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

 

Parish Priest Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Home address: 20 Beaumont Road,Totton, SO40 3AL

Parish of : St Theresa of the child Jesus

Commercial Road, Totton, Hampshire. SO40 3AL

Also

Parish of: Our Lady of the Assumption & Edward the Confessor,

14 Empress Rd, Lyndhurst SO43 7AE

Deacon: Deacon Stephen Short

All enquiries to the parish office:

Telephone: 023 8086 2270

Email: totton@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

For Mass times see newsletter

 

The parish of St Theresa & Our Lady of the Assumption & Edward the Confessor are part of the Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth.

Portsmouth Roman Catholic Diocesan Trust is Registered Charity 246871

No Homily for 29th August

No Homily 8th, 15th  22nd  August 2021

The Editor is away at a family celebration on the 8th & 15th August, so the downloading of Fr Gerry’s reflection will be delayed until 21st August.

 

Apologies for any disruption this may cause.

 

For any enquiries about Mass times, please ring the parish office

 

Telephone: 023 8086 2270

OR email Fr Gerry

Email: totton@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

 

EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY YEAR B 31st July/1st August 2021

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

St Paul reminds us that it is in God that we live, move and have our being. Of course, he has created us in his image and likeness and so keeps us in being. In some place, the Psalmist says every living being look up to him for their daily bread. The liturgy of today talks about Manna from heaven and Jesus the Bread of life. God our Creator and Father feeds us body and soul. Do we agree? Human and all life; the land on which we live on, and the whole universe; all belongs to God. Genesis 1: 28-30 say God entrusted the whole universe to man and woman. God gives the land, the seed, and the rain and causes the seed to germinate, gives it fruition and through that way feeds mankind. Do we agree? In all this, what is our attitude to God? Who is God to us? Is God a being, a person, or a shadow, a sign or a symbol or a story our ancestors told us about? The second reading reminds us that we have not just learned about Christ but that we have encountered him through our baptism and accepted him in faith as a person, as our Saviour. And Christ has shown us that God is our Creator and Father who loves us. Do we then stand up for Christ and live for his values since he is our Saviour? Do we relate to Christ as a person who is our personal Lord and Saviour? Or is Jesus or God the Father a distant being who is far away from reality for us? I am not sure whether the Israelites grasped the fact that God was their personal Saviour when he intervened to save them from slavery in Egypt and in their surgeon and passage through the desert for forty years. They didn’t seem to appreciate God’s enormous love for them. Yet the Israelites repeatedly acted like ungrateful children who took the love and care of their parents for granted only to complain whenever things did not go their own way. They easily forgot the wonders God did for them: how God passed over their houses and ruined the first born male children of the Egyptians; how God formed a wall and the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, how God literally rained bread from heaven to feed them and how he caused water to gush out from the rock to quench their thirst and so forth.  If they knew God as their personal Saviour, how could they have carved calves and worshipped them as gods? That sin was odious! Are we different from our idolatrous ancestors? I don’t think we are radically different from them! Are we also so ungrateful and forgetful of the goodness of the Lord to us?

 As modern people, some of us are overanxious with what gives us instant fulfilment and pleasure and on that we bank our whole life, and so turn the creature into idol and worship it. That is why in the Gospel reading of today our Lord pointed it out to the crowds who were desperately looking for him, that, they were not searching for him because of the signs he gave them but because of the plenty of food he gave them to eat the previous day. He advised them and now advises us not to work for food that would perish but for the food that endures for eternal life. That is the Bread of life! He says: I am the Bread of life. Unless a man eats the flesh and drinks the blood of the Son of man he will never have life in him. God does not only satisfy our physical hunger but also the hunger of our heart, our thirst for friendship, love; for meaning in life and peace of mind. More so, the Eucharist is the food for eternal life. So let us always search for the Lord, pray to him, adore and worship him in the Eucharist. Let us be eager and grateful to be fed by the Lord in the Eucharist.

SEVENTEENTH SUNDAY YEAR B  25th July 2021

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

The liturgy of today is theology of food. The Lord feeds his children both physically and spiritually. The importance of food cannot be overemphasized. A hungry man may not be able to work or pray. We do not only eat food; we celebrate it! Food is the liturgy of the stomach and is celebrated by every culture. In my Nigerian Igbo culture, the woman is the priest of the kitchen. Men have no business in the kitchen. They go into the kitchen with the express permission of the woman. A woman who knows how to cook delicious meal will never lose her husband to other women because, each day after work, he is hurrying home to eat a delicious meal from his wife who is also a mother to him. The idea of eating together is common in many cultures. People invite you to their homes for a meal or to a restaurant for the same purpose and of course, the act of eating together signifies togetherness as well as sustains and promotes it. I presume this meaning is attached to eating together in every culture though, it may be more pronounced in some places than in others. Eating together is an act of friendship, love, affection and a means of keeping in communication with one another. It is a sign that one is happy with the other person. It can also be a sign of welcome to you if you are a new resident and a family invites you to their home for a meal. It could be another way of clearing the air between friends or saying I am sorry I do not mean to hurt you so, please let’s continue to be friends. You can see for yourself that eating together means a lot to human beings. The act of eating together commands both social and spiritual meaning. Our Lord Jesus Christ in his days was socially and spiritually inclined and of course you cannot separate the two aspects of life. On several occasions, he was invited to homes for meals. On one particular occasion he was in Levi’s house for a meal and his presence attracted many tax collectors and sinners and he was brutally criticized for interacting and eating with sinners. He was accused of being a friend of sinners – an allegation he never denied. He said to his accusers: I have come not to call the virtuous but sinners to repentance. It is the sick that needs the doctor not the healthy (Luke 5: 31-32). Since those who branded him a friend of sinners were convinced that they had no sin, they would then die in their sins. God does not force anyone to repentance. On another occasion, a Pharisee invited Jesus into his house for a meal when Mary Magdalene, a public sinner, came to Jesus, weeping and pouring her tears on his feet and wiping them with her hair. She kissed his feet and anointed them with a costly ointment. His host criticized Jesus in his heart for allowing a notorious sinner to touch him. But Jesus said to his host, Simon the Pharisee, Mary Magdalene has shown so much love so her many sins have been forgiven her. So, he asked her to go in peace because her faith has saved her (Luke 7: 36-50). You can see in the context of eating together, there was an act of love, an act of conversion and a forgiveness of sin by the Lord. There was also a bond of friendship formed. That is why I say that with Jesus it is not possible to separate social life from spiritual life. Mary Magdalene was a social misfit. She was rejected by the society as she was regarded as a public sinner. But she believed that in the whole world it was only Jesus who would welcome her and she was completely correct in her belief. The disciples of Jesus being children of their own culture must have been embarrassed to see him interact with Mary of Magdala, the public sinner. On another occasion, they were visibly embarrassed to meet Jesus interact in public with the woman at the well (John 4:5-30). The question is do we classify some people as social misfits and therefore, are not worthy of our interaction? God does not reject anyone. If some people reject and isolate you, do not forget that you have a permanent friend in Jesus. He does not reject, hate, isolate anyone but loves all. Though, he hates sin but loves the sinner. He even encourages us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matt 5: 44). Revenge against no one rather; pay back with love.

As Christians, the act of eating together symbolises that we are Eucharistic people. We are Jesus-people. Those who are in fellowship with Jesus eat together; they move, share things together and forgive and love one another as God loves and forgives them. As Eucharistic people we act and profess that life is basically sharing. As Jesus-people we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, help the poor, visit prisoners and the lonely and help the needy. This is because, we cannot participate at the Eucharistic table of the Lord and, at the same time, fail to help those in need as much as we can otherwise, we contradict who and what we are. If we fail to feed the hungry we contradict who and what we are. This is because whatever we have is provided to us by God. The earth belongs to God but he entrusts it to man and woman for their sustenance so, there is no justification for anyone to starve. God gives the land, the seed, the rain, and makes the seed to germinate and gives it fruition and through that way gives us food to eat. Everyone should have the basic sustenance in food, clothing and shelter. God has provided enough to go round so, no one should be in need of basic necessities of life especially food, shelter and clothing. We owe our very life and existence to him. And we appreciate that life is a gift from God when we help those in need.

In my culture no one eats alone. You always share with people around you. If you are with people and eat alone you will never enjoy that meal. If you visit a family and refuse to join them during meal, it is a sign that you don’t like them. If a person visits and you refuse to offer him food it is a sign that he is not welcome in your home; it is a sign that he is not a friend. We are more satisfied when food is shared with one another.  St Paul says there is joy in sharing.

SIXTEENTH SUNDAY YEAR B 18th July 2021

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

The word shepherd occurs in the first and Gospel readings which may sound archaic to many of us who are modern and city people. In some African and Asian countries we still have shepherds who rear animals and move around crazing them. They sleep in the bush with their animals and cater for them as a mother caters for her baby. Naturally a mother does not forget her baby at breast so also a shepherd does not neglect his flock especially the young, weak and wounded ones. Their devotion to their flock is unparalleled, in fact, second to none. In the first reading of today, Jeremiah lambasted the leaders of Israel whom God appointed as shepherds of his people who rather neglected God’s flock and enriched themselves to the detriment of God’s people. The result of their leadership failure and disobedience to God was that Israel was defeated in war and was carried into captivity in Babylon. They were like sheep without a shepherd; moving around aimlessly and hopelessly. They lost their bearing and were drifting through life. But now God is addressing us no more the ancient people who had lived and gone. He is not talking only to the clergy and religious but to all Christians. In many ways we are shepherds to one another. We are the leaders and the led at the same time. As members of human family, in different ways and categories, we find ourselves in positions of leadership. We are heads of our family, society, party, club, company, business, school, and other departments in all walks of life. Do we know where our children are; who their friends are; what they watch on the television; what they do when they go out; who their teacher is; what they learn in school, which persons they interact with on the internet and other fundamental questions begging for answers from parents and guardians? As parents and guardians, we have an obligation towards their wellbeing, education, protection and religious upbringing. We are all answerable to God and society. It is weird to hear the response of the parents of the Tunisian terrorist who killed 38 foreign tourists amongst whom were 30 Britons. The parents would not allot any blame to their son for such horrendous crime their son committed but rather they were suggesting that he was framed and that the real perpetrators should be held responsible and that their son was a good and responsible son. In fact, they asked God to reward their son now that he is dead. They showed no sympathy for the innocent dead tourists or those who mourned them. This is the type of world we live in and the insensitivity and irresponsibility of some of our parents and leaders.

Are we disappointed with our leaders and shepherds? Are we not part of the leadership and shepherd-ship in so many ways? It is easy to point accusing fingers at others.  However, God will judge us according to our relationship towards other people. Jesus says whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters you do to me. However, God did not abandon Israel in their leadership mess and problems of disobedience. He sent Prophet Jeremiah to encourage them in their captivity to look beyond their desperation and hopelessness. The Lord said to them: “I myself will take time to gather the remnant of my flock from the land of their exile and bring them back to the land I gave to Abraham and they would flourish and multiply.” In these coming days, I will raise up a son from the stock of David, who will lead and shepherd my people and bring them to security. He will be the Lord of justice. This prophecy was fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ who became the Shepherd and Redeemer of God’s people. Our Lord called himself the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and mine know me. In psalm 23, the psalmist sings his praises: ‘He takes me to rich pasture, to the waters of life to refresh my soul; even though I walk through the dark valley, I fear no evil because he leads me in the right paths. He is at my side all the time and that gives me courage, hope and strength.’ As children of God, do we feel safe without anxiety of any sort that God takes complete care of our life? Every authority, civil or religious, comes from God; do we believe in the leaders and shepherds he puts in place to lead us as his people? We easily notice the weaknesses of his shepherds and we forget that they are human. God knows their weaknesses and yet chooses them. Do we think that we have no weakness and so we can discipline God by fighting and rejecting the leadership and work his earthly shepherds and leaders do? Do we want to correct God’s mistakes for choosing such weak shepherds and leaders? If we are open in spirit, God teaches us always through the Church. He also teaches us through his shepherds and leaders. He can teach us through one another if we learn to listen to one another. Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd; let us look up to Jesus and, open our hearts to his word and allow him to form, mould, lead and love us through his shepherds and leaders?  

FIFTEENTH SUNDAY YEAR B

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

Our prophetic mission is given to us by Christ when we receive baptism. So it is our Christian duty to point out to others the Kingdom of God, the loving presence of God in their life. The Lord Jesus entrusts to the whole Church his mission to cast out demons and heal the sick. This is a mandate from Jesus not only to the bishops and priests but to every Christian – to proclaim the Kingdom in words and deeds, to fight evil, and heal the sick. Obviously through the gift of baptism, Jesus shares his authority and power with us to carry out his mission. The reign of God is the reign of justice, peace, reconciliation, love and human dignity, right and value. Some governments are jittery and unhappy when challenged on the issues of human right, dignity and freedom of speech and justice. They thrive by controlling and trampling on the rights and freedom of the people. They abuse, intimidate and manipulate the people under their care and protection. But Christians cannot claim that they live out their baptismal vows if they do not point out these evil acts against the people especially the poor and the voiceless that bear the brunt. Christians must openly condemn these evils that are perpetrated against the poor and the voiceless without fear or favour.

 

St Paul’s letter to the Romans 13:1 reminds us that every authority (civil or religious) comes from God and as such everybody should obey constituted authority. So as Christians, we believe that every government is a servant if it works towards the common good. It is a servant “for the purpose and plan of God because the officials of the government are ministers of God (Rom. 13:6). The ruling party working for the common good whether they are aware of it or not, are ministers of God. This is our Christian understanding. Tension only occurs between the state and the Church when the poor and the weak are unjustly treated. Due to our human frailty, if there arises any friction between the state and the Church, Christian love and understanding can easily heal the tension as far as Christians allow the Spirit of God to guide them. After all, Christians are both subjects of the state and members of God’s family. That is why Christians give their loyalty not only to God but to the state as well.

 

In every country or state, Christians are there like prophet Amos acting as watch-dogs to make sure that government officials are constantly and constructively reminded that they are servants and ministers of God in their service to the people as they work to establish peace, justice, security, liberty and the general welfare of all. Prophet Amos blamed the authorities for the social injustice against the poor. It is true he was expelled from the community by confronting the authority of the state. We cannot say because we do not want to annoy the government therefore the poor people who have no voice should continue to suffer injustice and deprivation. We are the voice, hands and feet of Christ for the voiceless poor in our midst. Our mission as followers of Christ like the apostles and the prophets implies confronting the evil around us. Some governments are apprehensive when Christians confront them with the Gospel values with regards to human right, dignity, respect for life, justice for all, freedom of speech and movement. Some governments rather want to scrape the idea of religion and God as they see religious leaders as being confrontational and meddling with politics and governance of the state. The followers of Christ should respect and pray for those who serve in government but at the same time they should not water down the message of Christ in order to avoid hurting the feelings of those in authority. Truth must be told and lived out all the time.

 

 

FOURTEENTH SUNDAY YEAR B 4th July 2021

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

The fall of Adam and Eve has confused the human mind and nature about the origin, meaning and destiny of life. The confusion was compounded when sin and death entered into life as a consequence of the fall of Adam and Eve. As a result man and woman were groping in darkness searching for meaning and truth. They were unconsciously seeking for the divine who was actually the truth and meaning they were thirsting for. But the Lord would not abandon them to continue to grope in darkness, meaninglessness, sin, fear and death. He raised up prophets amongst them to teach and bring them to the truth they were painfully searching for. In the three readings of today, the Lord warned his prophets about the stubbornness and pride of his people. The Gospel emphasized that the people of Nazareth would not even accept God’s own Son, Jesus Christ because they were too familiar with him. There is a saying that too much familiarity breeds contempt. Here what is at stake is truth. We cannot compromise the truth. We cannot ignore it. Truth is life. The truth I am talking about is God. God is truth. The life we have comes from God. So we cannot ignore God. Hence to reject or ignore the truth is to ignore God. To ignore God is to debase our life because our life comes from him. Did the people of Nazareth know that when they rejected Jesus the Son of God that they rejected God who gave them life?

 

Since the fall of Adam and Eve, the people of God have always rejected the prophets God sent to them even as they rejected the Son of God himself. To reject the prophet of God is to reject God. We may be rejecting the prophets God sends to us when we prefer public opinion to what the Church teaches. The parishes are close by, and so, some people make choice of priests they like to identify with. We may not forget that the sacrifice of the Mass is God coming down to interact with his children and feed them with his eternal life, and that doesn’t depend on the holiness, beauty and giftedness of the priest. That depends on God’s grace despite the priest. Do not forget that every prophet is called, chosen and sent by God to bring his message to his people and as such the priest celebrates the Eucharist for the glory of God and the salvation of the people. God’s rejection did not end with the death of his Son on the cross. Today God suffers more rejection than he had ever suffered in the past. In today’s world of materialism, indifference and religious terrorism and extremism, God is rejected more widely than ever. The religious extremists discredit religion and God, hence today, many people reject God and the idea of religion because for them religion foments war and destruction of life and property. So, Christians have to demonstrate to the whole world that religion fosters peace, reconciliation, friendship, forgiveness, justice, human dignity, respect for life and love of everybody. Today, Christians have to show to the whole world that God is love and Creator of all; and that through religious activities we demonstrate our love for God whose love for us is without end.

 

As believers, we share in the prophetic work of Jesus our Lord and Master. If we truly follow the ways of the Lord and accept to be his messengers, we will equally experience moments of trial, misunderstanding and rejection. But we do not despair because God has promised that he will give us strength and sustain us by his power. God’s grace is always enough for us!

13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B 27th June 2021

 

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

The first and gospel readings present to us the reality of evil of sickness and death and how Christ the Messiah has dealt with them. So evil is not the final answer that awaits man but Christ’s defeat over it. Death, our greatest enemy has been permanently defeated by Christ our Saviour who died and rose from the dead. The second reading teaches us how to live a life of sharing with others the numerous gifts God has given to each of us so that none would suffer serious want in material and spiritual needs. Of course life is basically sharing because no one lives without some lack. St Paul says there is joy in giving than in receiving. By sharing we complement the needs of each other and through that way God’s gifts go round. Did Christ not become poor so that out of his poverty we might become rich? ‘Though he was divine in nature, he did not claim equality with God but emptied himself, taking on the nature of a servant…’ (Phil. 2:6-7).

 

 The gospel reading is very outstanding because in it Jesus confronts the problem of evil. The two miracles of Jesus in the gospel have deep meaning for us. A woman is restored to health and a dead child is brought back to life. The two miracles illustrate the wonders of the sacraments especially, the sacraments of healing. They are the sacraments of penance or confession commonly known today as reconciliation and anointing of the sick. The gospel says that Jesus became immediately conscious that healing power had gone out from him. This shows that Jesus is not far away from us because whenever those two sacraments of reconciliation and anointing are administered, the healing power of Jesus goes out to those who receive them with faith. Do we truly believe in the power of Jesus to heal? Of course we do that is why we are here. If we have faith, God will do it for us in Jesus’ mighty Name! Amen!

 

 Through the sacrament God touches and communicates with us: He heals feeds, forgives, strengthens and shares his life with us. Above all, the sacrament reveals Jesus; it reveals how he feels about us when we suffer in any way. It shows how God cares for us. No doubt, the fall of Adam and Eve has wounded human nature though not permanently. Hence, the human condition is constantly in need of healing. There is a lack of wholeness in each of us. It may be a physical, mental, psychological and spiritual lack or a combination of all of them. At times, we are tormented by fear; we become insensitive to the needs of others; other times, we become unforgiving, vengeful, unappreciative of kindness done to us and insensitive to the beauty in others and in creation. Another thing we sometimes do is that, we frustrate those who volunteer to work for God in the Church and so weakens the unity in the parish family, and personal confidence is destroyed. That has a devastating effect on us as parish family and as individuals as well. Each of us knows our own weakness. And no doubt, we do want to be healed by Jesus. Do we not?

 

 If we want to be made whole again, God is ready and happy to heal us. We have to do our own part. Do we fulfil our baptismal promises? It is obvious from today’s gospel that faith is the first requirement. Fear is useless says Jesus. What is needed is trust. “Daughter, it is your faith that has cured you.” So the importance of faith in Jesus cannot be overemphasized. We also need faith in ourselves. We have to believe that each of us is a child of God and worth being healed by God. Do we believe that? Some may have reasons to doubt it. Most of our young people have self-doubt. A poor self-image may come from racial difference; lack of education, even physical infirmities, human weakness or sins we may have committed or mistakes we have made in the past. These are facts of life but they are not enough for us to lose faith in God. Yes, we may be weak, sick, poor or ignorant of many things. The world may judge us and condemn us. But in actual fact, all that matters is who we are. We created in God’s image and likeness. We are children of God. God cares for us, not because of where we come from or what we look like or what we have achieved or what we have.

 

 So faith in each of us is necessary but, above all, faith in Jesus! I always say to people, ‘look up to Jesus and your face will not be abashed.’ If we take our gaze away from Jesus we will begin to sink. We will be overwhelmed with sadness by what they say about us and how they treat us. Let our gaze always be on Jesus! We have to believe that Jesus believes in us and that he is eager to heal us of our infirmities, whatever they are. The Scriptures are full of evidence of this truth.

 

 

THE TWELFTH SUNDAY YEAR B 20th June 2021

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

The first reading, from the Book of Job, the interaction between the Lord and Job reminds us that life is a mixture of good and bad. We have joyful occasions and sad moments. We often hear of natural disasters and wars. Most of the time the news on the television or radio is not palatable to the ears! Though, we need to remember that life is not only about wars and disasters. There are numerous occasions of joyful events and celebrations. Even though, we have been put down by corona pandemic, but now, we have many sporting events to put back smiles on our faces. It is encouraging news that England defeated Croatia and drew with Scotland in the Euro 2020 football competition! Is it not?

The liturgy of today reminds us of pre-science time and even before the time of Jesus Christ whose existence changed the entire human history. In ancient times whenever there was violent storms and bad weather the spirits of the ancestors would be consulted because the gods were annoyed. This is because our ancestors before the coming of Christianity attributed the awesome power of nature to the gods who were angry. They believed that they suffered these natural disasters because people committed abominable acts that angered the gods. The spirits of the ancestors had to be appeased through sacrifices. In some extreme cases, the sacrifices to appease the gods included human lives or animals to avert further suffering and loss of lives and property. That was the belief of some ancient people before the advent of Christianity and science. People saw god’s anger in the threat of storms, bad weather and disasters. Are we different from the ancient people who existed before the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ? During the time of Jesus people behaved likewise. Do people behave differently today? The point is that as human beings we all the time encounter things that threaten us, some of them are mysterious. How do believers and non-believers react in the face of such threats and things beyond human understanding? The scriptures have some examples. The Gospel of today is a good example of the power of nature and the superior power of Christ over it. When Jesus and his disciples were in a boat on the sea while Jesus was tired and fast asleep, their boat was about to capsize due to rough weather, they cried out in their distress to Him. He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze and everything was calm again. As Christians we believe that whenever we allow Jesus to take charge of every situation there will be calm and peace. If we allow him to take charge of our life we will be at peace and our security assured. We may not forget to pray with faith always. The Lord is our strength and salvation. The Lord rules the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything under the sea. He is Emmanuel – God is with us. We have no cause to be afraid. He says take courage I have overcome the world (John 16:33). Jesus stills the storms of life! The psalmist experiences his loving protection and sings “Give thanks to the Lord, his love has no end.” If not for his love, we wouldn’t be here, so, with the psalmist, let us all give thanks to the Lord for his love is without end. May we always turn to him in faithful prayer whenever we are in difficulty.

Like Malaysians, some people still believe that the spirits of their dead ancestors live on the sacred mountains. To still hold on to that type of belief in our modern age sounds odd to me. As Christians we do not believe that the spirits of our dead ancestors live on sacred Mountains. The Good News is that our ancestors who served God on earth now live with him in heaven to which we all aspire. We believe in the communion of Saints so we still relate with them and they intercede to God for us. The second reading says that Christ died for all of us and ascended into heaven. Christ is our ancestor he is in heaven not on the sacred Mountain otherwise his passion and death and resurrection would have been in vain. We thank God for his resurrection and ascension which has given us the assurance that we will not end up living on the sacred Mountain but in heaven. 

The ELEVENTH SUNDAY YEAR B 13th June 2021

 

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

The liturgy of today tells us about the Kingdom of God and its expectations. As human beings we are all the time filled with desires and expectations we hope to be fulfilled. The common problem we have is that we always expect too much and end up disappointed. Many of us do not have the virtue of patience. It is true we live in a computer age when people just press the button and the result comes up automatically – anything less than that is not acceptable at all. Hence many people find it difficult to develop the virtue of patience which is very important. Our earthly life calls one to be patient with oneself, life, nature and God. Everything works according to its natural course. We may not manipulate nature. The Kingdom of God symbolizes justice, love, fidelity and peace but then these virtues fall under the natural slow process of growth as we have it in our earthly life. The reign of God within our earthly reality grows and works according to the laws of nature which are familiar to us. God does not break into us out of the blues. God comes to us according to our nature so as not to infringe on our freedom. God gives us the gift of freedom but does not interfere with it. The Incarnation is the most important example. God became man in Jesus Christ by allowing himself to be borne by the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit. He was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit but was born like every other human being. If things come in a natural way, then, why do we expect God to do magic? Our God is not a magician. In the world we have so many magicians who mesmerize us but God will not join them in order to attract and please us.

 

The Kingdom of God may not stand out in a mighty way for you to see and marvel at it. It is not spectacular like a celebrity show. That is why the scripture says do not listen to those who point it out to you saying look it is here or there. Do not pursue anything remain where you are and be patient. There are many impostors who claim to be the Messiah. Do not follow them. They are liars. We may be disappointed when we come into the Church expecting to see wonders and perfections everywhere. We may not forget that the Church comprises of saints and sinners at the same time. The Lord says I have come not to call the virtuous but sinners to repentance. The things you see in the Church may scandalize you but they do not scandalize God. There could be misunderstanding, suspicion, doubts, cliques and other weaknesses amongst members but these human frailties do not embarrass God. We can present these human weaknesses to the healing power of the Holy Spirit. We can be cleansed and healed through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our human weaknesses should not discourage members of the Church. God is not ashamed of us because we are weak. That is why he says I have come not to call the virtuous but sinners to repentance. For this reason he instituted the Sacrament of Reconciliation in order to welcome us back into his family when we derail. We perceive the Kingdom not by sight but by faith. That is why in the Gospel of today according to Mark; Jesus uses the analogy of the mustard seed to describe the Kingdom of God. The Lord is saying that we may be running around in search of the Kingdom not knowing that it is in our midst and that it is in us already. Some Christians think the Christian ministry can and should be continually productive, and that Church, like large company should be marked by strong and steady growth and when this doesn’t happen they fall away. He says that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed which is the smallest of all the seeds but when it is sown, it grows into the biggest shrubs. Though the seed takes time to grow and mature but can bear fruit a hundredfold. The mystery of its growth is not humanly possible to explain. It becomes a big tree, bears plenty fruits and leaves and presents enormous shades. The little mustard seed suddenly becomes a huge source of food, medicine, protection for humans and animals. The analogy with the mustard seed describes the reality of the Kingdom of God in our midst and in our Church. It is not mighty. It is small and insignificant like the mustard seed. If you come into the Church expecting spectacular signs and wonders you may be disappointed. There are parishioners who leave the Church if things do not go their own way. Others leave the Church because the miracles are not happening. Yet some abandon the Church because they claim that God has not answered their prayers. That is not the spirit of the children of God who is patient with us even when we are still sinners. If he does not reject us why do we reject one another or reject his Church or reject him when we find things difficult or when things do not go according to our wishes

 

 

From Fr Gerry 6th June 20201

 

PASTORAL LETTER FROM THE BISHOP appointed to be read in all churches and chapels of the Diocese of Portsmouth on 6th June 2021, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.

 

 AN INVITATION

My dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord, I am writing to you with an invitation. But let me first wish you today a very happy Feast Day, Corpus Christi, when we adore the most precious treasure Christ has given His Church, the Gift that exceeds all praise, the Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood. It is a sublime mystery, before which we can but kneel in silent astonishment - to borrow Charles Wesley’s words - “lost in wonder, awe and praise.”Today we return to Holy Thursday, to the Last Supper, when Jesus instituted the Holy Eucharist and the priesthood that perpetuates the Mass until the end of time. My brothers and sisters, on our altars, it is the same Jesus Whom St. Thomas acclaimed “My Lord and my God,” and of Whom St. John, the beloved disciple, seeing Him on the beach and hearing His voice, said excitedly: “It is the Lord!” In every Mass, Jesus actually speaks His Word to us in the Scriptures and then, as the bread and wine is changed into His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, He gives us the gift of Himself, the Bread of Life, a love-gift that is stronger even than death. These last eighteen months, for all of us, have been difficult. The pandemic has brought much suffering, anxiety and disruption. It has also disrupted our spiritual and ecclesial life. We have often been unable to get to Mass or Confession, and the first sacraments for our children have had to be postponed. Yet valiant efforts have been made, with live-streaming and other initiatives, and I thank all of you, clergy and people, for your witness, self- sacrifice and service. The situation is presently looking more hopeful, so let us continue to pray to the Good Lord for a final resolution of this crisis. With things improving, I come to you with an invitation. I wish to invite you to join me, and everyone across the Diocese, in keeping from today a Year of the Eucharist, supported by our current focus on St. Joseph. I wish this Year of the Eucharist to bring about a deep spiritual renewal, a deeper love for Jesus in the Mass and in the Sacrament of the Altar. I invite you to return physically to Mass, if you haven’t already, and to attend Mass more often, keeping the Feast days. I also invite you to pay visits to church – why not go as a family? - to bask in the Real Presence and to receive the peace of heart, liberation and gifts of love He offers. How you keep this Year is up to you, but I ask that periods of Eucharistic Adoration be organised and for everyone to undertake prayer and lectio divina. I have established five shrine churches: Portsmouth Cathedral, Sacred Heart Bournemouth, St. James’s Reading, Jersey St. Thomas and Guernsey St. Joseph, where you can go on pilgrimage and gain an Indulgence. I also hope this Year will help us to link better liturgy and life, so that the more we love Jesus in the Eucharist, the more we will love Him in the needy and in creation. After all, Mary and Joseph cared for Jesus’s practical needs every day. Our diocesan patron St. Edmund of Abingdon was noted for his works of charity; he often gave away his fees. And Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, patron of our youth, who from the age of 13 was a daily communicant, said: “Jesus pays me a visit every morning in Communion and I repay Him, in the little way I can, by going to visit His poor.” Let me share with you two major concerns I have, for which I ask you to pray. Nine out of ten Catholics do not attend Sunday Mass: how can we fan their faith into a flame? Ninety-nine per cent of people living in our Diocese do not know about the ‘Bread of angels,’ how can we reach out to make them more welcome? Remember: when we kneel before the Lord in the Eucharist, we adore not only a Sacred Object but a Sacred Person, Jesus Himself. More, Jesus is not just present: He is active. From the altar, He wants to fill us with His Holy Spirit. He wants our hearts to burn within us. He wants to set us on fire with love, enthusiasm and passion. So, when you adore Him, ask Him for the Holy Spirit; ask Him for the gifts of the Spirit; ask Him for the Holy Spirit to send you out to help transform the world with justice, love and peace. Another point, The Mass primarily is not about us; it’s about God. It’s not about what we do, but about what God does. It’s not about worship or warm feelings; it’s the work of the Blessed Trinity. When we come to Mass, the Holy Spirit unites us with Jesus in His self-offering to the Father, and just as, out of love for us, He lays down His life on the altar, so He sends us out to do the same for others. People often have vague, even wrong ideas about the Mass. The Mass is the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary in which He is the Victim. Jesus invites us to join ourselves to His sacrifice and to offer up to the Father our own lives, our thoughts, words and deeds, our sufferings, joys, hopes and fears. This is why the Mass is the source and centre of our Christian life. I hope that during the Year of the Eucharist, there will be many opportunities, online and in your parish, for catechesis and for sharing personal testimonies. Let me end with a story. My parents died a little while ago: please pray for them. But occasionally during Eucharistic adoration I have had from the Lord a holy intuition that they are now with Him in that state of “refreshment, light and peace” the First Eucharistic Prayer speaks of. We are never closer to our departed loved ones than when we are with Jesus in the Eucharist: they are with Him and He is with us. Indeed, the Eucharist creates the Church across space and time; it makes us one body, one spirit in Christ; it generates our parish communities, the Lord uniting us with Himself and with one another in the bond of charity. It is sad that often in the Catholic Church, that within our Diocese, parishes, schools and families, there is a lack of love, a failure to practice the Lord’s command: “Love one another as I have loved you.” This leads to a culture of disunity, disaffection and fault-finding. Let us earnestly pray that this Year of the Eucharist will cause a new cascade of love across the Church, uniting us all in common purpose: Bishop, clergy and laity, husbands, wives and children. In this way, the Church in our Diocese will be more like what she is meant to be: a light, a lumen gentium, a light to everyone around. Thank you for listening. I know I have said a lot here, so please do take a copy away with you to read at home. Meanwhile, let us pray for one another. And today, have a happy Feast Day!

In Corde Iesu,

+Philip Bishop of Portsmouth

 

THE MOST HOLY TRINITY YEAR B 30th May

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

“Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit…”

These words are today’s Gospel acclamation which summarise our belief and act of worship of God our Father. Today we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Trinity…one God in three distinct persons namely Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Blessed Trinity, as one God three Persons, is THE MYSTERY of our faith revealed to us by Jesus Christ himself. God has always revealed himself to humanity from the beginning, first, to our forefathers in faith in many ways and at various times. He had always revealed himself as one and wished to be worshipped as such. So by revealing himself, he shows that he is not a God who hides in mystery. He is very near to us. He is even more near to us than we are to our self. That doesn’t mean we have known him completely as he is. Many powerful brains in the Church have wrestled with this mystery of the Trinity only to fall short in being able to understand and explain the mystery completely. One young lady catechist who was teaching kids catechism once gave a profoundly down-to-earth analogy of the mystery of the Trinity. Her name is Mrs Lucy John. She used herself as an example. She said to the kids, I am a mother of two boys, a daughter of Mr and Mrs Donald and a wife of Mr John but the same Mrs Lucy John and you all know me very well. Also there is the comparison of the three states of water in describing the Trinity – water as ice, liquid and vapour. These are wonderful comparisons yet they all fall short of explaining the entire mystery of the Most Holy Trinity. All this is an attempt to understand God as Trinity. However, we cannot claim to know God completely because he is entirely spirit, and we are body and spirit. We can only know God as he is after death when we are transformed into pure spirit.  The Nigerian people describe God as one who is known but not fully known. So then, the Most Blessed Trinity is not a mystery we should battle with all the rest of our life but rather a mystery that should be lived out with faith.

In his usual way of trying to reveal himself to mankind, when the appointed time came, “the Word” who, “in the beginning was the same as God took flesh and dwelt among us.” He is Son of God from eternity but became Son of Man in time and so revealed to us the inner life of God as three Persons in one God.  Note that this revelation to us by Christ was by no means a contradiction to what God initially told our forefathers that he is one and should be worshipped as one. His revelation to us was not a new development about himself but an improvement on what he had previously said about himself. Firstly, in the burning bush God said who he is and now through Christ, he has told us what he is made of. But we need to remember that even before his encounter with Moses in the burning bush; he interacted with Noel, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So now, we have known that from the beginning He has always been three Persons in one God through the revelation of Christ. Christ revealed the inner life of God to us by his life, works and teachings, which came to completion in his death, resurrection and ascension.  His death and resurrection is an act of God’s love for us his children. The passion, death and resurrection of Christ help us to be in constant communion with God, with the three Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

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

 

PENTECOST SUNDAY YEAR B 23rd May 2021

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

My dear people of God today we celebrate a very important feast the solemnity of Pentecost. We commemorate the consolation of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God the Father and God the Son. It is the day the Holy Spirit came on the Apostles empowering them to bear witness to Christ to the whole world. The Holy Spirit is the gift God the Father had earlier on promised his disciples. This gift of God the Father as the Holy Spirit coming on the Apostles was actually the beginning of the Church, the sacrament of Christ in the world, who had promised that he would remain with his disciples until the end of time. He said to his Apostles: ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). His violent death brought enormous fear into his Apostles hence they formed the habit of locking themselves up in a room for fear of the Jews. If they could bring such havoc on the Master his disciples stood no chance against them at all. So the confidence of the Apostles eroded completely. Hence, the Lord had to revive their confidence so that they would continue with the work his Son had started. The Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon them, the timid Apostles became bold and courageous in announcing to all the peoples from all nationalities who gathered in Jerusalem that God is our Creator and Father full of mercy, love and forgiveness, proclaiming to them all the marvels he had done. To their great amazement they could all understand the Apostles in their individual native languages as they recounted to them the wonders of the Lord. What a miracle! These men from Galilee could speak in their individual native tongues! The Holy Spirit which is the Spirit of God gave them the breath of life when they were completely dead with fear. The Lord who had ascended into heaven was still speaking and working through them. The Holy Spirit coming upon them reminded them that Jesus was still alive, and still with them! So for us today Jesus is alive and reigns from the throne of grace. 

At our baptism and confirmation, we receive the Spirit of God the Father and God the Son. And the word of God we hear every day reminds us that Jesus is alive. His Spirit lives in every Christian. It actually depends on how far we are aware of his Presence in our life. Christ personally speaks to us in the readings at Mass and in the Scriptures if we make efforts to read or pray them. The Spirit of Christ in us is not a spirit of slavery bringing fear into our life rather, it is the spirit of children of God enabling us to call God our Father and to bear witness to Christ his Son. Let there be no doubt in us for indeed we are children of God. The Spirit of God has made his home in us because; we love, help and forgive the brothers and sisters. As long as we love the brothers and sisters he loves us and lives in us. The Holy Spirit holds us together in being and in love. He gives us the power to change. Where the Holy Spirit is active: division changes to unity, selfishness changes to generosity, suspicion changes to trust, gossip changes to discussion, and hatred changes to forgiveness and love. He is the breath of life in us.

We may not forget that the Holy Spirit comes to us with different gifts. Note that some of these gifts lie dormant in us and so let us not be like the servant who received his own talent from his Master instead of trading with it went and buried it only to be condemned at the arrival of his Master. Let us not waste God’s gifts which he showers on us. His gifts are ocean of blessings. It depends on how much receptive we are because; the more open we are in the spirit the more blessings we receive from the Holy Spirit. The Lord gives as much as we are ready to receive.  He is ever happy and willing to give us because he is a generous God and Father who allows his sun and rain to fall on both the good and bad alike. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are meant for the building up of the family of God and mankind. So whatever we have is for the good of all. We work as a family of God and as members of human family, for the wellbeing of all. The Lord wants us to use the gifts he has given us to serve him in the Church and in the world. Each person has been called into life by God for a special service in the Church and in the world. We are unique and we have something unique to do for humanity.

SEVENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR B   16th May 2021

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

Going through the readings of today, the question that comes to my mind is what is it that motivates people to come to work together? People come together as members of a club – we have many football clubs in the country; business organizations, students/teachers club, political parties, a fraternity, family club, a praying group such as St. Jude’s/Anthony’s society and so forth. We think of mutual interests and various levels of friendship and love. Togetherness or majority is strength. No one is an island. A tree does not make a forest. Both in religious and civil societies, we need the brothers and sisters in order to survive and succeed. The reason why groups survive and succeed be it religious or civil is because members give their loyalty to the group. It is something natural to members of any group. If we look at it from the religious point of view, God is our Creator, who keeps us in being and the bond of our unity. He is also the King of heaven and earth. God’s Kingship and Supremacy cover our daily living. Our Lord Jesus, the Son of God, left his Church with such organizational pattern. He says: You are Peter; and on this Rock I build my Church; and the powers of death will never overcome it. I give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven: whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven (Matt. 16: 18 – 19).

 

In our Church, societies such as, altar servers, the choir, the catechists, churchwardens, St Vincent de Paul, and others elect their leaders/officers who God accepts as his instruments for the group. We can see how God is ready and happy to work with us, according to our needs. The Scripture says: “The Lord looks down from heaven on his children … (Ps. 14: 2). God mediates his love and mercy to us through our elected leaders. I do not deny their human weakness, their short-comings and sins. God knows it all and yet accepts them. We still give them our loyalty despite their weaknesses because they represent God who is the King. They base their leadership on God the King of heaven and earth. In civil societies, the elected leaders may deny God. They may claim, ‘we do not do God here.’ We accept their opinions because we do not force God on anybody. They may tell lies and steal government money. However, we believe that every leadership, religious or civil, should follow God’s pattern of leadership. However, no human authority is perfect. What keeps us together is love of God and neighbour.

 

So our love as Christians can only win people back to God. The world seems to organize itself without God. So the work of Christians is to lead the world back to God and make it aware of God. The reason why Jesus prays for his disciples in the Gospel reading is that as he ascends into heaven they may be able to stay united and lead the world back to God. He reminds them that they are different from the world and that they may not expect anything but hatred, rejection and persecution from the world. Their values and standards are different from the world. He gives them his joy and tells them that there is joy in battling against the storm and struggling against the tide; it is by facing the hostility of the world that we enter into the Christian joy. That is why he prays that they should not be taken away from the world. Christians are not to escape from the troubles of the world. As Christians, we do not hide away in the Church, in the monastery, convent, and in prayers and vigils or in a life withdrawn from the world but we live out our Christian life in the rough and tumble of life in the world. The Christian life is lived in the ordinary work in the world. Christianity is never meant to withdraw us from the world but to equip us for the world. Christianity does not offer release from problems, but a way to solve them. It does not offer us an easy peace. It doesn’t offer us a life in which troubles are escaped and evaded but a life in which troubles are faced and conquered. It is within the world that our Christianity is lived out. The Christian does not desire to abandon the world but always desire to win the world and lead it back to God.

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR B 9th May 2021

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

The theme of the liturgy of today is that God is love. Because he is love, he always wants to share his life and love. He expands in his Son and the Holy Spirit. He created us out of love and for love. Since his nature is love, he shares his nature with us and so our nature is to love. The sickest person in the whole world is the person who is not able to love or accept love. Of course, the world is full of sick people who do not believe in giving and accepting love. It is rather pathetic! How do we interact with such people who do not believe in love since human nature is to love? They go against human nature. To interact with them is like putting a square peg in a round hole. St Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians says that love is patient: Love understands, tolerates, bears and forgives everything (2 Cor. 13: 4-7). People who do not believe in love do not want to understand, tolerate and forgive anything. They don’t understand the language of love. They turn out to be sadists. They make the world a bitter and dangerous place to live in. They are psychologically sick. They may have a sad history behind them – a sad and difficult upbringing, maybe. Actually the fall of Adam and Eve has wounded the human nature, but not permanently anyway, because Jesus the Redeemer has redeemed the human nature. Because the human nature is wounded, we have so many sick people in our world. Though, all hope is not lost; we are healed by the punishment he suffered, made whole by the blows he received (Isa. 53:4-5). His love for mankind led him to the cross. But then, his love can be made nonsense of if some people fail to believe in love and allow themselves to be healed by love. To counteract the idea of some people being unable to give or accept love, children should be taught to love from infancy since human nature has been wounded as a result of the original sin. We make our children appreciate love when we love them and other people. That is how God’s love will internalise in their life. They will grow up to be children who love their parents and other people. The love we show each other on human level is also God’s love because he created us out of love and for love. But because of the wounded nature of human beings we have to train our children to grow in that love so that they are able to give and receive love. It will be very hard for us to convince people that God is love if we fail to love them. Saint John says that we are liars if we claim that we love God we do not see when we fail to love the brothers and sisters that we see. If we love the brothers and sisters, it means we love God because love of man is not different from love of God.

Love is life and as such love is nourished and like a tree must be cared for every day; otherwise it withers and dies a natural death. I have never failed to say this to those who come to me for marriage instruction. I never fail to say it to married couples or Christians or friends who come to me for counselling. You cannot survive without food and water for a long time so also love between husband and wife, family members and friends dies a natural death if it is not renewed and nurtured every day. We renew the commitment to love each other every day. To nurture love we must cherish forbearance, patience, honest discussion, mutual understanding, kindness, fidelity, forgiveness and joy.  Dear friends where these Christian human virtues are less practised you have less stable relationships. My dear friends if people fail to have honest discussions, spiritual direction, sacrament of reconciliation and constant forgiveness, believe it or not, relationships can never be stable. These are hard facts. There are facts that people do not want to hear about, but if I do not say them, I will not be doing my work as a pastor of souls. I will be doing a great disservice to the people of God. Why is it that there is no more forgiveness both in religious and civil societies?

God loves everyone because all are his children both those who believe in him and those who denounce him. That is why he allows his sun and rain to fall on the good and the wicked alike. The first reading tells us that God’s Spirit of love came on Cornelius, a pagan, even before he and his household were baptised. Of course, the Spirit moves wherever he wills. However, those who love are begotten by God. God lives in them and they live in God whether they know it or not. Some people have shown love and kindness to angels without knowing it. So, let us go on loving everybody. Of course, we are discouraged because in various ways people reject our love and acts of kindness. All the same, we keep on loving and doing good because, we do it for God. The end of our life is God and so, where does God and love fit into our life? Love is the answer to every problem!

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR B   2nd May

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

The Church is a family of God and so members of the Church are members of God’s family. There is a saying that birds of the same feather flock together. Majority is strength. Even in democratic society majority carries the vote. It is true that even vicious animals when they move together as family, feel secure and less dangerous while any one of them that moves alone can be very dangerous to humans and other creatures.  The same idea is common amongst humans. It is very obvious to us that anyone who is a loner can easily become a criminal. It is said that loners are dangerous. No one is an island. We need the company and friendship of one another in order to develop into mature and responsible human beings. One single tree cannot make a bush. No one can go about life alone and survive. The theme of the liturgy of today is belonging. No one comes from nowhere. We all come from a family. At least we all belong to the human family. It is interesting to note that God is family: God the Father God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. So God is relational. He has created us and he relates to us through his Son Jesus who became man so that, according to St Athanasius we might become God. God by becoming man unites man to himself. We become united to God by grace in the Person of Christ. He also unites human beings to each other. As Creator-God, he is infinitely above us his children but also infinitely near to us, and even to each of us. So man can be divinised. Man partakes in the divine nature of God. As he shares in our humanity we share in his divinity. St Augustine says God became man that man might be made God. So if we are not able to relate with other people we may not be able to relate to God. It is wonderful that God is love; and he is three Persons in one God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He relates to us as Father Son and Holy Spirit. He shares his love and life with us as Father Son and Holy Spirit in one God. He gives us life and sustains us in being.

Since God is community of Persons: Father Son and Holy Spirit, we need communal living; we need one another in order to succeed both in our spiritual, civil and social life. If Barnabas had not introduced him to the apostles after all the evil he inflicted on the Church, Paul would not have been accepted as a disciple of Christ. We may not claim we have a genuine relationship with God if we are not in relationship with the brothers and sisters. John says we are liars if we claim we love God that we do not see when we hate the brothers and sisters we see every day. God comes to us through man, the man Jesus so, in order to be truly in God we need to be in good relationship with other people. If we are not in communion with the brothers and sisters in the Lord, we may not be in communion with God. How do we survive if we are not in communion with God the Father? He is the source of our origin. That is why in the Gospel reading of today Christ says: I am the Vine you are the branches. There is no way the branches of a tree can survive if they are cut off from the tree. The tree is their source of life. There is a bond existing between the tree and its branches. It is the same bond existing between God and human beings. God is the origin of human beings. It is in God that we live and move and have our being. If we are cut off from God we wither and die like a branch cut off from the tree. If we remain attached to God the true Vine we will produce plenty of fruit. But if we cut ourselves off from God we will wither and die like branches cut off from the tree. The branches cut off from the tree have no source of food; they can only wither and die. There are no two ways about it. The example is logical and symbolic. It is not difficult for anyone to understand. It is as clear as day.

As disciples of Christ, for us to stay alive, we have to remain in Christ, and with one another. If we remain connected to Christ we can do a lot of good. If we cut ourselves off from him we can only do wrong. No one needs the help of Christ to commit sin or a crime. Without Christ we become evil. But it is only with the help of Christ that we can do good things. We need to make ourselves available to be pruned in order to deliver good results for God, and for humanity. The word of God prunes us; like a double edged sword cuts off the less productive elements in our lives – those dirty behaviours that block our love flowing to others; which curtail our ability to do good things. There are some bad habits that need pruning. We can prune ourselves through self-denial, works of charity and penance and by praying without ceasing.

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst 25th April 2021

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Good shepherd Sunday is set apart by the Church for us to pray for vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life, and married and single life. To have life is a vocation. It is God who calls us into life. To be alive is to answer the call of God. As Christians, life comes from God and belongs to him. Our penny catechism teaches us that God created us to know, love, and serve him in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next. So he created us for himself. In our baptism, he makes us his children, citizens of heaven, sharing his divine life with us. What a privilege! As baptised Christians we share in the common priesthood of Christ. Not only that God is so gracious that he gives humanity the amazing gift of the ministerial priesthood when a man with the power of divine ordination can celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments through which the Holy Trinity is made present and we share in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and receive forgiveness of our sins and God lives in us and we live in him. The ministerial priesthood is a mysterious gift that God shares with humanity which he does not even share with the angels. That is why the psalmist asks, ‘What is man that you keep him in mind; mortal man that you care for him?’ Of course human beings mean a lot to God because he created us in his image and likeness. God created us out of love and for love. When Adam and Eve fell, humanity was unable to redeem itself; God sent his Son to save us from sin, evil and eternal damnation. So God wants us to continue the redemptive work his Son started in the ministerial priesthood and religious life. The work of priests, reverend brothers and sisters is very important for the salvation of souls since God wants us to cooperate with him in our own redemption. That is why the Scripture laments that the harvest is rich, but the labourers are few and so; encourages us to pray without ceasing that God may send labourers to his harvest because the work is his work. God wants us to become his instruments of work for our own salvation.

Why does it bother God so much to take these measures in relation to us and our salvation? The psalmist asks: What are man and woman that God keeps them in mind? Do we even realise how precious we are before God? At least we know the value of modern smart phones and cars; and how our life will change if we win two hundred million pounds in a lottery! Do we know the value of our soul? How much pounds will it cost us to save our soul or to ‘buy’ eternal life? Does our soul or eternal life have market value? Jesus Christ can answer these questions because he knows the value, the worth of the human soul. The human soul costs him of his blood on the cross. That is the price he paid on the cross to redeem humanity from the crutches of Satan, sin, evil and spiritual death and damnation. Having paid such an enormous price to redeem us, is it a surprise that he calls himself the Good Shepherd? The Good Shepherd is the owner of the sheep. The sheep belong to him because he has paid a price for them with his own life. He is not like the hired man who does not own the sheep. The hired man has not paid anything for the sheep, and so, they do not belong to him. He is only interested in his wages and not ready to endanger his life in trying to protect the sheep from wolves and thieves. If wolves and robbers come, he runs away to save his own life not the sheep. But Jesus the Good Shepherd the owner of the sheep will go to any length to protect his sheep. Jesus puts the safety and life of his sheep first before his own life. Jesus’ mission is to serve the sheep to keep them safe for God the Father. The Gospel reading demonstrates his tenderness, love and care for his sheep. He does lay down his life for his sheep. Who are his sheep? We are his sheep! He puts his life on the line for us. That is exactly what Jesus did on the cross for us. In his life and death, Jesus sought out the lost, the least and the last. Having paid such a huge price for us, Jesus will never abandon us to be devoured by modern wolves. He remains our Good Shepherd who is ever ready to defend us. Now the difference is that, the wolf can never hurt him any more since he has risen from the dead. It is therefore absolutely certain that he is always there for us if ever we are threatened by the wolf. Jesus is always the winner! Satan is permanently the loser!

THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR B 18th April

 

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP

 

The liturgy of today highlights some human weaknesses such as ignorance, lack of knowledge of God and life. This is due to the fact that human nature has been wounded by the fall of Adam and Eve, though, thank God for his Son; the human nature is not permanently wounded. We can be forgiven of our sin and be healed of the wounds of sin. I don’t mean we have the permission to commit sin because God forgives us easily when we are sorry. It means that as human beings we are now prone to sin. We have to pray hard without ceasing in order to avoid sin. We must work hard to feed ourselves. The Lord said to man after the great fall that: By your sweat you shall eat and survive. So life is a struggle, though, the Christian hope which never fails sustains us. In order to survive, we need to work hard to acquire the divine knowledge that will give us the insight or the understanding to help us walk through life which is full of mystery. The divine knowledge may not come through human efforts alone. We need to be men and women who pray without ceasing. We owe it to ourselves and others to be informed Christians. We may not excuse ourselves from this Christian obligation because God is the Teacher and we are his pupils. I am not talking about academic knowledge. The knowledge I am talking about is the knowledge that comes from above. Even when we are not able to read the Bible, the Catholic Catechism, good Christian books that will help us acquire the Catholic doctrines and teachings, if we are open towards God, the Holy Spirit will help us to know God, love him and serve him in others. Through that way, we know God and are close to him as our Father. We become his children and he becomes our Father. But if we are able to read the Bible and other good Christian books and fail to do that our ignorance of God will be culpable. Some do not know God because they are proud. That is why in the first reading Peter reprimanded the people for preferring a murderer to the Prince of life whom they demanded to be killed on the cross. Their insight and visions on life were blurred. They made a grievous mistake. But God was always ready to forgive if they were ready to repent and convert. This was Peter’s appeal to them. When they listened to Peter’s appeal and reflected on the miracles the Lord worked through the apostles and the disciples, some repented otherwise; they would be blameworthy in their ignorance and lack of understanding.

 

The Lord is not looking out for those who offend him ignorantly or deliberately to punish them. The Lord is not like any of us; he does not treat us according to our offences otherwise; none of us would survive. He knows that the heart of man is hard and proud. He gives his Son to us permanently as our Sacrament. He is the expiation for our sins and in fact, the sins of the whole world. If we fail to reflect on the Scriptures and wonders of the Lord on daily basis we may find ourselves consciously or unconsciously confronting, attacking and fighting God. The vices of pride, jealousy, hatred, feelings of vengeance, power struggle may prompt us to fight or put down the servants of God but then in reality it is God we are fighting. Saul who was baptised and named Paul was struck down and blind in his ignorance and wickedness while the voice of the Lord said to him: “Saul, Saul why are you persecuting me.” Obviously he was acting in ignorance. The Lord did not strike him dead. The Lord gave him the grace of conversion to which he embraced with gratitude all the days of his life. If we study the Scriptures we would know how much Paul suffered for the Lord in serving his brothers and sisters. His love for God and children of God was prominent, constant and sincere. His love for God prompted him to suffer so much pain, deprivation and hardship for the children of God. It was the same deep love for God that made Mary of Magdala to go alone even in the night to the grave where the man Jesus was buried. It was a type of heavenly love that defied fear, doubt and even death. We can encounter the resurrected Christ in the Scripture if we pray and meditate on the Scripture daily. The Gospel reading says he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures which gave them insight in the knowledge of God and they were renewed.

 

SECOND SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR B   11th April 2021

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Divine Mercy which was instituted by our Lord when he revealed it to St. Faustina. This feast reminds us of the beautiful gift of the Sacrament of Penance, the Tribunal of Divine Mercy. The Divine Mercy feast was granted to the universal Church by Saint Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonisation of Sr. Faustina on 30th April 2000. It is an invitation to the Christian world to face, with confidence in divine benevolence, the difficulties and trials that mankind will experience in the years to come. Jesus said concerning the feast of Mercy: “Whoever approaches the Fountain of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment” (Diary 300). This is a feast that has emerged from the depths of the Mercy of God. God wants the feast of Mercy to be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. He opens the depths of His tender mercy to all mankind. He pours out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of His mercy. God wants to demonstrate his inconceivable mercy by letting open the floodgates through which grace flows to us. Even if your sins are liked to scarlet do not be afraid to draw near to the Divine Mercy. As far as the East is from the West he puts away our sins. His mercy is boundless toward those who fear him. We will use the whole eternity contemplating His divine love and mercy. The Feast of Divine Mercy emerged from the depths of his tenderness. He says mankind will not have peace until it turns to the Fount of His Mercy. On the Feast of the Divine Mercy, if you receive sacramental penance and Communion, you will obtain the plenitude of the divine mercy.

 

In order to appreciate the gift of the Feast of Mercy, we need to acknowledge our sins and be sorry for them at the sacrament of Reconciliation as well as appreciate the gift of one another. In the first reading, the ancient Church of Jerusalem was depicted as family of God which was of “one heart and mind.” They were responsible for one another as everything was shared in common. The apostles must have learnt that way of life from the life they shared with their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ who had nowhere to lay down his head but depended on people’s generosity. Jesus moved from place to place preaching the good news of God our Father doing great work for God. He carried away our infirmities. In fact, he came to show God’s mercy to mankind. He says avoid vengeance and forgive one another as your heavenly Father forgives you. So we are truly children of God when we love, forgive and act charitably with one another. If we do not show mercy and act charitably towards one another we may likely destroy the human family. There is senseless destruction of life and property in many places, even carried out in the name of God. In most places the Christians bear the brunt of it all. But as Christians, we appreciate life as God’s most precious gift that is why the Church frowns at mercy killing, abortion and war. We cherish, defend, protect and guard life as God’s gift. And we shall give account of it to God after our earthly life. We appreciate life when we practice Christian love, mercy, compassion, forgiveness and charity. As we celebrate the Feast of Divine Mercy, may we appreciate that it is God’s mercy that has kept us alive to this moment and so live a daily life of gratitude to the Lord of mercy, and show compassion and forgiveness to one another.

 

 

EASTER SUNDAY YEAR B 4th April

The Lord is risen indeed Alleluia, Alleluia! We celebrate the feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Praise the living God. Alleluia! This is an event of great joy and glory, one that brings salvation to the whole world and happiness and meaning to our personal lives. The amount of celebration and spiritual activities preceding this feast shows us that Easter celebration is the greatest Christian feast because, it is the celebration of our salvation. The Easter celebration gives meaning to our life. This is because if Christ had not risen from the dead our life and religious endeavours would be in vain. The resurrection of Christ which we celebrate at Easter destroys the power of death which is our greatest enemy and removes its poisonous sting. We also celebrate the destruction of sin and death, rejoicing in the divine life God has wrought for us in Christ.

The focus of our celebration is the resurrection event. What does the resurrection of Christ mean to me? It can be uplifting for those who seek for salvation. It is heartening to know that eventually we shall be raised above our present human frailty, deprivations, shortcomings, sufferings, sicknesses, frustrations, fears and most especially death our greatest enemy. We may reflect on the immediate reaction of great people like Peter, John and Mary Magdalene in relation to the resurrection event and its impact on their lives. It was a surprising event to them and of course, they needed time and grace to assimilate it. When they finally succeeded in taking it all in as a reality, they digested it into the very core of their own being. It transformed the whole state of their minds and hearts, and positively and permanently re-oriented their entire outlook and disposition to life. If we prayerfully reflect on Easter it can as well transform the whole core of our being as it did to the first heralds of the Good News. The first Easter people had a very intimate commitment to the person and mission of Jesus Christ which could be traced to the day each of them encountered the Resurrected Lord Jesus.

Each of us needs the same personal encounter with the person of Jesus. There are possible opportunities by which we can encounter the person of Jesus. If we hang on to his words every day and allow them to challenge us then, we will surely encounter him. When we allow God’s word to challenge us we will never be the same again. We will be positively transformed. We will begin to understand what it means to say that Christ died in order to save humanity from sin and eternal damnation so that we may enjoy everlasting life of justice, peace and truth. If we really encounter the risen Lord we will be disciples of joy, peace, justice and reconciliation. Note that Christ is reconciling the world to God through us so we are apostles and disciples of reconciliation. A Joyful Easter to you all!

PALM SUNDAY YEAR B   28th March

 

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst    From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

The celebration of Palm Sunday ushers us into the holy week when we meditate deeply on the events of the suffering and consequent death of Christ on the cross. We, as Church, commemorate the entrance of Christ into the city of Jerusalem to accomplish his suffering and death which brought salvation to us. In the first instance, it was a joyful movement of the people accompanying their Lord on a glorious procession into the city of David. As he mounted the colt, his fans shouted praises and honour unto him the son of David. “Hosanna! Blessings on him who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is to come! Hosanna in the highest!” But what an irony! The crowd suddenly turned against him! The same people who praised him to the highest heavens suddenly turned against him and condemned him to death. However, he submitted himself to death like a lamb led to the slaughter house and because of that God conferred on him the highest honour. You may be weary of the honour and praises people shower on you. When you are young, attractive, healthy, rich and popular; people want to befriend and identify with you but when your money finishes or old age overtakes you, they desert you.

 

He allowed himself to be punished and killed on the cross to save us from sin and eternal damnation. The cross of Christ remains the source, centre and summit of the Christian life. Even though, the world may see the cross as a symbol of defeat. And unfortunately some Christians are ashamed of it and afraid to bear witness to Christ in public. They recoil from the deeper content of Christianity which is the cross. They rather prefer to remain anonymous Christians or silent in public. Though, it is a big challenge to stick out one’s head for Christ. That is why many people recoil from Christian religion. Yet St. Paul says even though the language of the Cross may be illogical to the world but it is the power of God to save for those who love him. If we suffer insult, pain or deprivations because we are Christians, let us look up to Christ on the Cross who is our strength and Saviour. If we die with him, we shall rise and reign with him.

 

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

21st March 2021

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

The Gospel reading introduces us into the beginning of Jesus’ last week before his death. For us Christians, death is not the end of life but the beginning of everlasting life with God. When our earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for us in heaven by God who calls us into life. In the Gospel reading of today Jesus was talking like a man who was far away in between heaven and earth. His earthly life was about to finish, his death was fast coming. Have you ever experienced the beloved who was about to die and who eventually died? Death is a frightening thing. Is it not? We cannot deny that we fear death. Jesus uses the analogy of a grain of wheat in the Gospel reading to explain to us the meaning of death which he knows quite well frightens all of us. He doesn’t want us to see death as something completely negative. There is a bright side to death. He says I am the Life and the Resurrection. Whoever believes in me will live forever. St Paul must have understood it so well that he said to be alive is to live for Christ and to die is gain because it is an opportunity to be with Christ physically where there will be no more tears and death but only a life of happiness forever. Christ wants us to understand that death is a metamorphosis into a better life for those who love God and humanity. The example of grain of wheat that he gives us is a perfect example. The farmer plants a seed into the soil which dies and mysteriously germinates and grows into a big tree which produces an abundance of new life. The tree produces abundant flowers, leaves and fruits that give humans, and birds, animals and insects shade and food. Its leaves can be medicinal as well as vegetable for healthy eating. The seeds of the fruits are used by farmers to continue to produce food for living creatures. This is a mystery that God impacts on nature – it is all about the mysterious circle of life and death, and so, through death new life appears again. Christ wants us to reflect on nature so that we can understand how our death can be transformed into new life with God who lives forever. 

For us Christians, death is a transformation into a better life. Jesus continued to talk to his apostles his impending suffering, death and resurrection but they could not understand at all, rather they were confused. But he uses the grain of wheat in the Gospel to refer to his impending death and resurrection to a new life. We all have to face death. Are we not? We all need to go through the mystery of death but our faith in the resurrection of Christ helps us to understand that death is a metamorphosis which will eventually end in a glorious life with Christ in heaven. We can now begin to understand our daily suffering, pain and all the unpleasant things we go through in this present life in the light of the resurrection of Christ.

 

 

4th Sunday of Lent 14th March

No reflection yet this week from Fr Gerry.

 

 

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B

7th March 2021

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP

The liturgy of today presents to us the commandments and worship of God. Both are God’s initiative. Take for example the laws of God when you reflect on them you find out that they are for the good of mankind. The laws are not there to make God more popular, great and promote him. And also, they are not there to clip our wings from flying away from God; but they are rather there for our liberation, security and happy living. There are some cities in certain nations that are notorious for lawlessness where people are robbed or killed at will without restrictions of any kind. I don’t think any of us will like to live there or bring up our children in such violent environments. In those places the weakest and poorest suffer most while the rich and powerful grow richer and more powerful on the helplessness of the weak and the poor. The rich and the powerful seem to be above the law because they pay for their own security and freedom.

I can confidently tell you that the laws are there for our own security and happy living. We wouldn’t like to live in a lawless society because our life, children and property would be insecure and everything would be in total anarchy. So God has put in place the Ten Commandments for us because he knows what is best for his children. You will agree with me that in a lawless society human life can be snuffed out instantly. Law is good; it is necessary, without which every human institution, civil or religious, is open to confusion, anarchy and destruction. In a lawless society some people will tear others to pieces and ‘eat’ them raw. Without law in place, man will become more dangerous than wild beasts. Though, despite the laws that are in place, men are still wolves unto their fellow men. You can imagine what happens in a lawless situation. So, the importance of law cannot be over-emphasized. The psalmist and all those who have tested the laws of the Lord testify that they are perfect. They revive the soul; they gladden the heart and give light to the eyes and wisdom to the simple. From their experience, the children of God respond: Lord, you have the words of eternal life. They testify that behind the commandments of God lie the goodness, love and holiness of God. Jesus the Son of God upheld the law and the worship of God. He has made us to understand and appreciate that the commandments of God constitute a code of behaviour for all mankind. They are written in the hearts of every human being. That is why the Lord says when they obey my commandments I will be their God and they will be my people. The whole commandments of God are summarised as love for God and for one another as God loves us. Who does not know that love nourishes life, and that love is life? And so, who does not want to be loved? To ignore the Ten Commandments is to ignore God who is behind the Commandments. It is to reject the personal love relationship that God extends to all mankind. It is to prefer oneself to God who is the Creator of all. Behind the Ten Commandments God is saying I am not only your Creator; I am your friend, guide, protector and counsellor. If you let me have the first place in your life you will be forever secure and at peace.

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

28th February : 2nd Sunday of Lent     

The first reading shows us that God and Abraham had something in common. Both of them were prepared to give up their sons. We are all God’s adopted children though God has only one begotten Son, Jesus, who is his only natural Son, “the Beloved” as we read in the Gospel of today. Abraham had two sons. The first son was called Ishmael, born of the slave girl, Hagar. But Abraham’s preferred son was Isaac, born of his wife, Sarah. Isaac was the son of the Great Promise, the one through whom God’s wonderful plans for Abraham would be realized. According to the first reading, God wanted Abraham to offer Isaac, his only beloved son,  to him in sacrifice. He was to offer Isaac by slaughtering him. Such a demand from God was cruel, unreasonable and inhuman! It made no sense at all. Can you make any sense out of it? It is said that when a hand- shake crosses the elbow it becomes an arrest. God and Abraham had become so friendly that Abraham could no longer refuse any demand from God. Surprisingly enough Abraham was ready to kill his son for God. If you were Abraham would you do that? Abraham’s faith in God had become as unmovable as the Rock of Gibraltar. For Abraham, whatever demand God made of him would be met, no matter how unreasonable it appeared. In the first place, the child in question was God’s gift so why would Abraham hold onto him as if he had created him himself. It was God who created Isaac and gave him to Abraham. Every human life comes from God, and death forces everybody to go back to God. Though in the end God did not allow Abraham to kill Isaac in sacrifice to him but, the intention to carry out God’s demand was there, despite the fact that the demand sounded unreasonable.  The intention to carry out God’s demand was as good as doing it. According to our Catholic teaching Abraham had carried out God’s demand in desire. For that reason, God blessed Abraham abundantly. What is it in our life that we will not be able to surrender to God? After all even our very life is a gift from God and belongs to God.

 

Abraham’s faith is a challenge to each of us. But unfortunately many of us bargain with God. If God grants me this or that I will serve him. If not…I will no more come to Church. Even when people do not speak out their disapproval towards God, they act it out in their daily living, consciously or unconsciously. Also on many occasions, some say they are no longer believers because they have grudges against God. Some are disappointed with God. They cannot forgive God for the death of their beloved. Others have prayed for years yet they still suffer. They have failed in many aspects of life despite their efforts and prayers. For all this, they no longer want to come to Church; others because of all this doubt whether God even exists. Detractors question and ridicule Christians because of their belief in God. If he is a loving Father, why does he allow wars in which his innocent children and women are destroyed? Why does he allow his children to be kidnapped or beheaded by terrorists? Why does he allow so much poverty, suffering and evil in the world? These are some of the questions modern men and women ask of God. Unfortunately every evil is blamed on God. Is God the cause of all these wars, terrorism, hunger, poverty and hatred in the world? Is he the cause of all the evil and wickedness of men and women? Why do I blame my own failures and weakness on God and other people? What about the so much evil, hardship and poverty we inflict on others due to our misuse of the environment, the natural resources and insensitivity and selfishness? Poor God every human misdeed is blamed on him! God is not even making any efforts to defend himself. Even when his Son was wrongfully nailed to the cross, no one came forward to defend him; even his close friends ran away from him. Yet God allowed his innocent son to be killed on the cross!

On one occasion, his disciples asked him: ‘This man born blind, who sinned, he or his parents? He answered neither he nor his parents sinned. But, he was born blind so that the works of God and his glory might be displayed in him’ (John 9:1-3). God’s ways are not our ways. He spared Abraham’s son but did not spare his own son, but gave him up for our own salvation. This assures us that he will never deny us anything that is good. It teaches us that life is sacred and it is a gift from God. No one should kill any human being in the name of religion. It also shows us that God has acquitted us so, no one, not even Satan, can condemn us. It also shows us that we are truly his beloved sons and daughters. Note that by sparing Abraham’s son, he shows us that he does not sanction human sacrifice or murder or any act that destroys or maims human life. Also it means that God can make tough demands on us like his demands on Job and Abraham; he can allow sufferings in order to purify our faith and strengthen our hope in him. Even when his way seems not to be easy or comprehensible, let us not insist on having it our own way. If he allowed his own Son to be killed on the cross to save us there is nothing he will not be able to do for us. So let us not insist on having our own way when his does not appear meaningful to us. God can only lead us to what is good for us. God’s plan is always the best option for us.

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B  21st February 2021

 

“The Spirit drove Jesus into the desert…” My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Gospel text is an invitation and a challenge. At the beginning of the Holy Season of Lent, the Lord Jesus himself invites us to follow him to the desert for a while for prayer. Many saints who were members of our Church answered this call. They followed him closely and served him faithfully and now they share the joy of heaven with him. But someone may ask me to explain what it means to follow Jesus to the desert. The history of the Church shows that different people understand this in different ways. Each member of the Body of Christ is unique. The call comes to each in a unique way and each person also responds in a way that is unique. St Anthony of Egypt heard this call and totally left everything behind and went to live in the desert. He soon had followers. Others have responded in a similar way. That explains why we have hermits, monks and nuns. It is not everyone who has this call goes to live in the desert. But everyone has been called to respond in his or her own way. But the basic issue is the same for all the members of the Church of Christ – that is to love and serve God above all things. All Christians are called to be totally committed to Christ whether as priests, religious, or laity.

 

We are all called into life to make a journey. Of course, life is a journey. In our context, it is not an outward journey that will take us to another country. No, it is a different kind of journey. It is a spiritual journey, an inward journey. The desert we are called to is right here with us. Or rather we have to discover it. It is not far away. It is within us. So if we want to discover the Lord and follow him into the desert, we need to reduce the noise around us. This we do if we make out time to be more with the Lord in prayer; if we spend less time on the computer and more time reading our Bible; if we spend less time watching television and more time meditating on the Passion of Christ on his journey to the Cross.

 

Think about Jesus who fasted from food and drink in the desert for forty days and nights. We can also fast to deny ourselves certain good things to show our love for Jesus and also to be able to control our will, mind and heart and surrender them to God. Is it not true that in our time, many people readily accept to eat little or starve and deny themselves of all kinds of things because they want to lose weight or have a certain kind of shape? Do sports men and women not deny themselves some good things including food to win the trophy? Some people endure excruciating pains and starvation to undergo plastic surgery just to look like a certain celebrity. The Lord is not asking us to do any of those vain things. He is asking us to exercise some discipline in order to imitate him as the psalmist says, to “make us walk in his truth.” We have already begun this spiritual journey.

 

In making the inward journey we will see the ugliness of the sins that we have indulged in all this time. We shall discover why and where we missed the mark, where we deliberately turned our backs against the loving Father, where we have been false to the terms of the covenant we entered into with Jesus at our baptism. But note that we cannot make this journey unaccompanied and unaided. We need the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us. Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to the desert. We dare not go there on our own accord. So please let us allow the Holy Spirit to direct and lead us. This is because there in the desert, we shall do battle. And of course it is not a war “against flesh and blood,” as St Paul would say, but “against principalities and powers” (Eph. 6:10 - 12). We must confront our pride, selfishness and greed, feelings of hate, arrogance, vengeance, immorality and so forth.  However, victory is ours if we rely, not on our feeble efforts and strength but on the Lord Jesus Christ, who has won the battle for us by his death and resurrection. We must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit!

 

Lord Jesus, teach us that with you we can do all things. Lord Jesus, remember your mercy and the love you have shown from of old.

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

14th February 2021

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

The first and Gospel readings touch on leprosy. In our religious context, leprosy symbolises sin. In Catholic understanding, we say that sin is the leprosy of the soul. Actually in the ancient Hebrew Society, the victims of leprosy were ostracised, completely cut off from any kind of communication and interaction with other people. The leper had to wear tattered clothes and his hair must be unkempt. He had to go about with a bell and ring it and shout, “unclean, unclean” so as to ward off people from the way he was passing. Among the Hebrews, the leper was unclean. He was banished from the fellowship of men and women. He must dwell alone outside the camp. The leper was already dead, though still alive. He must not come into the temple worship. So he was even ostracised from the people of God. One wonders what was harder to bear – the disease itself or the dreadful feeling of being rejected by all even by the people of God.

The fate of the leper was truly hard. In Jewish tradition, it was not allowed to touch the leper. To touch the leper was to be rendered unclean and therefore unfit to join community worship and interact with members of the community. But in the gospel of today something completely out of the ordinary and even illegal took place. The leper, instead of standing far off, came and knelt before Jesus and cried out: “If you wish, you can cure me.” Jesus felt pity, stretched out his hand, touched him and said: “I wish. Be cured.” Instantly the man was cured and restored to a happy membership in his community, but then Jesus who touched the leper became, as it were, an outcast himself, unable to enter the town openly. Why? Because he made himself unclean by touching the leper, knowing fully well it was illegal to do so. Again, because he deliberately broke the law, he put himself into danger of being killed. He had to hide away from the authorities who were looking for a way to kill him for breaking the law. And that was a preview of his rejection and consequential death on the Cross. However, it goes on to show us that not every human law is good for the wellbeing of man and woman. The Jewish law that forbad people from helping the leper was not good for human beings.

Let us look at the encounter between Jesus and the Leper. Firstly, as tradition had it, the leper was unclean and had no right to speak to Jesus. Since Jesus knew the law, why did he not drive away the leper? Why did he contravene the law, not only by responding to the leper but by touching him as well? Jesus knew that by touching the leper, he would be rendered unclean. Why did he want to be controversial? To answer this question, in the first place, Jesus did not believe that the leper was unclean. Jesus believed that the leper was simply sick and desperately needed help. Jesus obeyed the law when necessary though, he did not believe in obeying human conventions to the detriment of man and woman. Jesus was saying by what he did: Take care of the need of man first before human conventions. The laws of the land should have human face. The laws are there to serve and protect people. The Scripture says that man is not made for the law but the law is made for man and woman – for the service and protection of mankind. In this encounter between Jesus and the leper, we see compassion, power and wisdom all at work in the Man, Jesus. Unfortunately, the world has not learnt the virtues of compassion and wisdom from the Man, Jesus. The world made avoidable mistakes in the genocide committed in Rwanda in 1994 and the world continues to make the same mistakes in the massacre of innocent people taking place right now in Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia and other warring nations. When shall we learn compassion, the meaning of life and the purpose for which God gives us life?

The gospel of today is a challenge to all of us. Who are the lepers in our lives whom we ostracise? How do we feel about people who are different from us? What is our attitude towards other people? Will our attitude towards others attract them to come to us for help? Will our attitude attract people to seek Jesus? As Jesus touched the leper, are we willing to extend a hand of reconciliation and friendship towards other people whom we perceive as our enemy? If you feel rejected, remember Jesus is there for you with his healing touch. If you allow Jesus, he will touch you as he touched the leper and healed him. Think of the leper in the gospel. He knew that no one wanted him. He knew he was detested and avoided by all. But he was convinced that Jesus would not reject him. It is surprising that no other person knew that Jesus would not reject him and recommend him to Jesus but only the leper himself knew that Jesus would accept him. Jesus will never despise or reject anyone even the most notorious sinners. Always be confident to say to Jesus: 'If you will do so, you can cure me.' He will always say to you: 'I do will it. Be cured.'

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa's, Totton & Our Lady & St Edward, Lyndhurst

From: Fr  Gerry Onyejuluwa

5th Sunday Year B             7th February

 

There is no doubt that some of us live very busy lives. As such, some devote little or no time to prayer and reflection. Reflection is an aid to spiritual discernment and growth. If we reflect, we will be able to ask ourselves some fundamental questions like: What is life? Who gave me life? Who am I? Where do I come from? Where am I going? Every now and then, we need to confront ourselves with those fundamental questions about life. If we fail to reflect, our life will not be real; we will only live restless and spiritually impoverished lives. Socrates, a pagan philosopher, said: ‘Unexamined life is not worth living.’ As Christians, we have adopted that statement as our principle and guide through our spiritual journey to God our creator and the goal of our life. 

 

Some people get absorbed totally in their work and become the job they do. They believe that their value as persons depends on their usefulness. It is a mistake because if their job finishes they are finished as well. Even if we lose our job, our world does not need to collapse around us. A little time for reflection will reveal so much about life to us. It is true we give so much to others in service but we do not need to lose ourselves in our job and fail to take care of ourselves as persons. Today’s gospel will help us to manage our busy life. It says despite his workload, Jesus gets up very early in the morning to go to a lonely place to pray and to restore his energies. Jesus believes in finding time to seek strength in solitude and prayer. That is where the secret of his successful ministry lies. He knows that it is not all out-put and no in-put. He always retires to a lonely place to recover lost energy. That gives him a breathing space – an opportunity to go away for prayer which helps him to keep focussed on the main purpose of his life and ministry, and that is, to do the will of his Father and to seek his Father’s glory not his own glory. Above all it is during his time of solitude that he maintains and fosters his intimate relationship with God his Father. It is this relationship with his Father that is most important in his life.

 

We need to do as Jesus did. Jesus said in the Scriptures: ‘Pray without ceasing so that you do not fall into temptation.’ If the Son of God prayed very often, who are we not to pray even more than he did? As mere humans, we need prayers more than him. He didn’t need to pray because he is God but, he prayed to show us the importance of prayer. Prayer remains our greatest support and defence against Satan and his agents. Also prayer remains the answer to every problem. It is the key to life and defence for life. People who do not pray have no resources but only rely on their own ability. What do we think mortal men can do for themselves? People who do not pray are like big trees with shallow roots. Such trees are vulnerable when the storm strikes. The Scripture says people who do not pray are like houses whose foundations are laid on sand. When the floods come they are wiped off. So life without prayer is not worth living.

 

The problem is that at times, we are not able to disengage ourselves from our work and preoccupations because we are afraid to face the reality of who we are. This is because the true reality of who we are may bring shame to us and wound our pride. When we are confronted with the presence of God, we will be able to see ourselves as we are. We will be able to see how guilty and weak we are. But then it is all happening in the presence of God and so, it is for our own good. This is because his presence is a healing balm. His presence is love which heals and forgives us if we are able to acknowledge and accept our mistakes and guilt. His presence purifies and strengthens us. To be in his presence, we need to squeeze out time to pray, reflect and meditate and to examine ourselves. It is a spiritual exercise that challenges and purifies us. Be quite and still and know that I am God says the psalmist. So we need time to seek out God and lay before him the totality of our lives and struggles. This type of prayer strengthens and transforms us. We need to be convinced of the importance of prayer which is more of being conscious of God’s presence.

 

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst 31st January 2021

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP

Authority or power is the theme of today’s liturgy. Be it in civil or religious life, Jesus claims that authority or power is for service. Matthew 20:28 says: “…the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.” The gospels reveal Jesus as a Man of authority. The question is: What did he do with his authority? He used his authority to serve the people. This is obvious in the Gospels. He preached the good news of God. He healed the sick. He cast out devils from those who were possessed. He forgave sinners. He raised the dead to life and so forth; just as he does today through his Church. Though, in the days of Jesus, his enemies questioned his authority. On one occasion, the chief priests, the Scribes and the elders questioned Jesus, “Who gave you this authority to do these things (Mk 11:28)?” The power behind his words to heal all kinds of diseases and to drive away evil spirits from people who were possessed embarrassed them because they were not able to do the same. The sin of envy blinded their sight, thought and comprehension. They denounced his power as coming from Beelzebul the prince of demons (Mk 3:22). Such evil attack on the person of the Son of God is a sin against the Holy Spirit. This is sin against the Holy Spirit because they ascribed the power and good work of Jesus to demon. God cannot derive his power from demon. God has nothing in common with demon! God derives his power from himself. His power is a blessing. God’s blessing is his instrument of love.

We can appreciate their difficulty in accepting Jesus and his ability to preach with authority and his power to heal. These elders knew when Jesus was born to the village carpenter named Joseph. They knew his mother Mary, a simple village house wife. Jesus in question had been brought up in Nazareth, a village that was not developed. Nathaniel on one occasion asked, ‘Can anything good come from Nazareth’ (John 1:46)? After all, Jesus was not a member of the priestly class; neither was he a Pharisee nor a Scribe? He did not attend any religious school nor did he acquire any theology degree. He was just an ordinary man who had no academic or professional qualifications. He never moved out of the village. The much he could claim to have achieved was to help Joseph in the carpentry workshop. And what extraordinary knowledge and power could a local carpenter have that could mesmerise everybody? They knew him too well. Hence, the Jewish authority rejected him.

When a person of such local standard begins to teach powerfully and perform wonders, one is bound to ask questions: Where has he got it from? What are his credentials? The answer, of course, is that Jesus’ authority is from himself. He is his own authority. Unfortunately, the Jewish authorities did not know that. They had the same problem we have today, and that is: Man looks at appearances while God looks at the heart. In reference to the comment of Nathaniel, human beings tend to generalise, and that is wrong. The fact that Nazareth is not a developed place does not mean that nothing good can come out of that place. Jesus is the Son of God and he does not need any authority from any one. He is the person who gives authority to others, and not the other way round. In our society today, in matters of religion and faith some of the rich and the educated may dismiss religion and worship of God as vain practice but the less fortunate do see the hand of God in any given situation and experience God in their religious practice. The truth is that we need humility in order to recognise the authority of Jesus and the presence of God in any given situation. Despite our social status, academic qualifications and material wealth, we need to be humble; to bring ourselves down to the level of mere children. Before God we need to be childlike. Only then we will be able to recognise the authority of Jesus when we see it. His authority is at work in the Church and in the world. Only those who humble themselves like mere children will be able to see and recognise it and give glory to God. But those who are not humble will always question the authority of Jesus in the Church and doubt the work of God in the world like the chief priests, the Scribes and the elders of old did. But for us believers, the authority of Jesus is the 'Word of Truth' which saves us.

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP. 24th January 2021

The theme of today’s liturgy is Repentance which features in the three readings. If you read through the Scriptures the theme of repentance appears on almost every page of the Bible. John the Baptist, the forerunner of our Lord Jesus Christ preached repentance and baptised in the River Jordan all those who repented and believed in the good news of the coming Messiah. He prepared the people by encouraging them to renounce their sins so as to welcome and receive the Messiah who was coming to save them from their sins and eternal damnation. In the gospel, Jesus opened his proclamation of the Good News of God with a call to Repentance: “The time has come and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent and believe the Good News.” Of course Jesus was the Messiah for whom John the Baptist was paving the way by preaching.

So for both Jesus and John, the first requirement in welcoming the kingdom was repentance. Only those who repented would be admitted into the kingdom while those who refused to repent would be excluded from it. This truth still holds today. There are no two ways about it. Hence Repentance is a very important necessity for every human being including those who do not believe in God, as is borne out by Prophet Jonah’s mission to the people of Nineveh. They were unbelievers yet, God sent Jonah to call them to repentance. They heeded God’s call and were saved.

As Christians we are all called according to our ability in every situation of life to be evangelists of Repentance, Reconciliation and Peace. It is a divine mandate. We do not shy away from that divine command. Though unfortunately we are living in a world that believes that Religion is subjective, a world that believes that religion is a personal business, a private matter and in some cases, a world that denies God’s existence and wants to get rid of God and religion from public circles. The world believes it has the freedom not to be bothered with religious beliefs. The world may think what they want but as Christians it is our duty to preach repentance and also live life of repentance all the days of our life. To repent and believe the good news is a sign that we love God and the brothers and sisters. Our own version of freedom is freedom with responsibility. The Church does not believe that there is freedom without responsibility.

Repentance has two aspects and they are two aspects of the same coin. It is about turning away from sin that is, turning away from everything that is contrary to the will of God and the Gospel and then turning towards God. That is the promise we made at our baptism to reject Satan, and all his works and empty promises and went on to profess our faith in the true God, and in the Resurrection of the dead.

Repentance is not what we do once and for all. Rather, it is a life-long project. It is a daily affair as long as we are alive. It is only in the grave that there is no repentance. Every day we say ‘No’ to sin and Satan and ‘Yes’ to God and his Kingdom. Every day, we must convert and believe the Gospel. We may not put it in words on daily basis but we must manifest our conversion to Christ everyday by the way we live our lives. Our lives should reflect a permanent attitude of repentance because repentance is actually an attitude, a way of life, an orientation in life, rather than a verbal statement or a wish to be a better person. It is thus the case that a repented person is a new creation – he or she is born again, “born from above” to use the words of Jesus (John 3: 3). The person is born of the Holy Spirit. That is the kind of person who will have a portion in the Kingdom of God.

Subject: SECOND SUNDAY YEAR B 17th January 2021

SECOND SUNDAY YEAR B

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Like Samuel in the first reading, we are called and sent on a mission by virtue of our baptism. Firstly our birth into this earthly life is a call with a purpose. So no one exists by accident. Each of us has a mission to accomplish. This is a preconception of our baptism. Our baptism marks us out for God. Baptism gives us God’s seal of ownership. So like Samuel dedicated to God, we are for God not for ourselves. Like Samuel our disposition should be: God we are yours; whatever we have and are is yours, so do with us whatever you want. That should be our prayer and attitude towards God. Did we choose to be born into this world? No, we didn’t! So God created us for himself. Just as God spoke to Samuel severally so also he speaks to us continually. We need spiritual ear to be able to listen, hear and understand the word of God. Do we thirst for God? Are we eager to discover him in an intimate way, to cherish his friendship, to know his plans for us, to explore the riches of his love and be enriched by him?

Samuel was dedicated to God. Our own dedication to God is through our baptism. If we fulfil the vows of our baptism then we will be able to achieve our calling as Samuel did. Hence, we need to be conscious of God’s presence in our daily living. We also need spiritual mentors who will help us to learn the truth about God and ourselves! I don’t mean mentors who will tell us only what will please us. Eli was a spiritual mentor to Samuel as John the Baptist was to Andrew and Bartholomew. Do our companions help us to know, encounter and love Jesus more? Do the associations we belong to help us to grow in our spiritual life? We need people who will help us to hear the voice of God, speak to him, understand his plans for us as well as accomplish his mission for us. To be attuned to God, we need to be continually attentive, watchful and prayerful and not be tired of asking questions about our religion and inquiring into the truth about God and our faith like Samuel did. We need to attend the spiritual/religious courses the diocese put in place for our spiritual growth. We need to listen to the Church in order to hear the Lord speak to us. 

Of course the Lord wants to direct, lead and guide us. He wishes to console and bless us and also correct us when we go astray. He does this by speaking to us through the scriptures and his ministers and other men and women of goodwill. He speaks to us words of life and love. The point is that his words are life but then they challenge us also. That is why the scripture calls his words double-edged sword. They challenge us and also heal us because they are words of life. Do we feel bitter when we are challenged or corrected? But the challenge is for our spiritual growth which prepares us for the joys of the Kingdom. I encourage you to allow the words of the Scripture to challenge you. Let us be open to correction. The young Samuel gives us an example of how to live attentive life without losing heart waiting on the Lord. His willing and patient disposition to the Lord allows the Lord to keep speaking to him until he understands the Lord. As he learns how to hear the Lord, he never allows the words of God to be meaningless. That is why the liturgy of today presents him as our example.  The Lord speaks to our hearts if we give him the chance to do so. So what about that?

The Baptism of the Lord Year B 10th January 2021

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord brings to a close the Christmas season and ushers us into the Ordinary Time of the Liturgical Year of the Church. The subsequent liturgies will lead us into the public and inner life of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ the Servant-Son of God our Father. It will be a great wonder, joy and fun for us to open our mind and heart to the mystery of the inner life of Jesus the Son of God the Saviour of mankind throughout this year and beyond. If we enter prayerfully into the mystery of his life, our life will be enriched for it. We will come to understand him, our discipleship with him, and appreciate his friendship and love for us all the more.

 

 The first reading from the Book of Prophet Isaiah reminds us of the wonders God has done and still does in our life through the gift of his Son our Lord Jesus Christ. The breaking in of God into the world of man and woman is a mystery that can only be accepted by the light of faith. Of course faith is not blind but has the light of reason which enables us to accept the mystery of God. The Gospel reading from St. Mark portrays Jesus’ baptism as another Epiphany, a manifestation of Jesus, as the voice of God the Father declares ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’ Initially, it was as if the heavens were closed against man and woman; as if God did not want to speak to his people for a long time. But the voice of God the Father after the baptism of Jesus was the heavens rendering open indicating to us a new chapter of relationship between heaven and earth; between God and his people. It is the beginning of a new relationship between God and mankind, and between man and woman. The dove descending upon him after his baptism depicts him as a man of peace who will spread the knowledge of God and his message of love and peace to all peoples. So the voice of God indicates that he is once again speaking to man and woman. Heaven communicates with earth again. We need to cultivate a spiritual ear and eye to hear and see the wonders and glories of God that abound everywhere by which he shows his presence and communicates his love to us. We are no more worried as to how to speak with him. Now we can speak with him as he lives amongst us.

 

 The Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ reminds us of our own baptism through which we become children of God. The first reading reminds us that his invitation to us enriches us spiritually and materially. To be in fellowship with him is to lack nothing. To reject his invitation is to spend our time, money and energy on things that will not satisfy us. So to be without him is to be wasteful; it is to be useless – it is to live a meaningless life. To live without him is to grope in darkness. We cannot prefer darkness to light. No one prefers blindness to having his eyesight. Jesus is the light of the world. He is the light of life. Without Jesus we wallow in darkness. We walk in the shadow of death. But in our baptism, we are enlightened by Christ and as God’s children he wants us to bring his light to those who walk in darkness of sin, and corona pandemic, fear and death. Hence the consolation is that each of us is his special child, as he addresses each of us: ‘You are my son, my beloved, my favour rests on you.’ Each of us is unique and special before God. He created each person for himself. Like his beloved Son Jesus, God endows us with his Spirit and power for the work he assigns each of us to accomplish. And our mission is to communicate to others our experience of God’s mercy and love. We are called as Christians to preach and practise the message of reconciliation, and conversion and then baptise those who believe in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ in us continues to remind us that we are the beloved sons and daughters of God and his favour rests on each of us. Are we not privileged dear brothers and sisters in the Lord?

God’s Blessing upon you all for the New Year 2021

Many thanks to Our Lord and Saviour for enabling us to celebrate His Birthday in our Parish with so much joy. Also, thanks to all who helped with the preparations for the Christmas celebrations, those who cleaned and decorated the Church so beautifully. Thanks to the Special Ministers of the Eucharist, the Readers collectors and altar servers, flower arrangers and church cleaners for their diligent support throughout the year.

Thank you to everyone in the parish for your prayers and commitment, your love of God and your support. A special thank you to those whose faith, good

works and service is known only to God.

On a personal note, I wish to thank you all for your generous gifts to me in the Christmas offering, your personal gifts and cards. I ask God our loving

Father, the Baby Jesus and God the Holy Spirit to bless and reward all of you abundantly. May you continue to have a wonderful celebration of God’s presence in your lives through this Christmas season and happiness in the New Year.

SECOND SUNDAY OF CHRISTMAS YEAR B

2nd January 2021

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Those who follow the laws and ways of the Lord are guided by wisdom. This wisdom is God’s Spirit. And so they are guided by God himself. They have the light of life because the wisdom of God which is Jesus Christ dwells in them. Through baptism they are incorporated into Christ. That is why they dwell in the light of God. They have God’s message because they are conscious that the Word made flesh dwells in them and amongst them and his glory and grace shines through their Christian living.

 It is our vocation as Christians to bear witness to the God-made-man who lives in us. We need to let people know of the blessings of Christ the Son of God who lives in us and amongst people. The blessings of the promises of God for us and for those who will believe in God are unparallel and unimaginable. We need to know how precious we are before God. It is enriching and joyful to know that he chose us to be his children even before the foundation of the world for the everlasting joys of heaven. It is a consoling thought to know that despite the present sufferings and limitations that he created us for himself through his Son Jesus Christ for the everlasting happiness of heaven. That is the more reason the Apostles and all the Saints encourage us to hold on to our faith in Christ, and our love for the brothers and sisters. Despite all our negative experiences in our earthly life, we should not fail to give thanks to God in every situation.

 Daily prayer remains our rule of life because it is our greatest support and defence against all evil. Through constant prayer God gives us a Spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowledge of him and the things of this earthly life. Through prayer he enlightens our heart and our eyes to perceive the things of heaven as we go through our earthly journey. This is very important for our salvation because we need to know what our hope in God means to us and the richness of his glory which will eventually be our perpetual inheritance.

 The Gospel tells us about the Word of God spoken to us which gives us the Spirit of God prompting us to pray. This Word of God is the reason, the creating, guiding and directing power of God which made the universe and kept it going. John the Evangelist says that Jesus is God’s creative and life-giving and light-giving word of God. He says that Jesus is the power of God which created and sustains the world. Also this Word of God gives man reason, the power to think, to know and to come into contact with God. Jesus is that Word of God come down to earth. So now men and women no longer guess, search and grope in darkness. He is the light of the world that enlightens men. He comes darkness disappears especially the darkness of corona pandemic, pain, suffering, fear, hate, and hunger and death. The light Jesus gives puts away all chaos, doubts, fears and uncertainties. His light dispels all darkness from our life. We only need to look at Jesus and understand the Mind of God. We see things as they are; know their true character and values. We encounter the truth. And God is truth. We see ourselves as we are.

John says that Jesus is life that gives us life in abundance. Anyone who believes in him will have life everlasting. Eternal life means the opposite of destruction, condemnation and death. Those Jesus gives eternal life will never perish because he offers them God’s own life. It is a security in the life to come. It means that Jesus gives meaning to our earthly life.

THE FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY YEAR B

 

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. When we talk of the holy family we mean the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It is the model of every Christian family and in fact of all families and from them we learn how to live in respect, care and love of one another.

 

Families are made up of young and old people. We must admit that if we want to foster happiness and peace in our families, we have to adopt certain attitudes which the readings of today put forward for our reflection. We should always put on these beautiful attitudes as clothes so as to be able to live with everybody not that we will be able to please everybody.

 

Nowadays, we witness breakdown of traditional family and its values. That filial respect for elders and authority is no more. There is constant rising of juvenile delinquency. Unfortunately, there is no easy remedy available for today’s family crisis. And substitute for sound family life has not been offered by any secular studies. Hence, our society can learn a lot from today’s bible’s readings. The bible message on family is timeless. Every generation or culture values it. They come from God for our happy and peaceful living.

 

The Book of Ecclesiasticus contains many useful suggestions and good advice for all situations in life. We cannot talk of human beings without relationships and communication, without which human life is incomplete, unhappy and rather dead than alive. The Book of Ecclesiasticus teaches how to behave with friends, guests, and women; how to conduct financial matters and handle money and how to deal with leaders and servants and so on. A good part of the Book describes family life, the duties of husband and wife, and the obligations of children towards their parents and vice versa. We may not apply the advice we read in Ecclesiasticus literally since after 2000 years the world and methods of education and behaviour have changed and continue to change. But it is very true that modern Christians succeed in learning from it because the values in the Book are God’s revelation. And God is ever ancient and ever new.

 

The first reading of today deals with how children should behave towards their parents. Their duties and obligations can be summarized as: “Honour your Parents.” What does this mean? First of all, children’s life must be good, upright and honest that parents should feel honoured every time they hear the names of their children mentioned. Secondly, the children must help their parents financially and assist them when in need. Children should remember always that old age can cause the mind of their parents to fail and because of this at times their parents become a nuisance. All the same the aged parents should be supported, loved and never abandoned or despised. God loves children who love their parents. That is why the bible clearly shows numerous blessings God showers on those who take care of their parents. The bible says that children who love and care for their parents will be wealthy, their prayers are always granted; they enjoy long life and will be happy with their own children and if they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

 

All said and done, l am not suggesting that parents are free to behave as they like whereas children are obliged to assist them. We may question ourselves: Should a father get drunk, show disrespect to his wife, squander family money, pick a fight with everybody on the street and then expect obedience and respect from his children?

 

However, we must always remember that love does not set conditions. Even if our parents misbehave, we should try to understand them and help them to be happy. Our love for them does not mean letting them do what they like. Also children do misbehave but parents do not give up on their children but keep hoping for an improvement. But there are habits and behaviours that cannot be changed. In such a case we should pray and be patient.

 

When a girl falls in love with a boy, she wants to dress up very well in order to draw the boy’s attention to herself. Ladies, is that what you do? However, St. Paul tells us that we Christians must put on beautiful dress to please all. Actually St. Paul is not talking about physical dress. He is speaking metaphorically. Our garment is precious and rare, made up of different types of clothing. St Paul says we have to wear compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance and reciprocal forgiveness. But this is not all. Over all these we put on a coat that completes them and keep them together. And that coat is love! Love is not just a feeling of compassion but a constant attitude of service towards the brothers and sisters, a readiness to serve all. This uniform is worn by all. It is worn every day, night and day and never to be put off. Love and peace in the family, school, place of recreation and place of work can come only through wearing those virtues as we wear our clothes. That is exactly what St Paul is suggesting.

 

Also, praying together, engaging in dialogue and reciprocal instruction are essential means to keep all family members of one heart and mind. We all know that children learn more with their eyes than their ears. The Christian way of life of the parents is the best catechism for their children. If parents pray in the house, read the bible, attend gatherings of Christian community, practice love, forgiveness and generosity towards people, the children too will do the same and grow to be committed Christians and good citizens. This is how the parents may consecrate their children to God and help them grow into happy responsible citizens.

 

Finally, parents should imitate Simeon in communicating joyful optimism, hope for a better future and constant dialogue with God about all the young ones. They should also imitate Ann who never leaves the temple of God. Women like Ann have no time for gossiping or backbiting. They use their time to serve God in their family and community.  

 

 

Christmas Day Mass Year B

 

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

Our joy today knows no bounds because a Saviour is born to us! Praise the Lord Alleluia! So let us rejoice and be happy and celebrate for our liberation has come. The Messiah is here, let us welcome him. He is the King of glory, the King of peace, the King of heaven and earth, the Lord of lords and the King of kings, the King of our life! We are here in this Mass to celebrate our salvation, our redemption from the bondage of sin and death, to celebrate our redemption from the power of the devil and to celebrate our joy in the Lord God our Saviour.

 

It is all about a Saviour being born to us! But do we actually need a Saviour? Of course we do. We desperately need a saviour! We definitely need the Saviour to be able to go through the present health crisis, the global corona pandemic and its consequences. This global health crisis is beyond our understanding, and affects negatively every aspect of human life. We are confused! We now live in fear! There are economic problems, scarcity of money, hunger in poorer nations, and high level of unemployment, increased level of violence against the downtrodden and so forth. There are doubts, fear, suspicion and a lot of deceit in the air. Corona virus and hunger have brought a lot of suffering and death upon us. Many governments tell lies about this health crisis in order to maintain the political status quo, and as a result, more deaths occur. So we desperately need salvation from the Lord for our body and soul. Our political leaders, at this point, cannot do much! We need a Saviour because humanity and the whole of creation is living in the shadow of death, in the darkness of global health pandemic, and in sin; and so we live a life full of fear, violence, suspicion and doubts. Hence, we desperately need Christ, the Saviour.

 

We recall how the people of old lived in great fear which held them in bondage. But then the Gospels relate how Christ healed those who were possessed by different kinds of evil spirit that made them blind, dumb, crippled, deaf, unable to stand upright, the type that made people mad, violent and a public nuisance. What about ourselves? Are we in bondage in any way? Corona pandemic is a global bondage! Is it not? We live in fear! Are there other evil forces tormenting us? Do we think we are completely liberated and therefore do not need Jesus, the Saviour? Anyone who claims he doesn’t need Jesus the Saviour must be in heaven already. Like Joshua, I and my family we need Jesus the Saviour; we need him desperately and we will serve him all the days of our life. What about you and your family and friends? Individually and collectively we may need to think about the necessity of having Jesus the Saviour. Obviously the world needs the Saviour. There is no alternative! I encourage all of us to announce it from the roof top that the Saviour is here and so, let us welcome him. Alleluia, a child is born to us. He is the Saviour of the world! The truth and the consolation for us is that the Lord wants to save us!

 

Christmas Vigil Mass Year B

 

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

There are times when it is better to be silent and reflect than say anything. It is in the silence of our heart that the Lord speaks to us. In my place in Nigeria, the elders say that it is in the silence of the midnight that one hears the voice of the spirits – the voice of the ancestors – that is when they instruct the elders. The elders believe that the spirit of their ancestors speak to them. The Christians would say it is in constant silent prayerful vigil that one hears the voice of God. So we need to make our hearts silent and peaceful so that we can hear the whispering of God in our hearts. I am not suggesting that it is only in prayerful silence that the Lord speaks to us. He is also God of the charismatic members who answers by fire. The same prophet Elijah who heard the voice of God in a gentle breeze in the silence of a cave also, challenged the prophets of Baal to shout louder in case their gods were asleep. Elijah agreed with them that whichever God that answered by fire was the true God. Eventually, it was the God of Elijah, who is also our God, who came down from heaven by fire and consumed the sacrifices.

 

It is the same God of Prophet Elijah who has become man. He is also the God of England and the God of the whole Universe. His birth, the Scripture says occurred when all things were in great silence in the middle of the night. So I don’t need to ask you why all of you are here this night when the whole world is silent and asleep; and yet you choose to defy the cold weather and forfeit the comfort of this cool- sweet night- sleep. Have you come to see the Baby-king lying in the manger? But your King is still a Baby? What can a baby do? There is a mystery here; the Baby in the manger is also the Saviour of the world. He is our Saviour, the Messiah we have been waiting for. You can be sure that God will bless the sacrifice you have made to come to this church tonight to welcome His Son given to us.

 

Let us then follow the shepherds to savour the joy of seeing the new born baby because the Angels have given them the news of the Baby Jesus born to us. We can hear the Angels, and sing along with them. Yes, our joy knows no bounds because a Saviour is born to us. Our liberation has come. He is the Messiah, the King of Glory, A Wonderful Counsellor, the Prince of Peace, the King of heaven and earth, the King of kings and the Lord of lords, the Lord of our life, the Mighty God! The Angels are praising Him, the Shepherds adore Him. The Wise men come along with gifts. What about us? What do we give Him? We can give him everything. What is it we have that we have not received from him? Is it life, wealth, health, talent; you can name it! We cannot say we have nothing to give him because; we can give him our life, love, adoration, worship, our time, after all, everything we have belongs to him even our very life.

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR B  20th December 2020

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Life is a mystery and it is a lot of risk-taking. If you read through our salvation history, you will come to understand that God himself takes risks, and big risks, to take care of us. He gives us the gift of Free Will but does not interfere with it, and that is why we can walk away from him at will and follow our own designs. We may not know that giving us freedom and not interfering with it is a big risk on God’s part. Hence God invites us to take risk, though, we may not understand why but in actual fact he is encouraging us to put our trust in him.

The gospel reading of today tells us that Mary the Mother of Jesus was a risk taker. So let us honour and love her because she brought Jesus the Saviour of mankind to us by her submission to God. The Annunciation no doubt took place when Mary was just a young girl. Obviously she didn’t understand the full import of Angel Gabriel’s message to her. She asked herself: How can I become a mother without encountering a man? It is inexplicable and in fact unimaginable. Yet she trusted the Lord. The Angel’s explanation could have meant little or nothing to her or to anybody. For one thing, conception through the power of the Holy Spirit was totally unheard of in the entire history of her people. There was also the risk factor in the whole saga. In those days, among the Jews, the penalty for pregnancy outside marriage was stoning to death. Mary’s story was like cock and bull story. Who would buy such a story of the Holy Spirit being responsible for pregnancy? Some people would have said to her: Tell that to the marines! In other words, they would not believe her. It sounded like the type of story the tortoise always cooks up in order to confuse the other animals and have his own way. You know in the animal world that tortoise is a very tricky animal. So it was hard to understand Mary’s story. Certainly, her parents would not understand her, much less Joseph her husband and her town people. You can put yourself in her situation.

In the midst of all this confusion and suspicion, Mary still gave her fiat, which is, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me according to your word.” She thereby submitted herself to God to do with her whatever he wanted; whatever the risk it would entail! What a tremendous act of faith Mary demonstrated! Her faith in God was as unshakable as the Rock of Jib-rather! Deep down in her mind, she was convinced that the Lord would take care of her, though she didn’t understand anything about her situation. But then, her faith in God saw her through. The Lord took care of Joseph with regard to the Annunciation story at a later date, and Mary was out of trouble.

Even today, the Lord still makes difficult demands of us his children. Such demands could be a serious illness, a failed marriage, childlessness, betrayal by a friend, and loss of job, accident resulting in a permanent injury or even in death of a beloved one. Life is full of challenges and things we do not understand. The example of Mary challenges us to make an act of faith and pronounce our own fiat, in all things and situations, which should be, “Thy will be done.”  As in Mary’s case, we may not understand why we go through some adversity. Even if we ask the Lord the reason for our suffering he will not give us any reason, though, he sees the sense in it all. Like Abraham and Mary, we only need to trust the Lord without counting the cost and take a leap into the unknown. Take a risk for the Lord and you will experience the wonders of his might.

Third Sunday of Advent Year B 13th December

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

The third Sunday of Advent is known as Gaudete Sunday. It is the Day of Joy. It is the Day the Lord has made so let us be happy, celebrate and rejoice in it. The liturgy of today encourages us to rejoice in the Lord; to celebrate the joy of God’s presence. After all, Christmas is around the corner. So it calls for celebration! Though we may ask, judging from our present circumstances, ‘what are we celebrating about’? Does our present condition of the corona pandemic call for celebration? What type of celebration will that be? Is our present life situation worth celebrating about when many of our beloved ones have died and continue to die from this deadly pandemic? Or are we celebrating wars going on in many nations? How can we rejoice and celebrate when economic hardship has hit the whole world; when people lose their job daily; when there is scarcity of money and food, and consequently violence and insecurity reign all over the world? Also, we may not be able to rejoice and celebrate if we are weighed down by the guilt of our sins. There is no rest for the wicked. In the midst of these hard realities, how can there be genuine celebration?

But for us Christians all hope is not lost. Despite corona pandemic, and all our sins, the scripture says: ‘though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool’ (Isaiah 1: 18). If we are willing to obey the Lord, we will eat the good things of the earth (Is. 1:19).  It is true we are going through hard times but, the liturgy of today is appropriate for our assurance and encouragement. It says that our future is bright despite whatever difficulty we go through now. It encourages us to be joyful in hope because the Messiah is around the corner. We may not need to go too far in search of him. He is more near to us than we are to our self.  He lives in our hearts. We only need some quietness in our spirit; with patience we can go into the silence of our heart and we will encounter God in the quietness of our soul. We need a penitent and recollected spirit and some attentive silence before we can encounter God. Christ is close to us though he is hidden within us. We only need to go into our heart of hearts to discover and encounter him. After all, our heart is his sanctuary.

Don’t forget that we are created in the image and likeness of God who breathed his Spirit into us. That is why at the very depth of our hearts we thirst for God, the God of our life. It is true we suffer from corona pandemic and economic crisis, unemployment, scarcity of money and food; consequently fear from insecurity; loneliness, sickness and so forth; but the true pain and anguish of our heart is not because of these physical needs and deficiencies but because we are isolated from our self due to our sins hence, we are far from God and from self. No doubt, we are in hard times but what we actually thirst for is God. Even if we have the whole wealth of the earth, we can never be satisfied. Our heart will still remain empty. We can only have true peace and fulfilment when we put all our trust in the Lord. Our heart is created by him and for him. So it is only in the Lord that we can find true peace and satisfaction. And where God is, there is beauty and joy. Where God is; sickness, sorrow, pain and every lack is driven away. To have God is to have everything we need.

If we accept the good news we will realise that he lives within us, then, his Spirit which is within us will liberate us from unnecessary suffering and lack and give us the freedom of the children of God. Those who are conscious of the Spirit of God within them will go through corona virus, poverty, unemployment, economic difficulty, hunger, deprivation, sickness, suffering and their spirit will not be broken. Their faith in God will be strengthened. Their love for God and humanity will be more practical. Their trust in God will be deepened. They will be like eagle; they will fly and not be tired. The Lord will be their strength, joy and salvation.

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

2nd Sunday of Advent

5th/6th December 2020

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

The first and the gospel readings remind me of deplorable roads in some African nations. Some of the roads are simply death-traps. In most cases, money allocated for roads goes into private pockets and no one is held accountable. Yet when an important dignitary is coming to the village, it could be the President or the Prime Minister, the ministry of work will suddenly spring into action to fix up all and only roads on the itinerary of the august visitor. The money that was not there before to fix up the roads would suddenly and miraculously is made available. There we are! That is the pretence of our politics and the wickedness of some African politicians! The world treats people according to their level of importance! How do we treat people of different levels of personality? But the official Catholic Church teaching is that men and women are equal before God. Do we treat people equitably or differently?

Is it a general policy that VIPs are not allowed to travel on rough roads? If it is so, it all means that, that tradition goes all the way back to the time of John the Baptist, 2,000 years ago and even to Isaiah, another 700 years before John the Baptist. That is the idea I gather from the first and gospel readings of today. Is Jesus Christ a VIP? Does he need our roads repaired before he comes? Let us assume Jesus Christ is coming to us in real physical sense, do we need to resurface our roads and build a new Church before we receive him? No, we don’t need to do all that. Though, we need to renovate the road and the church which is our heart. Jesus is coming to live in our hearts! Our heart needs to be pure and loving.

700 years before the advent of the Messiah, Isaiah prophesied that a voice would be heard in the desert crying: “Prepare a way for the Lord. Make a highway for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low…” The gospel identifies the voice that Isaiah prophesied about as that of John the Baptist. John the Baptist was a messenger sent by God to prepare a way for the Lord. He urged his contemporaries to make straight the paths of the Messiah.

It is obvious that the paths, the highways, the mountains and hills and the valleys both Isaiah and John were talking about were not on the Palestinian Countryside. Rather, they were inside people’s hearts. The paths and highways were in fact people’s hearts. The mountains and hills were people’s pride, and the valleys their lack of love. They would have to bring down their pride, and fill out the valleys of their lives with an active love of God and neighbour. Only then would they be able to welcome the Messiah on his arrival.

To apply the message of Isaiah and John the Baptist to ourselves as we prepare for Christmas is to remind ourselves that we are not just commemorating the birth of Jesus which took place some 2,000 years ago. The truth is that, in some mysterious but real way, the baby Jesus is being born again into our world, into our hearts, minds, and homes, communities, neighbourhood, offices, market places, schools and wherever men and women exist. But we shall be able to receive him only if we prepare for his coming. What we have to do is precisely what John the Baptist had asked his audience to do: We must prepare a way for the Lord, every valley in our lives must be filled in, and every hill and mountain laid low. That is to say we must get rid of pride, acknowledge our sins, be sorry for them and then confess them to a Catholic priest and so fill our lives with active love of God and neighbour.

First Sunday of Advent, Year B  29th November

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

 

Today begins another liturgical year of the Church, that is, Year B in the Church’s calendar. Again, it is the beginning of the holy season of Advent. It is the first day of another year in the life of the Church and, in our life as Christians. The holy season of Advent is a four – week period. It is a time of preparation for an ever more intimate coming of our Lord Jesus to each of us. The period of Advent and its readings invite us to be vigilant and attentive, to be ever ready to receive the Lord who is coming to free us from the bondage of sin.  Are we prepared to receive the Lord into our life? How prepared are we as individuals?

 

No one knows how many years the Lord would allow him or her to live in this life. What happens is that Christ who is the Light of the world lights up each day of the year for us with his word and life. It may not be enough to receive this light just once. In actual fact, to gain a good knowledge of a person, you need to meet up with each other often, if you both want to understand each other. That is how a woman and a man learn one another to find out if they can live together permanently and form a family as husband and wife. So also we cannot learn and know Jesus in one day. If we have rain only once a year, would our field produce enough food for us? Certainly it would not! Our food crops need plenty of sunshine and rainfall so that we may have enough food to sustain us. So also Mother Church wants us to be brightened up by the Light of Christ in order to understand ever more deeply his teachings and life and be transformed into him since he is our Saviour. There is no other alternative. Jesus is the way the truth and the life. We need a daily encounter with Jesus through prayer and the sacraments. That is why the Church has liturgical seasons; each in turn presents the person and life of Christ to us on a daily basis.

 

Advent is a period of time set aside to prepare for the coming of God into the world through the birth of his Son Jesus Christ. At this point, the question that comes to mind is, ‘Has Jesus not come already? The readings for the coming Sundays will tell us that Jesus has not just come for once. Jesus keeps coming all the time. He is the Lord who comes. He comes every second and minute of our life. Jesus is already present and always present to his people. And he is present to you and me. When you visit a friend you are present to him or her. Therefore, his coming at Christmas should result in his more intimate presence to those who are ready to receive him. I mean those who thirst for him with all their heart, mind, soul and strength. People who get to know and love one another better can become more intimately and personally present to one another. It is a question of opening up and sharing one another’s personality, life, joy and sorrow. So our preparation for Christ’s coming should consist in an ever more opening up to him who wants to share our human condition with us in his loving care. Also by preparing for his coming at Christmas we prepare for his final coming which will be decisive for you and me. So let us not be tired of watching, praying, and waiting for the day hoping that the salvation promised us will be ours when Christ comes in his glory.  

SOLEMNITY OF CHRIST THE KING 22nd November

Homily for parishioners of St Theresa’s Totton and Our Lady & St Edward Lyndhurst From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

The Lord will reign forever and give his people peace. It is the peace the human heart ever thirsts for – the peace that comes from above. The solemnity of Christ the King is the summary of the entire salvation mystery. This feast brings this liturgical year of the Church to a close. Over the past months we have celebrated the mysteries of the life of the Lord although much of it has been through virtual participation by parishioners due to the corona virus pandemic. Now we contemplate Christ in his glorified state as King of all creation and of our souls.

Today of all days, especially in nations where the weather condition is lenient Catholic Christians march along streets with boldness amid songs and praises acclaiming Christ publicly as King not only of heaven and earth but of their life. In Nigeria, they make melodious music and dance along the roads and streets for the Lord of life. In fact, they make a joyful noise unto the Lord the giver of life. They do this to demonstrate before the whole world that Jesus lives and reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. They are proud and bold to acclaim Jesus as the King and Lord of their life. However, we need to note that Jesus’ Kingdom is not established by force unlike earthly kings and leaders. Jesus has not come to lord it over his people. He has come to serve and not to be served. He has come to give his life as a ransom for many. That means he has come to suffer and die for us so that whoever believes in the Son of Man will have eternal life.

Experience of leadership in many nations especially in Africa is never been rosy. Unfortunately, most African leaders have cultivated the culture of being hard-hearted, despotic, exacting, merciless, unthinking, wicked, and irresponsible and recklessly embezzling public money and giving account of their stewardship to no one. Their undemocratic leadership has brought untold hardship, suffering, pain and even death to their subjects. It is more hurting because, in the first place, leadership is taken either by force or by deceit or through rigging the election. The dividend that comes to the poor citizens is more hurt, hardship, poverty and death of their beloved ones. The leaders spend their time, energy and government money building fortifications and security, and keeping on converting the country’s treasury into their private purse. They never have their subjects at heart!

The above description is the little idea of leadership in Africa. Is it better in Asian nations and in other continents? You can let us know. The consolation is that we have an ideal King in Jesus Christ. Don’t you think so? There is no doubt about that. The difference is as clear as the sun in the sky. Jesus’ idea of leadership is service. That is why the kingship of Christ is a consolation to the world. Jesus did not only preach this he practised it. He washed the feet of his disciples and died for all humanity of every generation. He has come to serve and not to be served. He has given us an example. Hence he is a challenge to us. Are we ready to wash the feet of others?

THIRTY THREE SUNDAY YEAR A  15th November

 

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

This Sunday liturgy praises the good wife who is the joy of the family, and neighbours. She is the pride of her family. She is mother both to her children and husband. Her presence in the family brings joy, peace, celebration, holiness and wholeness to her husband and children. A good mother is a gift from God to the family and to humanity in general. This is because a healthy family makes a healthy country. If the countries are healthy then our common humanity will be healthy. Then we can live together in mutual respect, tolerance, friendship, cooperation and peace, and dignity despite our differences. Another thing that strikes me is that God loves, cherishes and respects marriage institution. When Jesus the Son of God took flesh through the Blessed Virgin Mary, he made his home with humanity through the Holy Family of Mary and Joseph. Does that not tell us that God loves human family?

 

 We come back to the mother of the family. What makes her beautiful is not just her bodily beauty. This is because bodily charm and beauty can be deceptive and fleeting. Experience has taught humanity that people do not enter into marriage because of bodily beauty, charm, success, wealth and so forth. This is because those things are misleading and transient. They easily evaporate like the thin air. They do not last. Rather the beautiful woman who makes a good wife is one with a sound character. Mature people marry good character not beauty. Our experience today is that the highly talented celebrities, the elites, the very rich and the powerful are deceived by beauty and so fall from grace to grass. Accusations upon accusations in high places are the order of the day. That is how their fame, money and popularity evaporate, and the consequences can be huge and ugly. Their marriage collapses so easily. Their family breaks up. Children become weapon with which the former partner is severely punished.

 

 But the good mother who is the pride of the family loves God and does his will. The foundation of her beauty, her goodness and the joy she brings to her family and neighbours is God. Her works and commitment speak well of her and sing her praises. What about that? But our society is broken, and this is a reality no one can ever deny. The disease is rooted in our sick and broken family system. In our baptism, we are committed to serving the Lord and humanity. We should check our fidelity to our commitment to the Lord and to humanity. The Lord God says, ‘Come back to me!’

 

 

THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY YEAR A         8th November

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

What is it that makes a successful living or a happy life? What is it that makes us happy? Is it money, wealth, success, friends or what? What gives meaning to our life? I think for us to live a balanced happy life we need both earthly and heavenly wisdom. But in our own generation where majority of people do not believe in God, how can they claim that they live a truly happy life? And since they do not believe in God, they may not seek for heavenly wisdom which gives genuine happiness. True happiness can only be found in the Lord. That is why St Augustine says we are created for God and we can never have rest until we rest in the Lord. People study in order to secure a job and earn a living. Others engage in business in order to be rich and happy. There are some who learn a trade in order to be well-off and live a happy life. We know a lot of ways we can pursue wealth, pleasure, money in order to live a happy life. But it seems that we are never satisfied even when we have plenty of those material things. Even when we have them we still feel empty and lonely and unhappy. The public scandal we hear of these days comes from the elite who are well-off in every aspect of life. We are wise in accumulating material things and acquiring pleasure yet we are seriously lacking in something crucial since we are not able to secure true happiness. This is because we have earthly wisdom but lack heavenly wisdom.

It is apparently clear that the wisdom we have in manipulating earthly things is not enough because we still feel empty, lonely and unhappy. We need wisdom that will help us to live a meaningful life and also die a meaningful happy death. Death is inevitable and it is one thing that threatens, frightens and inflicts a damaging blow, pain and injury on us. Doctors, nurses and priests are trained to accompany terminal patients in their last difficult days and hours. But the truth is that if the physicians and nurses depend on human wisdom alone then, it will be very difficult for them to make the apparent absurdity of death meaningful. The consolation is that we Christians possess a God-given wisdom that tells us not only that death is a sad and inevitable necessity but that it has a positive meaning. Christian death is a gateway to heaven. It is an opportunity for us to see God face to face and to reach a full realisation of one s’ self. We should be able to share our wisdom of faith with our friend who is terminally ill and with those who are only interested in accumulating wealth and pleasure.

The reason why the human heart is empty and insatiable is because it is thirsting for the heavenly wisdom and that heavenly wisdom is God. God has created us for himself and our heart will remain empty until it is filled in God. We will never be happy until we seek God. So people who are pursuing money, wealth, pleasure may never be satisfied and happy even when they get all that they are looking for because what they are actually thirsting for is God, the Lord of their life. Our heart desire will never be satisfied until we seek God and find him. The first reading encourages meditating and reflecting on the heavenly wisdom and she will come to us. This is the prayer of the psalmist so let us join him.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

We are now in general lockdown again!

However, thank God, this time our churches, with safety arrangements, can remain open for private prayer, visits to the Blessed Sacrament etc. Dear parishioners I encourage you to come to the church for your private prayers.

Every day of the week, including Sunday, I offer private Mass for your intentions and for my own private intentions. Of course, you can still offer Masses for your intentions by posting them through the presbytery door at 20 Beaumont Road, Totton. You can quickly reach me at fathergerryo@yahoo.co.uk ; Tel: 07828556917; 023 80862270. I am very much available for the Sacraments e.g for Holy Communion, Anointing, Reconciliation, etc. You can easily reach through the above contacts.

Cardinal Nichols has encouraged Catholics to pray at 6 pm each day and also for a national Day of Prayer on Saturday 21st November 2020. This is also the day Cardinal Peter Erdo of Budapest has proposed a Holy Hour to be held across Europe for an end to the pandemic and in preparation for next year’s Eucharistic Congress.

Again our own Bishop Philip invites us to join him for A Day of Prayer and Fasting for an end to Coronavirus Pandemic Friday 27th November 2020 for 24 HOURS WITH THE LORD. We can join the Bishop this day by live-stream:https://www.portsmouthcatholiccathedral.org.uk/live-mass.php

It is a Christian charity to carry each other along with our prayers, phone calls, and safeguarded visits and other safe Christian ways of reaching out to one another. You are always in my prayers and Masses. The Lord is always with you!

Subject: ALL SAINTS YEAR A

SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS 1st November

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

All Saints Day is a solemnity in which the church commemorates all her children who are already in heaven. This feast reminds us that holiness and heaven is possible. It is within the reach of anyone who wants to answer the call of Christ who says be you perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect. So God is not asking us to do what is beyond our human capacity. He knows that we will be able to live a holy life worthy of our calling as his children. So there should be in our hearts a desire to achieve sanctity otherwise, we may not be good Christians. The history of our ancestors in faith should inspire and encourage us to live for God. Today we remember them and admire the multitude of men and women from all walks of life who followed Christ here on earth and now are in heaven interceding for us. There may be men and women from our own individual family who are now in heaven as saints known by God alone. The truth is that we may not know all of them because they are numerous. We can only honour the Holy Spirit who perfected them and made them great and Saints.

The liturgy of today contains a wealth of Christian life and fountain of all holiness. It contains God himself, the author and source of holiness itself. The saints who now share in the fullness of God’s holiness in heaven are uncountable – coming from all nations, tribes and tongues – both canonized and not canonized, known and unknown. Our God is God of surprises; God who does the impossible. The solemnity we celebrate today signifies the universal redemption. Of course we are collectively redeemed but individually we have to claim our redemption by cooperating with God’s grace. And again, we practise communion of saints. That gives us joy and encouragement. St Thomas Aquinas encourages us to offer our prayers to God through the saints because it pleases God to pour forth his gifts through them. That makes us joyous of being members of the large family of God in which we all feel very much at home. God is in this family, the Saints are in it and we, who are still striving in our earthly life for sanctity, are also part of the same family. Does that not give us joy, courage and hope?

Mother Church wants us to reflect on these Saints who experienced difficulties and temptations as we do today. They were like us in everything. They struggled, failed, sinned again and again and repented as much, may be more than we do today. They were no supper human beings. They were ordinary people as we are. If they were able to make it to heaven despite their sins, weaknesses and failures, we also have all it takes to make it to heaven. So the ball is in our court. His grace is always enough for us. Remember there is always room for improvement. There is always opportunity for another chance. God has made it possible for us to have recourse to the Saints and through them he will pour out his graces upon us. Do not forget that these Saints are our brothers and sisters who are now in God’s presence in heaven. All the Saints in heaven - pray for us.

THIRTIETH SUNDAY YEAR A    25th October

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

To disconcert Jesus, they asked, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?’ Jesus answered: Love! Love of God and love of neighbour! So love is the greatest and the first commandment of the Law. God is love John tells us because Jesus taught so and demonstrated it by sacrificing his very life on the cross for humanity. And so then, he who loves lives in God and God lives in him (1 John 4: 16). It is not that we love God but that, we respond to God’s love for us. First of all, God has created us out of love and for love. So the foundation of our existence is love. Have you ever experienced love from: parents, siblings, friends, a stranger or God? How does it feel like to be loved? But don’t forget that there are some who are denied the most basic thing in life, and that is, love. Some may have grown up feeling unloved or believing that they have to perform heroic feats to deserve love. However, there is no doubt that love is the most basic thing in human existence. Yet some are denied love even though it is basic for human survival and meaning. The importance of love cannot be over-emphasized hence; Jesus wants us to love even our enemies. This is Christian love! It is undiluted! This love is called agape. It is unconditional love. It is unselfish. As Christians, we love not because of its benefits. We love because God’s love in us impels us to love even those who hate us to the extent of wanting to hurt us. The unspiritual will never understand it because it sounds absurd. It is the same love that made Jesus to offer his own life on the cross for the redemption of the whole humanity and creation.

 

Do we feel loved by this God who offered up his only Son to be killed on the cross in order to save us from eternal damnation? Somebody wrote somewhere, “I know love is there.” Do you feel love there? Do you feel some tenderness in your heart, some compassion, and some feelings of kindness, mercy, peace and so forth? Do you not feel like forgiving those who hurt you, at least for God’s sake? There could be some love there! Is there anything blocking us from letting our love flow? It is true that at times it is confusing. But since God is love, at least, let us allow God to love us, to engulf us with his love until we become one with the Beloved.

 

The very important message today’s liturgy wants us to take home is that God is a loving and merciful Father. The commandments of God are summarized by Christ simply as: Love. And that love is love of God and neighbour. Two sides of the same coin. We can never say we love God without loving our neighbour and vice versa. So for us whatever we do or say in the Church or outside the Church is determined by love. We keep the commandments because we love the Lord. We forgive the brothers and sisters; we do not divorce our wife/husband; we help the poor, the sick, the orphans, the refugees, the weak because we love the Lord who loves us by sending his Son to die for us.  So love is our rule, our way and our life because God is love who created us out of love and for love.

 

TWENTY-NINETH SUNDAY YEAR A 18th October

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

God has entrusted the whole earth and all its riches to humanity to care for it and use it for its benefit (Genesis 1:28-30). So we have responsibility towards mother-earth. The gospel reading reminds us that Christians belong to two cities. First, they belong to earthly city and second to heavenly city. But it is important to note that the two cities belong to God. We may not downgrade any of the cities. There is that tendency to look-down on the earthly city as inferior to the heavenly city. Such attitude is wrong. In Genesis chapters one and two, God after creating heaven and earth, looked at them and everything in them and found them very good. More so, do not forget that God formed man out of the clay of the earth and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being. And of course, man and woman, he created them in his image and likeness. So do not downgrade the earth for it is sacred and holy. However, in our context here and now, we may take our earthly city as the United Kingdom and the heavenly city as the Church. In this case, we may want to separate the two but not completely because there are areas that overlap.

In the Gospel narrative, Jesus’ interaction with the Pharisees with regard to paying tax to Caesar shows us that God sanctions the interconnectedness between the heavenly city and the earthly city. Jesus comes from heaven and lives in the earthly city as we do. The two cities belong to God. The two cities cannot be completely divorced from each other. Christians suppose to be good citizens of the earthly city who pay their taxes for the good governance of the earthly city. Money realised from taxes is used in providing social amenities and security for earthly citizens. Also Christians should be able to exercise their voting rights and fulfil other civic duties. They should seek political appointments and be able to serve in the government of the earthly city. Christians who fail to pay their taxes and refuse to obey the laws of their country are not good Christians. You cannot be a good Christian if you are not a good citizen of your country. But Christians should not support bad laws that disrespect human life and dignity. The church never sanctions laws that disrespect human life and value.

In some African countries Christians shy away from getting involved in politics claiming that it is a dirty game. But if Christians run away from it, it becomes more deadly and evil because then it will be played only by evil men and women. The best way to fight the devil is to confront him in his face. You can’t fight the devil by turning away from him. If you do that the devil destroys you. If you confront the devil face to face he runs away from you. No matter how dirty politics is, as Christians, we can’t back off. We go into it with Christian grace and values. As baptised Christians, the Spirit and power of Christ lives in us and with that we bring the light of Christ into politics and sanitise it so that it becomes an avenue for serving God in humanity. As far as politics is a human enterprise, at times, there may be corrupt politicians and bad leaders, as in all institutions. If good people run away from politics bad and evil people will continue to foster wickedness and evil. And that demonises politics all the more.

We take cue from the God of history who refuses to stay away in his heavenly palace and allow the devil and his agents to rule the earthly city and torment his sons and daughters. When Satan and his agents were driven out of heaven down to earth God did not abandon the earth for Satan and his agents to ruin the souls of his sons and daughters. God through the death and resurrection of his Son established his Kingdom on earth. So the Spirit of God is active in the world. The world belongs to God not to Satan. God sent his Son Jesus to set us free from Satan.

 

TWENTY-EIGHT SUNDAY YEAR A               11th October

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

The banquet is ready says the king who organises a feast for his son who is celebrating his marriage. Is it not a wonderful experience to be invited to a feast? It is an honour; a privilege! The guest feels appreciated, recognized and loved. It is a great experience to know that you are important and you are loved and recognized. Of course at parties food and drink are important. Food and drink add to the colour and joy of the celebration. But I think in coming together for a celebration, the host, the hostess, and the guests we hope to meet are more important than any other thing else.

First of all, I don’t think you are inviting me to a party or for a meal because you think I am dying of hunger or you think I cannot buy a bottle of wine. My Nigerian people say that the reason why they go out to their village arena/square when there is a full blown out moon- shine is to meet, interact, play and socialize with friends not because they fail to see the brightness of the moon from their own compound. We go for a feast or a party to interact and socialize with friends and also make new ones not because we do not have food to eat. That is what life is all about. That is how we learn and grow in life because life is basically sharing. Unfortunately, this present corona pandemic prevents us from such social gatherings.

Yes my host, or hostess and the guests are important to me. Who are they? I ask this question because it is not everyone who will like to attend the party of the person who killed their father or insulted their mother or abused their children. I don’t want to attend a party where the host is only interested in pointing out all the English word I mispronounce or who asks me whether I have ever tasted that type of wine or food before. I go to party not because I have never eaten food before. I don’t want to attend a party that will discredit my dignity, a party that will dishonour the dignity of the Catholic faith or a party where it is a tradition for some people to fight with knife and kill other people.

Read through the Gospels, you will find out that invitation to banquets is one of the favourite images Jesus Christ uses all the time. On many occasions people invite Jesus for a meal in their house. The first miracle Jesus did was in a wedding feast at Cana. In the first and the Gospel readings, banquet is used to describe the joys of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is a permanent state of happiness, where they rejoice and feast in the presence of God and his angels and saints – a state of feasting and rejoicing that will never end. The Kingdom of God is a wedding feast of the Lamb of God. By our baptism we are wedded to the Lord who is our husband and we are his bride/wife. To this heavenly wedding banquet everyone is invited. Please do not reject God’s invitation to the banquet. God is the host. He prepares the food and wine. His Kingdom is the Church. The Church in heaven and the Church on earth are the same. This Church here and now is the Body of Christ. If you refuse the invitation to the Eucharistic banquet here and now in the Church who will admit you in the Eucharistic feast in heaven?

TWENTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY YEAR A            4th October

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Our people do like dog as pet. Do they not? Dog is one animal that knows how to show gratitude. If you give a dog its food, it wags its tail for you; it will play with you; it rubs its body on you. It is a way of saying thank you. We can learn how to show gratitude from the dog! What a friendly animal! That is why it is said that dog is man’s best friend. Its closeness to the owner is amazing! The way the dog plays with the owner is a demonstration of its affection for its owner. It can be very helpful especially if the owner is incapacitated. How is dog so caring? Dog’s friendliness, loyalty, affection, companionship, courage, contentedness and listening can challenge some of us and teach us something about our own character. We can learn a lot from this amazing animal! 

How much grateful are we to God, to our parents and teachers? These are the people we may not forget in our life. They help to shape who we are today in a very positive way. God is our Creator and Father. God gives us life, sustains us in life and takes us back to himself when we die. Who we are and what we have comes from God and even our very life belongs to him. God even allows us to be his co-workers and bestows his riches upon us. He even gives us the power to invite him to come down from heaven to us in the Blessed Eucharist as food for soul, and as our companion on our earthly journey to heaven our permanent home. So he gives us the gift of heaven in the Eucharist – the permanent state of happiness and salvation. Also parents sacrifice time, talents and money to give their children the best they can offer. From my Nigerian context all parents want their children to be better than they are in every aspect of life. This is the prayer, desire, efforts and hope of all parents for their children. Some African mothers even go hungry to make sure that their children eat. St. Paul in his Second Letter to the Corinthians says: ‘If we suffer, it is for your comfort and salvation.’ Corinthian Christians are his spiritual children and so Paul is ready to suffer for them. So also teachers make a lot of sacrifice to make sure that their students graduate with flying colours. And the success of their students is their pride and personal fulfilment. That is why we never forget our teachers!

Now the question is: Do we live up to what God expects of us? God has chosen us to go and bear fruit that will last. What type of fruit do we produce? Do we produce joy, happiness, friendliness, thankfulness, peace, justice and truthfulness? Or do we produce wild grapes and thorns which are of no use? To be a Christian is more than avoiding big sins! To be a Christian is to do good for the community, to love and forgive the brothers and sisters, to be friendly with everybody. God makes us his friends and wants us to be friendly with one another. With all this, we can only live a daily life of gratitude to God for all the wonderful people he has given us.

 

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP

TWENTY-SIXTH SUNDAY YEAR A 27th September 2020

 

 Modern people are ready to fight and die to defend their freedom but at the same time they are not always ready to take responsibility of their own actions. We always like to project our fault into the other person and blame him or her rather than take responsibility of our own action. Listen to Adam: Oh it is the woman you gave me … she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate it. And the woman says: The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it. No one who goes to jail is ready to take total responsibility of his/her own crime. Oh it is because of my past family upbringing; oh I was sexually abused when I was a minor and that is why I now commit sexual crimes and that is why I commit all kinds of crime; and it is because the government has not provided employment for us youths. It is interesting to hear what the society says and believes in and what the lawyers argue about in the law courts to excuse hideous crimes to set criminals free and shift responsibility and blame on innocent victims and on the government and so earn their money. We can see how clever they are! Are they not? Some people make a lot of money just by telling lies. Unfortunately, in most African nations, the rich, the powerful, the elite and the politicians buy justice with money and others acquire justice through the barrel of the gun, but the poor, the weak and the defenceless become victims who go to jail and suffer injustice and at worst end up losing their life.

 

So in our world today, since the poor and the weak have no money to buy neither justice nor their own protection, they will definitely end up suffering injustice or losing their life. Unfortunately the powerful do not see anything wrong in the injustice being perpetuated against the defenceless and the weak.

 

Dear friends in the Lord, human freedom implies full responsibility for what we do or unable to do. We must learn how to take responsibility of our own actions and stop projecting our guilt into some other people. How can I pray with the psalmist today who says: Remember your mercy, Lord, when I am not ready to admit my guilt and accept responsibility of my actions in order to receive mercy and forgiveness that comes from the Lord? The Gospel reading reminds us that whenever the sinner accepts his guilt, repents from his sins and goes to confession, God forgives and heals him. So, we may not think that we will be saved just because we come to Mass and receive Holy Communion but if we acknowledge our sins and confess them then God forgives and heals us and gives us salvation.

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

TWENTY-FIFTH SUNDAY YEAR A            20th September

God’s generosity is undeniable. But we need to understand what God’s generosity means and ask ourselves whether we are entitled to it. Is God’s generosity our right? No, it isn’t! Dollar and pounds can be our merited right or entitlement not God’s generosity. Dollar and pounds could be the most cherished values in our earthly calculations. According to world standard those who have plenty of money are considered to be successful in life. Money rules the world. It wields power and authority. Sports men and women seem to make more money than anyone else. What university professors earn is a peanut to what sports men and women earn, and that sounds ridiculous. Our life is completely ruled by money which underlines whatever we do or not able to do.

 

That is the attitude of the world. But we must be careful not to apply such attitude to God because the first reading from Prophet Isaiah reminds us that God’s ways and thoughts are different from ours. The gap between God’s ways and ours is as high as the heavens are above the earth. This is practically demonstrated in the Gospel reading of today. The Gospel of today reminds us that God’s generosity is a free gift – a gratuitous gift. We cannot merit or earn it. God does not owe anybody anything. Salvation is a gift from God, and no one can merit or earn it. Salvation does not come to us because we make efforts for God. Salvation does not come to us because we believe in God or serve God or because we always come to Mass or pray the rosary or do works of charity for God. Salvation comes to us because God chooses to give it to us not because we merit it but because he is generous. It is completely a gift from God. We come to Mass, and also do works of charity for God’s sake as a way of saying thank you to God because of his loving kindness; because of his generous gift of salvation to us.

 

With plenty of dollars and pounds we can purchase so much earthly goods but not God’s salvation. The reason why the Scripture says that it is difficult for rich people to enter into the Kingdom of heaven is because they feel self-sufficient. They feel no need of God because they have money to buy whatever they want or travel to wherever they want. During the time of Jesus, the Pharisees, the Scribes, the Sadducees, and the rich and the well-established never responded to Jesus but the outcasts, prostitutes, the tax collectors and the sick and the very poor of the society did. And Jesus associated with them than the “respected people” who believed that God owned them salvation because of their obedience to the Law of Moses and also because they claimed to be the children of Abraham who would inherit the Kingdom of God. As sinners, we need redemption! But we need to return to God in repentance for his mercy and forgiveness, and God forgives because he is generous.

 

 

 

 

No homily 13th September

 

TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY YEAR A 6th September

 

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

The theme of the liturgy of today is fraternal correction which we need as individuals and as a society. It is individuals that make up a community. No one is an island. Even God is community. God is Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. It is also God’s intention that human beings live as family, society, as community of people in communion with one another. He created them male and female and blessed them (Genesis 5:2). As community, we live together in communion – parents beget children and they live together, and families live in community. We realize that we are persons when we live in union and interaction with other people.

 

If we live in families, in community and communicate with other people who are old, young and minors then, the basic need of communal living is sound education comprising of encouragement to do good, and to point out evil and correct it. This is basic to humanity and should not be compromised. Children should be trained from early infancy on, on good morals, human and religious values. This basic training for our children will put our family on solid foundation and foster healthy living in the community. Married couples and friends should be honest in their love and friendship, which demands fraternal correction. The truth is not hidden if we want to be honest. The truth can be painful but its pain heals and can be a source of growth.

 

We live with our parents and siblings, and we have friends outside the family circles, and work in public sector in order to earn money; in all this, we need honesty. Good deed must be acknowledged, evil recognized and avoided, correction must be accepted and be given in good faith. This is basic to human living. Correction of any sort should be fraternal – should be given with respect and love. That is the truth of life and God is truth per excellence. St Paul tells us that love is patient, kind, without envy. Love does not boast. It is not arrogant. It is not ill-mannered. It doesn’t seek its own interest. It overcomes anger and forgets offenses. It doesn’t take delight in wrong, but rejoices in truth. Love excuses everything, believes all things, hopes all things, endures and forgives all things (1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 7).

 

In the first reading, God calls Ezekiel to be his prophet that is his ‘mouthpiece’ to point out to people and the community where they go wrong so as to seek reconciliation with God and with one another. In other words God is telling us that we must be willing to accept correction from the authorities and from one another. If we are afraid to correct our children, our spouse, our friends, work colleagues then we are not helping them, the human family and the society. The laws of the country and the commandments of God are put in place for us to live happily, securely and peacefully. However any law that infringes on human life, dignity and right is not a good law and that law should be abolished without destruction of human life.

 

TWENTY-SECOND SUNDAY YEAR A : 30th August

 

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

Love is life. Love begets life. God is love and because he is love, he wants to share his love and life. He created us out of love and for love. If he is not love he wouldn’t have created us or sent his Son to redeem us from eternal damnation. That is why St. John says that God is love. Again, think of the love between mom and dad that begot, nourished and nurtured us to life. This love between mom and dad, as well as between brothers and sisters, and friends is God. Where there is love God exists there, and there is life there also. Again, love indicates the presence of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of joy because, where there is love there is joy - joy in the Lord!

 

Also love is like a burning fire which can hurt. Jesus can testify to this. Is it not love that made him to die on the cross for you and for me and for the whole world? St Paul experienced the love of Christ which made him to surrender his life to God. Is it not the same love of Christ that made St Peter to offer up his life for the Church of Christ? John the Baptist was beheaded because he stood for God’s love which is also justice. It is generally love of God that made Saints to surrender their life to God. The truth is that it is not because they loved God but because God loved them, and they responded to God’s love by surrendering their life to God in the service of his Kingdom.

 

So love is self-giving which entails a lot of sacrifice. The love of God challenges us to love the brothers and sisters even when it is difficult to do so. The Lord says if you love me keep my commandments. He also says take up your cross and follow me. To be a Christian is to answer the call to love which is a life of sacrifice. God calls Jeremiah to be his prophet to bring his message of life and love to his people. God’s message of life and love is tough and challenging hence, people hate, deride and reject Jeremiah and plan to kill him. Jeremiah complains against those who plan to kill him and against God who invites him to be his prophet. He accuses the Lord of seducing him into loving him and dumping him for people to kill him. He threatens that he will not preach in the name of the Lord again but the love of God is ‘flowing’ through his blood, and like a fire burning in his bone, he is unable to stop preaching the Lord of life and love. That is why we refer to him as the crying or complaining prophet. If you allow God’s love to impact you, you will never be the same again because you will be a contradiction to the world. The world will be walking on its feet and you will be walking on your head.

 

In the second reading, Paul describes God’s love for us. He teaches us that our service, worship, adoration and all other Christian practices we engage in are our way of responding to God’s love. Do we see it like that? He says that a life of love that will please the Lord implies denial of self, avoiding conforming ourselves to this age that is so secular, unreligious, corrupt, violent and incompatible to the values of God. Note that our colleagues may deride, isolate or even hate us if we tell them that we work for God. We may lose them as friends because we will appear weird, archaic and out of date. That is why the Gospel message of today shows us that God’s ways are not our own ways. God’s ways can be strange, weird and out of order for the modern minds. Peter in the Gospel reading thinks that Jesus is talking nonsense by announcing his impending death because that will make him laughable to his enemies and a sign of weakness and defeat. Peter thinks that Jesus is weird by suggesting such. Like Peter, are we ashamed of Jesus’ ways of life? Do we also think that Jesus’ ways of life are out of tune with modern life? Are we afraid of losing our friends if we stick with Jesus? I and my family we will serve the Lord. What about you?

 

TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY YEAR A : 23rd August

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

In our Christian calling, we are to live as family of God; and also as members of human family. We belong to God and to human family. Of course the whole heaven and earth belong to God. So we live for God and for one another. We will be able to live happily with those who do not know God because our Christian values help us to grow in human values which will help us to live out our calling as members of human family who recognize, appreciate, cherish and safeguard life as a gift from God. We also appreciate other species in creation – animals, plants, vegetables and non-living things.

 

As members of God’s family we may not be able to live up to what Jesus stands for all alone by ourselves. We need the support and fellowship of the Church members. Jesus comes to establish God’s Kingdom on earth and the values of the Kingdom of God will help us to live out our human life in maturity and happiness. Our baptism gives us God’s spirit, grace and wisdom to rule the world. And the way we rule the world is by serving, loving and forgiving the brothers and sisters like Jesus our Lord and Master who says, ‘I come to serve and not to be served and to give my life as a ransom for many.’ Also, it is by being responsible stewards of creation. These are the qualities the world learns from us who know and serve God. To be able to live out our calling, we need one another’s inspiration and encouragement. The call to be a Christian is lived out in groups or congregations. We are a family, the family of God, and members of the human family. The Lord has so structured the world that we do not live alone as loners. As a human family, to succeed we establish associations, parties, clubs, societies, and other religious and social organizations. And so we need rules and regulations as an alternative to chaos. The Gospel of today puts things in their right perspective. Jesus is the Son of the living God. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him; hence he can delegate his authority. Our Lord Jesus Christ is no longer visible to us, so he gives his authority to the Church, by putting it into the hands of Peter, who rules over God’s people with his fellow apostles.

 

Not only religion, civil society has organizations with leaders who have authority as well. We note that authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Jesus. So the head- teacher, head-student, football captain, military chief, medical chief, political party chief, president, prime minister exercise authority which comes from God and belongs to God. They exercise authority on behalf of God whether they know him or not because all authority comes from God and belong to God. For us who believe in God, authority in the church is service to God and to humanity. The Church knows that human beings are weak and they do fail yet they are God’s instruments who exercise authority on earth. And despite their weakness they can never undo the divine purpose. I am weak but my weakness cannot undo God’s plan and purpose. The work we do is God’s work not our own work. Even to recognize and accept our weakness can help us to achieve God’s plan and purposes. God knows that we are weak instruments yet uses us to achieve his plans and purposes.

THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

15th August 2020

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

The Church upholds and teaches that Mary the Mother of God and our Mother was assumed body and soul into heaven, our permanent home. The faithful have always observed this belief until November 1 1950 when Pope Pius XII proclaimed this feast as doctrine of the whole Church. Thenceforth, it has been an article of faith. In other words, it is a divine revelation.

It is just a wonderful feast for us because in it, we celebrate the fulfilment of our Christian destiny. Our calling as Christians is to reach the heavenly home prepared for us and the Angels by God himself. It is in heaven that we shall see God face to face. The Blessed Virgin Mary, one of us, has now reached our heavenly home. This reality is so encouraging. It gives us a lot of hope and joy. That is what we celebrate today. We note that God destined Mary to be the Mother of his Son Jesus and therefore preserved and kept her from being contaminated by Original Sin. In her earthly life God preserved her from falling into sin. Throughout her earthly life, Mary had the original holiness and grace which all of us lack because of our descent from Adam and Eve. She was all the time in a state of innocence and divine friendship. It was in her immaculate body and soul that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. So she is the Mother of God because she is the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God. It should not surprise us that she was conceived immaculate, preserved from sin by God because of the role He wanted her to play in our salvation history. And so, God in a style has taken His Mother directly from our earthly state into a heavenly state, without passing through decay of the grave.

If it were you, would you not give your mother such a privilege? But God is ever gracious. He gave her to us to be our mother also. What about that? It is heartening! Is it not? So she is the mother of Christians and the mother of humanity. We are her spiritual children. She is the door through which the righteous and sinners come to God. She is our refuge in times of danger. She is made queen of mercy to help the most abandoned and miserable sinners who recommend themselves to her.

Today our joy knows no bounds celebrating her assumption. She is our pride and our hope. Her entry into heaven heightens our hope that one day we her spiritual children shall see God face to face and be with her and the saints in heaven. The joy that we shall see God face to face is so overwhelming. We look forward to that day as we hold on to our faith in the Lord.

 

 

NINETEENTH SUNDAY YEAR A 9th August

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

If you wish to arrange any pastoral needs

please contact Fr. Gerry on 023 8086 2270

or Deacon Stephen on 07777660050

email: totton@portsmouthdiocese.org.uk

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

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

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EIGHTEENTH SUNDAY YEAR A 2nd August

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

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

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

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

 

SEVENTENTH SUNDAY YEAR A 26th July

 

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

 

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

SIXTEENTH SUNDAY YEAR A 19th July

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP

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

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

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Fifteenth Sunday Year A 12th July 2020

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul Year A

28th June 2020

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

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

From Rev. Fr. Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

THE MOST HOLY TRINITY YEAR A 7th June 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Pentecost Sunday Year A  31st MAY 2020

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

7th Sunday of Easter Year A :    24th May

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

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

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

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

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

Sixth Sunday of Easter Year A

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

 

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

 

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

FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR A

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR A.

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

From Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa, MSP.

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

2nd May

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

 

Collection for Vocations : support our seminaries and clergy.

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

 

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

 

FOR ST THERESA'S PARISHIONERS TOTTON

Our Congratulations go to April 100 Club winners

David White

Peter Read

Marian Lister

 

God bless you all!

Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa

Message from Fr Gerry  19th April

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

Let us continue to pray for one another.

More news in the newsletter section

 

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

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

 

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

 

By Seàn-Patrick Lovett, Vatican News

 

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

 

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

 

A different “contagion”

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

 

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

 

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

 

Comfort for those affected by the coronavirus

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

 

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

 

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

 

Gratitude to those providing essential services

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

 

Encouragement to work for the common good

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

 

Not a time for indifference

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

 

Not a time for self-centredness

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

 

Not a time for division

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

 

Not a time for forgetfulness

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

 

Christ dispels the darkness of suffering

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

 

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

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