Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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Christmas Mass (Midnight)    |     Christmas Day

MERRY CHRISTMAS
Who is Jesus?
HE IS JESUS
WHO IS HE?
IN CHEMISTRY, HE TURNED WATER TO WINE.


IN BIOLOGY, HE WAS BORN WITHOUT THE
NORMAL CONCEPTION;


IN PHYSICS, HE DISPROVED THE LAW OF
GRAVITY WHEN HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN;

IN ECONOMICS, HE DISPROVED THE LAW
OF DIMINISHING RETURN BY FEEDING 5000 MEN WITH
TWO FISHES & 5 LOAVES OF BREAD;

IN ME DICINE, HE CURED THE SICK AND THE
BLIND WITHOUT ADMINISTERING A SINGLE DOSE OF DRUGS,

IN HISTORY, HE IS THE BEGINNING AND THE END;

IN GOVERNMENT, HE SAID THAT HE SHALL
BE CALLED WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, PRINCE OF PEACE;


IN RELIGION, HE SAID NO ONE COMES TO
THE FATHER EXCEPT THROUGH HIM;


SO. WHO IS HE?
HE IS JESUS!


JOIN ME AND LET'S CELEBRATE HIM;

HE IS WORTHY.

MERRY CHRISTMAS
 
IN GOD I'VE FOUND EVERYTHING!


The Greatest Man in History
Jesus had no servants, yet they called Him Master.
Had no degree, yet they called Him Teacher.
Had no medicines, yet they called Him Healer.
He had no army, yet kings feared Him...
He won no military battles, yet He conquered the world.
He committed no crime, yet they crucified Him.
He was buried in a tomb, yet He lives today.
I feel honored to serve such a Leader who loves us!
If you believe in God and in Jesus
Christ His Son... Send this to all on
your buddy list.

If not just ignore it.
If you ignore it, just remember that
Jesus said.

'If you deny me before man, I will den y you before my Father in Heaven


Christmas Mass (Midnight)December 24, 2007 Year: A
Is. 9:2-4, 6-7; Tit. 2:11-14; Lk 2:1-16
Saviour is born to the world

First Reading...
"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shone. You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder.

For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this." [Is. 9:2-4. 6-7]

Second Reading...
"The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds." [Tit. 2:11-4] 

Gospel Reading...
"In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in hands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for see - I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favours!'

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.' So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger." [Lk. 2:1-16]

STORY
A long time ago there was a great General who was faced with a situation which made it necessary for him to make a drastic decision to insure his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his army on shore to face a powerful enemy, whose men outnumbered his.  He loaded his soldiers into boats, and sailed to face the enemies on shore. When they reached the shore, he ordered them to unload the soldiers and cargoes.  He then ordered for all the ships and boats to be burned.

Addressing his men before the battle, he said, “You see the ships and boats going up in smoke. That means that we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win!  We now, have no choice – either we win, or we perish.”

They

WON!

SUCCESS PRINCIPLES

Just like the General, we have to burn all our bridges if we want to achieve success. There can be no room for retreat and we must have an attitude of, “Whatever it takes”, taking into consideration that we can have anything we desire provided we do not violate Universal Laws and the rights of our fellow human beings.  Do not dwell on the past. Move forward with confidence and we will surely see success, unexpected in common hours.

MOTIVATIONAL QUOTE

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

Jesus did that same thing, he burned everything, to become a human, so that he could win. He won. Though he was in the form of God, he did not count EQUALITY with God a thing to be grasped, HE EMPTIED HIMSELF… TAKING THE FORM OF A SERVANT…

We look at his life.  Born in poverty.  Hunted as an infant.  Mocked as an adult and crucified for loving others, he brought kindness and peace to those who allowed him into their lives.  He would not allow darkness to overcome him.  He would not become cynical.  He would not succumb to hatred.  He would not let selfishness determine his choices.  He lived to love.  He would not give up on love or give up on anyone for that matter.  His love turned the darkness of the Good Thief crucified next to him into light.  The former criminal was attune to the presence of God’s love, his eyes were adjusted to Divine Starlight.

Many people will be visiting each of us during the Christmas celebrations.  Let’s be frank, we really do not want to see some of these people.  They will conveniently forget their nastiness over the years and walk into our homes saying “Merry Christmas.” They will act as though nothing negative has transpired. We are upset, not just because we were hurt, but because they have hurt someone we love. 

We have a golden opportunity here, though. We can turn the typical Christmas phoniness into an experience of the Lord if we make the determination right now to love them, to be kind to them and not to be concerned with whether or not we will be hurt once more.  If we are sincere, they just might catch a glimpse of starlight in muddle of Christmas sentimentality. 

That is how the Tremendous Lover would act. That is how we act as people of Divine Starlight.

In fact, the greatest compliment that anyone could ever say to any of us is “When I am with you, I know what Jesus must be like.” 

When we try to be like the Lord, we will see the Divine starlight in the middle of the darkness.  When we are like the Lord, we will be the Divine starlight in the middle of a dark world.

For many, Christmas is a time of sadness, a time of more intense darkness.  Some of us have lost loved ones and miss them intensely during the holidays.  What would Jesus be like if he was there, with the grieving spouse, the stricken parent?  Would he say, “Get over it, move on with life.” I don’t think so.  What would Jesus be like?  Well, he wept at Lazarus’ tomb, didn’t he.  He would cry, and hug, and love and not be concerned with the words he said, just with being present supporting and loving those whose grief is intensified at Christmas.  If we can be loving in this way, if we can be like the Lord in this way, then we will be Divine starlight in the middle of a dark world.

For some Christmas is a time of deep sadness because their lives have not followed the plan they set out for themselves and their children.  Marriages have failed, careers have been disrupted by sickness or sudden unemployment, families have been wounded by addictions, and good people have suffered.  What would Jesus be like if he were to spend time with these people, in their families?  Would he be prying, “What really happened?” accusatory, “Couldn’t you have done more?”  or would he be supportive of the new direction taken, marveling at the sacrifices made, happy for the strength of love that has withstood unforeseen changes in life.  When we are loving instead of judgmental, we are being like the Lord. We will be Divine starlight in the middle of a dark world.

Some are convinced that the darkness they feel at Christmas or throughout the year for that matter is self-inflicted.  How many girls suffer at Christmastime because they were persuaded by those older than them or supposedly wiser than them to terminate a pregnancy?  Absolution might remove the sin, but it does nothing for the pain.  Some of these girls are in your families. Some of these girls are here right now.  What would Jesus be like for these victims of an immoral society?  He would be warm, loving, and He would become a baby for them to hold and rock.

And in fact, He did. He did become a baby not just for these suffering girls, but for all of us, and particularly for all who hurt.  He became a baby for us to hold and rock and love and gaze at and wonder at and realize that, perhaps, after all, all is well in this dark old world of ours.

When we hold Him, when we treasure the Presence of God as one of us, the Gift of Christmas, we begin to see clearly. And the Divine Starlight shines through the darkness.


Christmas Day
December 25, 2007 Year: A
Is 52:7-10; Heb 1:1-6; Jn 1:1-18;
Or Jn 1:1-5, 9-14
A child is born

First Reading...
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns.'

Listen! Your sentinels lift up their voices, together they sing for joy; for in plain sight they see the return of the Lord to Zion.

Break forth together into singing, you ruins of Jerusalem; for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." [Is. 52:7-10]

Second Reading...
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom he also created the worlds.

He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

For to which of the angels did God every say, 'You are my Son: today I have begotten you'? Or again, 'I will be his Father, and he will be my Son"? And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, 'Let all God's angels worship him.'" [Heb. 1:1- 6]

Gospel Reading...
"In the beginning was the word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.


The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth.

John testified to him and cried out, 'This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.' From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known." [Jn. 1:1-18]

Birth is the most lively and joyful event in the life of the born and parents. This joy cannot be easily expressed. There is such a lot of life involved in the birth of a child.

Story:

Charles Plumb was a US Navy jet pilot in Vietnam. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience!

One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”

”How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb..

”I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he had looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat; abib in the back; and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said ‘Good morning, how are you?’ or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.” Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent at a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.

Now, Plumb asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute?” Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. He also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory - he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety.

Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. As you go through this week, this month, this year, recognize people who pack your parachutes.

Christianity is a religion of joy that invites every human being to experience liberation from feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and worthlessness. More than underscoring our shortcomings, the teachings of Jesus open for us a deep appreciation of God's unfathomable love for every person. God's love does not depend on how good we are, how bright or promising, how conscientious or even caring. It's hard to believe, but God loves us just because we are. How do we know this? Jesus, God Incarnate, demonstrates this in his interaction with people.

Jesus surrounded himself with the "losers" of his day: prostitutes, tax collectors (hated because they cheated the public), lepers (their disease made them total outcasts), and the poor and disadvantaged. His primary followers were a group of mostly fishermen, whom he promised would learn to "fish for people." These followers often misunderstood Jesus, and when Jesus was being persecuted, they deserted and denied him. Jesus was amazingly patient, always forgiving, always meeting people on their own terms. He was slow to condemn and quick to bring out the best even in the least likely people. Their transformations came as a result of their gradual appreciation for the mystery of God's love for them. If God could accept and love them despite their sins and shortcomings, perhaps they could learn to accept and love themselves!

Jesus does hold up ideals that are never possible to fully emulate here on earth. His desire is to bring out the best in each of us not to lay some guilt trip. Even those whom we call "saints" (the holy ones) are hardly without faults. What makes someone a saint is not their goodness but the quality of their love of others. Those who live more and more for others, who like Jesus extend themselves to respect and value every other person, are God's saints.

Ironically, it is often when we do feel inadequate or sinful that God's love and grace come to reassure us and turn us around. "Blessed are those who know their need of God, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3. What is important to God is not our perfection, as if that were possible, but our understanding that we need God in order to find our deepest selves. When we know our need of God, we understand that the world does not rest on our shoulders, that someone loves us deeply despite our many warts, that we will never be alone, and that our life is not a test we have to pass. Rather, life is a relationship with God we simply have to live.

As we celebrate Christmas, we need to keep in mind that this is a feast of all of us, especially of sinners, because the only reason Jesus came into this world is to call back the sinners. He is always there, with them. We need just to say him that we need him in this situation of sin and helplessness.

Incident:

Early in the morning when I was on my way to celebrate the Holy Eucharist I spotted a rag picker from afar. He was tired going through the rubbish that was heaped on the road side and then he rested for a while. He was busy searching for things in the stinking rubbish that was dumped on the road side. He then picked up some bones from a plastic bag, started chewing them. My heart broke and I approached him, gave him some money and I disappeared from there. I could not stomach the fact of that boy chewing the bones and I lost my sleep that day. I became deeply aware of my life and conditions around me. I became conscious of how much I blame others for so little things of no importance at all. I feel so comfortable in my room with all the modern facilities, I am cared and food never lacks in my life. I wonder since how many days this boy did not take anything substantial. I entered deep within the miserable conditions of the society, the rag pickers, the lonely, the terminally ill people, broken families, the unemployed etc.

Christmas is Thanksgiving

The words of St. Paul must resound in our hearts as we draw closer to the end of this year and begin a new one. Thanking is a human quality springs from within because of the divine presence within us and His providence. We cannot but thank Him for life itself that has come to us through mysterious ways and mysterious people. Just a reflection on how our parents met each other and how they fell in love with each other and how they gave birth to you is a mystery human mind cannot easily grasp. At times the question may arise within us, why am I born? Why am I born this way? And in this family and society? And why am I in this country? But a much deeper question should haunt us, why my parents liked one another and came together to make a family? Such questions perhaps will awaken in us the sense of wonder, providence, gratitude and beauty.  The word “you” is very important to me and you. If “you” were not there I would not be for “you”. This “you” applies to my parents, brothers and sisters, friends, community members, people I know, and to the community in which I live right now etc. We are all connected to one anther through this word “you”. Anyone who is fortunate enough to have a friend or relative who is consistently supportive knows how much we depend on connections as “you” and “me” or similar as these. Anyone who has ever been seriously ill and had to go to the hospital remembers what it feels like to have a kind doctor, nurse, or medical technician stand by the side of the gurney. It isn't just the medical expertise that's comforting; it's the human presence that makes us feel that we are not alone. Anyone who has ever relied on a kind stranger to help at roadside with sudden car trouble knows why some people refer to these Samaritans as angels. Our relationships precisely mirror our satisfaction, or lack of it, with life itself. When we are unhappy, most often it's because we don't have satisfying relationships.

There is nothing like thanking someone during this season. We need to find that person who really made an impact in our life. Hence, searching that person, who led you till this point of your life. We cannot thank God enough.

The times he has protected me from dangerous, fatal accidents. This has happened very often in my life. Just a close brush with a speeding vehicle would have put an end to my life, yet I live today. I remember when once I escaped a fatal accident at the middle of the road, the speeding motorcycle of my friend skid and we fell flat on road. That day, God was just with us. In another 30 seconds 10 trucks with heavy loads passed by, and those trucks would never have applied breaks to save us if we had been still there. That would have killed a dozen of people. I do not have words even today to thank the Mighty Hand that prevented that tragedy. I cannot thank God enough the times when I see people with multiple serious and incurable diseases and I am still without any of such things. I fall on my knees and thank him. I will never ever succeed in thanking HIM ENOUGH.

Let this day be a day of stocktaking. Let us turn within, recognize our weaknesses and try to overcome them. Let us sink down all differences and sit together in all loving devotion for the Master. Let us purge our souls and cleanse our hearts, for unless we are pure, we cannot see the Kingdom of God, much less enter into it.

If you can love your God with all your heart, with all your strength and with all your soul and love your neighbors as yourselves; if you can forget your prejudices and differences, your hatreds and petty jealousies; if you can love even your enemies as Jesus did, who died uncomplaining on the Cross, then all things shall be added unto you and you will achieve spiritual peace here and hereafter.

The love of the Master for you is boundless. The path is difficult, but He is always with you to guide you. Live by what He says, turn within and do daily meditation, and as sure as the sun rises every day, you shall become the seers and the hearers of' the Word.

It is a commentary on our situation in life that the biggest problem most of us has with our Christmas shopping, aside from finding time to do it, is that most of the people we shop for already have everything they need. This year I’m fresh out of ideas.

Are we people who have everything or we who need everything? What do we really need this Christmas?

We need simplicity, time for sorting out our lives, time for being together, time for getting to know one another, and time for sharing ourselves at the deepest levels of human communication.

We need holy time, a sense of life’s deeper dimensions, of eternal mysteries breaking in upon finite existence, of the God of righteousness whose being conveys meaning to all of life’s actions and relationships, and the blessing of a world that wants to bless us if we’ll only let it.

We need space for seeing life as it is, for seeing the millions of people in the world who are starving to death and the millions who are dying of simple diseases, for realizing how shallow life is when it is lived merely for the pleasure of the moment without any regard to the future or its consequences, for standing back and looking at our own lives, so that, we will have a chance to mend our ways, to become wholesome, to become worthy, and to become children of God.

We need the Christ of Christmas and renewal of our inner spirits. That is what it all comes down to, isn’t it? We need to hear and receive the message of Christmas, that God has entered the human arena to dwell with us, that His presence is consequently here and available to us now, that we are not alone, spinning out our destinies…, and that all our days are spent before the Holy One of Israel who poured all that He was and is and will be through the funnel of a miracle into the child born in the manger of Bethlehem. We need to surrender our lives to Christ, who is the real Gift of Christmas, and in the end He so overshadows all others as to be the only one.

In a sense, I am talking about all of us.

That is the way it ought to be for us at Christmas. Most of us have been lost in the busyness of our existence, trying to cope from day to day, and have quite forgotten who we are or whose we are… And then we, who thought we had everything, realize we have nothing, and, realizing we have nothing, stand ready to receive everything. For He is our joy and peace.

Another year of our precious life has gone, bringing us closer to the great final change, called death. Those who have learnt to rise above body-consciousness at will, have won victory over death. Last enemy that we have to conquer is death. Blessed are they who have attained this competency at the feet of the Master Jesus - for they lose all fear of death—for them life and death make no difference—for they die daily and traverse into the higher planes. Physical Science has produced weapons to move in the space around the world as also to reach moon. These inventions seemed miraculous in the past. But it has now become a solid fact. Similarly our Divine Master who came, knew as to how to rise above body-consciousness and traversed into the higher planes. 'Unless you are born anew, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God'. 'Learn to die so that you may begin to live'.

I wish that you be rooted on your belief solidly. Let not others' wayward opinions deflect you from the True Path you are on. Let not promises of glory by anyone waylay you. Do not come to hurried conclusions, but use discrimination in all your undertakings. Stick to what is Real. With an ethical and loving background your spiritual success is definitely assured. My love and best wishes are always with you in all your noble efforts and holy journey to your home.

In all the frenzy and noise of the season of Christmas, O God, help us to find our way home; and, having found it, let us never lose it. Through Christ, who was born to show us the way. Amen.

This Christmas Question for you

  • Have you ever thanked God for your life?

  • Do you really become aware of God’s innumerable blessings in your life?

  • Do you take it for granted all the comforts that come in your life?

  • Can you at times open your eyes to the worst miseries of life in this world? War, earthquakes, floods, violence, killings, poverty?

  • Do you become sad because others are better than you?

  • Are you really concerned with your spiritual growth, which happens when you are grateful to God?

  • Are you happy where you are? If not, why? Find out the reasons behind your unhappiness

  • Begin to be grateful for your mind, feet, hands, eyes, health etc. There are more than 500 millions who do not have all these bodily organs for a comfortable life.

  • There are another 500 millions of people who live in very poor conditions and are happier than you, why?

  • Pray and find out the basic dissatisfaction you experience; allow the spirit of God to touch your dissatisfaction and begin to be grateful to Him.

  • Make a deep meditation on rag pickers who struggle to live yet at times they are happy because they get something to fill their hungry stomachs.


WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS

  Click here for other Sunday Homilies 

A New book from Fr. Rudy :
Short review of the book: This book is an out come of a serious exegetical study on the important words and texts from the writings of St John of the Cross. The study deals with a short life and writings of the mystic and then does a complete study on GOD, MAN and WAYS to EXPERIENCE GOD. The book is available at: St. Joseph Church, Near Holy Cross Convent School, Mira Road East, Thane Dt. Maharashtra State - 401 107, India. Books can be ordered through email: rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

The cost of the book is Rs. 125/- pp.xviii + 234, The Title of the Book is: THE DYNAMISM OF SPIRITUAL GROWTH - An Exegetical Study on St. John of the Cross, author: Dr. Rudolf V. D' Souza, OCD, MA. PhD.

Dear friend, my homilies will be posted on Thursdays and you can benefit them and if you need more resources, you could contact me on rudyocd@yahoo.com or rudyocd@gmail.com

Let us make this ministry fruitful one so that the Word of God becomes a source of joy for me and for you and help people become more aware of its riches. You are also welcome to share your feedback with me. Thanks and God bless. 

 

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