Homily: CycleC22

Cycle C 22nd Sunday in the Ordinary Time

Sir. 3:17-20, 28-9; Heb. 12:18-9, 22-24; Lk. 14:1, 7-14

Once Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar was travelling to a village for one of his regular speeches. At his station a young officer got down from the train with a suitcase.

The young officer shouted for a coolie. Vidyasagar went to him and said, "Why do you need a coolie to carry this small suitcase? Can’t you carry it yourself and save the money?"

The young officer replied, "It is not in keeping with my dignity to carry my suitcase. I am an educated person."

Vidyasagar asked him, “If you cannot carry your bag, shall I carry it for you." He carried the officer’s suitcase and went behind the officer. On their way the young officer told the porter that he had come there to listen to the speech of a great man. When they reached the destination the young man then offered money to his ‘porter’. Vidyasagar told him, "To serve you is my reward” and went away.

The young officer then proceeded to the venue of the meeting. He was stunned to see people welcoming the ‘porter’ who carried his suitcase with garlands. He realised that the man who had offered to carry his suitcase at the station was none other than the respected lecturer of that evening, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar exemplifies the humility that today’s readings describe. The First Reading from the Book of Sirach teaches us that the greater we are, the more we must humble ourselves, so we will find favour in the sight of the Lord. [Sir. 3:17-18] When Jesus taught His disciples the meaning of true greatness, He called a child and said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greater in the Kingdom of Heaven." [Mt. 18:2-4]

All the great men praised the virtue of humility. “Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues,” taught Confucius. Benjamin Franklin was convinced that “Humility makes great men twice honourable.” Jesus taught his disciples to be humble like children.

A child respects everything and wonders at the marvels around him. When others compete with one another to be first, a child stands apart and wonders at everything. He has nothing of his own. Everything he has is a gift from others and he takes pride in the gifts. Great men were able to see the gifts of God, and they always remained grateful to him. This attitude made them humble. “God descends to the humble as waters flow down the hills into the valleys,” says St. Tikhon. God fills the humble with his blessings. When we realize it we will be able to say like Rabindranath Tagore:

“This frail
vessel thou emptiest again and again, and fillest it ever with fresh life.
This little flute of a reed thou hast carried over hills and dales,
and hast breathed through it melodies eternally new.
At the immortal touch of thy hands my little heart loses its limits in
joy and gives birth to utterance ineffable.
Thy infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine.
Ages pass, and still thou poorest, and still there is room to fill.”

Humility can be practiced by doing our daily duties with dedication and commitment. St Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interest of others.” We work very hard. But often what we see is our interest. We desire to do great things, and ignore the simple duties entrusted to us. During the American Civil war, President Lincoln had a strapping athletic young man as his secretary. He was not happy about his work. He wanted to get out where the action was on the battlefield. He wanted to go and do great things for his country. He was quite willing to die if necessary. So he kept on complaining about the work he was doing, when he could be in uniform confronting the enemy. After hearing the usual complaint one day, Lincoln said in his philosophical way, “Young man as I see it, you are quite willing to die for your country, but you are not willing to live for it.”

Humility makes us instruments in the hands of God. It makes possible a relationship with God. “There is no room for God in him who is full of himself, “says Martin Buber, the Jewish philosopher. God can work through us only when we offer a chance by keeping our pride aside. The psalmist declares,

“Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble:
thou wilt prepare their heart,
thou wilt cause thine ear to hear. (Psalm 10:17)

Humility brings peace to our life. Humility does not desire, therefore there is no discontent. Humility does not boast, hence there is no depression. Humility does not dream, hence there is no disappointment. Humility does not know competition, so there no discouragement. Humility does not make any comparison, and there is no regret. Following the example of Jesus we should be able to conduct ourselves in a humble manner. Then, we will be able to appreciate the blessings that we receive from God. Let us remember the admonition of Jesus, “He who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”


Homily: CycleC21

Cycle C 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13; Luke 13:22-30

In ancient times, towns were surrounded by walls and had one or more gates to which one reached through a narrow wooden passage. The great palace of the Chinese emperors, popularly called, “The Forbidden City” is also characterized by narrow gates. When there was any sign of danger, the narrow gates were easy to close, and easy to be protected. Whoever crossed the narrow gates entered the Forbidden City and was in safety. At the time of Jesus, the Jewish towns too were fortified in this manner.

The narrow gate in the parable of Jesus symbolizes three things. First of all, it is an entry into the safety of the city of God. These gates of this city are open to all. The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah proclaims the entry of different nations into that city of safety. People come from the ends of the then known world. The Lord says,

“I am coming to gather the nations of every language.
They will come to witness my glory.
They will bring their brothers,
On horses, in chariots, in litters,
On mules, on dromedaries,
From all the nations to my holy mountain in Jerusalem.”

Secondly, entry into that city can never be automatic. It is the result and reward of a struggle. “Keep on striving to enter,” he said. It was inscribed on the tomb of an Alpine guide who had died on the mountainside, “He died climbing.” For the Christian, life is ever an upward and an onward way.

Human nature is always to conquer the heights. There were hundreds of mountaineers that had sighed at the foot of the Mount Everest, then struggled to reach the peak. Thus Hillary and Tensing found themselves standing at the peak of Mount Everest. The struggle to reach the heights did not stop there. Humanity took the next step to the space, from there to the moon and to other planets. Now he dreams of reaching the heights of other galaxies. Likewise, there is no finality in Christian life. A man must ever be going forward.

Thirdly, the narrow door is symbolic of the hardships of life. It is symbolic of accepting poverty, being of a charitable heart, being patient and forgiving others. If we want to enter into the city of safety and protection, we cannot go with a bulky load on our back. The load of pride and self centeredness that we carry with us should be shed in order to easily enter through the narrow gate.

Pope John Paul II, while speaking to the young people of Jamaica addressed them, “Young Jamaicans, Reject the easy road; the road of self indulgence, crime, cynicism and escape from responsibility. Enter by the narrow gate. Choose the road that leads to eternal life and happiness with God.”

If we choose the wide gate of self indulgence and pleasures of the moment we will never be happy. The second reading today, from the Letter to Hebrews reminds us that we are God’s children. The only way to achieve real happiness and fulfilment in life is to choose the narrow gate that leads to life. There are many men who made their life worth remembering. Gautama Buddha left the comforts of the palace and chose the way of hardships to find happiness. St Francis of Assisi abandoned his ambitions and took up the way of prayer and fasting to find fulfilment in life. Mother Theresa left the security of the convent life and went to the streets of Calcutta to find God in the suffering. They chose the narrow gate to enter into God’s kingdom.
Before entering the Promised Land Moses reminded the people, “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Chose life, then that you and your descendants may live by loving the Lord.”(Deut 30:19-20)

One of the greatest wonders that the people experience in God’s kingdom is: “The last will be first, and the first will be the last.” Those who are very prominent in this world may have to be very humble in the next; those whom no one notices here may be princes of the world to come. There is the story of a woman who had been used to every luxury. She died, and when she arrived in heaven an angel was sent to conduct her to her house. They passed many a lovely mansion. They passed the city gates and came to the outskirts where there were only little huts. On the very fringe they came to a little hut. “That is your house, said the angel. “What! I cannot live in it”, said the woman. The angel replied, “I am sorry. That is all we could build for you with the materials you sent up.”

The standards of heaven are not the standards of earth. Earth’s first will often be last, and its last will often be first.

One of the greatest examples for this was John Mary Vianny. He was the last in his class. In French and Latin he was the last student. He failed in Theology studies. So he was asked to leave the seminary. After that he was taught Theology privately and was ordained in 1815. Three years later he was appointed to the parish of Ars, a parish, where practically no one went to church. In a few years people began to come on pilgrimage to Ars. He became the most sought after spiritual advisor. It is an example of last being first. John Mary Vianney was last but now he is the patron of parish priests.

What has caused the miracle? The gracious touch of the Lord. This miracle will happen to anyone who tries to enter by the narrow gate; who disregards the standards of the world and set his goal on high.


St. Alphonsa

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Homily: The Assumption of Mary

Cycle C: The Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven

Revelation 11:19, 12:1-6, 10; I Corinthians 15:20-26. Luke 1:39-56

There is a beautiful story about a fruit seller. He supplied fruits to the Royal court. One day the King had a special guest. He ordered mangoes to be supplied for the dinner. Since the season of Mangoes was over there was none to be picked from anywhere. After a long struggle he managed to get hold of a few. But, they could not be presented to the royal court as they were partially damaged. Fear of punishment had overtaken him. He managed to get an audience to the queen. Falling at her feet and placing the damaged mangoes he begged for mercy. The queen was compassionate. She took the mangoes from him and asked him to go in peace.

The queen was at the table to serve the guest. She placed the mangoes in a golden plate and set before the king and the guest. Everyone was well pleased with it and the king rewarded the fruit seller.

Today, the feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, assures us that we have a queen to present our cause before God in a way acceptable to him.

The origin of the Catholic belief in the Assumption of Mary goes back to many centuries. The Feast represents a Catholic Doctrine that was defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950. The proclamation of the Church states that, revealed by God, the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into Heavenly glory. This glorification is simply the result of the singularly heroic and complete surrender to the Will of God.

We have to appreciate her extraordinary life, vocation, commitment and sufferings. Her Immaculate Conception was the beginning of her heroic life, and her assumption was the end. But the road in between was the way of the cross. At every step she said, “Yes” to God. She said “Yes” at the annunciation, submitting to God’s plans as the “handmaid of the Lord”, when in spite of the words of the angel, so many things about her future remained unclear. She said “Yes” again at Bethlehem, when Jesus was born in the midst of so much poverty. She said “Yes” when she was told to flee with the child to Egypt. She said “Yes” to God at Nazareth for thirty years, when she experienced many anxious moments. She said “Yes” to her loneliness when Jesus left her. She said “Yes” to God when she heard about the opposition that Jesus received from the Religious leaders. She said “Yes” to God when she stood at the foot of the cross. Her life was a perfect submission to the plan of God.

The Ten Commandments are summed up into two. “Love God with all your heart and Love your neighbour.” With her unconditional “Yes” to the plan of God she had perfectly obeyed the first commandment. Mary, too remains, as an excellent example for loving the neighbours. Having learnt from the angel that her cousin Elizabeth was about to give birth to a child, Mary set quickly to visit her. It was a long and dangerous journey for a girl of her age, yet she did not think of herself but of the need of her cousin. At Cana when she learned that they had no wine she brought it to the notice of her son. She was sensitive to the need of others. At the foot of the cross Jesus has entrusted her with the care of the whole humanity, and she accepted it.

She was a woman of strength and courage who experienced poverty, alienation, suffering and exile. With all these experiences she remained close to God and close to humanity. Therefore, God worked wonders through her.

In the first century BC, Rome was the centre of attention. As the political power rested with it, the Roman emperor became the most powerful man. But God was establishing his might deed not through the mighty and powerful Emperor nor through the nobility, but through the humble submission of a Jewish girl. The determining event in history was not taking place in Rome, but in Mary. In the course of time Rome sank into oblivion, but the insignificance or Mary gained prominence, it still exerts tremendous influence on the lives of countless men and women even after 200 years.

The Assumption is a day on which to focus ourselves anew on our final goal, and our final hope of glory. It is an assurance that one day we too will stand up there with Mary with the moon beneath our feet, clothed with the sun and the stars as the crown on our heads. To achieve this goal our Mother invites us to joyfully submit to God’s plan; to grow always more conscious of our lowliness; to put our complete trust in God; and to respond to God through service to our neighbour.


Homily: Gurucharanam of Bobby Jose

Fr. Bobby Jose Capuchin's Talk are available in following link. You can download it

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Homily: Cycle19C

Cycle C 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 18: 6–9; Hebrews 11: 1–2; 8–19; Luke 12: 32–48

22 May 2010, The Air India Express took off from Dubai and headed towards Mangalore (India), with 160 passengers and 6 crew. The original reservation chart had the names of 169 people. In that nine people cancelled the trip. One of the passengers had just returned from India on 20th, but was called back by her ailing husband. So she boarded the next available flight. Out of 166, 158 died when the plane overshot the runway and crashed, while landing. 8 passengers survived the crash. Others were not so blessed. None of them knew that 21st night was their last night on the earth; and they would never see the sunrise again. They took the flight to their home town with great dreams and fantastic plans for the future.

There were men who were returning after three or four years of hard toil in the blazing deserts to join their dear ones. There were young men who boarded the flight with dreams of their bride, the wedding celebrations and the joys of building up a new family. All these dreams crashed along with the plane.

Today’s readings remind us too, to be ready to accept the call any day. Both the readings from Wisdom and from Hebrews invite us this week to dwell upon the theme of our need for a lively faith and hope in the things to come. Wisdom presents an account of the tenth plague during the night of the Passover, when the angel of death struck down the first born of the Egyptians and spared the Israelites who had sprinkled the blood of the lamb on their door posts. God was liberating them from slavery and they put their trust in the power of their God to save them. Hebrews similarly presents the faith of Abraham and Sarah as blessed by God because they "were searching for a better and heavenly home."

The Gospel completes this teaching in Jesus´ words to be ready at all times for the end, and to live each day as if it were the last; to live each day before God and to render fully to him what he expects from each one of us.

God has revealed everything to us, but not the future. Alexander Pope described it beautifully in his poem “Essay on Man”.

Heaven from all creatures hides the book of Fate,
All but the page prescribed, their present state:
From brutes what men, from men what spirits know:
Or who could suffer being here below?
The lamb thy riot dooms to bleed to-day,
Had he thy reason, would he skip and play?
Pleased to the last, he crops the flowery food,
And licks the hand just raised to shed his blood.
Oh, blindness to the future! Kindly given,
That each may fill the circle, marked by Heaven:

Today’s gospel speaks of every kind of activity in life, whether family or career. We are called to do our assigned tasks as best we can.

Jesus identifies four types of people: First, we have the servant who was vigilant and ready. He was not worried about the outcome of his actions. He was not troubled about the resentments of the past. He was not taken up by the glories of the future. He just carried out his duties entrusted to him. The master of the house would actually wait on these servants, as if the servants had become the master of the house, which would be unheard of in ancient times and almost unbelievable to Christ's audience.

Second, there is the servant who seeks his own way. He thinks “My master is taking his time.” He postpones his end. He thinks he has enough time at hand. Jesus says, “His master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know.” There are many among us who choose our own way. We postpone the offer of pardon to our brothers. We postpone giving up certain evil habits, we postpone the payment of the debt. But we do not realize that we may not get another chance. We may be called at any time to settle our accounts.

Third, there is the servant who knows God's law but does not make preparations or act in accord with God's plan. These are the people who deliberately break the commandments.

Finally, there is the servant who was ignorant of God's law and acts in a way deserving of a severe punishment shall be beaten only lightly.

The Gospel ends with the admonition of Jesus: "from those to whom much has been given, much will be expected." We must value the fact that the Lord has given us much… he has died for us and given us new life in Christ, he has given us all the grace we need through the sacraments and the Church to live a life in accordance with our new dignity. He has blessed each one of us abundantly with his grace and love. He will expect a return on all he has given us.