St Joseph, St Nicholas and St Thomas More RC Churches Gloucestershire

Fr Joby’s homilies

Sunday 16th June 2024

Eleventh Sunday in ordinary time

The Kingdom of God is like a mustard Seed!
Dear Friends,​​​​​​(Ez:17:22-24, 2Cori:5:6-10. Mk:4:26-34)
On this beautiful Sunday, the holy mother church reminds us that, the church of Christ is like a beautiful tree planted by God in the world. From the smallest of all seeds, she becomes the noblest of trees and fills the earth. She is the physical evidence of God’s kingdom. Therefore, like the birds of the air, we the people of God are also called to make our home in her. In the first reading Prophet Ezekiel speaks about the message of hope and rebuilding. The tree will grow and produce fruit, but even these actions are under the watchful attention of God. Through prophet Ezekiel God promised to re-establish and elevate his people who were in exile. God really wants to transfer his people from the dominion of oppression, poverty, misery to a realm of justice, prosperity, and peace of mind. The Prophet reminds us that God is always waiting for us to return to Him, provided that we obey His commandments and remain faithful. God has a plan for how to start anew. The holy mother church is the visible sign of this noble cedar (kingdom) that gives refuge to all people.
In the second reading, St. Paul reminds us that we are on a journey towards the kingdom of God with Christ. The journey to this kingdom is a journey that must be approached with faith and courage. Believing means entrusting oneself in full freedom and joyfully to God’s providential plan for history, as did the Blessed Virgin Mary. Faith is a gift of God, and it is an assent with which our mind and our heart say YES to God, confessing that Jesus Christ is the Lord. And this YES transforms life, unfolds the path toward fullness of meaning, thereby making it new, rich in joy and trustworthy hope.
In the gospel, Jesus explains the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, the smallest seed, and it refers to our faith. “If you have faith like a grain of mustard seed…nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt 17:20). Faith grows, and when it does, it achieves great things. In the gospel instead of using the image of a mighty cedar, Jesus speaks of the kingdom of God as a small mustard seed that grows into a large bush with branches. Mark’s small seed probably refers on some level with the suffering Markan community. This passage connects back to Prophet Ezekiel’s community who also found themselves in a place of suffering during exile. In those places and times of hardship, it seems appropriate to think about the change and hope that comes when God takes branches and makes cedars. The question is, how does our faith draw others to Christ? When we demonstrate or bear a good testimony of our individual and collective faith, the result is excellent. A few persons might come to believe in God when a youth might present himself/herself for a particular sacrament and service in the church. Someone might decide to give up a very old and bad habit, while another might choose to forgive another. These may seem too insignificant achievements, but the seed is growing. The word of God assures that all our good will and good works to the size of a mustard seed however, small if it is placed in the right person, he can make it effectively fruitful.

Sunday 9th June 2024

Tenth Sunday in ordinary time.

Excuses does not absolve Faults!

Dear Friends,​​​​​​(Gn:3:9-15, 2Cori:4:13-5:1, Mk:3:20-35)

There were a few questions in the Bible addressed not only to the Biblical figures but also to us. The first question is Where are You? (Gen:3:9). The second question is where is your brother? (Gen:4:9). These are very important questions, and each one of us should give an answer. The answer from the first parents were one of hiding and blaming. Are we also following the same idea of hiding or blaming others for our mistakes and drawbacks. When examining the Sacred Scriptures, there are numerous instances of sincere responses, such as Samuel’s “speak for your servant is listening”, (1Sam:3:10), in the OT and Blessed Virgin Mary’s “ here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word”, (Lk:1:38), in the NT. The Sacred Scripture reminds us that as humans, we all have an existential struggle against evil. However, the good news is that we are all strengthened and illuminated by the Risen Lord, the true and eternal Saviour, who helps us to obtain this victory over evil.
In the first reading the Sacred author presents the fall of Adam and Eve. The story of Adam and Eve is an integral part of our salvific history which reminds us of something that we inherited from them. The story reminds us of the consequences of disobedience. Rather to accept their fault, they tried to justify themselves by blaming each other. Adam blamed: “the woman you (God) gave me.” Of course, he did not blame the woman alone, he also indirectly blamed God who generously gave him a partner. On the other hand, Eve blamed: “the serpent that tempted her.” Blame rained upon blame. It is the common nature, and this type of behaviours are part of human nature. None of them said, I am sorry, I was wrong, it was my fault or even, please forgive me. Instead, they found excuses to clear themselves and, someone must take the responsibility. In the second reading, St. Paul brings to light the significant characteristics of a life lived in faith. Preaching the gospel is possible only by the profession of faith. He reminds us that in spite of our difficulties and existential struggles against evil in our world, grace strengthens our faith. Grace and faith keep us steadfast and focused on the glory of the eternal life ahead.
Today’s gospel explains Jesus’ encounter with his people and family. They accused him of being possessed when he was actually liberating the possessed. They wished to control his miraculous works and powerful preaching. In spite of all these, He remained focused. Every true disciple of Christ is, His brother, sister, mother and a member of his victorious family. Through faith and obedience to God’s will, we all have the opportunity to become members of his victorious and happy family. To become part of the victorious family of Christ is a dynamic process. It flows from a personal encounter with Christ. For us, all of this is a call to follow the Lord, not matter what our families or other people think about us. We are challenged to do the works of God, to recognize that the fight between good and evil is still going on in our own time. In the gospel Jesus invites each one of us to have a deep faith in Christ and an unconditional surrender to God’s will. This is a genuine call to become members of His victorious family. Let us faithfully follow Christ Jesus and give witness to His values.

Sunday 26th May 2024

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Dear Friends,​​​​​(Dt:4:32-34,39-40, Rom:8:14-17, Mt:28:16-20)

Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Blessed Trinity. They are Three and they are One, one God in three Persons. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one because God is love and love is an absolute life-giving force. It is a doctrine that unites and divides. This doctrine unites all true Christians and separates us from those who are not Christian. The Trinity is a doctrine that all Christians believe but no one really understands. If you try to explain the Trinity, you will lose your mind. But if you deny it, you will lose your soul.

Trinity is “the central mystery of Christian faith and life…and it is the source of all the other mysteries of faith” (CCC234). Trinity Sunday is an invitation to remember that “being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (Deus Caritas Est no.1). “By sending his only Son and the Spirit of Love in the fullness of time, God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange”(CCC221). On Trinity Sunday, the Church proclaims the truth about God that God is love (1Jn:4:8) and the truth about us: we are made for this love.
Pope Benedict XVI explains the relational dimensions of the Trinity that is: “our earth, the planets, the stars, the galaxies” down to “cells, atoms, elementary particles”, the Trinity is “imprinted”, “because all that exists, down to the last particle, is in relation; in this way, we catch a glimpse of God as relationship and, ultimately, Creator Love.” God is everywhere we look in the eyes of another person, in the majesty of a tree, in the gentle breeze, the silent fog, in the delicate beauty of a butterfly, in the perfect little body of a newborn infant and in the magnificence of a tiny flower. If we choose to look and see what is right in front of us, we will see more clearly our God who is ever ancient and ever present.

Trinity Sunday explains that Trinity as a metaphor for relationships, unity, love, respect, interdependence, and communication. Unity and Diversity: the Trinity embodies both unity and diversity. In relationships, individuals maintain their unique identities while forming a united bond. This applies to friendships, families, and romantic relationships, where each person brings their own personality and strengths to create a cohesive whole. Mutual Love and Respect: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are often described as being in a perfect relationship of love and respect. In human relationships, this ideal can serve as a model for how people should treat each other, emphasizing mutual love, respect, and self-giving. Interdependence and Communication: the persons of the Trinity are interdependent, each playing a distinct role but all working together harmoniously. In healthy relationships, individuals rely on each other, support one another, and recognize that their combined efforts lead to greater outcomes than what they could achieve alone. Effective communication is vital in any relationship, ensuring that all parties feel heard, valued, and understood. The Trinitarian model of unity, love and communication invites each one of us to renew our commitment to Christian call to discipleship. The Virgin Mary, among all creatures, is a masterpiece of the Most Holy Trinity. Let us turn to Mary with filial trust, so that with her help we may progress in love and make our life a hymn of praise to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit.

Theresian Word Mission (TWM)

Sunday 19th May

Pentecost

Holy Spirit is the Soul of the Church.

The season of Easter concludes with the feast of Pentecost. On the Solemnity of the Pentecost, we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles; this event marks the beginning of the Church. The account in today’s Gospel, Jn:20:19-23, recounts how Jesus gave the gift of the Holy Spirit to his disciples. Jesus fulfilled his promise to send to his disciples a helper, an advocate, who would enable them to be his witnesses throughout the world. Pentecost day is a day of renewal and empowerment. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Holy Spirit empowers us, makes us strong Christians and soldiers of Christ (CCC 1302). This empowerment comes through the different gifts we receive from the Holy Spirit. Through them, we become bold to call God our Father (Rom 8:15), and above all, to proclaim to our world that, Jesus Christ is Lord. The Holy Spirit helps us to bear good fruits in Christ (Gal 5:22). He leads us into the kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy.
Prior to the Ascension into Heaven, Jesus Christ ordered his disciples, “not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1: 4). To stay together was the condition laid down by Jesus in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and this is a remarkable lesson for every Christian community. Some think at times that missionary effectiveness depends primarily on careful programming and its subsequent intelligent application through a concrete commitment. The Lord certainly does ask for our collaboration, but his Spirit is the true protagonist of the Church. The roots of our being and of our action are in the wise and provident silence of God.
The images used by St. Luke to indicate the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, wind and fire and this recall Mount Sinai, where God revealed himself to the people of Israel and offered his covenant (Ex 19: 3). The feast of Sinai, which Israel celebrated 50 days after the Passover, was the feast of the Covenant. Speaking of the tongues of fire (Acts 2: 3), St Luke wants to show Pentecost as a new Sinai, as the feast of the New Covenant, where the Covenant with Israel is extended to all the nations of the earth. The Church has been catholic and missionary from her birth. The universality of salvation is meaningfully manifested with the list of the numerous ethnic groups to which those who heard the Apostles’ first proclamation belonged (Acts 2: 9-11).

The People of God, which had found its first formation in Sinai, extends today to the point of overcoming every barrier of race, culture, space and time. As opposed to what occurred with the tower of Babel (Gen 11: 1-9). Human pride and egoism always create divisions, build walls of indifference, hate and violence. The Holy Spirit, on the other hand, makes hearts capable of understanding the languages of all, as he re-establishes the bridge of authentic communion between earth and heaven. The Holy Spirit is Love. St. Augustine calls Church as Societas Spiritus, “a society of the Spirit”. St. Irenaeus says, “ where the church is, there also is God’s spirit; where God’s Spirit is, there is the Church and every grace; and the Spirit is the truth; to distance oneself from the Church is to reject the Spirit and exclude oneself from life”. Dear friends remember that the Holy Spirit is the soul of the church.
The Church is Holy, not by her own merits, but because, animated by the Holy Spirit, she keeps her gaze on Christ, to become conformed to him and to his love. The Church is Catholic because the Gospel is destined for all peoples. The Church is Apostolic, because, built upon the foundation of the Apostles, she faithfully keeps their teaching through the uninterrupted chain of episcopal succession. The Church by her nature is Missionary, and from the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit does not cease to move her along the ways of the world to the ends of the earth and to the end of time. Holy Spirit illuminates the human spirit and, by revealing Christ Crucified and Risen, indicates the way to become more like him, that is, to be “the image and instrument of the love which flows from Christ” (Deus Caritas Est, n33). Let us walk with the Holy Spirit, our Counsellor and Advocate. This is because, we shall succeed “not by power nor by might, but by my spirit, says the Lord Almighty” (Zach 4:6). Dear friends, Lord Jesus tell us today and every day that, “Do not be afraid”. If you remember, this is the motto of our new Bishop Bosco, Nolite Timere (Do not be afraid). Enlightened and comforted by these words of life, let us lift up our invocation: Come, Holy Spirit, Enkindle in us the fire of your love. We need the fire of the Holy Spirit because only Love redeems.

Theresian Word Mission (TWM)

The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord
Dear friends,
The solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord commemorates Jesus’ ascension into heaven. This is celebrated 40 days after Easter. The ascension helps us to deepen our faith and helps us to enjoy eternal hope, forgiveness, mercy, redemption and love. The ascended Jesus is the source of strength and encouragement for all of us. By the mystery of the Ascension Jesus has not deserted us but has made it possible for the Holy Spirit to enter all times and places. Ascension transforms us by the power of the Holy Spirit and helps us to become agents or instruments of Christ. we become brightened, and our actions become animated in a new way by the spirit of the God we love and serve.
The solemnity of the Ascension of our Lord is called as the miracle of Hope. The Spirit will infuse our souls, taking away our fear and transforming us into stronger, holier and more peaceful people; sending us forth to preach the gospel of Christ with fidelity and consistency. St. Teresa of Avila said, Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on the world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, you are the feet, you are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours. St. Francis of Assisi reminds us, “we must use every means possible to proclaim the gospel and if we have to, we will have to use words”.
The Solemnity of the Ascension speaks of 3 great P’s Power, Promise and Presence.
Power: The Ascension of our Lord tells us about Christ’s power. St. Paul says: God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.(Eph:1:20-21) It means that Christ is in control of our world. We know that our ascended Lord is in control and has not abandoned us.
Promise: The Ascension is also about a very important promise. Jesus promises that we will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon us, so that we can be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. The power that Jesus is given in the Ascension is shared with us through the promised Holy Spirit. It helps us to continue his mission.
Presence: Finally, along with power and promise, the Ascension is about Presence. Through the Ascension, Jesus actually becomes more present to us than he ever could before. St. Augustine says: God is not what you imagine or what you think you understand. If you understand, you have failed.
The miracle of the Ascension brings joy to our hearts. Because it reminds us of Jesus’ power, His promise, and His presence among us. Friends, all of us are called to be the beacons of the light of God, which Christ our Lord has shown and passed on to us. First and foremost, our important mission as Christians is evangelisation, to go forth and spread the faith to others. Our important mission is in whatever opportunities or whichever places that we have been called to , in our various respective ministries and vocations each one of us should do our best to proclaim the Lord and His Good news, to those around us, both within and outside the Church by our exemplary and faithful life. May our belief in these things bring joy to our hearts, purpose to our lives, and praise to our lips. Amen
Theresian Word Mission (TWM)

Sunday 5th May (Sixth Sunday of Easter)

God’s love is interactive as well as imaginative.

My dear friends in Christ Jesus​​​​​​ ​ Jn:15:9-17

On this sixth Sunday of Easter, we celebrate our Lord whose love is universal and eternal. He has no favourite rather; he freely communicates his love and spirit to all who accepts him. Today’s gospel is a command to love: “What I command you, is to love one another.” It means that we do not have any option than to love one another. The reason is simple. We ourselves are products of love. This love flows from God to Christ and from Christ to us. In our popular language, the word “love” is so often used and misused, that it has almost become devoid of meaning. Love is a word so frequently exploited in the media, music, movies, novels and small talk, that it has been reduced to almost, to, nothing. Love that is only words, without of actions, is of little value. True love gives life, for genuine love is something generative, found, for example, in the sacrifice of spouses for each other, or parents for their children, or children for their parents. The example of sacrificial self-giving of our Lord is the fullest expression of love we can imagine. “Love one another as I have loved you,” is difficult to do, this we cannot deny, but it is not beyond our abilities. It is a challenge, to be sure, but is not an impossibility. St. Augustine says, “He is, he sees, he loves. The eternity of God is his life, the truth of God is his light, the goodness of God is his joy.”

Bible speaks of our spiritual journey as friendship, freedom and intimacy. Regarding Abraham our father of faith the Bible says that he was a friend of God. In Isa:41:8 God speaks of Abraham as “my friend”. Faith of Abraham is considered as friendship with God by God and Israel. In the gospel of Jn:15:15 Jesus Calls his disciples and the church : I have called you friends. The word of God explains the Christian life as friendship with Jesus and his community. Friendship is a feeling of being home, being with a person of no reservations. Jesus our master calls us friends. This is the core of Easter celebration that we are a community of friends gathered from nations, cultures, races, languages, families and individuals in Christ Jesus. St. Paul explains this in Gal:3:28, “There is neither Jew, nor Gentile… you are all one in Christ Jesus. In the first reading St. Peter says: The truth I have come to realise is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.
In the gospel Jesus teaches that his relationship to his disciples and church is based on friendship, not servitude. Jesus himself gives us the greatest example of the kind of love and service that he teaches to his disciples. He laid down his life for his friends, for his disciples, and for the church. Through his death and Resurrection, we have received the grace to love others as Jesus has commanded. Our faith is not stagnant, our friendship is not cultic or cultural bound, we inherited it as catholic. God of all nations and cultures, community that holds many sheep. Remian in Jesus’ love is interactive as well as imaginative.
Theresian Word Mission(TWM)