Homily: CycleC26

Cycle C : Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Amos 6:1,4-7; 1 Tim. 6,11-16; Luke. 16:16,19-31.

In 701 BC, a rebellion backed by Egypt and Babylonia broke out in Judah, led by King Hezekiah. In response Sennacherib sacked a number of cities in Judah. The Account of Sennacherib’s invasions gives details of the things carried away by Sennacherib. He took 46 of his strong fenced cities; and of the smaller towns which were scattered about, he took and plundered a countless number. From these places he took and carried off 200,156 persons, old and young, male and female, together with horses and mules, asses and camels, oxen and sheep, a countless multitude; and Hezekiah himself he shut up in Jerusalem. Then upon Hezekiah there fell the fear of the power of his arms, and he sent out to the king the chiefs and the elders of Jerusalem with 30 talents of gold and 800 talents of silver, and diverse treasures, a rich and immense booty... All these things were brought to him at Nineveh , the seat of his government.

This invasion destroyed Judah . People have been warned against this punishment by many prophets. Today’s first reading gives an account of prophet Amos’ warning to the People of Judah.

“ Lying on ivory beds
and sprawling on their divans,
they dine on lambs from the flock,….
but about the ruins of Joseph they do not care at all.
That is why they will be the first to be exiled.”

The rich people went on making a show of their wealth adorning their homes with all luxuries. They spent their life in banquets, where the most delicious foods were served, and the best wines provided. The rich people felt secure in their wealth; they had no thought either for God or for the poor. But their joy was short lived. A few years passed and the retribution came upon them. Prophet Amos warned them against their injustice, and they were rightly punished for their evil actions.
In today’s Gospel through the parable of Lazarus and the poor man Jesus puts forward a similar but more demanding message.

First, there is a rich man, clothed in purple and fine linen. He feasted in luxury every day. In a country where the common people were fortunate if they ate a full meal once in the week, and where they toiled for six days of the week. “The rich” is a figure of indolent self indulgence.
The parable does not say that the rich man did something wrong. He did not order Lazarus to be removed from his gate. He had no objection for Lazarus receiving the bread thrown away from his table. He did not insult him. He was not deliberately cruel to him.

What is the sin of the rich man? He just considered him as part of the society. He considered his plight as natural. As it is said, “It was not what the rich man did that got him into hell; it was what he did not do that got him into hell.” The sin of the rich man was that he could not look on the world’s suffering and need and feel no grief or pity. He looked at a fellow man, hungry and in pain, and did nothing about it. The same message is found in the parable of the good Samaritan too. The Priest and the Levite, who saw the wonderful traveler, ignored him.

When we look around us we find sorrow to be comforted, pain to be relieve and hunger to be satisfied. It is terrible warning that the sin of the rich man was not that he did wrong thing, but he did not do the right thing. There are four lessons in today’s Gospel.

The first lesson is: There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. He made a show of his wealth. We can also find this group among us too. They build and modify their mansions spending millions. They arrange parties and receptions at the cost of their employees. They hunt for the best cars and the most modern fashionable things. This waste of wealth is when about tone third of the world is reeling in poverty, when parts of the world is suffering from flood, earthquake and other calamities. Indians are well known for their extravagance. According to Ms Sachdev Spending £25,000 by Indians journeying to Bombay from cities that offer less opulent shopping are not unheard of. India has been associated with extravagant spending since the days of the spendthrift maharajas, a set it seems has now been replaced by a similarly status-obsessed middle class. According to Nielsen, the researcher, the country is the third most "brand conscious" country in the world – trailing only Greece and Hong Kong. Closing our eyes against the need of the suffering and indulging in extravagance is a great sin. We also indulge in such activities in smaller scale.

The second lesson is: “And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores.”

In the parables Jesus never gives a name to the characters. Lazarus is the only character in any parable who is given a name. Lazarus means “Yaweh is my help.”

The man was a destitute, hungry and covered with sores; but he kept his dignity. His experience had told him that he had nothing to expect from the abundance of the rich man. Yet, he had kept his trust in God. There are many around us who accept their suffering, poverty and pain, and put their trust in God. Job declared in his suffering, poverty and suffering, “God has given, God has taken. Blessed be the name of God.

In 2 Corinthians 9:8, we're told, "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work." The psalmist says (Psalms 9:10 ) “And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.”

The third lesson is : the poor man is carried away by the angels to the boson of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. There is a complete reversal of situation. Peace and joy for Lazarus, sorrow and torment for the rich man. Each one’s lot is for good without the faintest hope of change.

Finally, the rich man pleaded to Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers. “They have Moses and prophets” was the reply of Abraham. Abraham does not agree with the insistence of the rich man that the coming of a dead man to life would be moirĂ© convincing than the scriptures. We read the word of God. Listen to the preaching of the word of God. If we are not touched by these, even if all the dead rise from our cemeteries and warn us we will not listen to them. We will invent our own excuses, and we find an interpretation to excuse us from the responsibilities. But Jesus’ teaching is clear. The meaning of the world of God is simple and straight. Listen to it and change our lives.

Satish

Youth of Kerala

The youth has to be sufficiently educated and guided in the area of drunkenness.

The parents has the responsibility to instruct and educate their children in all the fields of life. Teenage is the time they acquire or adopt new values. They are taught about social behavior in the case of giving respect, obeying, thanking, etc. But rarely the children are educated or guided about consumption of liquors (toddy or any). since they are not educated on this area they depend on their friends who very often misguide them.

The people of Kerala care and love their children very much. To safeguard the children they must get information or guideline on most of the fields affecting their lives from matured and people who really love and care them.

One can easily find fault on the drunkenness of new generation. But have we taken enough steps to guide them.

"How it can be done" has to be thought of and the new generation be kept safe and sound.

Homily: CycleC25

Cycle C: Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Amos 8:4-7; 1 Tim. 2:1-7; Luke. 16:1-13

On 22 August 1485, in Marshy Fields near the village of Sutton Cheney in Leicestershire, Richard III led the last charge of knights in English history. A circlet of gold around his helmet, his banners flying, he threw his destiny into the hands of the god of battles.

Among the astonished observers of this glittering panoply of horses and steel galloping towards them were Sir William Stanley and his brother Thomas, whose forces had hitherto taken no part in the action. Both watched intently as Richard swept across their front and headed towards Henry Tudor, bent only on eliminating his rival.

As the King battled his way through Henry’s bodyguard, killing his standard bearer with his own hand and coming within feet of Tudor himself, William Stanley made his move. Throwing his forces at the King’s back he betrayed him and had him hacked down. Richard, fighting manfully and crying, “Treason! Treason!” was butchered in the bloodstained mud of Bosworth Field by a man who was there to support him.

This is just one of the numerous examples of the dishonest stewards, found in our history. The desire for wealth and power lead men to practice injustice. That is the message that the parable of the dishonest servant gives us.

When the people of Israel reached the Promised Land, the land was equitably distributed among the various tribes, and the families in each tribe. But gradually less thrifty people mortgaged or sold their land, and soon most of the cultivable land ended up in the hands of a few rich people. Social injustice became a great issue in the society. Prophets raised their voice against it.

Today's first reading from the Book of Amos [Amos 8:4-7] speaks against greed. There were a couple of things that the Israelites were doing that was drawing the condemnation of the Lord God. First of all, during their trading, the merchants used a dishonest measure to cheat and oppress the poor. The law forbade them to use dishonest means of measures. [Lev. 19:36; Deut. 25:14-15] The dishonest Israelites were guilty of selling what should have been thrown away.

Today’s reading from the Gospel draws our attention to the parable of the dishonest manager. This parable warns us against the wealth wrongly acquired or badly used.

Jesus admonishes his listeners that material possessions should be used to cement the friendships wherein the real and permanent value of life lies. The Rabbis had a saying, “The rich help the poor in this world, but the poor help the rich in the world to come.” It was a Jewish belief that charity given to the poor people would stand to a man’s credit in the world to come. A man’s true wealth would consist not in what he kept, but in what he gave away. According to St Ambrose, “The bosom of the poor, the houses of widows, the mouths of children are the barns which last forever.”

A man can use his wealth selfishly or he can use it to make life easier, not only for himself, but for his friends and his fellow-men. Possessions are not in themselves a sin, but they are a great responsibility, and the man who uses them to help his friends who has gone far to discharge that responsibility. According to Jesus the earthly possessions are the little things that we are entrusted with. We are merely stewards over the earthly possessions.

The best proof of one’s fitness to be entrusted with a bigger task is his way of fulfilling a small task. The life of Robert Owen (1771-1858), generally considered to be the father of the Co-operative movement, is a great example for this principle. At the age of nine he was apprenticed to a draper's shop, and he quickly gained knowledge of fabrics. At eleven years of age he moved to London and was employed in the drapery trade where he was obliged to put in an eighteen hour day, six days a week, with only short breaks for his meals. At the age of twenty, he followed up an opportunity through which he obtained the position of manager in a Manchester textile mill where there were five hundred people employed. As he proved successful in this position, his employer gave him additional responsibility for the management of another large factory.

While most people are grasping for more power and visibility, Mother Teresa genuinely believed that the world is changed through the small and hidden. She regularly and consistently argued that the small things are where the action is. No man will be advanced to higher office until he has given proof of his honesty and ability in smaller positions. Jesus extends the principle to eternity. He says, upon earth we are in charge of things which are not really ours. We cannot take them with us when we die. On the other hand, in heaven we will get what is really and eternally ours. What we get in heaven will depend on how we use the things of the earth.

Often we find excuse that we are surrounded by evil, selfishness and injustice. Therefore if one man tries nothing can be achieved. All the great men, too, lived in such a world of reality. But they dared to do the little they could. Mother Teresa was deeply convinced that every little action had its significance. So she said, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Doing small things is hard, maybe even harder than big things. You won’t be congratulated by many. In some cases, not a single person even knows what you’ve done. And there’s no big reward at the end of it. Hence, to do little things with dedication and commitment requires humility, selflessness, patience and self-discipline. Mother Teresa admonished her followers, “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

In the parable of the talents, Jesus praises the man who received two talents and the one with five. Both took efforts to multiply what they had been given, and about them their master said, "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" The one who is faithful to what is entrusted to him will be guided by the Lord. The Psalmist who had this confidence declared, “The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want. Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose.”

So, as good stewards, Let us use the earthly possessions as a means to our eternal possessions. And remember the words of Jesus, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all the other things will be given to you (Mt 6:33).
Satish

Homily: CycleC24

Cycle C 24 Sunday in the ordinary time.

Exo 32:7-11,13-14; 1 Tim 1:12-17; Lk 15:1-32

Napoleon Bonapart, the French Emperor, decided to campaign against Russia, in 1812. Napoleon was pushing on with preparations for war on a colossal scale. By the summer of 1812 he had about 750,000 men under arms of whom 450,000 were destined for the actual invasion. On 28 May this army of armies set out towards East. Immense stores were collected. Two million pairs of boots were held in reserve. The baggage was hauled by 18,000 heavy draft horses, the siege-guns and pontoons by 10,000 oxen. A million great coats had been bought.

The army passed into Russia unopposed. As Napoleon reached Moscow he had understood the mistake he had made. The marshals too were reluctant to march northwards. With the first fall of snow the story of the march became an epic of human misery; no food, no shelter, no fuel. Icy gales froze them and killed scores every night. History testifies that it was one of the great errors of Napoleon. Out of 450000 who had crossed into Russia only 20,000 marched back.

If Napoleon had corrected himself 430000 men who had crossed into Russia would not have lost their lives or pushed into misery.

Or history gives evidence that such human errors have often proved fatal. The history of salvation too is a sum total of such errors, often wilful, that have estranged man from God, and God’s interventions to make man aware of his mistakes and the offer of mercy.

The first reading from the Book of Exodus narrates one of such errors committed by the chosen people. While Moses was on Mount Sinai talking to God, the chosen people had cast for themselves an image of a calf, worshipped it and sacrificed to it, giving credit to it for bringing them out of slavery in the land of Egypt. Greatly offended by the people for having turned away from the way that He had commanded them, God was prepared to destroy them. But Moses implored to God to have mercy on them; and God offers His mercy once again.

To err is human, but one requires courage to recognize the error and rise from it. To recognize our mistakes often we need the help of external agents. When David sinned against Uriah, he required the proclamation of Prophet Nathan to realize his mistake. When Israelites sinned they needed the intervention of Moses to make them realize their mistakes.

In today’s Gospel Jesus gives the picture of a man who reads the signs of the time and realizes that he has erred. Jesus narrated the story of the prodigal son in a moving manner. The younger son collected his share and left for a distant land. There he squandered all his wealth. Then the country experienced a severe famine. It was a prophetic message for him, to be aware of his own mistakes.

Whenever we divert from justice, from the love of God, from the love for neighbour and from the ways of God; God makes us aware of it by means of the prophetic words of our friends, neighbours; and through the historic and natural events. What is required of us to read these sings and show courage to change our ways.

When Nathan condemned David, he repented. When Joseph’s brothers realized that they had done wrong to their brother by selling him to Egypt, they repented. When King Manasseh realized that his act of filling Jerusalem with blood (2Kings 21) he repented. When Peter realized that he had denied his master he repented. Their repentance brought them forgiveness.

You can learn from your mistakes only if you are able to admit them. As soon as you start blaming other people you distance yourself from any possible lesson. When Adam ate the forbidden fruit God called him. Adam put the blame on Eve, and Eve passed it on to the serpent. When Cain was asked, “Where is your brother?” he gave an elusive answer, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” It is our natural tendency to defend us. But if you courageously stand up and honestly say, “This is my mistake,” there begins the possibility of change. Admission of a mistake, even if privately to oneself, makes a change possible. Realization of one own mistakes brings in the mercy of God.

St Paul shares his personal experience with Timothy in today’s second reading that where there is a sincerity of heart God’s mercy sanctifies it.

Today’s gospel passage also speaks of the mercy of God. Three parables are given to declare the magnitude of the mercy of God - The parable of the “Lost Sheep,” the parable of the “Lost coin” and the parable of “The Prodigal Son.” In the parable of the “Lost sheep” the shepherd is overcome with joy when he finds the Lost Sheep. The parable of the Lost Coin tells us that the woman greatly rejoiced when she found her lost coin. The parable of the “Prodigal son” expresses the extreme joy of the father on the return of his son.

The Old Testament often speaks of God as “a merciful God” Psalm 136 repeats that, “God’s love and mercy are everlasting.” But it was Jesus who on becoming man, made his Father’s mercy known to us. In these parables Jesus shows us not only his Father’s readiness to forgive, but also the joy he experiences in doing so, because man is precious in God’s eyes.

We too are no strangers to sin. Proverb (24:16) says a just man falls seven times a day and rises again. We do not want to sin but we do. We can overcome this only if we allow the word of God to penetrate us and show up the dark spots in our lives so that we can bring them to the Lord for his healing and forgiveness.

Satish

Communion

Where privileges exist there is no communion.

Homily: CycleC23

Cycle C 23rd Sunday in the ordinary Time

Wis 9:13-18; Phlm 9-10,12-17; Lk 14:25-33

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed earnestly to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but no one seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and in which to store his few possessions.

One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me!” he cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him.

The weary man asked his rescuers: “How did you know I was here?”
They replied: “We saw your smoke signal.”

God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. But we fail to see the invisible hand of God

“What man can know the intentions of God?
Who can define the will of the Lord?”

This is the message of the first reading, taken from the Book of Wisdom. We, as human beings are very limited in our reasoning, because we lack Divine knowledge and understanding. We are limited in our ability to do things and know the Will of God. The reason that we fail to understand the designs of God is that our earthbound body weighs down the heavenward aspirations.

We heard in the first reading,
“A perishable body presses down the soul,
and this tent of clay weighs down the teeming mind.”

It is easy to understand the message of Jesus in the light of this.
“Anyone who comes to me without hating his father, mother,
wife, children, brothers, sisters,
yes, his own life too,
he cannot be my disciple." (Lk 14:26)

"No one who does not carry his cross and come after me can be my disciple.”(Lk 14:33)

In these passages, Jesus seems to demand from his disciples that they give up what man holds most precious in life:

Humanly speaking, there is nothing more precious than one’s own life; when life is lost, everything is lost with it. A few days back, in Mumbai International Airport, there was an announcement in one of the Aircrafts of Jet Airways, urging the passengers to escape since fire was detected in the Aircraft. Some people managed to overtake others and jumped through the emergency exit, without waiting for the ladder to arrive. The immediate urge of all was to save their lives. Probably no one thought about saving their neighbour first. Soon it was announced that the panic was created due to a false alarm. The ultimate result was, those who tried to save their lives, hurt themselves, and others were safe. As the books of wisdom says, God’s ways are different. “One who tries to save his life loses it, and one who loses it for the sake of Jesus saves it. We still remember and revere the great martyrs, because by laying down their lives they earned eternal glory and honour.

Today this passage urges us, too, to give up excessive love for the self, be ready to accept little sacrifices and be concerned with the needs of our brothers around us.

Next to life, comes one’s own family: parents, children, husband, wife, brothers, sisters and relatives. We are ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of the family. A father works tirelessly for hours, to earn enough to send his child to a good school, to provide for him and to make him comfortable. A mother spends hours doing household work without knowing what rest is. It is just to make her family happy. It is a natural instinct to dedicate ones life for the family. And Jesus says that his disciples should be able to renounce the family, for the same of the kingdom of God . St Peter had a family, when Jesus called him, but that did not stop him from following Jesus, accepting his call. In our frantic chase to earn and make our families comfortable we have set to apart some time for the spiritual growth too.

After our family, come our possessions. It is painful to be detached. All the troubles, and unrest in the world are caused by human greed. Greed and desire to possess material things take man away from God. He loses his orientation. As frail human beings we are slow to realize this fact. The writer of the Book of wisdom asserts that you cannot understand it, unless God grants His wisdom and sends the holy spirit from above.

St Francis of Assisi knew well about the futility of material possessions. So he admonished his brethren to embrace poverty.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus stresses the point that to be his disciple is a serious matter. It requires great determination and commitment.

Satish