St Theresa of the child Jesus, Totton &  Our Lady of the Assumption & Edward the Confessor, Lyndhurst

 

 

NINETEENTH SUNDAY YEAR A 9th August

 

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady and St Edward Lyndhurst

 

If we have reached the age of reasoning for ourselves then, we would all agree that life is a mixture of “smiles and tears.” We all have ups and downs in life. Don’t we? We attend weddings and funerals. We enjoy success as well as experience failure. Do we not? Marriage appears full of smell of roses and suddenly turns into a nightmare. What about vocation to the priesthood, religious life and single life? Every vocation or profession in life has also its success and failure? Friends do disappoint us; and government is full of corruption and evil, and even in the Church the same evil may be experienced. Did Jesus not have Judas Iscariot amongst his Apostles? We can now see that evil also follows those in the sanctuary of God. No one is spared. Even Elijah the powerful prophet of God is so afraid because Queen Jezebel is pursuing him to kill him. So he goes into the cave to hide from Jezebel. His only security is to pray to God in the cave. If the man of God is not spared from evil in this world, who will be spared? Did God even spare his own Son Jesus from the consequences of evil in the world? Did Jesus not die on the cross?

 

The point is that whether we believe in God or not, we may not be spared from the evils of sickness, pain, persecution, war, violence, hatred, natural disaster and so forth. It is true that all this may leave us confused and downcast. This is because our human nature is wounded and broken due to the consequences of the fall of Adam and Eve. What do we do then? Do we have to give up our faith in God? No, we don’t give up our faith in God. Rather it is only faith in God that can see us through the darkness, fear, doubts, confusion and all the evil that threaten us in life. As far as we are human beings, we will always find ourselves in trouble and at times in serious trouble like the disciples of Jesus in the Gospel of today who are being tossed about in the dangerous sea waves. They are between life and death. Their consolation is that Jesus is there to save them from drowning. Life is full of things that threaten and frighten us. The things that threaten us can be beyond our physical ability to handle which symbolize Jezebel. Also there are spiritual powers that look like ghosts which frighten and threaten us in our daily living like the disciples of Jesus who are threatened and frightened on the sea in the Gospel of today. They are principalities and powers beyond our human ability. As believers, like Elijah, we can take cover in the power of prayer; and like Peter, we must acknowledge our inability and shout out nonstop for help in trust to our senior Brother Jesus and say to him, “Lord, save me.” Jesus is always close by. We only need to be conscious of that. He is Emmanuel – God is with us!

 

If you wish to arrange any pastoral needs

please contact Fr. Gerry on 023 8086 2270

or Deacon Stephen on 07777660050

email: totton@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

Also please let us know if you are self-isolating or God forbid have contracted COVID 19.

KEYHOLDERS- Please do not enter the church during this time of isolation.

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EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY YEAR A 2nd August

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Going through the readings the theme of banquet comes to mind which is very familiar to us because of its necessity. The importance of food cannot be over-emphasized. We may not survive without food. One Nigerian proverb says that a hungry man may not have the strength to pray nor worship God. Even the Bible says that those in the grave do not praise God. Of course a person who does not eat will die a physical death and it is only the living who praises God. The first and the gospel readings show us that God knows quite well that we need food in order to be alive. The Bible contains a lot of instances where Jesus ate with his disciples and even with tax collectors and sinners. Also Jesus has given us a lot of indications that in the Kingdom of God there will be a lot of feasting that is eating and drinking and being happy; a lot of celebration; a lot of rejoicing. So in the Kingdom of God there will be a lot joy. Heaven is full of joy because it is about celebrating everlasting life.

The celebration of our life and redemption starts here in our earthly living. Life is celebration. When our children marry; when mommy gives birth; when our children receive their first holy communion, pass their exams and graduate from college/university and so forth, we celebrate, we eat and drink and make merry. So to eat and drink together is a sign of togetherness in love and happiness. Jesus engaged in the same eating and drinking during his earthly life and has shown us that the Kingdom of God will be like that. As Christians we recollect his Last Supper with his Apostles. And at every Mass we commemorate his Last Supper with his Disciples. Mass is a participation in the Eucharistic table of the Lord. We eat the Body of Jesus and drink his Blood. This is a sacred meal prepared by Jesus and it is a reminder of the feast which God will prepare for the righteous in his Kingdom in heaven. And this heavenly feasting will have no end! The Scripture says: “Blessed is the man/woman who will eat at the feast in the Kingdom of God.” So be ready because heaven is a celebration of life that never ends. It is joy forever! Heaven is full of joy!

Lastly do not forget that invitation to this Feast in the Kingdom of God is free provided we thirst for God. God will not force himself on us. So the invitation is open-ended and it is for free.

 

SEVENTENTH SUNDAY YEAR A 26th July

 

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

Life is full of variety of values; full of things that are attractive to the human heart! Despite all the glittering things that attract the eyes, it comes down to a question of priority of values. This is because it is not possible to be humanly capable to grab everything that appeals to us as beautiful, pleasurable and wonderful. We will end up killing ourselves in a bid to satisfy all that our heart hungers for. That is why Mother Church trains and nurtures us to be wise and mature Christians to be able to develop sound judgment about what is more or less important in life. The Scripture encourages us to seek first the Kingdom of God and every other thing will be added unto us.

 

And so the parables of treasure and pearl in the Gospel reading boldly points out to us that the Kingdom of God is the supreme value of life. The two parables suggest that the Kingdom of God is well worth the sacrifice every human being can ever make. The goal or the meaning of human life is the Kingdom of God. God has created us for himself so that after our earthly life we may share everlasting life with him in his Kingdom. Or do we have any other goal in life other than the Kingdom of God? With the biblical Joshua I declare, “As for me, I and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). Of course the Kingdom of God is worth any sacrifice. And it entails of giving up certain aims, ambitions, certain habits and ways of life which may be difficult to let go. It amounts to taking on a discipline and self-denial which are by no means easy. It is about taking up our cross and following after Jesus. But there is no other way to peace of mind and heart in this life and to the glory of God in the life to come.

 

We can see in the parable how joyful the man is when he discovers the hidden treasure. He is ready to give up everything to make the treasure his. The treasure is the Kingdom of God. It is interesting to note that he stumbles upon this treasure when he is going about his daily business. I am happy to learn that it is not only in so-called holy places, and so called religious occasions that we can find God or feel close to God. Today we learn that we can encounter God when we are honestly and diligently doing our daily work.

 

SIXTEENTH SUNDAY YEAR A 19th July

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurs

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP

The outstanding theme for the liturgy of today is God’s patience - God’s constant patience towards us his feeble children. If we sincerely reflect on our failings in our daily living, we will appreciate how patient God has been with us. Our mistake, be it small or serious, is not enough in God’s calculation to destroy us instantly. God waits for us patiently throughout our life to repent and come back to him because he does not want the death of a sinner. He created us for himself. He created us to live with him forever and not to be condemned for ever. If we appreciate his patience for us then, we cannot be comfortable with offending him or hurting other people.

God’s patience for us is demonstrated in the parable of the weed or darnel in today’s Gospel reading. In the gospel-story, the farmer planted wheat but while he went to rest, the enemy went in and planted weed in his farm. As both grew, they resembled each other and their roots intertwined. Now both are grown and everyone can distinguish between the wheat and the darnel. It is now completely impossible to uproot the darnel from the edible wheat without destroying both as the farmer tells his servants. He tells his servants to be patient until the harvest time when it will be possible to uproot both and separate the edible from the poisonous weed. It is obvious that the farmer represents God and the servants are his angles. The man who sowed the weed is the devil. The devil is God’s enemy and the enemy of all those who believe in God.

This parable teaches us that there is always a hostile power in the world seeking and waiting to destroy the good seed. Note that we are God’s good seed. It is also important to note that both the hostile power and the power of God influence our life. There is always the influence that seeks to destroy the good seed even before it produces good fruit. Note that this wicked influence can be in the church or outside the church. That is why it is extremely important to be on our guard. Also it teaches us that it is hard to distinguish between those who are in the Kingdom of God and those who are not. A man may appear to be good but may in fact be bad and vice versa. The problem is that we are too quick to classify people and label them good or bad without knowing the facts. It teaches us not to be so quick with our judgments. It also teaches us that judgment cannot come until the end. Judgment is not hasty, but judgment comes eventually. A man commits serious sins but may repent. A man lives an honourable life but in the end may wreck it all by a sudden collapse into sin. At first a sinner looks clever and humanly speaking escapes the consequences of his sins always. It is as if goodness is never rewarded in our earthly life. The wicked always goes free without punishment. This parable teaches us that the only person with the right to judge is God who can weigh the whole life of a person. It is God alone, who can discern the good and the bad; who alone sees all of a man and all of his life. In this liturgy, we learn not to judge people at all, and a warning is given that in the end God’s judgment must come.

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Fifteenth Sunday Year A 12th July 2020

 

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst

 

The parable of the sower in the Gospel reading shows definitely a turning-pointing in the ministry of Jesus. At the beginning Jesus teaches or preaches in the synagogues; but now we find him teaching on the seashore. The change is significant. Is the door to the synagogue shut at him? Not completely yet but it is getting to that. What about us? Was the door to the church not shut to us for three months? But in our own case it was due to corona virus pandemic not just to punish us but to secure our health. In relation to Jesus, the Jewish leaders, the Scribes and Pharisees and the elders oppose Jesus out of jealousy and fear. They are afraid that they are losing their subjects to Jesus. They feel that their subjects are abandoning them in great number and becoming followers of Jesus. The Jewish leaders follow Jesus wherever he goes just to listen and weigh and sift every word he speaks to find a charge against him, to accuse him in order to kill him. This is the reason why Jesus forsakes the synagogue and takes to the village streets, roads and the lake-sides and homes to preach the Kingdom of God to the crowds who wish to listen to him. One of the supreme tragedies is that Jesus is banished from the Church of his day. However this tragedy does not stop Jesus from bringing God’s invitation to men and women who are eager to hear him. The man who has a real message to deliver, and a real desire to deliver it, will always find a way of giving it to men and women. Today we see Jesus by the lake-side delivering the message of the Kingdom of God to the crowd who are eager to hear the message of life.

 

Is there any way we throw Jesus out from his Church today? We may throw Jesus away from the Church in many ways: when we engage in unnecessary argument or gossip, when we refuse to accept the teachings and the doctrines of the Church because we think they are archaic, not modern, unnecessary, out of date; when we pose to be more clever than the Church forgetting that the Church is taught and guided by the Holy Spirit. Someone sent me a WhatsApp video of an incident where three police men arrested a man who was preaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ along a certain street in London. They hand-cuffed him, put him in their van and drove away. In some faith-schools God and Christian religion is banned and very soon we may even lose the privilege to mention the name of God in our streets. What is happening to Christianity in the United Kingdom?

 

Another lesson is that Jesus uses a parable which can be described as “an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” Jesus relates the story of a farmer who goes out to sow some seeds. What is it that stands out as truth for you in the story of the sower? What does it mean for you? Think it out for yourself. No one can point out the truth for you. It is rather what you think out. To what category do you belong in relation to the seed? Are you the seed that falls on the edge of the path or on the patches of rock or on thorns? Or are you the seed that falls on rich soil? Do we actually know ourselves and accept who we are? There are things which we cannot be told; we must discover them for ourselves. This is because no one knows what is going on in our mind and heart except God. If I hide from you, there is no way I can hide from God. I may be blinded by prejudice, jealousy, pride, arrogance or hate, knowingly or unknowingly. Do we really know who we are?

 

The parable of the sower could mean that there are different ways of accepting the word of God being preached to us, and the fruit which it produces depends on the condition of the heart of those who hear the word of God being preached. The fate of any spoken word depends on the hearer. Some people may decide to shut their mind as the preacher preaches. In such a case the word preached has no chance of gaining entry. There are many things that can shut a person’s mind. Prejudice, hate, pride can block everything we do not wish to hear or see. That is how we can raise a barrier that will be difficult to break down; a pride that does not know that it needs to know. It can be as a result of the fear of facing the truth. A person’s immoral life can shut his/her mind. When the message from Jesus seems to condemn the things we love, the things we cling on to and find difficult to let go for Christ’s sake, then, we block our mind. If we recognize the truth, it will condemn us and so, we block our mind. These things may be happening to us without us knowing. Have we given a thought to these things? Or are we so busy that Christ is shouldered out of our life?

 

Yet, consoling enough, some people are like the good ground. In a Christian community this is a consoling phenomenon. Their mind is open, like the good ground, to receive the word of God. They are all the time willing to listen and learn. They are not too proud or too busy to listen to the word of God. Truth may be uncomfortable but they want to hear it because it is the voice of God for them. They think it out deeply and accept it even if it is uncomfortable. They translate what they hear into action. That is why they produce good fruit of the good seed. They are people who keep their church and the church compound clean, who serve the church in every aspect, who participate in the ministries of the church for the greater glory of God and for the wellbeing of others. They make themselves available for the service of the Church, the Kingdom of God. May God bless them!

 

 The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul Year A

28th June 2020

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Today is very important for us as we celebrate the two heroes of our faith in Christ. They are Peter and Paul, our Founding Fathers in Catholic tradition. When Christians talk about the Fathers of the Church or of our faith, they talk not just about Abraham but about the original Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, their contemporaries and the great Bishops and Teachers of the first  five centuries of the Church, like Ignatius of Antioch, Tertullian, Cyprian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius, Basil, Ambrose, Augustine and so forth. These are referred to as our Fathers in the faith because they were the first people of God who through their faith, teachings and lives taught us how to worship God the Father in his Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Today, the Church presents for our reflection, prayer and celebration, two most prominent of these Fathers, Saints Peter and Paul. Peter was the chief Apostle, the head of the Church and the first Pope of the Catholic Church while Paul was the great Teacher of the nations.

 

Saints Peter and Paul are the greatest pillars of the Church. In one sense, they are much more than pillars. In fact, they are more like foundation stones. And of course, Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone. The Church was built on their love of Christ, faith, belief, witness, understanding, teaching, commitment, preaching and shedding of their blood for Christ. The two heroes of our faith believed that what they achieved was through the grace of God not of their own making. Their lives were a practical demonstration of the triumph of God’s grace over weak human nature and evil. When Peter professed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, Christ himself confirmed that it wasn’t human knowledge and ability that was at work in Peter but his heavenly Father. Also in many places, Paul testified in his writings and addresses to the fact that what happened in their lives was nothing but the grace of God at work. The truth is that if we allow God, he will work through us and with us. The question is: Are we disposed for God to use us as his instruments of work, to bring his plans and purposes for humanity to fulfilment? Are we ready to make ourselves available for God? We may be afraid of his challenges. We may be afraid of losing our freedom and the fact that we are so attached to things and to people. I mean things that we do not want to let go for God’s sake. For some of us, God is too demanding. Is God too demanding?

We can have no better role models, no better examples of what it means to be a Christian leader than Peter and Paul. Peter and Paul were able to perceive, by God’s grace, that Jesus was God. This was not only as a result of intellectual assent but a profound interior experience. We can only achieve such spiritual interior experience of Christ if we surrender our entire heart, mind, will and strength to God. Peter and Paul through God’s grace had such interior experience, and so discovered the meaning of human existence. And so they were ready to use their lives to proclaim Jesus as Lord and so were able to surrender their lives to Jesus even to the extent of dying for sake of the Kingdom of God. And today we celebrate their entry into the joys of heaven.

We are called to live as these two great men of faith. We can receive the same interior revelation as they did through prayer, meditation, and reflection on the Word of God as we ask the Holy Spirit for light, wisdom and revelation.

 

 

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Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst

From Rev. Fr. Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

THE MOST HOLY TRINITY YEAR A 7th June 2020

Today we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Trinity…one God in three distinct persons namely Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Blessed Trinity as one God three Persons is THE MYSTERY of our faith revealed to us by Jesus Christ himself. It is a mystery because we cannot humanly comprehend it. It is a truth about God and our faith, revealed by God himself through his Son Jesus Christ. We accept it as truth because it is God who reveals it. God is the truth (John 14:6). He cannot deceive us, nor can he be deceived.  Life is full of mysteries. Isn’t so? Man and woman are the greatest mystery God has ever created. We are even mysteries unto ourselves. Do we all understand ourselves completely? I don’t think so. Do you think you understand everybody and everything? There are many things we don’t understand. But we trust Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

God has always revealed himself to humanity from the beginning. He chose our forefathers in faith and revealed Himself to them in many ways and at various times. But at the appointed time, Jesus, the Son of God, “took flesh” and now he lives amongst us. It is Jesus who reveals to us the inner life of God as three persons in one God. So by revealing himself, he shows that he is not a God who hides in mystery. He is God who is very near to us. He is even more near to us than we are to ourselves. Our baptism makes him to live in us and we live in him. That is why we love, forgive and help the brothers and sisters as He loves and forgives us.

That he lives in us and we live in him does not mean we have known him completely as he is. Many powerful brains in the Church have wrestled with this mystery of the Trinity only to fall short in being able to understand and explain the mystery entirely. One young lady catechist who was teaching kids catechism once gave a profound down-to-earth analogy of the mystery of the Trinity. She used herself as an example. She said to the kids, I am Mrs Lucy John. I am a mother of two boys; the daughter of Mr and Mrs Teddy Donald, and the wife of Mr Tony John but the same Mrs Lucy John you all know. Also there is the comparison of the three states of water in describing the Trinity – as ice, liquid and vapour. These are wonderful comparisons yet they all fall short of explaining the entire mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. The Nigerian Ibos describe God as one who is known but not fully known. However, I suggest that we should not spend the rest of our life battling with the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity but rather, accept it with faith in God who will never deceive us.

We note that this revelation to us by Christ was by no means a contradiction to what God initially told our forefathers that he is one and should be worshipped as such. His revelation to us about himself was not a new development but an improvement on what he had previously said about himself. Firstly in the burning bush God said who he is and now through Christ he tells us what he is made of. But we need to remember that even before his encounter with Moses in the burning bush he interacted with Noel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So now we have known that from the beginning He has always been three persons in one God through the revelation of Christ. Christ revealed the inner life of God to us by his life, works and teachings, which came to completion by his death, resurrection and ascension.  His death and resurrection is an act of God’s love for us his children. The passion and death of Christ helps us to be in constant communion with God, with the three persons of the Blessed Trinity.

Of course one God in three Persons shows us that God is a community of love. And this unity of Love is the source of all life that there is.   He created us in love and for love. That is why we love the brothers and sisters. The bond that binds the Eternal Word together with the Father is the Holy Spirit that makes them one. Hence it is not possible for God the Father to exist without God the Son so also it is not possible for the two to exist as one and the same God without the Holy Spirit who binds them together. In his relation to us, God the Father created us, and saves us through Jesus Christ who is God the Son and pours his life into our soul through God the Holy Spirit. Therefore it will not be possible for God to work in our lives if he does not work as Father, Son and Spirit. That is why Christ taught us that God is always near to us and that “it is in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). So we can rightly and boldly say that the Trinity is the foundation of our life, the source of our very existence, the reason of our being and the goal of our existence and efforts. The Psalmist understood the revelation of God’s love to us when he cried out to God, “How great is your name, o Lord our God, through all the earth!”

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Pentecost Sunday Year A  31st MAY 2020

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is a great day of joy and celebration for all of us. It is a wonderful solemnity because it is the day the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles which was the birthday of the Church, the sacrament of Christ in the world. The descent of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles inaugurated the church whose head is Christ and we are members of that church which is his body. In other words, the church as the sacrament of Christ in the world makes Christ present to us through the sacraments. The basic sacrament is baptism and the most important is the sacrament of the Eucharist. The Eucharist is Jesus Christ present to us. At the sacrifice of the Mass, Jesus Christ is the altar, the Priest and the Victim which is sacrificed. In the Eucharist, he gives us his body and blood as our spiritual food for the life of our soul. It is a great mystery we can never understand fully until we meet the Lord face to face. However, we can cherish it by relaxing in God’s goodness to which the whole mystery points.

Of course, the coming of the Holy Ghost is for our own good. It is the outpouring of divine love on us, that is, the Spirit of God the Father and God the Son. God wants to renew the gifts he has given to us which sin, luke-warmness and inordinate desire and pursuit of pleasure have kept inactive in us. The power of the Holy Spirit has been there even before the foundation of the world by which every being has its origin and sustenance. Firstly at our conception in our mother’s womb, the Spirit of God was given to us and that is why we now have life and soul, at our baptism we received the Holy Spirit, at confirmation we were strengthened by the Holy Spirit, when we receive the Eucharist we receive the Trinity, when we receive the sacrament of penance and remain in a state of grace we dwell in the joy, peace and strength of the Holy Spirit and so on and so forth. In other words, we swim in the goodness of the Lord. The Lord is gracious to all his creatures. We are his most precious children! The question is: Are we ever conscious of all these divine favours God happily gives us? These are foretastes of heaven God has made available within our reach. Are we ever aware that we have these favours and divine realities God constantly pours into our life?

 

We need some renewal in our life. We ask the Lord to renew his gifts in us and invigorate us to use them for the glory of his name and for the salvation of our souls. The gifts we have should not lie dormant in us and go into the grave with us without us using them for the good of other people. The Holy Spirit gives us the power for a change in our life. Of course renewal or conversion is a daily affair in our Christian living. The experience of the apostles on the day of Pentecost as we heard in the first reading of today is a good example of the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit came down on them and changed their lives. The timid men of Galilee became bold. When the audience heard their message of God’s love, their lives were changed as well. These people who came from different countries and cultures, were united in their faith in God and their love for one another. The message of the apostles under the influence of the Holy Spirit was heard, understood and received by the different people  gathered in Jerusalem. They all heard the apostles speaking, each in his language. And of course language has the power to divide and the power to unite, depending upon the spirit of those who use it.  If we use our language in the Spirit of God, we can create an understanding community; though others can divide or destroy it or; maintain it by the power of the Holy Spirit if love subsists. This shows us that the One Holy Church is Catholic, an all-inclusive unity in diversity. This message has come from the Holy Spirit to the apostles and to us through their successors and this shows us that the One Holy Catholic Church is also Apostolic. The Spirit of God can only be positive and creative. In this case, the Spirit did not only bring together the dispersed nations but also the confused disciples, so that they were immediately transformed into the Body of Christ. The same Spirit can do the same today for the Church and the world if we are open to him.

 

The Spirit of God wants us to cooperate with him in transforming the world. It is not enough to have faith in the power of the Spirit. Our faith needs to blossom into works of charity, mercy, penance, peace, reconciliation and forgiveness especially in this time of COVID 19 global health crisis. Firstly, do we appreciate the gifts we have as coming from the Holy Spirit? Many people fall into the temptation of not recognising their own gifts but rather, they keep on moaning and regretting and complaining about the gifts others have which they themselves do not have. Can we count our gifts and name them one by one? They are numerous to be counted! The gifts or talents we have are given to us by God for a purpose. The purpose is for the good of the community. We serve God when we serve other people with Christian love. There is always that personal fulfilment in using what we have for the wellbeing of others. Firstly we need to transform our mentality by convincing ourselves that what we have is to be used for the good of other people. We can help in bringing our family and the church into united, loving, forgiving and sharing communities. The Lord says to us: ‘As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.’ Therefore, we are bound to function as divine agents in the world, to break down the walls of hatred and war that still ravage our lives, nations and people everywhere. Do we have excuses not to use our talents and carry out the mandate God has given us? We may be rejecting the Holy Spirit if we refuse to use our gifts for the good of others. Today, COVID 19 virus has helped us to thirst for a community. To feel and act for the wellbeing of others is a gift from the Holy Spirit. We pray that we may continue to grow in this gift through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

7th Sunday of Easter Year A :    24th May

We are in novena prayers preceding the Feast of Pentecost – praying that God will reinforce us with the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit. But this traditional prayer to the Holy Spirit requires certain attitude such as patience. We are in jet age when everything and everybody moves very fast. It is good and at the same time problematic. This is because if you do not move fast enough, you are pushed violently out of the way, and if you fall down then; you are unfortunate! You may be trampled upon by those who are surging forward. This is how far life is today! There is no gentleman-movement! The world waits for no one! The “train” doesn’t wait for you! You need to be fast to avoid being pushed down to the floor. No one has such patience to avoid trampling on you even when you are flat on the ground. The question is, are we patient enough to go through the novena prayers for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? Some people have no patience to wait on God! They are ready to “push” God out of their life if He doesn’t answer their prayer quickly enough!

The problem with us in this jet age is that we are not easily convinced that we need some quiet time and patience to look at self and ask ourselves hard questions. As Christians, we need to ask ourselves serious questions about life all the time. Today, with corona virus and the consequent general lockdown, we not only slowdown, we are forced to stay put; to stay indoors and isolate from others, and outdoor activities! There is no movement for everybody! Now we have plenty of time; don’t we, to reflect and ask ourselves serious questions about life, God and religion?

What strikes me in the second reading from the first Letter of St Peter is that we should count it as a blessing when we are insulted for bearing the name of Christ. Reflecting back on the life of Jesus, he lived a common life. There was nothing that marked him out as special. He mixed up with people, ate and drank like everyone else especially with common people. The Jews expected him to stand out as a religious leader and felt disappointed with the way he mixed up with ordinary people. They started calling him “a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). The exemplary life of Jesus helps us! If we ever decide to be serious with following Jesus, definitely, people will call us names that we may not like. People will ridicule us. We may become a laughing stock and people will haul insults at us. To follow Jesus is to stand for the truth; it is to defend justice, and human right and dignity. It is to hold on to the ideals of Jesus. The Gospel of Jesus will challenge us! We will be out of tune with modern life and with modern people. It is as if the Gospel turns us into enmity with people of this modern age. This is because the Gospel message we preach is not the language modern people want to hear. The language modern people hear and understand is: excessive pleasure, wealth, money, and violence, war and freedom without responsibility. So in this context, anyone coming with the challenges of Jesus of the Gospels is making himself/herself a laughing stock and a nuisance to modern people whose new “god” is freedom to do whatever they want.

However, it is fitting that we preach the Gospel in and out of season. It is what we are called to do. Although majority of the people will not listen to us. Let us not be discouraged when this happens or when we become a laughing stock. It is our calling to bear witness to Jesus in the face of any difficulty. Are we ready to suffer for Jesus? Or do we want to save our face and head? Even in our locked-in situation, we still bear witness to Christ. If we survive this corona deadly virus, we will still continue to face the challenges of the Gospel of Jesus. Whether corona virus or not, we need the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to form a praying group as we hear in the first reading from the Arts of the Apostles. We need the constant intercession of the Mother of God who is also our spiritual mother and the Saints for the fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit to refresh and empower us and to drive away from us the deadly corona virus and other diseases and all forms of evil which have decimated many beloved ones and many aspects of our life. This is our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Sixth Sunday of Easter Year A

Going through the readings of the liturgy of this week, what comes to my mind is that for our faith and worship of God to continue the Church has to continue to believe and practice Diversity in Unity. God trying to reconcile mankind to himself after the great fall of Adam and Eve chose the people of Israel and through them chose the whole mankind. Yes salvation comes, first, to the Jewish people and then through them to every nation. It is Jesus who breaks from the Jewish nation to reach out to the Gentiles. Jesus does this when he heals Jairus daughter; he also heals a woman who has suffered from bleeding for twelve years; he encounters a Samaritan woman bringing her and the Samaritans to faith and these people are non-Jews; and before his Ascension, he says to his disciples go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News. And he who believes in Jesus, the Saviour of the world, has eternal life. Are we then surprised that Philip preaches in Samaritan town and God affirms his efforts by healing many sick people there?

 

For Christianity to continue, the disciples have to accept wholeheartedly the message, the traditions and the way of life of Jesus. To do this is to be guided by the Spirit of Jesus so that they will be able to operate creatively and adapt themselves to new and future situations. It is because the first Disciples of Christ allowed the Spirit of Christ their Founder to guide them that they were able to go beyond the boundaries of traditional Judaism and because of that, today, we have the Church, and people from every nation are welcome as part of the one family of God. It is a miracle which we take for granted because we don’t reflect about it. We have to be on our guard to make sure that we maintain our diversity in unity in the Spirit. It is a precious gift we need to guard jealously.

 

Don’t forget that as followers of Jesus we are different from the rest of mankind. Because of that, in so many ways, we are marginalized, mistreated, abused, insulted and so forth. In the second reading of today, Peter addresses the Christians who suffer because of their belief in Christ. He urges them to have hope and be ready to give reasons why they believe in God. He encourages them to be proud of Christ and be optimistic about life. They can only be able to give reasons for their faith in God if they read the Bible regularly and study the teachings of the Church and know the stand of the Church on burning/topical issues in the society. The Gospel says if you love me, you will keep my commandments and the Father will live in you and I will live in you. I will ask the Father to send you the Paraclete, an Advocate, a Counsellor, a Defender, the Teacher who will teach you and remind you all I have said to you. He is “the Spirit of truth.” It means that we and the Father are one because the Father lives in the Son and the Son lives in us. This should encourage us. The Spirit also lives in us because he is the Spirit of the Father and the Son. Yes, Christ is no more visible to us but we know him and we see him with the eye of our faith. We are confident that he is always with us until the end of time. It is this time more than any other time when the whole world is desperate in the face of this deadly virus that we should hold on to Jesus, the Saviour of mankind. It is only Jesus who can save us!

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR A

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

My dear friends in the Lord let us continue to look up to Jesus who is our health of mind and body. With Jesus we will defeat all our problems!

 

The first reading from the Arts of the Apostles takes back to the history of the first Christian community. The early Christians were known for their communal living and love for one another. But as their number increased the human element or what moral theology calls the fallen nature or the fallen man surfaced. The first reading says the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. This piece of information about the early Christians is good for our spiritual growth because we always think that the saints and early Christians were superhuman beings who lived like angels and never made mistakes. They were as ordinary and weak as we are and made mistakes as we make today. Of course the Catholic Church is both divine and human; it is made up of saints and sinners. We may be saints today and tomorrow become sinners and vice versa. We cannot claim that our Christian community is an ideal one. It is not a perfect one. We inherited our natural weakness as a consequence of the fall of our first parents Adam and Eve which has wounded and distorted our human nature. St. Paul was able to underline the weak human nature when he said: “I know of nothing good in me; the good I want to do, I am not able to do; rather I find myself doing the very evil I hate to do; it is the sin in me that is acting. Who will save me from my wretchedness” (Romans 7: 17-24)? That is the reality of our human nature. However, the good news is that our human nature is not wounded permanently. There is hope for us. Redemption wrought for us by Christ is a divine gift from God free of charge. Though it is true that we are collectively redeemed but not individually yet. In other words, each of us has to acknowledge and accept his or her redemption personally not collectively. Personal redemption is possible when we acknowledge God as our personal Creator and Jesus as our personal Saviour. It is when we recognise and accept our sins, hate and confess them to a catholic priest in order to receive the grace of God’s forgiveness. May we never claim to be righteous for we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s grace. If we say we are without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us (I John: 1:8). But alongside the psalmist in Psalm 51, we can acknowledge our weak nature and sins: ‘Truly, I was born guilty; a sinner was I conceived in my mother’s womb. For I know my sin; my sin is always before me. You insist on sincerity of heart. Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.’

 

Yes we are weak and commit sin yet; God has not written us off or condemned us. If God does not condemned us, who would be able to condemn us? Not even the devil would be able to condemn us. Our sin or weakness does not embarrass God because God who created us knows us through and through even more than we know ourselves. He knows our fallen nature. God expects us to acknowledge our weakness and sins and be sorry for them and come back to him in sacramental confession. So we should not shy away or run away from him. One interesting and important thing to note is that though we are told that the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews; we are not told that they were abusing each other. They were not destroying things. We are not told they were fighting and killing each other. They complained about negligence which could not have been deliberate but even if it was deliberate, there was no vengeance or reprisal, no exchange of blows. They didn’t bring down the heavens and smash them on earth to cause destruction. When there is misunderstanding, we do not need to fight, hate and insult each other. Being conscious that Christ lives in us; our misunderstanding can even become a channel of grace for us for some many good things to come our way. So in every situation, be it good or bad, apply the spirit of Christ. The first reading gives us a practical example. In the misunderstanding between the Hellenists and the Hebrews; the Christian virtues of love, patience and understanding were employed, and so, good results flowed into the community; for example, God gave the Church the gift of deacons. If God could turn the evil of the death of his Son on the cross into the source of salvation for humanity, what else do we think that will be impossible for God to grant us? The most important thing is to allow the spirit of Christ to lead us in every situation.

 

Despite our weakness and sins, no matter how serious they are, we should not be discouraged but rather, look up to Christ who is our redeemer. Even if our sins be as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they be crimson red, they will be as white as wool (Isaiah 1:18). He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He expects us to accept our sins and be sorry for them and confess them to a catholic priest and receive his forgiveness. The church teaches that those who refuse to acknowledge their mortal sins and die in them separate themselves permanently from God.

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR A.

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Greetings to you dear friends in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and St Theresa of the Child Jesus and Our Lady and St Edward the Confessor, our Patron Saints!

I hope you are all safe and well amidst this difficult time of Covid-19 pandemic. May we never grow tired of asking God to inspire scientists, epidemiologists, and public health experts for a vaccine that will eventually bring an end to this pandemic. We continue to pray that God may keep all of us alive to tell the stories of his mercy, healing and love especially during this difficult time. Our beloved NHS staff members have been wonderful in their selfless services. May God bless them for us and reward them abundantly not only in this life but with eternal life. Amen.

Today we celebrate Good Shepherd or Vocation Sunday when we thank God in a special way for the gifts of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, asking him to bless his Church with more worthy and holy men and women who are ready and happy to give their lives for the service of God’s Kingdom. Also today and always, let us pray for our priests, deacons, Reverend Brothers and Sisters especially for those of them who work in difficult and almost impossible missions in different parts of the world that God will continue to be their strength, joy and fulfilment. Let us not forget to thank God for the other vocations which are also his gifts to humanity: married life and single life – all render their service to God and humanity in different ways designed by God. They are all God’s precious gifts to humanity. We thank God for all of them.

 

In the first reading from the Arts of the Apostles, Peter spoke about Christ, with clarity, conviction and authority because he was empowered by the Holy Spirit. His audience were so touched and overwhelmed with guilt that they desperately asked: ‘What shall we do?’ He advised them and said: ‘You must repent.’ For us, conversion or repentance is part of our everyday life as Christians. It is not a once-and-for-all thing. As Christians every day we repent from our sin and convert to God. Every day before we lie down for our night sleep, we do examination of conscience in order to discover our sins, repent from them and go to confession as soon as possible. This spiritual exercise helps us not to get used to living in serious sins. The first reading says that this generation is perverse, and so to live in serious sin is to live according to the ideals of this perverse generation. Despite the sorry moral condition of this generation, God has made a promise of everlasting life to all who would accept the good news of salvation. That is why he sent his Son Jesus to come and redeem the promise of salvation which he has made. The promise is for every person in every generation. The promise is a divine favour for everybody. So friends, we are part of this divine favour! No one is left out. Everyone is a beneficiary. He is a generous God. The only obstacle to the divine promise is refusal to repent from mortal sin and convert to God. The sacrament of reconciliation by which our sins are forgiven is a free gift from God.  The Lord says: Come to me all of you who are overburdened with guilt; even if your sins are as red as crimson they will be as white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). Of course, no sin is too much for God to forgive. The only thing God wants from us is for us to accept the responsibility of our sins and hate them and resolve by his grace to avoid them in future and then, confess them to a catholic priest and God forgives us without charge.

 

When we remember that it is the sin of man and woman that caused Jesus to go through that indescribable pain, humiliation and death on the cross then we will begin to hate sin. Peter at his first public sermon through the power of the Holy Spirit was able to convince the people that their wickedness contributed to the killing of the bearer of the good news of salvation. About three thousand felt sorry for their sins and converted to God. The word of God that is preached to us will challenge us to examine our conscience, to take a serious look into our life and prompt us to compare it to the life and teachings of Christ. Is there anything or anybody blocking us from accepting the good news? Are there some teachings of the Church we do not accept? Some Christians pick and choose what they want to believe and throw away all that do not appeal to them. The point is that the teachings of Christ are accepted as a whole and if we isolate any iota of it we discriminate against the whole of it. The teachings of Christ constitute the promise of God which is for the salvation of body and soul for everybody.

 

We celebrate Christ the Good Shepherd who also calls himself “the gate of the sheepfold.” In our different callings by God, as his flocks, what is our attitude towards the Good Shepherd? The Gospel of today says that the attitude of the flocks towards the Good Shepherd is to listen and to follow. Is that our attitude to Christ the Good Shepherd? It is by listening to the words of Christ that faith is born and nurtured. It is only when we are attentive to the voice of Christ that we can make the right decision in our conscience to act according to the will of God. We may not be able to do the will of God unless we listen to the words of Christ and accept them inwardly. It is then that we can put them into practice every day. Jesus being the gate of the sheepfold indicates that anyone who wants to enter the sheepfold which is the Kingdom must enter through him. Jesus says I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me (John 14:6). There is no other way to get in, like scaling the wall. It is only people with dubious and wicked intentions who scale the wall. The Lord calls them thieves and brigands. They only come to steal, destroy and kill. All honest people pass through the gate. Do not forget that the sheepfold or the Kingdom of God that I talk about was closed when Adam and Eve sinned but was re-opened by God through the passion, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ his Son. Now, the question is: How does one pass through the gate that is Jesus, into the sheepfold? It is by listening to his words and his words are life. Jesus says: My words are spirit and they are life (John 6:63). He also says I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance (John 10:10). He who comes to me will have eternal life. And eternal life is to know God and he whom he sent. It is to have faith. And it is a commitment of one’s entire life to the person of Jesus so that one can begin to think, love, forgive, talk and act like Jesus. It is a commitment to do the will of Jesus. Jesus says it is not those who say to me, Lord, Lord, who will enter into the kingdom of God, but only those who do the will of my Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21). Jesus’ will is God’s will as he says I have come down from heaven not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me (John 6:38). And it is only by doing his will that we shall be able to pass through the gate which is Jesus himself into the kingdom of God.

 

Dear friends in the Lord, let our courage not fail us in this difficult time! Let us continue to pray for one another! Keep safe and let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Good Shepherd, from whom our salvation comes! And let us not let go of God’s hand! Jesus loves us!

 

 

2nd May

FOR PARISHIONERS OF ST THERESA'S TOTTON AND OUR LADY & ST EDWARD LYNDHURST

 

Collection for Vocations : support our seminaries and clergy.

On the occasion of Good Shepherd Sunday, this Sunday 3rd May 2020, a special collection is usually made to support vocations and especially priestly vocations. During this time, when parishes are closed for public liturgies, the lay faithful are unable to give generously in person to the second collection. A special online giving page has been set up to receive any generous donations that people may wish to give to support our seminarians and clergy.

 

If you would like to ensure the future of the Church in our Diocese, please consider donating to support the training of our future priests and the ongoing care of our clergy throughout their ministry. The online giving page can be found by visiting: https://www.portsmouthdiocese.org.uk/supportourseminarians

 

FOR ST THERESA'S PARISHIONERS TOTTON

Our Congratulations go to April 100 Club winners

David White

Peter Read

Marian Lister

 

God bless you all!

Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa

Message from Fr Gerry  19th April

I celebrate Mass everyday for the intentions of our parishioners, and for God to save his children from this deadly scourge.

Let us continue to pray for one another.

More news in the newsletter section

 

Pope’s Easter Message: “The contagion of hope”

Sunday, April 12th, 2020 @ 11:05 am

 

Pope Francis’ 'Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday challenges us to ban indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness during this time of Covid-19 – and to spread the “contagion” of hope.

 

By Seàn-Patrick Lovett, Vatican News

 

No banner hung from the central balcony of St Peter’s Basilica. No bands played the Vatican anthem. No floral arrangements decorated St Peter’s Square. Nearby streets were empty and silent, as Italy continues to respect a nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

 

Inside the Basilica, surrounded only by his closest collaborators, Pope Francis delivered his traditional Easter Urbi et Orbi message to the city of Rome and the world.

 

A different “contagion”

Millions of people watched and listened on various media platforms as the Pope repeated the Easter proclamation: “Christ, my hope, is risen!”. He called this message “a different ‘contagion’”, one that is transmitted “from heart to heart”.

 

This Good News is like a new flame that springs up “in the night of a world already faced with epochal challenges, and now oppressed by a pandemic severely testing our whole human family”, said the Pope.

 

Christ’s resurrection is not a “magic formula that makes problems vanish”, he continued, “it is the victory of love over the root of evil”. This victory “does not ‘by-pass’ suffering and death, but passes through them, opening a path in the abyss, transforming evil into good”, he added.

 

Comfort for those affected by the coronavirus

The Pope’s thoughts turned immediately to those directly affected by the coronavirus. “For many, this is an Easter of solitude, lived amid the sorrow and hardship that the pandemic is causing, from physical suffering to economic difficulties”, he said.

 

“This disease has not only deprived us of human closeness, but also of the possibility of receiving in person the consolation that flows from the sacraments, particularly the Eucharist and Reconciliation”, said Pope Francis.

 

“But the Lord has not left us alone”, he added. “United in our prayer, we are convinced that He has laid His hand upon us”.

 

Gratitude to those providing essential services

The Pope then expressed his gratitude and affection to doctors and nurses, and “to all who work diligently to guarantee the essential services necessary for civil society, and to the law enforcement and military personnel who in many countries have helped ease people’s difficulties and sufferings”.

 

Encouragement to work for the common good

Pope Francis acknowledged that “this is also a time of worry about an uncertain future, about jobs that are at risk”. He encouraged political leaders “to work actively for the common good”, providing the means “to enable everyone to lead a dignified life and, when circumstances allow, to assist them in resuming their normal daily activities”.

 

Not a time for indifference

This is not a time for indifference, said the Pope, “because the whole world is suffering and needs to be united in facing the pandemic”. He prayed that the risen Jesus may grant hope “to all the poor, to those living on the peripheries, to refugees and the homeless”.  Pope Francis also called for the relaxation of international sanctions and for “the reduction, if not the forgiveness, of the debt burdening the balance sheets of the poorest nations”.

 

Not a time for self-centredness

This is not a time for self-centredness, continued Pope Francis, because “the challenge we are facing is shared by all”. Europe, in particular, was able “to overcome the rivalries of the past” following the Second World War, “thanks to a concrete spirit of solidarity”. It is urgent “these rivalries do not regain force”, the Pope continued. We all need to recognize ourselves “as part of a single family and support one another”. Selfishly pursuing particular interests risks “damaging the peaceful coexistence and development of future generations”, he added.

 

Not a time for division

This is not a time for division, said the Pope, as he appealed for “an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world”. Criticizing the vast amounts of money spent on the arms trade, Pope Francis called for a solution to the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Lebanon. He said he hoped Israelis and Palestinians might resume dialogue, that the situation in eastern Ukraine might be resolved, and that “terrorist attacks carried out against so many innocent people in different African countries may come to an end”.

 

Not a time for forgetfulness

This is not a time for forgetfulness, continued Pope Francis, referring to the humanitarian crises being faced in Asia and Africa. He prayed for refugees and migrants “living in unbearable conditions, especially in Libya and on the border between Greece and Turkey”. The Pope prayed also that solutions may be found in Venezuela, allowing “international assistance to a population suffering from the grave political, socio-economic and health situation” there.

 

Christ dispels the darkness of suffering

“Indifference, self-centredness, division and forgetfulness are not words we want to hear at this time”, said the Pope. These words “seem to prevail when fear and death overwhelm us”, and we want to ban them forever, he added.

 

Pope Francis concluded his Urbi et Orbi message with a prayer: “May Christ, who has already defeated death and opened for us the way to eternal salvation, dispel the darkness of our suffering humanity and lead us into the light of His glorious day. A day that knows no end”.

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