Waterside parish : St Michael's, Hythe & St Bernard's, Holbury.

Contact Fr Abraham: Tel  02380 843479

Email: waterside@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

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19th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME 9th August

Once a disciple asked the teacher, what should I do to increase my faith? The teacher took the disciple to a steep mountain and asked him to jump. Nothing will happen to you. The disciple gazed at the steep mountain and fear came into his eyes and he replied, I do not have the courage. The teacher told him that there is only one way to increase faith, believe /trust even if you cannot understand its meaning!.

Today’s Gospel shows Jesus’ control over the powers of nature. After the multiplication He went to the mountain to pray and had sent His disciples ahead of Him to the other side. While they were at the middle of the sea, a terrible storm struck. Natural forces can be terrifying at times. Water is essential for life but in an uncontrollable way can be destructive. We have seen it umpteen times of the helplessness we experience before the nature though we claim of huge advancements. We are made so helpless before water, landslides and volcanos. Only people who have seen or experienced such rage. So is Jesus’ disciples, they were so terrified. They were battling with headwinds and storm in the sea.

A question arises, why did Jesus send Hid disciples by themselves? Why did He go all alone to the mountain to pray? Why did He ask them to go themselves?

We know that Jesus has multiplied bread and fed the multitude and it was the genuine hunger of people. After the fall of man, God wished that we eat by hard work and the sweat of our forehead. We see the disciple’s plucking corn, they go to buy food etc. A lazy mind is the workshop of Satan. Due to laziness and nothing to do we can fall into unnecessary temptations so God desires that we work hard to find our food.

After feeding the five thousand, people took that as a chance of laziness. Some of them started thinking that being with Jesus, they can avoid work and walk around Him and be fed. So they even thought of making Him king. Jesus felt pity for the hungry people and did the multiplication but people saw it as an alternative for laziness. This miracle did not lead them to faith but to evil thoughts. And Jesus could not walk free and the miracle, people were looking for Him everywhere, so He send His disciples ahead of Him. Jesus was also pained to see the attitude of people that He wanted to be with His Father all by Himself.

This is the same time, His disciples were into the storm and rage at the sea. Their boat was about to drown. Realising the situation of His disciples, He walked over the sea and reached them. They though Him to be a ghost and was frightened. Jesus calls them and said it is I, do not be frightened. Peter wanted then to go His Master walking on the water and Jesus allows him to do so. Peter in full trust and confidence in Jesus started walking on the water, suddenly there was a violent storm and he was frightened, suddenly realised the sea on which he was walking and its might and fear enveloped him. He cried aloud as he was drowning and Jesus helped Him by extending His hand towards Peter.

One of the important symbols of Christianity in the early Church was, a boat being tossed around in a violent storm. This was at parallel with the sufferings and persecutions, Church was going through, the isolation and feeling of being abandoned. This may be sometimes the experience, not only of the apostolic times but even of our times. Jesus being in the boat that is being tossed about in violent storm, is a powerful symbolism that with Him, everything be set right, no matter what the struggles are. This brings an inner peace and tranquillity and calms which renews the Hope of the faithful.

There isn’t much in mourning about present state of the Church which many do as a weapon to attack due to their hatred, cover their own lack of faithful following of Christ or to cover one’s failure  - to blame it on the other. It may be rocked by innumerable troubles and unanswered questions and so many good people are in panic about the troubled waters and storms. No one is saying that it should be like this, all are concerned and worried but it is made up of human beings, like you and me. When we look at our own lives and our failures so very often in life, we understand why it is so. The Church has gone through much worse situations. People have written it off many times but nothing has happened. As this is made up of Saints and Sinners, Weeds and Good seed and God being so benevolent and wants to save everyone until the last times, it may be so. God is patient with everyone, you and me. So no point of panic. Like Peter we too start focussing on the sea, storms and violence around us. We shift our focus from Jesus to the world and its troubles. It can frighten us beyond measure as it did to Peter. The problem is where our FOCUS is! As long as we FOCUS on Jesus we walk on the troubles without being drowned. Our God will never let us down, humans may fail, as we all do. Bring your FOCUS back, everything will be right, no matter where you are, at the middle of storms, troubles – come back to FOCUS on Jesus – you will not drown.

 People of worldliness and no Godliness, focus on the world and give importance so they see only the troubles and unanswered questions, nothing good. Jesus has promised that He would be there with us till the end of age. The sea may be rough, waters troubled but what is more important for an individual is to put his/her household in order. Before reforming the outside, let it start from inside. The storm of loss of job, brokenness, setback, hurt, upsets are to be tackled first. Stormy marriages, concern for children, sickness that destroy our peace is to be set right. We too are frightened like Peter amidst these storms constantly causing havoc in our family and life. Some run away from it without giving a fight. This constant battering makes some to forget God and His presence in the boat, crying for worldly help alone. Without His reassurance and calms, we will not survive such troubles. Is it not our real trouble in modern times?

If only we hear His promise of being with us till the end! Do not be afraid it is I, in our worst moments! Our lives will be different.

Today’s Gospel is an encouragement to all those who are confused and lost peace of mind with the undue dependence of the world and its powers. It assures us that Our God is with us always, everywhere- He speaks to us in our troubles through various situations, people and circumstances, if only we listen! Take a minute to see into your inner self to see the reasons why you experience restlessness – where have lost the inner peace and happiness. May be our FOCUS is shifted from where it was, or where it ought to be.

Keep Safe – Our God is always with us!

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

2nd August

Christ came into the broken world to heal and to restore human dignity. For him every human person was very important and He cared for them. In the pursuit of our own comforts and taking pains for others, humans have a tendency to avoid such situations. Mostly one’s own comforts are of prime importance and very seldom do people come out of their own comfort zones.

Jesus was very different from the existing thought pattern of His generation of people. He went out of His way to come down to the real needs of the struggling humanity, got deeply involved with their sickness, helplessness and troubles. He went out of His way many times for their sake.

Today’s Gospel is a great example of Jesus’ love and concern for the real needs of people unlike many others. Most people neglect or purposely avoid other’s troubles or act as if they have not noticed or seen it.

I remember to have heard of a story of a sage. The young man was in search of a job and was very tired towards the evening, tired. As he was very dejected and sitting in utter hopelessness, a monk came near him and started singing praises of God. The sage talks about the anger this action brought in him that never he felt so much anger in his life. He remembered his family, hungry and hopeless and shouted at the monk to stop it.

Jesus was teaching people in a secluded place and many people gathered round Him. It was evening, people were still listening to Him, neither Him nor people were concerned about anything. His disciples come to Him and ask Him to send the people away as it is a deserted place and evening. Let them go and find out some food and eat. Jesus asks them to provide food for people and they really express their concern. We only have five bread and two fish which may not be enough for us so get away from this trouble. Very practical suggestion, most people use this and justify, we cannot help. Even good people or religious teachers also find this as a REAL reason, justifiable. Do we also turn a blind eye or ear to people’s needs and try to send them off, insentively?  Then Jesus is speaking to us.

This is exactly the difference of Jesus from others. The other person’s needs take priority over His own need. Many even in 21st century also will not tread on this path. People with real mettle only can dare. We might tell the world something else for not doing so but the REAL reason is something like lack of daring and courage. “NOT ENOUGH FOR US” is it not our excuse as well for not seeing the needs of others? Was it not the problem of the Rich man in Lazarus story?

Jesus’ answer to their argument is an eye opener for all generations of Christians, if we are following Christ. He asks them to make people sit and the greatness of disciples is that they listened to Jesus now. Then we all talk about a great miracle.

Is it a miracle alone? It is surely unimaginable and unheard of it in human history and only God can do this kind of things. We all might feel like appreciating a great miracle worker. A great feeling to commend this action. But is it all about a great magical activity alone in this miracle. We should not forget to see the COMPASSIONATE HEART OF JESUS (bigness). Jesus’ love for the people and His concern and mercy. As the saying goes, compassion flows from a kind Heart. This is where we need to bow our head before Him.

There is a popular saying what I have heard that we should not preach before a hungry heart as such a heart cannot hold greater truth. A hungry person needs food before preaching. That is the reason the world over Church is involved in works of Charity.  This is why in the story of the sage, he felt angry at the monk. People who hear this might say for their own meaningless excuse that this is the reason they do not listen to faith or preaching. Jesus feeds their need for food – SOUL and BODY – neglect to any is not at all good. Jesus felt compassion for people and their hunger.

We see something interesting here – It is the same Jesus when He was hungry at the Desert during His temptation stood before Satan and send him away. But here instead of feeding them with more Word of God, satisfies their physical hunger. Jesus said love your neighbour – He always had concern for other’s needs and respected it. He could stand before His own hunger but had compassion when people were hungry.

We need to see our God who has tremendous concern and love for us that He gave importance to Human Person than anything else. This HEART OF GOD needs to be recognised. People who disrespect and dishonour human beings for anything else should learn from Him. For Jesus PEOPLE mattered the most. Unjust practices, systems and cultures which gives importance to things and treat humans as commodities should learn from Jesus. Individualism and Self- Centred lifestyle are to be monitored.

For Jesus, food and meals were occasions of COMMUNION and SHARING – not only for self- gratification. They are occasions of hospitality, nurturing friendship, acceptance of the other and for building relationships. We had these things in the societies in the past but in the name of modernism we live in a shell where I only exist, not the other. Meal or sharing food remains a SACRED action in some communities even today.

This miracle for the Church is a pointer towards the EUCHARIST. What Jesus did at the Multiplication – His action- took- Prayed – Blessed, observe closely at the Eucharist you participate. Any similarity?

The deepest needs of a Human Being can only be satisfied by God – not by any man made things or system. Eucharist penetrates to the DEPTH of our being and renews, nourishes, forgives the wounds of sin and God fills our Heart. If it does not happen in the Eucharist we participate, check ourselves, our faith and trust in God with the help of various characters of today’s Gospel.

       17th Sunday in Ordinary Time 26th July 

Jesus tells His disciples that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a Treasure buried in a field. Yesterday we celebrated the Feast of St. James who found this Treasure in Jesus after the Pentecost and gave His life for gaining this Kingdom of Heaven. We have heard many people spending their entire resources and entire life for gaining a worldly treasure. Many people in modern history have left their homeland and family for gold and other treasures and lost their life. They were in fact ready to give everything up for this cause.

Jesus in today’s Gospel compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a Treasure that is hidden in the field and a Pearl of Great Value. The one who finds the Treasure sells everything and buys the field. The merchant who finds the Pearl of Great Value sells everything he has and buys it. Likewise, the person who finds Heaven also will forgo/reject everything for it.

Heaven is something people had been so fascinated and many endure the sufferings and struggles of Life to gain Heaven after death. The notion of the reality of Heaven made a life-changing understanding in the history of humans. People have done many to things to gain it.

Some people ran away to the forest fearing that they may sin if they lived among people are seen in human history. But some people lived among others doing good for humanity for gaining Heaven. So we see that the notion of Heaven became a deciding factor between good and evil.

We see Jesus apparently asking us to deny everything of the world to gain Heaven. He says that as a person who finds Heaven sells everything to have it and the merchant who finds the Pearl of great value sells all to buy it, we ought to forgo anything for Heaven.

By talking about Heaven, Jesus means here about the Kingdom of God in all possibility as Heaven is gained after death and he/she cannot have it while living.

He taught us to gain the Kingdom of God for standing against the unjust systems of the world, take up the Cross for the Kingdom of God and to suffer for it. This is a practical suggestion to put aside all the distractions that can take the place of God in our lives and hearts. If we over value the world, its powers, prestige etc. we devalue God. It is simple logic. Nothing should take priority over God and His Kingdom is very logical. There is a Pearl for everyone but it comes with a price and it needs to be paid. What counts when we die is not the possessions we have but the type of person we were when we were alive. Many people paid this price of their own life in the beginning of the Church and they gave it willingly. They had their priorities set right. Our reflection should be that are our priorities set right? We are in the dilemma of real needs and competing wants. Not able to differentiate between both. King Solomon also faced this dilemma and we know his prayer to God.

He invites us not to die for the Kingdom of God but to live for it. Some people over the history has not understood what Jesus meant and did all sorts of things to gain Heaven. When someone lives for the Kingdom of God is when we ought to reject/deny wealth, power and even life itself and gains a hundredfold.

Sometimes in history people thought that Christians needs to hate the world but that is not true. A Christian is a person who loves the world for establishing God’s Kingdom, for e.g. Francis of Assisi, Mother Teresa and all those names of our times. They are respected beyond religion for such exemplary love the world has not seen or experienced.

There are people who lost their life or who were cause of others life lost, for this reality. Jesus came down from Heaven to the world for human good. He suffered for humanity’s sake and for the establishment of the Kingdom of God. This is for what we are called as Christians.

                 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time

19th July

In today’s Gospel Jesus uses 3 parables to reveal the mystery of the Kingdom of God. In the first He compares it to the Good Seeds a farmer has sown in his field. Secondly, to the Mustard Seed and finally to the Yeast which a woman mixes with flour. For the first one Jesus gives a detailed explanation. After a careful reading to the parables and its explanation, one is left with a few questions, confusions and doubts.

In the first parable Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to the Good Seeds that is sown. While the farmer was asleep, an enemy sows darnel among the Good Seeds. When the seeds started to show up, darnels also appeared among them and the servants informed the master about it. But the master did not allow them to weed out the darnel immediately and in turn asked them to wait until harvest because there is a possibility of the wheat too being weeded out along with the darnel. He asked them to allow the darnel to be with the wheat until then.

Any gardener knows the problem of weeds. They appear from nowhere, overnight and are a threat to the seeds. It is a very delicate affair to weed them out as they can damage the young plants. Addressing a crowd who is very familiar to this exercise does not make the matter simple because the darnel is purposely planted to destroy the farmer. But by the time the weeds are spotted they are already so closely growing with the plants.

Jesus draws our attention through this parable to the Kingdom of God. By this mystery usually we understand of a place where God dwells but after a good reading we come across a farmer who sows Good seeds and this could be a bit of confusion. Yet the parable draws our attention to the fact that the Kingdom of God is not very far off but is among us and this Kingdom of God is established at the Creation. God created and He found everything good. Jesus by telling this parable reminds us of the fact that what God created was very Good. Then a natural question comes up, then why there is bad/evil in the world? Our world is far from being perfect and we are very familiar about the existence of evil in the world. We are aware of the fact that this evil is present in us and even with the best of our intentions we cannot keep them away. We hear about it as a routine through the news and our own experience and the sad part is that evil appears to be everywhere and is triumphed.

Jesus explains to us that the reason for this is the intervention of satan.

Why then God does allows this evil? Why does He not punish the evil immediately? This is a question human beings ask in every generation. Jesus gives the answer through this parable. Because it is present so subtly that there is a possibility of Good being destroyed alongside. But He very clearly tells us that this is not the victory of evil as they will be completely destroyed at the Harvest.

The parable of the Mustard seed calls our attention to the reality of the smallness of the seed but the potential to be a big tree. Jesus changes the whole understanding of God and where He lives in His audience. He tells them that He is everywhere not only in a particular place. But we need to find Him out, when the seeker finds Him out it becomes a reality within himself or herself. When this understanding of God in oneself, others and whole world becomes a reality, we are like that mustard plant giving shelter to so many. Growth of understanding makes to be a shelter for the whole creation.

The third one of the Yeast also goes along with the mustard seed. When a person finds the Kingdom of God like mustard seed, treasure that person becomes a shelter for the world so is the Yeast, it leavens the whole flour. It has a potential to grow beyond its tiny size. Jesus invites our attention to the inner strength, energy and the Power of the Holy Spirit in all of us. Kingdom of God is a reality among us now, we need to seek it out and Heaven is something beyond which is the reward for a Good Life. One can enjoy Eternal Life there. Jesus teaches us to seek the Kingdom which is in everything and everywhere.

Some people are looking out for a perfect church to belong and in this endeavour are very disappointed and unhappy. There is no perfect community anywhere, it will be a mixture of good and bad, saints and sinners alongside. Flawless society is just an illusion but still we mourn for the unreal. If God is patient with them and show mercy, who are we to condemn them? Some humans are more judgemental than God in the society. God does not expel someone so soon because He has the care for them in His Heart. They can change and conversion is quite possible. He is very slow to condemn, full of compassion for the wayward. Jesus never said that the Church will instantly change everyone but at the Harvest time. The offender cannot also go on eternally but only until the Harvest time.

We as a Church is called to be inclusive than exclusive, more forgiving, open and inviting. God is not in a hurry, in His great Love and Compassion is very kind and patient. His concern extends to everyone and all creatures.

We as Christians are called to be messengers of this Kingdom of God that it needs to be proclaimed to all. We are to be seekers of this Kingdom in ourselves and to live for it.

                     15th Sunday of Ordinary Time Homily

12th July 2020

Faith is a gift of God. It grows when it is given proper circumstances to grow. Jesus uses parables which are at times disturbing stories, which awakens hearts and minds that have grown weary and dull. Jesus uses common stories which are easily understood by His listeners, connecting to their day to day experiences. Land, sowing and fertility of the soil are common man’s knowledge of His time at Palestine.

It may be in our time like parents who love and cherish their faith, finding it hard to pass on to the next generations. Some have done everything possible and within their capacity failing miserably due to lack of interest from children. We find various reasons which are responsible for this. Sometimes due to lack of good models, poor catechesis, not giving enough care in passing on faith, may be a catholic school not being there etc. In circumstances where better climate for faith like regular mass attendance, family prayer and other pious practices are prevalent, faith is vibrant. Sometimes unusual things are noticed that in good circumstances also faith does not grow in modern times. Where no care is given, sometimes faith grows as well. This is why we call faith mysterious.

The sower was out for sowing, while he was sowing, some fell at the roadside. The birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, they sprouted soon but dried when sun came up. Some fell among thorns and they were suppressed by the thorns. Some fell at good ground and it produced thirty, sixty and hundredfold.

If we need to understand the parable well, we need to understand the nature of the cultivating fields and the way they cultivate in Palestine. Planting happens before ploughing. The sower sows the seed lavishly everywhere and once that is completed is when ploughing is done. And the growth of the seed will heavily depend on the soil. The land was such that there were all the Gospel mentioned situations in cultivating fields.

They used to sow in two ways. They would fill a sack full of seeds with holes and it would be tied on a donkey’s back and it would be made to walk, next one the farmer would throw seeds around. As the place was windy, seeds would be scattered all around. This is the reason why the seeds fell at all these places. The seeds that fell in different places had different result at harvest.

Jesus gives an explanation in today’s Gospel. The seed is the Word of God and the Sower is God, the different places where the seeds fall are people with different mind sets. The seeds that fell at the roadside are those who close their ears to God’s Word. There could be various reasons for doing this, one of them could be the immoral way of life one leads, and such a person cannot listen to the Word of God as it pricks his/her conscience and will ask the person to change. It is very difficult for the person so he/she though listens to the Word of God, does not allow it to go to the heart. So disowns the Word and the evil birds will gather them.

The ones that fell on rocky ground is different. They are ready to listen and will accept it but such persons with a rocky heart does not think seriously so the Word does not take root in their heart. When hardships and struggles of life beckons, they disown the Word.

The Seed/Word that fell among thorns are the ones who live in utter worldliness. They have so many things to do in life. They are like bees, so busy. They do not get time for anything. In their busy life, they hardly find time to live the Word and so do not bother at all. Therefore the Seed/Word that they have received joyfully is suppressed by the thorns.

The Seed/Word that produces good harvest are the ones who meditates on it and apply it to their life and live by it.

Jesus had two types of people in His mind, one group of people who preach and second those who listen. The Seed/Word has the potential within it to produce fruit but still it needs a fertile ground where it needs to fall. The same way though the Word of God is alive and active and can produce the desired fruit, the ones who listens to it needs to co-operate. If the one who listens rejects the Word, it cannot produce any fruit. For the ones who preach the Word of God, Jesus says that sometimes there may not be any fruit immediately though what is sown is the Word of God. The preacher should not be dejected and stop preaching.

Jesus was saying this from His own experience. He was preaching the Kingdom of God, Word of God, still many considered Him as their enemy. Even religious leaders were against Him and was not allowed in their Synagogues and He had to preach on hilltops and seashores. Many came to listen to Him and those who listened, some became His enemies, some disciples, some people felt that His Word was very hard and left Him. Jesus was talking to His disciples who were dejected by the result of the preaching and people’s response.

We, Christians are listeners of the Word of God. Word is not for ears but for the Heart. It is not for listening but for living. This is what Jesus tells us through this parable.

God is the Sower, so the seed cannot be bad. Then why in some people/places the Word does not produce fruit, it is not the fault of the Sower but the ones who does not receive it properly. So despite all our frustrations and troubles of life be docile to the Word of God which has the power to produce. Let us tirelessly prepare our soil and be fruitful.

14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Homily

5th July 2020

I remember to have read a news in the Washington Times which was titled as, “Letter to Jesus”. The address was as to the Son of Joseph.

The content of the letter summed up like this. We have heard that you have begun an organisation. But the 12 people you have chosen are not very capable. Peter is only an emotional human being, not at all capable. He only knows to get angry at times. Peter’s brother Andrew also does not have any leadership skills. James and John, sons of Zebedee are very selfish. Thomas only knows to ask some questions and waste time. But you have little respite in the fact that you have Judas with you. He is a real prospectus. If you make him the leader of the group, you will never have cause for regret. He will make a good leader.

In today’s gospel we see Jesus making a statement thanking the Father for revealing these things to mere children and hiding it from the learned.

When we look at the disciples from a worldly point of view, there may not be someone so exceptional among the bunch. By age Peter was the senior most. When we read the gospel thoroughly, it may appear to be true. He was a poor fisherman who made a living fishing. He was short tempered, bit proud and at times bit child- like. Take any from the 12, no one with high leadership skills.

We may find it bit confusing about the selection as if there are no criteria. Peter was advanced in age, senior to even Jesus. Nathanael was very young. Peter and Andrew were very poor, sons of Zebedee, though fishermen were slightly better off. Mathew was the richest among them all.

Religiously they were all Jews, but not very learned at all.

On Social status, they did not weigh much. They lived a silent life, not involving in political matters either. This was true of Simon, Andrew, James, and John. Judas and Simon were Zealots, who believed in bit violent activities. Mathew was a tax-collector, who was hated by the Jews.

From the worldly perspective, there wasn’t anyone socially, financially, politically, and religiously better off among the 12. That exactly is the meaning of the statement made by Jesus in today’s gospel.

The words following are a promise. Jesus says that anyone who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest. My yoke is easy.  He promises rest to all who are burdened. He goes on to say something just opposite that take my yoke and learn from me. This is the importance of the call to discipleship. He does not give any appeasing promises to the prospective disciples. He reminds them of the sufferings they may have to face, following him. He has bluntly told the young man that the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. Another time he says that anyone following Him will have to bear crosses. But He promises that He will give them rest and will not leave them on their own.

All of us Christians are called to this discipleship of Christ. If we live as true Disciples of Christ, we will face many hurdles and sufferings, we may have to lose many things. But our present loss will turn out to be our gain. This is very true of the disciples who were so very ordinary when they were called, but by the merit of the One who called them, they became exceptional people, who ashamed the “so called” better ones of their time. God chooses the lowly to shame the world. We need to understand the Mind of God and the mind of the world. The world goes by externals alone, but God looks the inside of the person.

It is the same 12, who were just ordinary who could not be in any leadership positions who championed the biggest organisations of the world. This is the work of God. This is the God who promises to give us rest. It is not like the false promises of the world. The world promises something and does something else.

The speciality of Jesus is that He calls us by telling us the TRUTH, unlike the world. Many people go behind sweetened lies in the guile of being truth and spoil their life. The life of falsehood appeals to most people as it allows them to live a life of so-called freedom and licentiousness. By the time one comes across the truth of it, may be too late for a comeback. When we live a life of the Present only and not bothered about higher realities of life, it may appear to be enough.

As disciples of Christ let us try to understand the meaning of the saying of Jesus and find rest in Him, who alone can satisfy the innermost needs of a human being. May God Bless us.

 

RE-OPENING OF CHURCHES FOR MASS

 

I will only be opening St Michael's for Mass and private prayer because I can keep to the strict safety guidelines there.

 

WE CANNOT OPEN FOR MASS AT ST MICHAEL’S UNLESS WE HAVE STEWARDS

 

You will have heard on the News that the Government has allowed places of worship to open for services from 4th July.

 

It is important to reaffirm, at present, the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains suspended.

 

I know you are eager to return to Mass, but when you return please do not expect everything to be as it was before Lockdown.

We now have a list of extensive restrictions and requirements from the government, and Bishops of England and Wales, which have to be fulfilled before we can open for celebration of Mass with a congregation.

These are in place to avoid the transmission of the virus. Your safety is paramount.

These restrictions mean that the number of seats available for Mass will be greatly reduced.

You will have to ring or email the parish office to book a seat.

But we cannot open until we have Stewards in place.

 

Toilet facilities will not be available.

 

The 2m distancing will be in place.

 

No Stewards means I cannot safely open for Mass.

 

I am aiming to open for Mass on Sunday 12th July, BUT this is dependent on having the necessary number of Stewards in place. I feel we need to have the minimum of 3 Stewards on duty each week. If only 3 come forward, then they have to be available each week.

 

Before you volunteer to be a Steward:

 

Stewards can be parishioners from St Bernard's and/or St Michael's, providing they meet the criteria below.

 

Stewards have to be in good health and NOT from the 70+ vulnerable or shielding groups.

 

They will have to clean areas of the church before the congregation arrives.

 

They will be required to ease the flow into church, so I'm afraid it is likely parishioners will have to queue.

 

They will ask you to sanitize your hands before entry and when leaving and advise you to wear a face covering.

 

They may also have to record your details to assist the Track and Trace system should it be needed.

 

They will have to ensure you keep a 2metre distance at all times and will direct you to a pew from the front of the church working their way backwards.

 

At the end of the service they will direct you out of church one pew at a time.

 

If you feel you can help, or wish to discuss this further, please ring or email the parish office:-

Contact Fr Abraham: Tel  02380 843479

 

Email: waterside@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

 

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                         12th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

21st June

There was beautiful girl who just died at her prime youth. Her body was in the tomb nearly a month. One day she heard the noise of someone digging on the grave, she wondered as to who it is. She thought for a moment, is it my boyfriend? May not be him! He may have already forgotten me and befriended someone else. Then who it could be, parents or siblings, no, they may have forgotten me already. She exclaimed, who has time to remember the dead. Then who could it be? Finally she thought, it could be my pet and she was right. I loved him so much while I was alive. At least my pet remembers me! But her joy was short lived. She thought that the pet was searching for her out of love for her. The pet told her, that he was trying to hide a bone that he found on the way. As he was full and did not want to eat right away, he was trying to hide it. This is from “Are you Digging on my Grave” by the famous poet Thomas Hardy.

In today’s gospel we hear about God’s love and care for humans. Jesus affirms the fact that we are precious in the eyes of God. Jesus came to the world to proclaim the Kingdom of God. But it was not easy for Him and His disciples. They were opposed by both the spiritual leaders, the worldly leaders and even from the people.

Sometimes we wonder as to why they were opposed. For this we need to understand what it means by the Kingdom of God. Many people think that the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. They both are two different realities. Heaven is that place or state of life gained after death as a gift to those who lead a virtuous and upright life. Kingdom of God is reality of this limitless universe. It is here and there, everywhere. It becomes a Kingdom of God when goodness is prevailed. Then only we can call it the Kingdom of God. This is the purpose of evangelisation, to make it a place of goodness and virtue.

The worldly authority opposed Jesus and His work on a misunderstanding that He was trying to oust them and capture worldly power. Therefore they tried to stop Him from the beginning. If Jesus’ Kingdom of love and goodness is established they were scared of their meaningfulness.

The spiritual authority was against Jesus and His work because the new understanding proposed by Him was not of their liking. Jesus taught that God desires Mercy and Love not Sacrifice. This would directly affect their importance. A God who is appeased in sacrifice was beneficial to them. So they vehemently opposed Jesus.

Jesus and His disciples were constantly attacked by both these powers. Jesus and His disciples were a puzzle to them. The loyalty of His disciples to Him and His values were a cause of wonder. They ignored the lure of easy going way of life proposed by the leaders of their time and objected paganism. We too are constantly confused with the worldly values with values of Christ as we live in the world. This is a pressure that we all experience in our daily life. Jesus’ disciples were opposed at every step they took towards the Kingdom of God. On their provocation many times people tried to manhandle them. This is what will happen to anyone who is involved evangelisation even today.

 

Jesus was reassuring the disciples who may have been tormented by the attitude of the authorities and the people. Jesus told them that God considers them precious and their hard work be rewarded by Him. The present situation is only limited to this world and their aim is beyond the limited world. They can only harm them physically but our life is not limited to this world.

The authorities tried two ways, 1) They tried to physically eliminate them 2) with the lure of worldly comfort and pleasures tried to drive people away from the Kingdom of God. For this they tried to kill some and secondly those who malign both body and soul. The second is more serious and needs to be very careful.

Jesus’ disciples may undergo many struggles and pain and they need to keep up their spirit on the fact that God is their hope and protector. They are very precious to Him. In God’s eyes we have a worth and value beyond counting. He promises to see us through and invites to live on His values unashamedly. 

The poet in the beginning of the homily was not a believer and he was trying to prove that life is worthless. No value for love and memory, so on. They are mere words and do not mean much. Once we die everything is over. No one will be there to remember anyone after death. We do not need to be hopeless as the poet. We have a God who never forgets us. Even if your mother forgets you, I will not forget you is what He has promised us, not even a hair falls down without His knowledge, I am in safe hands with my God no matter what happens.

When the world frightens us let us remember these words of Jesus and with a renewed vigour walk in His ways.

THE MOST HOLY BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

CORPUS CHRISTI - HOMILY

Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The sacrament for our Eternal Life. The greatest gift Jesus has given to us, His own self as food and drink for us for our sustenance and nourishment. What an amazing and wonderful gift, it can only be given by a loving God. Therefore every Eucharist is an invitation towards this love. He was wounded to heal our wounds. We remember the ultimate love of Jesus for each one us on this day.

When Jesus was teaching in Capernaum he said, “I am the living bread that came down from Heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world”. This caused great unrest in his listeners, even His disciples. Many left Him because they could not digest His words, even today many people struggle in understanding the Eucharist. Many people have a superfluous understanding on the Eucharist than a real understanding.

There were many reasons why His Jewish listeners struggled as it did not corroborate with the OT understanding. When Jesus said this is my body… they could not accept it because He was claiming to be God. They understood it quickly. They had the understanding of the offering and how it becomes Holy when it is offered to God in offering and who gives it to them to be eaten. They could not accept Him to be God, only a man. So they left Him.

In the book of Leviticus, they were forbidden to eat blood. Jesus also said that it is of higher degree than MANNA which their ancestors ate in the desert. For them MANNA was the best Food ever given to them, as it came from Heaven. So Jesus’ claim was a blasphemy for them.

Jesus was born to redeem us from sin by becoming an oblation. St. John introduces Jesus as the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world. When the lamb is offered in sacrifice only it can take away the sins. When the person who brings the lamb offers and eats of the sacrificed lamb is when he receives remission for his sins. Jesus is that Lamb of God who has come to take away our sins. So He needs to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. And as the OT understanding renewed anyone who eats and drinks the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ will be saved.

In the sacrifice of Jesus there are some marked differences. In the offering of old the lamb and the one offering are different but in Jesus both are the same. The old sacrifice only benefitted the offeror and the one who eats of it but in the sacrifice of Jesus the entire world and its people are benefitted. This sacrifice remains forever, no more sacrifice is required, once and for all. In the Eucharist we do not offer any more sacrifice but remembers the Sacrifice of Jesus, commemoration of the Sacrifice of Jesus. At every Eucharist the one who offers the Sacrifice is Jesus Himself, in Persona Christi. It is the power of the same words that Jesus uttered that the bread and vine become the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The priest repeats the same words. When we receive this Sacrament of Eternity in Faith and disposition it becomes Eternal Life for us. A worthy reception is absolutely necessary if it has to become a Sacrament.

At every Holy Eucharist Jesus invites us to the Sacrament of Eternal Life. He wants to make us strong and nourished. The Eucharist nourishes our body and spirit, which is a requirement on our pilgrimage to the Heavenly Jerusalem. Communion is an invitation to be together with one another in our Christian community. He is really and truly present in our brothers and sisters. Eucharist heals wounds that are caused by our interactions with one another and fills us with compassionate love of Christ. Eucharist is an invitation to care and to share. His presence is experienced in Faith and it makes us to grow and live in unity. The ultimate sacrifice of Jesus is an invitation to become life-giving to others.

The Feast of Corpus Christi is an invitation to the Love of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and learn to share that Love with one another.

Quotes of Mother Teresa:

“To give us Life, He has become the Bread of Life. He is there- night and day. If you want to grow in Love, come back to the Holy Eucharist, come back to Adoration”.

“The moments I spend with Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is the best time I spent on earth”.

St.Francis of Assisi

“Only in the Body and Blood can my naked eyes see the Son of God on earth”.

                            HOLY TRINITY SUNDAY

7th June

Today we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Trinity. Holy Trinity is embedded in our whole being from very early stage of our life. Long before we had our introduction to various religious lessons, we learned to bless ourselves with these words of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. We bless ourselves and others in the name of the Trinity. One God, in three persons. One in Unity and Love. The insight into the relationship of the Trinity was revealed to us by Jesus. God is so Great a reality and mystery that we can never unravel fully. The small little boy at the seaside trying to empty the deep ocean into the small pit that he has made on the shore and St. Augustine wondering at his silly action whereas he himself was trying to understand the deep mystery of the Holy Trinity with his human intellect. Both are trying to empty the vast ocean into man made pits. We will fail.

The Holy Trinity is engraved into Christianity in such a way that it is inseparable. Faith in the Trinity is so central and vital to our faith. Profession of Faith is an acknowledgement of this fact. Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the mystery of Christian Faith and Life”. This is the mystery of God about Himself.

For a Christian it is part of his life-long profession, from the beginning till the end that they believe in God, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Even the church bells are rung in this rhythm of the Holy Trinity, 3 times each reminding the faithful about the Holy Trinity. We bless ourselves with the sign of the cross in the name of the Trinity. The priestly blessing also in the same way.

The shadow of the Trinity is shed on Family in a special way. They are not two, but one body ( Mk.10/8). This understanding is Trinitarian. The Mystery of “ Two becoming One” (Eph. 5/31). Unity and Indissolubility is the basis of Sacramental Marriage and this is again Trinitarian. The beautiful explanation of the Scriptures about the Church is again points to the Trinity. 1Cor. 12/12 says, “As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ” is how St.Paul beautifully describes about the Unity in Diversity. The foundation of the Church is Trinity. The One Holy Catholic Church is also Trinitarian. Oneness of 24 fully Catholic Traditions together are called as ONE, HOLY CATHOLIC CHURCH. This is not the ordinary mathematics of the world which our generation is accustomed to. This why we find it hard to understand matters of faith.

We are part of a culture which does not understand the concept of Mystery, we are not at all comfortable as people of technology. Mystery talks about things that we cannot physically see. It is so strange that we refuse to believe in things that we cannot see whereas we are fighting with things that we cannot see mostly and have no control. But they do exist. People happened to think that there is no limit to physical knowledge and no need to bother about things of Heaven.

Trinity Sunday reminds us of God, the Father, Creator, Son, the Saviour and Sanctifier, the Holy Spirit in whose love we live. We are the image of this Trinity and its love. In whose love and unity we live.

We need to learn to live as the Trinity. In the Most Holy Trinity One is closely related to the other, complete love and unity is the trademark of the Trinity. Everything is common between them, everything belongs to everyone. It is a Communion, inter-relationship is so perfect. The Unity is so great in them. When we live in love, greater the Unity.

This Trinitarian Love and Unity needs to be applied in our personal life, family and social life. The attitude of every relationship is one of Self-Giving. When self-giving is missing in any relationship, selfishness creeps in. Lack of love is the reason for selfishness. Even in family relationships there exists selfishness and we keep an account of things done to each other which reduces love. Family relationships lose that warmth it is just a business, if account is kept in relationships, the result is hopelessness and despair.

We are called to be people of Communion, so let us live a life of communion.

PENTECOST SUNDAY HOMILY 31st May 2020

Today we celebrate the birthday of the Church. The day on which the Holy Spirit came down on the frightened disciples who were locked up in the Upper Room for fear of Jews and they were made new from that day.

There are young people who live without bothering about their bright future, people of our generation who live without proper Christian understanding/outlook, some people of older generation who live without any Christian Hope. This is one of the most pitiable state of Christian life that we see today.

On the other side as Prophet Joel ch.2/28-29; “Then afterward I will pour out my Spirit upon all mankind. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions”. Pentecost is the fulfilment of that promise. We need to be anointed by the Holy Spirit so as to come out of fear, hopelessness, and lack of proper understanding, right dispositions.

Christ is the centre of the WORD and it is the Holy Spirit who strengthens and awakens to right understanding. And when He comes, He will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation, says John 16/8.

The effect of the coming of the Holy Spirit is the change in the Life and Attitude of the disciples. Holy Spirit comes into communion, where Mother Mary along with the disciples were in prayer. Also note, when Holy Spirit and Mary met for the first time, Christ was formed in her Womb, now when they meet the Church was born. The people in the Old Testament who lived near Shinar valley tried to build the Tower of Babel in their pride and arrogance and selfish attitude and God dispersed them as they failed to understand each other but here in the Upper Room when the Spirit of Unity comes people of different cultures, language and traditions understand each other. This is the miracle; it is not language and culture that alone unites us but the Spirit of God above all these. Sometimes we have same language, culture and most things in common but no unity, peace and cohabitation. Family is the best example for this. At Pentecost, people of different cultures, languages are being united, and they understand each other very well though they spoke various languages. The people who refused to stay in communion are dispersed. Therefore, the importance of Ecclesial Communion.

Holy Spirit is the spirit of Unity, it is the sign of communion. When the indwelling of the Holy Spirit is weak, such a community cannot stay in unity. Act of the Apostles so beautifully says that the community of believers lived as one in heart and mind. This was affected by the Holy Spirit. So, for any Christian community to live in unity and peace, the presence of the Holy Spirit is necessary. If our families struggle to live in unity and peace, one of the most important reason is the absence of the Holy Spirit. He unites people so the families filled with the Holy Spirit lives in unity and there will be communion. When the Spirit is weakened in a family, it starts to be divided.

It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the sense of sin and justice and judgement. The biggest fault of the world today is not about sinning but losing the Sense of Sin which is very dangerous, and it can lead to destruction. This is again the absence of the Holy Spirit who gives a sense of sin. So, the need to be anointed.

I remember a small little story. A family was travelling by bus. The man who was giving out the tickets came and the mother said half ticket. Then the man asked how old he was and the mother said ten (as per rule children below 10 travel on half ticket). When they dismounted from the bus the son asked, am I not thirteen? The mother gave a stern look at the son. As her reply. She taught a great lesson to the child that day.

For money we can lie, even for a little.

We all want our children to be good. It is a good thing. There is no scarcity for principles and values but for good models. It is the Holy Spirit who teaches us about sin, justice and judgement. If He is absent we lose the Sense of Sin and it can be destructive. When the Spirit of Truth comes, He will lead you to the fullness of Truth (Jn.16/13).

When in our families, Church Communities and parish the work of the Holy Spirit is not up to the mark, what happened to the Tower of Babel repeats. We do not understand one another though we speak the same language, no depth in relationships and the result is division. Such a unit will lack Love. Lack of energy and life in Christian worship is the result of the absence of the Spirit.

So let us pray for the anointing of the Holy Spirit. May the Spirit who gives unity come down on us and give us Peace and courage.

                            7th SUNDAY OF EASTER

24th May

We are very near to the great feast of the Pentecost. The Ascension of the Lord brought some sort of sadness experienced by the disciples as the Lord ascends to Heaven. It is a perfect setting for the joy of Pentecost. The disciples did not understand the ascension so they were still looking upwards. Every departing and separation is painful so the pain of the disciples is understandable from the perspective of common life. But from the perspective of Faith, we need to grow towards Christ.

In his farewell discourse to the disciples Jesus prays for them as His time was very close. He was about to be handed over to the enemies and the mission was to be carried on by His disciples. As He was going away from them, His main concern was for the apostles who He was leaving behind. The disciples had to carry on the mission without his physical presence which would be difficult for them.

The future ministry will require their greater participation and involvement. Jesus was entrusting them to His Father so that they fulfil their responsibility. They were to give witness to Jesus and the spreading of the good news was in their hands. Jesus was very much aware of the difficulties and struggles they would face in their work. He entrusted them to His Father.

Jesus’ prayer at this difficult time is an invitation to us to reflect on our prayer. Do we spend time in prayer in our most difficult time? Do we try to know the will of God, even in such critical moments? Do we turn towards humans rather than God to find solution to our problems? The intensity of prayer and meditation helps in our most difficult moments as Jesus do. He finds consolation in His Father. We need to learn this for life as we struggle in the world on a regular basis. We might easily blame God for this, but is it of our making and lifestyle rather than someone else who needs to be blamed, is a million pound question. No one accepts responsibility for the life they choose but blame only towards one direction whereas they never listen to God or His ways.

If only we reflect, we encounter such trivial questions and find certain answers. On this 7th Sunday of Easter, Jesus by praying for His disciples teaches people of all generation how they need to conduct their life. We need to be prepared for the mission and the mission will only be successful if we are One as the Trinity. If we are to be witnesses of Christ in the world, it is not an easy take.

Even in the absence of Jesus, the disciples has to take His presence everywhere. His presence has to fill each and every corner of the world. Let us all prepare ourselves for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Pentecost as many people are already on great preparation. We need the outpouring of the Spirit more than ever as it is only His coming that can give us courage, fortitude and understanding. It is the coming of the Holy Spirit that opened the doors of the Upper Room for the frightened disciples to come out without fear to proclaim Christ to the ends of the world. May the Spirit help all to come out of fear and proclaim Christ with conviction and courage.

                    16th May

6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER  HOMILY

Continuing with the Last Supper conversation where Jesus talks about His imminent death and the shock experienced by the disciples and Jesus’ promise that He will not leave them orphans but send an advocate to help them through life is an important message for all. Last Sunday we heard the disciples’ confusion that they do not know the way where He is going.

Jesus promises the Spirit of Truth. Who is this Helper or Spirit of Truth? Every Christian knows that is the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. What is it that the Holy Spirit going to do in the world in the physical absence of Jesus?

In the birth of Jesus, we see the presence of the Holy Spirit. It is by the work of the Holy Spirit that the Virgin Mary gives birth to Jesus. So the beginning of Human Salvation is from the Holy Spirit. At the beginning of Jesus’ public life we see the Holy Spirit guiding Jesus to the desert. When Jesus is baptised from John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit comes upon Him in the form of a Dove. When Peter proclaims Christ as the Son of the Living God, Jesus answers that it is the Holy Spirit who revealed him to proclaim this truth. So we can find out the presence of the Holy Spirit in all these activities. Then why does Jesus say that when he has gone, He would send the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit was already present, what does it mean to send Him?

It is true that from the beginning of the birth of Jesus, in the life of Jesus and His Apostles, there was the presence of the Holy Spirit. But while Jesus was in the world, His presence was felt only in those moments. The Holy Spirit’s presence fully was felt from the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came down on the Apostles.

A question may rise in our minds as to what can the Holy Spirit accomplish what Jesus could not. The main purpose of Jesus’ coming into the world was to save them from the Slavery of Sin and make them heirs of Eternal Life by His suffering, death and resurrection. This is for all eternity. If everyone has to be a part of it depends on the fact they need to know, and this was the reason Jesus has chosen the apostles and taught them.

If we reflect on the life of the apostles, they have not understood the truth what Jesus taught them. Jesus told them that He and the Father are One but they still ask show us the Father. Jesus tells them that He is the Bread came down from Heaven and they have no idea. They were at a loss when Jesus speaks about His death. All their doubts vanish when the Holy Spirit comes down on them, this is what Jesus promises. So the Helper’s responsibility to make them aware of the Mysteries of God.

The Apostles were hopeful and courageous in the presence of Jesus but when He is gone they will be shattered. They will feel abandoned. To keep them in Hope and courage, they will definitely need a very powerful presence. The purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit is to fill the hearts and minds of the apostles at this crucial moment. We will find it difficult to describe the change that happens to the shattered disciples when the Holy Spirit comes is what Jesus foretells them. They were filled with a new vigour and enthusiasm as never before.

The Good News Jesus proclaims is not limited to the geographical area or boundary, it is for the whole world. It is to reach to the ends of earth. This is for all generations of all people. Jesus’ disciples were ordinary people, simple people who could not accomplish all that we said above on their own. So they need to become people who are filled with the Spirit of God and this is the ultimate purpose of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

10th May

5th SUNDAY OF EASTER

There lived a Holy Man who was very popular as he never said a lie in his life. Once when he was in meditation in a dense forest, he heard the cry of the frightened villagers who were running for their life from a giant. They pleaded with the Holy Man to save them from the giant who was coming to destroy them. When the Holy Man heard their plight, he hid them in his cave. After sometime the giant also came and enquired about those people. Now the Holy man was in confusion as he never said a lie before. If he said the truth then they will be destroyed and if he lied it will be untrue. He could not even think about lying and then we know what happened.

We hear in today’s Gospel Jesus proclaiming that he is the way, truth and life.

Jesus was on the face of His death. In his farewell to His disciples, He consoles His companions that they do not need to be sad at the fact that He was going away from them, because He was going to the Father. Therefore they need to be happy for He was going to prepare a place for them.

Now the disappointment of the disciples is so genuine (as we often say when our plans are shattered) that they followed Him thinking that He will be the Messiah who will establish a kingdom and that they will be part of this plan. Now the announcement Jesus made almost shattered them to the core. They were lost, faces downcast, disappointed. Jesus spoke the Good News of hope to them.

Peoples from antiquity has given God various attributes, one of the best is that God is TRUTH. So fitting for God. If we are given good and evil and ask which is true, without doubt we will say that what is good is truth. But if we are asked to choose between Life and Death as to which is true, we will sweat a bit to choose. Both are true. We get one of the best insight in this choice of the Ultimate Reality called God who is THE TRUTH which is unaffected by both. So we must say that He is the Ultimate Good, Eternal Life and so on. The way to this Truth is Goodness and Virtues, this way of Virtue leads us to Eternal Life. This is why in the context of death too, this passage gives us great consolation that we are going to that Truth.

Jesus by reassuring his disciples with these words that, “Do not let your hearts be troubled… Trust in God, and trust in me… where I am, you may be too…I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. By these words Jesus was revealing His identity as GOD. When Jesus says that He is the Way, it may or may not ring any bell for us but for a faithful Jew knew that Messiah be born on earth and do the reparation for the sin of Adam then only they can enter Heaven again. When Jesus says that He is the Way this is what He telling them. He is the only way to reach the Father. There lived so many people before Him but they could not lead people to the TRUTH, to HEAVEN. By the death and resurrection Jesus opens the way to Heaven. Our Profession of Faith and the Resurrection Night Vigil proclaims all these beautiful thoughts. How Jesus the Way, by dying and by His resurrection opens Eternal Life to all people of all times.

Jesus is telling them though it is sad and painful for them, it has to happen for the Salvation of the world. That is why Jesus says that He has to return to the Father for their Good. Unless I go to the Father, a place cannot be prepared for them. Sometimes when in life misfortunes happen, we are upset and shattered as we cannot see the full picture but God can see it so Jesus’ words, Trust in me is to be taken very seriously. Everything that happens in life has to be evaluated in Faith to understand its real meaning, which many in today’s world fail to recognise.

If I take you back to the story at the start of the homily, the Holy Man was a good man, spoke the truth but still he could not save people, his truth brought death to the people who trusted him and hid in his cave. Therefore our  escapism most of the time, saying someone is good though they do not know, acknowledge or worship God because it does not suit their life style, does not lead us to Life but to death. The Way that Jesus shows only can lead us to Life Eternal which alone is The Truth. The Truth in Jesus was not like that of the Holy Man or of the world but He was GOD, THE TRUTH, itself.

This is what St. Peter talking about the Living Stones in the first letter of St. Peter, ch.2/4-9, the Church is made by the Living Stone which is Jesus Christ Himself.

For us Catholics, Christians, if Jesus has to become the Way, Truth and Life, we need to accept, acknowledge and put into practice the Truth, taught by Jesus. We need to walk in the ways of the Lord and merit Eternal Life.

       3rd May

  4th SUNDAY OF EASTER

There lived a shepherd boy. He used to take his sheep and go to the forest. He would spent the whole day in the forest and return to his sheepfold. One day when he was walking around in the forest with his sheep, he felt like doing a prank. He shouted wolf, wolf and hearing him many villagers came to the forest to his help. Then they realised that they were cheated. Days went by, once again they heard the shepherd boy shouting wolf, wolf and the villagers came running to help but again they were cheated. They went back very angry at the boy. After few days, once again they heard him shouting wolf, wolf and this time nobody went to his help as they were cheated twice before. This time the wolf really came and in front of the helpless shepherd boy, the wolf killed few sheep and ate them.

Here we see a mischievous and naughty shepherd boy by whose actions the sheep had to suffer. Shepherding is a sacred vocation to care, protect and guard.

The people of Israel from the beginning were shepherds and sheep and sheepfold was an integral part of their life. They were nomads who went from one place to the other in search of pastures for the sheep. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob all were shepherds.

They knew quite well who is a shepherd and his relationship with sheep. They very well were aware who a Good Shepherd is and who is a hired one who runs away at the sight of a danger to the sheep. The people of Israel therefore understood God as a Shepherd who tended them through life. In the Psalms therefore we hear, the Lord is my shepherd and there is nothing I shall want……… There are 3 main responsibilities of a shepherd, 1) To lead the sheep into good pastures 2) To bandage the wounded and 3) To bring back the strayed. God therefore appointed 3 categories of people to do this, Kings, Priests and Prophets. They did not do their job as God expected.

In today’s Gospel we see Jesus speaking in similar tone. He describes Himself as the gate of the sheepfold. This denotes protection that the sheep needs from wild animals. We see this beautiful imagery of Jesus with a sheep, illustrating care, concern and tenderness. This picture has a telling effect on all who see it. A shepherd when we reflect has to protect and therefore he has to risk his life for the sheep as they are defenceless creatures. The sheep has the characteristics of being lost and strayed so without a shepherd they can become easy prey to the predators. Once they become familiar with the shepherd, they recognise his voice and are dependent on him for everything. He has to keep them away from all harm. As Jesus did on the cross.

Jesus offers protection to all who listens to his voice, recognise it and follow him. As he is the door of the sheepfold, anyone who enters through him will have salvation. It was part of Jewish belief that God had slammed the door of Heaven before human beings with the sin of Adam and Eve. That door will only be opened when the Messiah is born and He does the reparation for sins. Jesus was revealing to them that He was the One they were waiting for ages for their Salvation which they did not understand.

When Jesus says that all who came before Him are thieves and brigands does not mean that He is despising all of them, though it might appear as such for some. There were good kings, good priests and prophets but none of them could open that gate of Heaven which was slammed at the sin of Adam and Eve and give Eternal Life to the people. Therefore none of them could be called as the Gate that leads to Salvation. He says that Only He could be that gate. He hints at the false prophets, selfish priests and power hungry kings who lived for themselves and did not care about the sheep. They were ready to do anything for their comfort and they were the ones who Jesus mentions in the Gospel.

For us Christians there is only One Way to reach Salvation, which is through Jesus. We need to have some qualities to enter through Jesus, the gate, namely, be people who are led by Jesus and are obedient to Him. The flock that recognises His voice, a flock that lives by His Word and lives in Unity. Clinging to Him is a sure way that we will not be lost as He keeps watch over us. Each of us are called to be shepherds – parents to look after children, as teachers, as priests. We cannot take this responsibility lightly at all. We as Christians are called to be a caring community. In a world where good Catholic life is equated to be giving little time on Sunday and the rest of the week is lived without any reference to real Christian way of life, this is a difficult task. But shepherding is not for some time, it is a full time job. The protection from the enemy has to be every time. To be a Christian is a full time vocation which influences the whole life, not in parts.

Let us reflect and see whether we belong to Him? Do we recognise His voice?  Do we respond to Him when He calls us by name or are we part of a crowd that follows Him?  Do we have any personal relationship with Him at all or we are just a member of the congregation/ crowd. The answers will tell us who we are in relation to Jesus the gate of the sheepfold.

From Fr Abraham 26th April

3rd Sunday of Easter Reflection

Today we see two disciples of Jesus on their way to Emmaus. They are distressed and is in fear. The emotion that was ruling their hearts was one of FEAR. Overwhelming situations and excessive fear can blind the reality. Shattered dreams and disappointments can have an influence on the way we look at things. What we reflect on this Sunday is the PRESENCE of the RISEN LORD who opens their unbelieving hearts to belief.

They were on the way to Emmaus-trying to avoid the harsh realities of life. How so very often do we do this in life- escapism - from harsh realities of life – avoid unpleasant situations and fly to the safety. Many times we too are on the way to Emmaus – walking /running away from the problems of daily life. When our dreams are shattered, when things happen unlike our plans, this is what we do. We can identify a lot of ourselves in these disciples on their way to Emmaus.

We hope for what we hope and something else happens, can be a harrowing experience. Personal tragedies, death, hardships could be such situations. Life can be difficult amidst disappointments and sorrows. Inner emptiness could be a reason for Emmaus and this can only be filled by the Presence of GOD.

 He intervenes in many and varied ways, could be the neighbour who comes to help in our need, a friend who comes out in our desperation, loss and so on. They are the ones who comes out in our difficult times to console, talk like Jesus on the way to Emmaus. He walks with us when we are in confusion, distress. He can change our entire outlook towards life, death and all that happens around us which we have no control over. In our fears and problems we ought to look up to Him and His Encounter can empower us.

We are all in lockdown and are a bit in confusion, some in fear, there is uncertainty, dreams shattered, best of our plans are overturned, not sure of what is in store for the future and everything is in chaos. Our Faith in the Risen Lord can give us the serenity and peace at this time. Our encounter with Him can help us to face the situation. This is the Emmaus experience which sometimes prompt many to walk away from the reality but the answer is to face it with the Risen Lord that He will see us through life.

May the Risen Lord protect us and keep us safe.

Fom Fr Abraham 19th April

DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY

Today we celebrate the Divine Mercy Sunday. This year we celebrate the feast and talk about mercy when we are at a very difficult time where people are questioning about God’s love and His presence. Jesus’ promise to Sr.Faustina that, “The Soul that will go to confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the Divine floodlights through which Graces flow are opened. Let no Soul fear to draw near to me, even though its sins be as scarlet”. Divine Mercy is the last Hope of human Salvation. Divine Mercy Sunday promise is complete forgiveness. Our souls are cleansed on this day if we follow the criteria, the same way as at Baptism. Then we might ask a question how this can be possible at a time when confession and reception of Holy Communion is not possible for people. Catechism of the Catholic Church says in 1451 that true contrition will help with the promise to go for individual confession at the immediate possible time and Spiritual Communion at this time. Everyone can receive forgiveness at this extraordinary circumstance.

We need to pray for God’s Forgiveness.  Trust in God’s abundant Mercy. We need to be merciful to everyone in such a way as a medium of Mercy to flow. This is in view of Jesus’ desire to shower His Mercy.

In the Gospel, Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe”. “ Thomas answered and said to him, “ My Lord and my God!” (Jn.20/27-28). St. Thomas’ cry is not one of Hopelessness but of Trust.  Jesus fills the emptiness/weakness of disciples by Love.

Jesus’ disciples were in fear and were locked up in a room when Jesus came. The entire last week from the Acts of the Apostles we see how they all struggle to believe in the Risen Christ and gradually come to belief. This time St.Thomas was not with them and he says that he would not believe unless he sees Jesus himself. Conceding to St.Thomas’ request Jesus appears before them, wishing them “PEACE”. For fear there is only one answer- Peace of the Risen Christ. What today’s world need also is PEACE. The biggest gift Jesus has for the world is PEACE. This PEACE is to be shared among all.

The one who cries out as My Lord and My God announces his Faith publically. We can reflect whether You and I make use of all the opportunities to witness/announce Him publically. St. Thomas was able to give his life up for Him. He was ready to go the farthest end of the world to share this faith. To introduce Christ to the world and to witness  His WORD he goes. When the world loses its Hope and Faith in everything, we need to Trust in Him and fill the world with the Risen Christ. God’s Peace is what Risen Jesus has to offer. This Peace is what we need today for our families, unless we get it we will be a lot poorer amidst affluence. When we share God’s Peace in the world we become the face of God’s Mercy.

Today we can see many of our sisters and brothers has the face of Mercy. Today amidst Covid19 when people lose hope, they instil hope in many people. God has chosen health personnel as the ones to discharge His Love and Mercy to people. For many suffering people see God’s face in them. God acts through them today. We ought to be dischargers of God’s Mercy at all circumstances.

Wish you all Happy Feast.

 

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”.

From Father Abraham April 11th

EASTER SUNDAY HOMILY

THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Easter is a feast of Hope and expectation. Easter light is the sign of Hope in darkness. If we ask a question what Easter is, then we can say that, it is the day on which the world came to know that even Death can die. When they have killed Jesus, the Jewish Leaders thought to have finished the person called Jesus. To their surprise, Jesus rises to give hope. Tears gave way to smile. Until then it was believed that Life is defeated by death by Easter Jesus changes this that Life ultimately defeats death.

The funniest story that I have heard about resurrection was about a husband and wife who were on a visit to the Holy Land.  While they were there the wife died. The husband did not know what to do. In his confusion and grief he went to see the priest who told him that if he wanted to take the body home would cost him ten thousand dollars, and if he chose to bury her there it would only cost a hundred dollars. He promised to help him whichever option he chose. The husband after a minute of silence told that he would take her to his homeland. They made all arrangements for the body to be taken home, the priest asked the husband in private why he made that costly decision. He told the priest, you have buried Jesus here and He rose from the dead on the third day, I do not want to take such a risk!

I am indeed not for the moral of the story; it can be the other way around as well, but this reality of Resurrection is engraved in everyone although we may not live as follower of the Risen One in the true spirit.

If there is a festival that turns sorrow into joy that is called Easter. As St. Paul says in 1Cor.15/55, “Death is swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”. The people who came to the tomb the morning next, expecting death, were surprised to discover new life. The truth of Easter is so big that people find it very hard to understand. Christ by rising gives a reason for living and a hope in dying. This Easter is an invitation to each one of us to open our hearts to the Risen Christ. Has this change to our heart taken place until now?

Easter is an invitation to start afresh, let go the past to infuse the newness offered by Christ. Hope for a new future in Christ is on offer as did happen to the disciples which is one of the greatest proofs of the resurrection. The change that has happened to the disciples who were quarrelling to be the greatest, the ones who could not keep watch with him even for an hour, the people who ran away at His passion, the one who struggled before a servant girl - it is the same people who no more quarrels for supremacy, the same people who could not control sleep, does not want to sleep anymore. This is the invitation to us at every Easter, if only we ever gave attention! If we believe in the Risen Christ this is the change that will happen to us as well.

The magic of Easter Spirit is the need of the hour in a world which is confused, frightened and suffering. Today, in this distressing time so many people are in fear and are losing hope. We need to reach out to them with the message of Easter that everything is not ended, and we need to keep the hope alive. Reaching out to the disheartened in love is what we need to do in these trying times. How many people are already in this endeavour in the hospitals, around the world, giving their time for the love of the suffering and needy? In a world which has grown selfish, giving space to the other could be that change the Risen Lord invites us at this Easter.

Ultimately, Resurrection is a matter of FAITH. The EMPTY TOMB appears at first to Mary Magdalene as a result of someone moving the body of Jesus, this is what makes Peter to be surprised but The BELOVED disciple sees and believes. Resurrection is the core of our belief as St. Paul so beautifully puts it. The Emptiness has to be filled with Faith otherwise we remain as those people who “miss the mark in life”. The Emptiness be filled with the Path to Eternity which our Lord has opened for us on this day.

The Baptism so closely relates us to the Death and Resurrection of Jesus (Rom.6/3-11). Every Baptised live the Life of the Newness of Life. Every Baptised has the same Life in God. Our old self was crucified in Him so slavery to sin is done away. If we have died with Him, then we shall live with Him as well. As he goes on to teach us that If Christ is raised from the dead, dies no more, death has no power over Him. We ought to believe that we have died to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus. To show this so strikingly we have Baptisms at the Easter Vigil, if only we availed this opportunity to see and believe. A great symbolism indeed. The New Light given at Baptism for the believer to live in the Light of Christ is to be viewed in this perspective. Renewal of Baptismal Promises and Profession of Faith happens at The Vigil and Easter Masses with the precise purpose of showing us this inherent connection. As Jesus told you have believed because you have seen, blessed are those who have not seen yet believed, I wish and hope that we are those mentioned by the Lord.

 Last day I saw a heart touching scene of a mother who is working in a Covid-19 ward. She is not allowed to go home. Last few good days, her little daughter who is 3 or 4 is not very happy at home, crying to see her mum. The scene I saw was that the husband of this young woman brought the daughter on a motor bike, suddenly the mother appeared on the hospital door some distance away. The father invited the attention of his daughter to the mother, the little one was trying to dismount and run towards the mother, the father somehow controlled his daughter who is crying profusely for the mother. At a distance the mother also cannot control her tears, tears everywhere. After some time, the mother with tears in her eyes, turns and walks into the ward, wiping her tears. There is no greater love than…………, may be giving up one’s comforts, trying to wipe out the tears of the other. These are the stories that we hear during this Pandemic. Like this nurse who is losing the comfort of her home, loved ones are the ones who teach us the value of humanity. I came to know that she was not doing it on compulsion but willingly for the sake of the other. This is how we will know what it means to be Human, rather than a life spent on one’s own pleasures and comforts alone. People who take upon sufferings and pain for others. Those are the people who give us Hope. By sacrificing few days of her family, she gives Hope to many helpless, disheartened people. Easter is an invitation to reach out to the poor, sick and needy. We need to be carriers of Easter Hope to those who we can reach out at this time though not physically but in spirit. By continued support through telephones or any means of communication at this difficult time.

There could be people who have to put up with pain of loss. Easter encourages us to hope that amidst all these uncertainties and struggles, we shall come out victorious as followers of Christ. We only need to be docile to God that he can give us a new heart to understand. This Easter comes at a time of uncertainties, fear, brokenness and anxiety. We need to proclaim the Good News that the deepest truth lies in Hope not in Despair, in life and not death for Christ has Risen. This Hope is not reserved to the end of earthly life but to be spread every day. We are people of the Resurrection from the start of our Catholic life, so we need to live amidst this calamity as such giving Hope and Newness to people who are struggling and disheartened. Reach out to people with the Easter Peace and Joy that we are all created for Eternity.

We wish you all a Healthy, Joyous Easter. Peace and Joy of Easter reign in your Hearts.

From Fr Abraham 10th April

GOOD FRIDAY HOMILY

Isaiah 52/13 -53/12, Heb.4/14-16;5/7-9, Jn.18/1-19/42

Good Friday is a reminder, that innocent people also could be crucified. Good Friday is a Possibility/Opportunity that anyone is able to withstand suffering patiently will be with Jesus in the Paradise. In my childhood I studied a story which was written by a writer who was not a Christian. There was a shepherd who loved His flock and was in search of Green pastures for them. His search was a very difficult one because the draught made things very difficult. The life of the flock was very bad, and the shepherd was so concerned. A ghost appeared before him and said, if you give me a lamb every day, I will provide you with water and green grass. The shepherd looked at each of his flock and was terrified with the thought of losing even one of them, so they went ahead. He moved on to the deserted place, suddenly a strange creature came before him and said, I will give you the green grass and water for the flock if only you give me two sheep every day. The sheep that were distraught by the struggle said, you sell us to him so that our young ones may live. The young ones objected and said, you sell us in return and let our mothers live. The shepherd was helpless but none of the proposals were agreeable to him. The creature flew away. The heat increased; situation was intense. The shepherd heard a voice telling him, decide something immediately otherwise you and your flock will perish. In this intense moment of sorrow after a brief moment of reflection he said, take my life, let my flock live. The shepherd fell dead. Suddenly there came up a Green Pasture with streams with free-flowing waters, the flock had everything they needed. The writer ends the story with a question like this, Will the Future Humans try to unravel the truth of it at all?

There were 3 reasons why the Jewish Leaders wanted to eliminate Jesus. Firstly, Jesus was a Charismatic Leader who attracted large crowds, and many followed him. For any establishment such leaders are a threat. Secondly, Jesus predicted the destruction of Jerusalem Temple. For a Jew it was the centre of their faith. Anyone who speaks against the temple, is a heretic and Jesus’ talk was like an insult to their religious leaders. Thirdly, for the Jewish Leaders whatever Jesus taught and did was wrong, like breaking the Sabbath laws, questioning the system and mixing with the poor, outcast. Jesus was not a victim but was a conscious decision to fulfil His duty. Jesus was giving His life knowingly to fulfil the will of His Father.

This is my commandment:  Love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than to sacrifice one’s life for one’s friends (Jn.15/12-13).

Today the entire world goes through the memories of Jesus’ tragic death. The ripped alters without any decorations, the day on which the sorrowful sound of the wooden bell, moderation in everything………… Good Friday leads us to a special memory of the tragic incident of human history. The shades of His intense suffering, the cries of the women of Jerusalem, the Lord who is looking for someone to entrust His mother, the insulting crowd…… Amidst all this we call it as GOOD FRIDAY and what really makes it GOOD is the realisation that – For God loved the world so much that He gave His only son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not die but have eternal life (Jn.3/16).

What Jesus taught, He materialised on this day.

Some Real-Life Applications of what Jesus did in our times- A Regent Seminarian took his parish Alter servers for a day of picnic. As they were visiting a pond, an altar server fell into the pond which was 20 feet deep and the seminarian jumped into the river to save the boy and in that effort the boy was saved but the seminarian drowned. He was 23-year-old son of his parents, at his burial, the preacher said, addressing his parents, “You gave your son to Christ and your son gave himself completely to Christ”. This is the fullness of surrender. There is no greater love than………. This is what Christ did on the cross on GOOD FRIDAY.

There was a small little girl who was bit naughty with her eating and it was an uphill task for the parent’s every day. That day it was the turn of the father to feed her. He was trying to make her eat, the little one told her father if you promise me something, I will eat. The father replied if your wish does not cost me a fortune, I will. I want to shave my head, said the girl. The mother was against it, but the child was adamant, and the father asked her to finish her meal thinking that he could later change her mind. But she would not budge, against her mother’s objected he shaved her head. The next day the father took her to the school. As she was getting down from the car, he saw another car, a mother and her daughter about the age of his daughter also came to the parking. She also had a shaven dead. The other child came running to his daughter and the father recognised that they were classmates.

The mother came and asked the father whether she was his daughter and he said, yes. As he finished saying, tears started flowing down from her eyes and words came out, your daughter has a big heart. She said that her daughter was suffering from cancer and due to chemotherapy, she lost her hair and she would not go to school and when his daughter came to know she told her that she would also come bald. She told her friend not to stop coming to school. As she said this with folded hands the father stood there without knowing what to say, being so proud of his daughter.  There is no grater love………….

Sufferings can be Redeeming and sanctifying, not for all, but for the ones who accept the knowingly and willingly. Father into your hands, I commend my spirit (LK.23/46). Suffering, not out of compulsion or force but surrender in Love.

Good Friday bring into memory once again few striking Reflections-

The people who are responsible are many. One of them is Judas who was greedy for money. Three years of friendship, the love Jesus had for him, nothing mattered before GREED – Beware of Greed. Before we pour guilt on Judas let us see if we have fixed a price for Christ – How many Times? For our benefit, monetary advantage, power and position, how many people we have hurt? Betrayed?

Peter, who for a moment disowned the Master. The times of fear and weakness. The time we fail to recognise God given blessings are opportunities to deny Him. The realisation that if I need to get up, move and to do anything, I need His Blessings, will help us never to deny Him.

Pilate tragically washed his hands though he knew the Truth. History still mocks at his tragic action. He had Jesus in front of him, calm and composed. But still he gave him crown of thorns and death on the cross. He just washed himself away from responsibility. How very often have we escaped from our responsibilities – to our near and dear ones- by this we become a laughingstock for generations to come. Where we lose sight of our humanity, sensitivity to the suffering – we re- enact GOOD FRIDAY.

From Fr Abraham 9th April

MAUNDY THURSDAY HOMILY

1st Reading Exodus 12/1-8,11-14

2nd Reading First Letter of St. Paul to Corinthians 11/23-26,

Gospel John 13/1-15

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Today we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. On this day the church specially remembers what Jesus did and taught by his own example. The context is not a simple meal but Passover Meal. Jesus gives a new meaning to the Feast. It is a day in which we give attention to 3 thing

-Jesus washes the feet of His disciples

-Institution of the Eucharist

-A New commandment of Love given.

What was it that Jesus wants to teach His disciples by washing their feet?

Jesus knew that His time was near and before He went to His Father wanted to give them a New Model of Life and Service to imitate. He chose the disciples, taught them but even on the last days, they were in a struggle to see who the Greatest among them was. Jesus must have been in a terrible shock and pain to realise that His disciples have not understood anything about His kingdom and its values. He had very little time left and had to teach them that the way to Glory is not through power and positions but SERVICE. So, He wanted to teach something very powerfully that they will remember forever.

-Jesus recognises that His time has come to return to the Father and time is closing in.

-He loved those who were His own. Even though it was not appropriate for His stature to wash the feet of His disciples, His Love for them was much Greater.

-Jesus knew that Satan, His enemy will strike Him hard and before this ordeal happens had to strengthen His disciples.

Today’s Application for us is also the same and Lead us to SERVICE.

-That the Time has come, and Time is shortened by each passing day

-We need to Love those who are our own and who are entrusted to us.

-That we recognise the enemy. He is ever ready to strike us down as he did to Christ. We ought to engage in SERVICE.

We need to constantly remind ourselves that we are disciples of Christ who washed the feet of His own disciples- we as Christians should never forget. This should be the ATTITUDE of a Christian when he/she engages himself or herself in SERVICE to the society. Last Supper is a day when Christ mixing few tears, may be, with the water with which He washed the feet of the one who was to betray Him, the one who was to disown Him. We need to find strength from this that we too may face the same in our service of the family and society.

The ATTITUDE is what we need to focus on this day to be a Christian. To forgo the “I” “EGO” to give place to the “OTHER” – how difficult it can be for many but is it not what we see in those numerous Health Workers who work day and night for the “other” even at the cost of their own inconvenience?

No one has greater love than this to lay down one’s own life for one’s friends (Jn.15/13), said Jesus and He taught them about Love and what He taught was actualised on this day by instituting the Eucharist. He commanded them to do it in remembrance of Him. Jesus wanted to be with His own and remain with them forever so to bring Him through the sacrifice that He established, instituted Eucharist and Priesthood. For a Catholic this is one of the Most Gracious day because on this day unlike the Old Testament term denoted “Passover”, He came to live forever with us in the Eucharist.

If anyone wants to be saved, come to the Eucharist because it is the Sacrament of Sacraments which washes all our trespasses. This is what 2nd Vatican Council taught.

“It is a symbol of Love, a Symbol of Unity, and a Covenant of Charity”.

Christ’s Body and Blood gives us Life Eternal. St. Lawrence Justinian says, “We cannot count the blessings that we receive through the Eucharist”. A sinner is reconciled with God-a just person becomes more just – sins uprooted – Virtues and worth increases, above all Satan’s plans are destroyed”.

The Saint of our times St. Padre Pio says,” I can at least imagine about a day when the Sun does not rise, but I cannot even in my imagination think of a day without Eucharist”.

St. John Mary Vianney says to people who does not understand the worth and value of the Eucharist that if we really understand what the Holy Eucharist is, then we will die of Joy.

We ought to approach in utmost reverence and holiness to this sacrament. At this time when we cannot physically participate in the Eucharist, we need to seriously give a thought how we approach it.

The command is to “Do this in remembrance of Me” (Lk.22/19).

Recently I came across a Eucharistic miracle that happened in 1348, in the town Alboraya- Almacera in Spain. A priest on his way to visit some sick people in order to bring them communion, slipped in the waters of a small river from the mule- back as he was crossing and overturned the ciborium with 3 consecrated hosts which were swept away. The priest was very sad and resigned himself to the loss, heard himself being called by some fishermen, asking him to come closer to the shore to see 3 fishes with discs in their mouth that appeared like Hosts. He was astonished by what he saw as three remarkable fish were there, almost completely out of the water, lifting the Hosts intact with their mouths, like little trophies. He fell to his knees, prayed as he had never prayed before in his entire life. The Hosts were immediately recovered and taken in procession to the church in which the entire village participated. There even exists a small church, with two fish sculpted on the door, built on the site of the miracle, and two paintings reproducing the entire event.

When we give due respect and adoration to the Eucharist along with nature, as even done by the fish, we receive abundant blessings of the one who has given His Body and Blood as Food and Drink. Take this and eat of it, this is my body and Take and Drink, this is my blood shed for many

The commandment to Love should be an expression of our answer to God’s infinite love. We are invited to love from the depth of our heart. In this time of Covid-19 we heard an incident of Father Joseph in Italy who offered his Ventilator to a young man and in turn embraces death. True Love is to serve others (1Peter 4/9-10). Jesus invites us to love as He loved (Mt.16/24). Do not be selfish (Rom.15/1-2). He (Jesus) gave us everything that he had (Phil.2/6-8).

Let us reflect on this day where Jesus left us the memorial of His Love that –

-Do we serve and love others as Jesus commanded?

- How do we approach the Eucharist

May I request you all to pray for all the Priests that you know, as they celebrate their Priesthood, especially me and Fr. John.

 Mass intention          For the People of God.

I will really miss all of you in the church physically and Our Feet Washing. But all of you will be with me spiritually. I will pray for all your intentions that the Good Lord listen to our cries and be merciful to us

Our Father

Hail Mary..

Glory Be...

Fr Abraham

From Fr Abraham 6th April

Dear All

Hope all of you are fine. I am keeping fine.

It could be a really hard time for most of us, our movements are restricted, we cannot socialise, meet friends and family. I am also aware of those parents who cannot get the visit of their children, grandchildren. People who are in Isolation/ Quarantine, it is an intense time.

Isolation or Quarantine Spirituality Thoughts

The core of Christianity is Love for Humans. Love of God and Love of Neighbour. This is a time where we need to aim at Common Good. We are in the season of Lent where we try to detach ourselves from worldly things and keep close to God. Time where we lock ourselves from external to be with the Father.

Quarantine is a state of life, a special time where external involvement is restricted, there is a stop to socialising. It controls our movements, but it is not cutting us off from others. We need to support all these efforts of social Distancing and Physical Distancing for our Love of the Neighbour. We need to protect ourselves and others as well, this is what happens at Physical Distancing.

Quarantine, Isolation, social distancing, physical distancing are all important time of our life. It is a time for some to be with family, though we are physically distant, all modern means of technology could be used to keep in touch. So Social Unity could be maintained Spiritually it is a time to look inwards, return within yourself. God lives inside us and it is a time to do a soul searching. In our world of today, interiority suffers greatly. By self-Isolating we are sending a strong message that we will in no way help the virus to spread. We need to break the chain of the spread by distancing. Let this be a positive thought, though difficult, when the Sun is brightening up, we will have all temptations, but we need to hold for the sake of ourselves and others.

Please listen to the authorities and keep safe. We shall overcome.

Fr Abraham

Fr. Abraham writes (4th April) :

This weekend, as we celebrate the Palm Sunday, we enter into a momentous week when we recall the passion of Christ. It all begins with a triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the tragic incidents that occur and ultimately the death of Jesus on the cross and His Glorious Resurrection.

Jesus was amidst all sorts of emotions and feelings, acceptance, rejection, sadness, grief, loss, emptiness, anxiety and hope as He made His last journey of His Life. This all ends in something beautiful- Risen Life forever.

This year as we journey along Jesus, we are in a very difficult time of our Life. We need to celebrate and yet reflect on the happenings ever more meaningfully than ever. We are in such a time as never before, which we will remember for a long, long time, perhaps as long as we live. We have never seen something like this before. Every passing day has its share of uncertainty, sadness, grief, loss, brokenness, isolation, emptiness, anxiety and sometimes a glimmer of Hope amidst all these. We need to keep up our Hope ever more brightly at this time. Covid-19 has put us into Physical Isolation, but we need to keep our Social Unity at this time by praying for each other, by keeping in touch and supporting in whatever way possible.

Sometimes things unravel so quickly that we are very unprepared to face it. As we see in this Holy Week, joys are short lived, tragic things are like the two sides of the same coin. Contradictory things do happen at the spur of the moment. In our human life this is how we often see life on a daily basis. We are so unprepared sometimes for all that happens in life. We can identify ourselves with Christ so much as He go through all these things. The personalities that we meet over and again in this week leave a deep impression on us as we see a replica of ourselves in each of them at various stages of life.

But in this most difficult time of our Life, let us walk with Christ as He is our Hope. Let us enter into this momentous week like Christ to go through everything as the Will of His Father, and with a belief that whatever the Father does is for our future Glory. Let us pray that we get over fear and anxiety with the Hope Jesus gives to each one of us.

My heart goes out to all my parishioners who are isolated, housebound and are sick.

God Bless and Protect you all. Fr Abraham.

From Fr Abraham: 1st April 2020

In This Most Difficult Times please keep up your Spiritual Life by Livestream masses and Spiritual communion. I Pray especially for all those who are sick and May the Good Lord Heal you and keep you safe.

This Time our Holy Week and Easter Celebrations will be very different externally but internal remains the same. So please do join in all Spiritual activities from Home by participating in Spirit.

With the Lord we shall overcome.

Fr Abraham

From Fr Abraham: 1st April 2020

In This Most Difficult Times please keep up your Spiritual Life by Livestream masses and Spiritual communion. I Pray especially for all those who are sick and May the Good Lord Heal you and keep you safe.

This Time our Holy Week and Easter Celebrations will be very different externally but internal remains the same. So please do join in all Spiritual activities from Home by participating in Spirit.

With the Lord we shall overcome.

Fr Abraham

ST MICHAEL'S AND ST BERNARD'S CHURCHES ARE NOW CLOSED

THE HALL AT ST BERNARD'S IS NOW CLOSED

THERE WILL BE NO APOSTLESHIP OF THE SEA AT ST BERNARD'S

ALL UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE.

Scroll down for messages from Fr Abraham, details about Live Masses and any other information.

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

Live streaming of Mass can be accessed from

this website.

Please go back to the menu on the left  'Live streaming of Mass'

There are several choices of locations and different Mass times-

Mass from Our Lady of Lourdes, New Milton with Fr George

Mass with Bishop Philip

Mass from St John's cathedral, Portsmouth

Mass with Fr Jamie Mc Grath from Our Lady & St Edmund Catholic church, Abingdon.

When you have selected the Mass click the red button below the Mass time you have chosen. It will take you directly to that Mass.