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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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.

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