Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. D’ Souza

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20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
August 19, 2007 Year: C

Jer 38:1-2, 4-6, 8-10
Heb. 12:1-4; Lk 12:49-53
I came to bring fire to the earth

First Reading...
"The officials of King Zedekiah heard the words that Jeremiah was saying to all the people: 'Thus says the Lord: 'Those who stay in the city shall die; but those who go out to the Chaldeans shall live.''

Then the officials said to the king, 'This man ought to be put to death, because he is discouraging the soldiers who are left in this city, and all the people, by speaking such words to them. For this man is not seeking the welfare of his people, but their harm.'

King Zedekiah said, 'Here he is; he is in your hands; for the king is powerless against you.'

So they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king's son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. Now there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sand in the mud.

So Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, an officer in the king's house, left the king's house and spoke to the king, 'My lord king, these men have acted wickedly in all they did to the prophet Jeremiah by throwing him into the cistern to die there of hunger, for there is no bread left in the city.' Then the king commanded Ebed-melech the Ethiopian, 'Take three men with you from here, and pull the prophet Jeremiah up from the cistern before he dies.'" [Jer. 38:1- 2, 4-6, 8-10]

Second Reading...
"Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Consider Jesus who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." [Heb. 12:1-4]

Gospel Reading...
"Jesus said to his disciples: 'I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!

Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." [Lk. 12:49-53]

To those who were learning to regard Jesus as the Messiah, the anointed one of God, these words would come as a bleak shock. They regarded the Messiah as conqueror and king, and the Messianic age as a golden time.

  1. In Jewish thought fire is almost always the symbol of judgment. So, then, Jesus regarded the coming of his kingdom as a time of judgment. The Jews firmly believed that God would judge other nations by one standard and themselves by another; that the very fact that a man was a Jew would be enough to absolve him. However much we may wish to eliminate the element of judgment from the message of Jesus it remains stubbornly and unalterably entrenched there.

  2. The Authorized Version and the Revised Standard translate verse 50, “I have a baptism to be baptized with”. The Greek verb baptizein means to dip. In the passive it means to be submerged. Often it is used metaphorically. For instance, it is used of a ship sunk beneath the waves. It can be used of a man submerged in drink and therefore dead-drunk. It can be used of a scholar submerged (or sunk, as we say) by an examiner’s questions. Above all it is used of a man submerged in some grim and terrible experience-someone who can say, “All the waves and billows are gone over me.”

Helpful Story:
My grandfather took me to the fish pond on the farm when I was about seven, and he told me to throw a stone into the water. He told me to watch the circles created by the stone. Then he asked me to think of myself as that stone person.

"You may create lots of splashes in your life but the waves that come from those splashes will disturb the peace of all your fellow creatures," he said.

"Remember that you are responsible for what you put in your circle and that circle will also touch many other circles. You will need to live in a way that allows the good that comes from your circle to send the peace of that goodness to others. The splash that comes from anger or jealousy will send those feelings to other circles. You are responsible for both."

That was the first time I realized each person creates the inner peace or discord that flows out into the world. We cannot create world peace if we are riddled with inner conflict, hatred, doubt, or anger. We radiate the feelings and thoughts that we hold inside, whether we speak them or not. Whatever is splashing around inside of us is spilling out into the world, creating beauty or discord with all other circles of life.

Remember the eternal wisdom


I repeat the words of Saint Paul, "In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood." [Heb. 12:4] What powerful words worthy of reflection!

I have not come to bring peace, but sword, signifies that Jesus wants us to be warriors against evil and sinful. The just must suffer.

I heard once someone saying, that he wanted to come out of sin, but did not succeed until he fell into greater troubles and realized that he was sick and his condition was dangerous. He went finally for making a good confession of sins and made reparation, and he became a healthy person again.

God chose us to be his sons and daughters, to create in us a disposition for God’s kingdom. In our lives, we ought to accept what is spiritual and pleasing to God, rejecting what is sinful and offensive to Him. Those who renounce God and His existence, they adopt sin because their actions are sinful and offensive to God and neighbour. Those who are indifferent and are not ready to accept the truth, also are inclined towards sin. Those who persecute people who believe in God and are harmless, they too are sinning and are rebellious to God’s spirit. Those who intimidate the pious faithful who adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, their opposition to what is holy is a sign that they themselves cannot be holy.

Life is a constant combat against evil and sin. This is easily understood through the Gospel truths. Jesus himself had to combat the evil tendencies in the desert as the inception of his mission, and then he had to combat evil in the society, he had to struggle against the malpractices of the Pharisees and rulers of the time.

Like Jesus we too have to struggle against sin and Pharisaic tendencies. Every year, it comes to our attention that dozen of priests, brothers, sisters, seminarians, teachers and other Catholics are murdered because of their faith in Christ. These martyrs reflect only a small percentage of the many other Catholics who are murdered in a number of countries, some nations where the Catholic faith is but a minority of the population. While the lives of many of the faithful pass by unnoticed in this world's book of Catholic martyrs, in Heaven, these martyrs are glorified for having followed in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus. Their names shall never be forgotten.

Jeremiah struggled to preach the Word of God to people. He was rejected and persecuted. Perhaps Jeremiah himself could not accept this treatment on the part of the King and people. But God was constantly with Jeremiah and was working through him.

Lesson to be learnt, that we are not alone in our life. Whenever we are persecuted, we must be aware that God is with us and he takes care of us. He will never allow us to be orphans. If we cast a glance at the whole of the Bible, we find similar situations with regard to Moses, Patriarch Job, Ezekiel, Amos and Prophet Jonah. All these holy people suffered and were eventually rescued by God.

Sister is Pregnant:

It happened in a religious convent that the sister was practicing her nursing profession in a known hospital. She was well accepted and always happy to serve people with a smiling face. In the course of time the comrades in her convent became jealous and were particularly interested about her chastity. They spread rumors that this nurse sister was friendly with a doctor in the hospital. They accused her silently that she was coming late at times, perhaps going to the house of the doctor. In the end they even spread the rumors that she was pregnant. What happened? This young sister could not stomach the accusations and she disappeared. The members of her community spread still further rumors that she might have eloped with her new found love – the doctor. Then came a rude shock to them, when the neighbors found her body in the open well of their own campus. The lay people insisted for a postmortem of her body. Truth came out, in fact the sister was not pregnant. Who were pregnant? Well you can just imagine, the sister companions were pregnant with malice.

Saint Paul said, "I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate." [Rom. 7:15, 19]

Cow and Pig
A rich Landlord who once asked his parish priest—“Why does everybody call me stingy when every one knows that when I die I will leave everything I have to this church?”

The priest said; ‘There once was a pig and a cow. The pig was unpopular and the cow was loved by all in the village.

This puzzled the pig. The pig said to the cow, “people speak warmly of your good nature and your helpful attitude. They think you are very generous because each day you give them milk, butter and cheese. But what about me?

I give them everything I have. I give them the famous Goa sausages, bacon and ham. I also provide ingredients for mouth watering sorpotel. Yet no one likes me. Why is that?”

The priest continued: “Do you know what the cow answered? “

The Cow said, “Perhaps it’s because I give while I am still living.”

Examples of the inner conflict may involve making a resolution not to steal, ill-treat or spoil ones name anymore. It may include a self-promise to spend more time with the loved ones. It may involve making a resolution to no longer miss the celebration of the Holy Mass on Sundays. But when the time comes to get out of bed on Sunday morning; that is a different story. These and many more are examples of the inner battle. While we want to be good and spiritual in all our actions, our human nature interferes and draws us towards the worldly ways. As such, we must constantly be on the alert and strengthen our wills by resisting what is not Christian.

Let us try in this week to continue our search for God’s kingdom. Let us try our best to keep away evil from our life. Do we try to keep away from all sorts of things and people who ruin us? God has called us to be holy. Holiness does not mean that we need to be always with Bible and praying. Holiness does mean helping our brethren who are in need, trying to encourage them and being helpful towards them. This will certainly take us a long way in our life that is pleasing to God.

Ways to resist evil:

  • Try to cultivate presence of God

  • Be faithful for your daily prayers

  • Try to speak well of others

  • Be positive

  • Do not think too much of the past or future

  • Be focused and try your best to do what you have to

  • Visit your neighbor and help

  • Enter into a pious and holy conversation

  • Try to discuss about Biblical themes



First Reading...
"God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple.

A great portent appeared in heave: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth.

Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born.

And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming, 'Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of the Messiah.'" [Rev. 11:19a, 12:1-6, 10]  

Second Reading...
"Brothers and sisters, Christ has been raised form the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For Christ must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death." [1 Cor. 15:20-7]

Gospel Reading...
"Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.

And Mary said, 'My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.'

And Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home." [Lk. 1:39-56]  

Helpful Event:
The Eleven Seven Chain Train Bomb Blasts last year cannot be easily forgotten. Last year during this time the memory of this tragic day in the history of Mumbai was well fresh in the minds of millions of travelers by train. Anthony was on one of the trains that blasted at Mahim station. He had to enter the first class compartment and that day because he lost his spectacles while trying to enter the first class compartment, he was forced to enter the second class compartment. And when it reached Mahim station, it blasted, the compartment which he had to board. Most of the travelers died instantly and many more injured. Anthony thanked God for saving his life. He then helped carry the dead bodies, and became a good Samaritan until 10 pm. Then, Anthony walked, the long distance from Mahim to Mira Road. He was not afraid to walk, he just walked the distance praying, thanking God for his life and reached home early morning at 4.30 next day. After a week he wanted to offer a thanksgiving mass, and he told me the whole story. Anthony told me that he had that day lost the sense of time. He used to be very punctual, very particular to leave the office, start back home and reach on time etc. This event brought about a complete change, and he thought of offering his free services whenever and wherever needed in the church and at home and in the neighborhood in the Community.

Mary set out and went with haste:
Mary was in a hurry to help. She did not delay in responding to the need of Elizabeth. This is what we learn form Mary, always quick to find out the need of others. Later in her life she showed how she was always keen on finding out the needs of others. At the marriage feast a Cana, she was the one who found out the need for more wine.

Mary greeted Elizabeth:
This is one of the qualities of a content person in life. A content person always sees a positive realm in the other. The greeting happens spontaneously. Mary greeted Elizabeth with a intention of congratulating her for her pregnancy, greeted because she is older than herself and greeted because she brings further joyful tidings to Elizabeth. That is what Mary normally does in our life. The angel greeted her and she passes on the greetings to others.

Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord:
Magnifying the Lord is a kind of prayer of praise. We worship the Lord and then magnify his greatness in our life. Whenever we meet a loving person, we cannot but magnify him/her, applauding their good qualities, their talents and abilities. Magnifying the Lord is to forget ourselves and praising God for all that he has done to us.

For the Mighty One has done great things for me
Mary realized that the Mighty has done great things for her. When we are too much concerned about ourselves, we never realize that the Mighty God does wonders in our life. We normally take everything for granted. But when we go deeper into our life and find out how God has been good through the years, then we can be grateful to him. Often we are blind to God’s goodness in our life.

Helpful Event:
One day a boy of about 16 years of age named Kyle was walking home from school. He was carrying many books and other items and was seemingly have a lot of trouble making it.

Eventually, he tripped, and all the books and items fell from his arms. At that moment a young man named Will saw him from the other side of the road and walked over to see if there was anything he could do. He helped the boy pick up his things and carry them home.

In the next three months, him and the boy became very close. And then on the last day of school, Will found a note in his locker. It read:


You don't know this, but on that day three months ago, I had just cleaned out my locker. I was going to commit suicide. I thought no one cared about me. However, when you came over, I realized that someone did. So you see Will, when you picked up my books, you really picked up my life. Thank You,


Mary Assumed into Heaven keeps watch over us  

Oh, this is Assumption day. Mary goes up higher, but not without us. She always cares for us. I remember my Mom was a daring lady when we were children. She used to take care of us very much. On certain days at home in the evenings we used to be very fearful of snakes that were creeping into our home. One day a huge cobra had entered. My mom took a solid piece of stick to chase away that creature. I remember we all the four children were behind her clinging to her Sari and following her. That night I got up three to four times with fear of that creature. But each time I got up I saw my mom keeping a vigil with a dim lamp besides us. Oh, that I cannot forget. She was always concerned about us and even today at 75 she continues to be so. If so, what about Mother Mary? She always keeps watch over us. Never forget this.  





  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: or

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.

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