Homily by Fr. Michael Payyapilly during the Healing Mass
at Our Lady Help of Christians in Melbourne on the 16th of July, 2010
Dear Brothers and Sisters
We come for worship and the greatest worship that we can ever be part of is the Eucharist. We come for the Eucharist and attend the whole mass not knowing who is seated next to us. We all share something in common. We could come from different backgrounds, different languages, different countries but we all share something common when we are in a church. It is important to turn to one another and greet each other. This seems funny. We do not do this in church… that is sad.
We are not strangers… we better know which brother or sister is seated next to us.
We have come into the presence of the Lord to worship to adore with a prayer on our lips and a desire on our hearts.. that is how we always come to church with a prayer on our lips and a desire on our hearts. Many people have asked me why is it that we have to go to church to pray. Jesus is everywhere and therefore I can pray anywhere. Why should I specifically come to church? Why we come into the church and pray. Why is it important? I am not talking as a church as a whole. That is not my topic. I am talking about the constructive church. Your church. In the old testament we read about the temple of Jerusalem being built. Are you aware of the temple of Jerusalem. God’s Word tells us very clearly how this temple of Jerusalem was built. Whose promise was it? David made a promise to God that I will build you a temple. David never had a palace. Why? David would always say I will have a palace, the day I have something for God and only then will I have a palace and that is why the King of Israel did not have a palace till Solomon built the temple of Jerusalem after which they build a palace for the king and we read how the temple of Jerusalem was built by Solomon
1 Kings 5:7
“When Hiram heard Solomon’s message, he was greatly pleased and said, “Praise be to the LORD today, for he has given David a wise son to rule over this great nation.”
Here we read Solomon is beginning the construction of the temple of Jerusalem and he starts getting the very best of all the things in the world. Solomon was rich and he wanted the very best for the construction of the temple of Jerusalem and we read in chapter 6: 1. We read about different things that Solomon does for the construction of the temple of Jerusalem.
1 kings 6:1
“And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month Ziv, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the LORD.”
1 kings 6:2
“And the house which king Solomon built for the LORD, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits”
1 kings 6:3
“And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; and ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house.”
1 kings 6:4
“And for the house he made windows of narrow lights.”
1 kings 6:5
“And against the wall of the house he built chambers round about, against the walls of the house round about, both of the temple and of the oracle: and he made chambers round about:”
1 kings 6:6
“The nethermost chamber was five cubits broad, and the middle was six cubits broad, and the third was seven cubits broad: for without in the wall of the house he made narrowed rests round about, that the beams should not be fastened in the walls of the house.
… Does’nt this sound boring .. Its sounds boring.. the whole chapter is all this…all cubits deep high..etc…
Dear bro and sisters the importance of this is the moment Solomon was building the temple he goes down to the particulars because it is house of God not even one little thing is left behind, everything is described even to the extent there are two angels, two cherubim’s, every little thing is given attention and Solomon makes a grand temple for God. A huge one everything plated with gold, studded with diamonds and all the precious stones. A huge place … and after the whole thing is done up. We read in chapter 6 and 7.
1 kings 8
“Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Zion, the City of David. 2 All the men of Israel came together to King Solomon at the time of the festival in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month.”
The whole temple is done up and then Solomon stands before the temple and dedicates the temple. On that day Solomon makes a prayer.. a prayer of dedication – a beautiful prayer of dedication.
1 kings 8:27
“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. “
We know very clearly how much of effort Solomon has put in making that house of God.. how many cubits, high, wide, deep and in length and after all this a magnificent structure and yet Solomon looks and says. Will God indeed dwell in this house that I have built for Him. He is much greater. Will God come and ever reside over here. What Solomon is doing is praying… it is a prayer.. He is praying to God and telling him “God come and reside in the place I have made for you”. It,s not worthy but come and reside
Dear bro and sisters, Solomon made a big temple for God and then he told God.. God would you reside in this place… many times we could make big structures than this… We could ask God ..will you reside in this place. Is this good enough for you. The Lord will never say no as long it is consecrated for Him, kept aside for Him. It is the same prayer that Solomon makes …we make in the church. We say Lord let your eyes be open night and day towards this house. So that your name shall be there and that you will heal the prayers that come out of this place. That is what Solomon did.. he offered praise. Lord this is what I offer to you. Let your eyes and ears be open to the prayers that come out from this place. Every moment without sleep without stopping, infinitely Lord let your eyes and ears be opened to the prayers that come out from this place. That is what we say when we come to the church. Night and day that your eyes and ears be opened to the prayers that we make from here and we offer unto you.
1 kings 8:30
“Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.”
Whenever the people of Israel that is you and me come into his presence n the house of God this prayer applies to us.
1 kings 8:33-34
“When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and confess your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, 34 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their fathers.”
1 kings 8:35
“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and confess your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them,”
1 kings 8:36
“then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters the word says when heaven is shut up and there is no rain – what is this rain an indication of? It is an outpouring of blessings and water … without water we know how much we struggle. In Melbourne we know what it’s like … especially in summer. In Australia we are covered from all sides with water, yet you are struggling for water and therefore it is not enough that you are covered by water but be blessed with water and that is what the word tells us .. when the heaven is shut up and rains falls down.. Lord look at the plea that your children are making unto you – send down blessings. When the heavens shut up…why would the heavens shut up? Because they have sinned against you.. when we have thrown away the blessings that god gives us, because of our sin, our attitudes, our arrogance, because of our ignorance because of orientation towards sin .. whenever that happens Oh Lord let me come back to you and cry unto you…open the heavens again and bring down the blessing..
When we come into this temple… a prayer is made.. let heavens be open and let the blessings flow.
When we cry because of the sin we have committed and there is no blessing.. come into the temple of the Lord and sit in his presence and you offer the prayers.. the prayers of repentance that will open the heavens and the blessings will flow through.
1 kings 8:37
“When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come”
1 kings 8:38
“and when a prayer or plea is made by any of your people Israel–each one aware of the afflictions of his own heart, and spreading out his hands toward this temple”
What is all this.. these are afflictions ???
Dear brothers and sisters we all struggle with afflictions, we all go through famine, brokenness in ourselves. So, many times we have plaques, mildew, things of the world that destroy us.. it keeps afflicting us… Does sin afflict you? Does sin tempt you? How many of you are tempted by sin? There is no one who is not tempted by sin.
We are all afflicted by sin…all the time. Many times this affliction itself brings us to famine. We feel dry within ourselves. We feel there is no spirituality any more. We feel there is no Jesus anymore. We don’t feel oriented towards the Lord. If there is famine in the land, ..whatever the affliction, … stretch out your hand towards the awesome God.
Our prayer … “Lord, when we stretch our hand towards the house of God, Lord bring in that blessing.”
What a beautiful prayer, Lord whenever they look towards you, bring in a blessing.
In the olden times, there used to be the ringing of the church bells.. I was in Germany recently early in the morning I heard the church bells going it such a beautiful feeling, it reminds us to turn our face to God. And you are reminded of a God who is there for you. A God who has not abandoned you. It’s sad nowadays… the church bells are not there anymore, we would rather have an electric bell that makes a sound. It does not have the same impact.
1 kings 8:44-45
“When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the LORD toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name,”
“then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.”
Brothers and sisters it is true nowadays we do not go out to battle and we do not have swords. One thing is a fact that we all go out to battle – different kinds of battle. Within our families it is a battle; … husband and wife. Do you know who wins… You are right … nobody wins ! If there is a battle both of you lose. Everywhere there is a battle … to live your family vocation it is a battle. It is not easy. For us priests many of you say “how sad father you are all alone” and we think to ourselves “Thank God we are all alone.” We all fight a huge battle.. nothing is easy. You are fighting a battle to keep your family together… fighting a battle to bless your family; to bring your children in holiness, in compassion, in love. Every day the enemy keeps attacking from every side. Not in the form of individuals. But in the form of material world. The world that belongs to Satan. Lord himself said. This world belongs to Satan.. My kingdom is not of this world . My kingdom is of the other world. We live in a world where Satan keeps on afflicting us and hits out at our weakest point.. that is the family.. when our family gets broken we break.. when you have the sword run right through your stomach, you will complain; but if runs right through your child’s stomach, you will be broken. We fight a battle to lead our children into holiness, especially you know it because the world is full of sin. We fight a daily battle at work to be sincere in a world when everyone is stamping to get right on top. That temptation is always there, “even I should stamp to get right on top, otherwise I will be left right behind…” It is a battle ! Every moment is a battle ! In this world the only people who are accepted are the people who have money in their hand. It’s a battle not to run behind money. The world looks for pleasure, it is a battle .
Every prayer every plea whenever they look towards the house, whenever they stretch their hand.. Lord bring in a blessing.
1 kings 8:42:43
“for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm–when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.”
Brothers and sister this prayer that Solomon makes is a very simple prayer. Those of you who know the history of Israelites would know they are a close- knit people. They don’t let others in. They are very careful about letting others in. And here we see that Solomon making that prayer is a huge step. When he says any foreigner comes in into this temple – that means opening the temple to a foreigner. It is not only meant for my people Israel – but opening out for anyone – anyone who comes here let them get converted, let them get changed. Solomon says you answer their plea and they will come to know their God.
Brothers and sisters when any brother and sister comes into the church and they make a plea. That should be the prayer on our lips… Lord answer their plea. Not because they are catholic, not because they are protestants, not because they come from a particular background.. Lord just answer their pleas because they are your children.
Solomon makes this whole dedication of the temple. Lord this is what I want to do with your temple. Whenever your children cry out let their prayers be answered.
At the end we see what Solomon does… he blesses the enemy !
1 kings 8:62
“Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the LORD.”
1 kings 8:66
“On the following day he sent the people away. They blessed the king and then went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the LORD had done for his servant David and his people Israel.”
Many of us question and ask .. why is it that it is so important that we come into a church and pray.. one thing we should remember…
30 year of this parish… during the 30 years 1000s of people have prayed in this church … and you are joining in their prayers. Every brick in the wall is filled with prayer. Down the generation this church is filled with prayers. When u are kneeling down in your parish church you are kneeling down with your ancestors. With so much of meaning, with so much of love, you have touch every brick. When you walk on the floors you may not even realize how many tear drops have fallen. So many mothers have prayed for their children. When your children are broken and your children have gone astray – you do not know how to bless your children – how to change their lives. If you come into the church and you pray with your ancestors your prayers will be answered… it is so powerful because u are not praying alone. You pray in the centuries of prayer that have been offered unto to God. That is why it is so important to come into your church and pray.
People always ask me why should we come to the church and pray.. why is it significant. Apart from the fact that the lord is there in the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord is residing here… the Lord in his mercy resides here. When a prayer is offered up.. it is joined with the centuries of prayer with the other brothers and sisters who have offered their prayers. According to the church you are praying with them. Feeling with them; blessing with them. Whenever you are broken, turn to your church and pray. You know the Muslims turn to Mecca and pray. Very significant. Back in India every church in Kerala used to be facing the east; it was a tradition – for east is the place from where the Lord came. True, it can only be a direction, but there is a lot of meaning in it. We can always say that the Lord is right here – when we think of it in our brains, the Lord is right up here; all that is true. You are joining in the prayers that have been said all through the centuries. Your tears have a meaning because your tears are joining with the tears of the centuries. That prayer will be heard.
I feel sad when I go to Europe I see churches closing down. It is very sad. So many centuries of prayer has been offered on those bricks. So many people have experienced the mercy and the love of God.
My dear brothers and sisters – don’t let it die off. That is why the tradition that the church has. It is important to always come to your parish and pray. You can have your prayer groups. I don’t say that is wrong; but always remember, a hall or a small place, can never substitute the beauty and the grace of your parish, your church. Because years of prayers have been offered in the parish church, when you go there you are joining in those prayers.
Every time we offer prayers we are remembering our ancestors who have passed on the faith to us. Israelites would always use the term the God of our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Even today they say that.. what do you mean by this.. it is the gratitude of Abraham…for passing on the faith. Abraham had the faith
If we have our parishes it is because our forefathers worked towards making that parish. It is not something stray … it has a lot of meaning.. it brings in a lot of blessing.
Close your eyes for a moment and make a prayer that is on your heart.. a beautiful prayer that is joining with the prayers that is made for the past 30 years in this church … so many sacrifices offered to the Lord. You are joining with that prayer. As a mother you cry to the Lord and pray for your child… so many couples have come here praying about their lives, their brokenness, as a couple now pray for your own lives, your own brokenness, join with their prayers. So many childless couples in the last 30 years have prayed here… you join in their prayers… Are you childless? Then join with their prayers. So many sick have come in the last 30 years crying and asking God for a healing… so many are jobless…are u jobless? Cry out to the Lord. Are you a person shedding a tear in the secret of your room because of the brokenness of life. Remember there were tears that fell on the very floor that you are standing on, during the past 30 years.
Just imagine the beauty of this church. This whole church is now filled with prayer. Every person’s prayer is filled with praise. Lord every little prayer we offer unto you, our battles, our brokenness, our afflictions, our pain, our sadness – these are the prayers we offer to you tonight. We pray in a very special way for this church, this parish, which has been dedicated to our Lady. Lord for centuries let this church survive. Let it survive the trying times and the brokenness of life. Let it survive! That our children, their children and for generations to come, my lineage will come and kneel before you in prayer and they will join in the prayer that I have made tonight. When they pray that day it is an indication that many prayers have been answered.
I offer my family lord. I may not belong to this parish, but I think about my church as well my children and generations to come who will go to that church. Lord as the temple was dedicated unto you, and Solomon said that anyone who turns towards the temple will be blessed as they extend their hand towards the temple, here at this moment we your children extend our hands up to you. We are in the house of God; our prayers are moving all over this place. We offer our prayers to you O Lord with hands extended for our children and children after that; Lord we believe you will answer the plea from our heart and along with all the prayers that are offered in this church we offer it to you Lord during the offertory.