort to exert His will over a world of sinners. It was planned before there ever was a man upon the earth. Jesus said it himself. "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." (John 8:56). And St. Peter asserted that, “He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you" (1Peter 1:20)

God promised the coming of His anointed One or Messiah to the fathers of Israel, but the realization of that promise had to wait thousands of years. The Apostle Paul said, "And we declare to you glad tidings; that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus." (Acts 13:32)

For forty days after His Resurrection, Jesus remained on earth. Filled with the glory and honour of His Divinity, He appeared to His Disciples at various times and places. By eating and drinking with His followers and conversing with them about the Kingdom of God, Jesus assured them that He was truly alive in His risen and glorified Body.

The time span of forty days is used symbolically in the Holy Scriptures and by the Church to indicate that an appropriate amount of time has passed for "completeness". The rains of the great flood lasted for forty days. Christ prayed in the wilderness for forty days. We fast for forty days to prepare before the feasts of the Nativity and the Resurrection.

Ascension falls on the fortieth day after the Resurrection. On this day, Jesus appeared to His Disciples and gave them His last commandment - to preach the Kingdom of God and the repentance and forgiveness of sins in His name to all nations, beginning with Jerusalem. Then He led them out of Jerusalem toward Bethany to the Mount of Olives. As His Disciples were looking on, He was lifted up - or "ascended" - and a cloud took Him out of sight.

In the beginning men lived in perfect harmony with God in paradise. But once sin entered into his life he was turned out and ever since his concern was to get back to that paradise.

This deep desire gave rise to a number of myths. The Greeks coined myths where gods took men to the Mount Olympus, which was the abode of Gods. Ascension here, at its best, means gaining godlike qualities or powers.

But the ascension of Jesus has great significance. It signalled the end of His earthly ministry. Jesus completed His earthly mission of bringing salvation to all. Having completed His mission in this world as the Saviour, He returned to the Father in heaven Who sent Him into the world. In ascending to the Father, He raises earth and the whole creation to heaven with Him!

Secondly the Ascension of Jesus marked the return of his heavenly glory. Jesus glory was revealed only once during his life time that is, at the time of transfiguration. Then Peter cried out, “Lord it is good to be here.” Once again the same glory is revealed at the time of ascension.

The Ascension of Jesus indicates the beginning of the new work. He had entrusted his apostles with a double task. To announce to all nations the good news that he had preached, and to bear witness with their own lives to what they preached. The early Christians did what Jesus had demanded. St Stephen did not hesitate to give up his life for his faith. Seeing his conviction the officials at his execution accepted his faith. At the time of Emperor Nero and Diocletian thousands laid down their lives to bear witness to their faith.

Bearing witness does not mean that we should shed blood. St Francis of Assisi, Little Flower, St. Alphonsa, Mother Theresa and thousands of holy men and women bore witness to the message of Jesus by submitting themselves to the will of God.


Homily: Easter06C

6th Sunday in Easter time, Cycle C

Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Ap 21:10-14,22-23: Jn 14:23-29.

In 403 BC, Han, one of the Seven Warring States of China, asked the rulers of Wei to dispatch troops to assist it in attacking the state of Zhao. Marquis Wen of Wei declined the request and said: "Because Wei and Zhao are brotherly states, we have signed a pact of mutual nonaggression. Thus, I dare not comply with your request." Upon hearing this the Han messenger left in anger.

When those in Zhao heard what happened, its ruler asked Wei to provide troops to help attack the Han. Marquis Wen of Wei used the same reasoning to reject Zhao's request. The Zhao messenger left in anger, as well.

Afterwards, both Han and Zhao thought about Marquis Wen's friendly and tolerant attitude and how amicable he was towards both of their states. They admired him greatly and showed respect to the state of Wei. In this way, Wei became the leader of the three states: Wei, Zhao, and Han.

There is an ancient proverb: "Tolerance enables one to be magnanimous, and the lack of desires makes one stronger." Tolerance is an extraordinary trait. It means having a magnanimous heart and a state of being filled with compassion and selflessness

This is the message of today’s first reading. The Apostles undertook zealous missionary journeys; and people from different backgrounds, various religious traditions and political frame work embraced Christianity. As a result of this, serious problems arose in the church. The immediate problem that threatened the unity of the Church was “Would the Jews who had become Christians have to give up observing the Law of Moses, or would the non-Jews have to accept the Law of Moses?”

For the Jews to abandon the Law of Moses in which they had been brought up was blasphemy. On the other hand, Christians who came from other traditions found extremely repugnant to observe certain Jewish laws and accept Jewish rites.

Moved by the Spirit, the community at Antioch decided to send a delegation to Jerusalem to bring the matter to the apostles. They called a meeting of the whole Christian community to discuss the issue. The focal point was to preserve the unity in the Christian community. The suggestion the apostles put forward was the principle of tolerance. After long discussions it was decided to abstain from practices that might hurt the feeling of others and to respect the traditions and customs of others. The Apostles, Elders and the whole community sacrificed their personal opinions and accepted the authority of the church. Thus peace was restored in the community by means of strengthening their unity. This is the message of Jesus in today’s Gospel.

“Peace I bequeath to you,
my own peace I give you,
a peace the world cannot give,
this is my gift to you.”

Jesus says that the peace He offers is different from the one that the world gives. It results from unity. When the Christian community remains united like Jesus is united with his father the gift of peace will pervade in our communities too. The peace of Jesus comes to us when we obediently submit ourselves to God’s Divine Will through the authority of the Church. Then we are blessed with Divine peace; we are no longer troubled or afraid.

Intolerance leads to the worst kinds of disaster. In the mythology and history we can find many horrible acts of intolerance. Cain killed his elder brother Abel, because he could not bear the importance of Abel in the eye of God. The Catholic queen Mary of Great Britain burnt the Protestants alive, because she should not tolerate the Puritanism. Aurangzeb killed Hindus under the feet of elephants, because he could not tolerate Hinduism. Sometimes we quarrel with others owing to such intolerance. Many of our enemies are the outcome of our intolerance. We cannot make justice, because we are intolerant to hearing the views which are different from ours.

“Until you have learned to be tolerant with those who do not always agree with you; until you have cultivated the habit of saying some kind word of those whom you do not admire; until you have formed the habit of looking for the good instead of the bad there is in others, you will be neither successful nor happy.” Says Napoleon Hill.

You can demonstrate your tolerance at home, by focusing on the strengths of members of the family rather than that of their weaknesses. You can show your tolerance at work place by showing kindness and acceptance to all – not just those you are comfortable with.

Thomas Hardy Wrote:

And at each clash I would surmise
That if I had acted otherwise
I might have saved me many sighs.”

Our attitude of tolerance will certainly save us many sighs and bring peace to our life.