Sunday Homilies by Fr. Rudolf V. Dí Souza

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17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 27, 2008; Year: A
1 Kgs 3:5-12; Rom 8:28-30; Mt 13:44-52
The justified will be glorified.

First Reading...
"At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, 'Ask what I should give you.' And Solomon said, 'You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today.

And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this, your great people?'

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, 'Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.'" [1 Kgs. 3:5-12] 

Second Reading...
"We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

For those whom God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

And those whom God predestined he also called; and those whom he called he also justified; and those whom he justified he also glorified." [Rom. 8:28-30] 

Gospel Reading...
"Jesus spoke to his disciples: 'The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad.

So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

'Have you understood all this?' They answered, 'Yes.' And he said to them, 'Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.'" [Mt. 13:44-52] 

What is then the Kingdom of Heaven?
There is an old fable in which the mighty oak tree which stood for over one hundred years finally was blown over by a storm. The tree fell into a river that floated it downstream until it came to rest among the reeds growing along the riverbank. The fallen giant asked the reeds in amazement, "How is it that you were able to weather the storm that was too powerful for me, an oak tree, to withstand?"

The reeds replied, "All these years you stubbornly resisted the winds that swept your way. You took such pride in your strength that you refused to yield, even a little bit. We, on the other hand, have not resisted the winds, but have always bent with them. We recognized the superior power of the wind and so, the harder the wind blew the more we humbled ourselves before it." 

Compare the serene and simple splendour of a rose in bloom with the tensions and restlessness of your life. The rose has a gift that you lack: His perfectly content to be itself. It has not been programmed from birth as you have been, to be dissatisfied with itself, so it has not the slightest urge to be anything other than it is. That is why it possesses the artless grace and absence of inner conflict that among humans is only found in little children and mystics.  

Consider your sad condition. You are always dissatisfied with yourself, always wanting to change yourself. So you are full of violence and self-intolerance, which only grows with every effort that you make to change yourself. So any change you achieve is always accompanied by inner conflict. And you suffer when you see others achieve what you have not and become what you are not.  

Would you be tormented by jealousy and envy if, like the rose, you were content to be what you are and never aspired to what you are not? But you are driven are you not, to be like someone else who has more knowledge, better looks, more popularity or success than you? You want to become more virtuous, more loving, more meditative; you want to find God, to come closer to your ideals. Think of the sad history of your efforts at self-improvement, that either ended in disaster or succeeded only at the cost of struggle and pain. 

Now suppose you desisted from all efforts to change yourself, and from all self-dissatisfaction, would you then be doomed to go to sleep having passively accepted everything in you and around you? There is another way besides laborious self-pushing on the one hand and stagnant acceptance on the other. It is the way of self-understanding. This is far from easy because to understand what you are requires complete freedom from all desire to change what you are into something else. You will see this if you compare the attitude of a scientist who studies the habits of ants without the slightest desire to change them with the attitude of a dog trainer who studies the habits of a dog with a view to making it learn something. If what you attempt is not to change yourself but to observe yourself, to study everyone of your reactions to people and things, without Judgement or condemnation or desire to reform yourself, your observation will be non-selective, comprehensive, never fixed in rigid conclusions, always open and fresh from moment to moment. Then you will notice a marvellous thing happening within you: you will be flooded with the light of awareness, you will become transparent and transformed. 

Will change occur then? Oh, yes. In you and in your surroundings. But it will not be brought about by your cunning, restless ego that is forever competing, comparing, coercing, sermonizing, manipulating in its intolerance and its ambitions, thereby creating tension and conflict and resistance between you and Nature ó an exhausting, self-defeating process like driving with your brakes on. No, the transforming light of awareness brushes aside your scheming, self-seeking ego to give Nature full rein to bring about the kind of change that she produces in the rose: artless. graceful, unself-conscious, wholesome, untainted by Inner conflict. 

Since all change is violent she will be violent. But the marvellous quality of Nature-violence, unlike ego-violence, is that it does not spring from intolerance and self-hatred. So there is no anger in the rainstorm that carries everything before it, or the fish that devour their young in obedience to ecological laws we know not, or body cells when they destroy each other in the interest of a higher good. When Nature destroys, it is not from ambition or greed or self-aggrandisement, but in obedience to mysterious laws that seek the good of the whole universe above the survival and well-being of the parts. 

It is this kind of violence that arises within mystics who storm against ideas and structures that have become entrenched in their societies and cultures when awareness awakens them to evils their contemporaries are blind to. It is this violence that causes the rose to come into being in the face of forces hostile to it. And it is to this violence that the rose, like the mystic, will sweetly succumb after it has opened its petals to the sun and lives in fragile, feeling loveliness, quite unconcerned to add a single extra minute to its allotted span of life. And so it lives in blessedness and beauty like the birds of the air and the flowers of the field, with no trace of the restlessness and dissatisfaction, the jealousy and anxiety and competitiveness that characterize the world of human beings who seek to control and coerce rather than be content to flower into awareness, leaving all charge to the mighty force of God In Nature. 

This is the Kingdom Jesus preached through multiple parables to make us understand that the reality of Godís kingdom is here, now, around you and within you (Lk 17.21).

  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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