Monday, December 30, 2019

Have you seen the Antichrist?


"Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that the antichrist was coming, so now many antichrists have appeared. Thus we know this is the last hour." (1 John 2: 18).

Tuesday 31st December 2019, 7th Day in the Octave of Christmas is also the feast of St Sylvester 1. Elected Pope in 314 and died about 335. Sylvester served the Church at a very turbulent period in Church history. Arian heresy and the Donatist schism threatened to destroy the Church. Then Constantine appeared and offered peace. After this, Pope Sylvester contributed a great deal in the expansion of the faith in the Roman Empire.

This is the last hour warned the Apostle John and he went further:
The "Antichrists have appeared." Have you seen any? These are some of the characteristics from the Christian Scriptures:
Lawlessness
Deceit
Temporary success
Mass seduction
Adversary
Son of perdition
Opposed Christ.
(Cf 2 Thessalonians 2: 3 - 12; Matthew 24: 23 - 26).

Pope St John Paul II warned in 1976 at the Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia (before he became pontiff) that we are now facing the final confrontation between the Antichrist and the Church. Remember how King Henry VIII caught over 300 English Bishops napping in 1535? Only Bishop St John Fisher earned the crown of Martyrdom. Below is a prophetic teaching of the Church on the Antichrist:

"Before Christ's second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers. The persecution that accompanies her pilgrimage on earth will unveil the "mystery of iniquity" in the form of a religious deception offering men an apparent solution to their problems at the price of apostasy from the truth. The supreme religious deception is that of the Antichrist, a pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God and of his Messiah come in the flesh."   (CCC 675).

Do not be asleep. Be vigilant and pray at all times so that you may not fall into severe temptation. Do not become an Anti-Witness.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Who is Anna the Widow?


"There was a prophetess, Anna... She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer." (Luke 2: 36, 37).

Monday, December 30 2019, 6th Day in the Octave of Christmas. Our Gospel today is about  Anna, the widow. Married young and lost her husband after only seven years of marriage, Anna decided not to remarry but rather to dedicate the rest of her life serving God in the Temple. She did this through worshipping, and continuous fasting and prayer. Anna is the first Evangelist mentioned in the Gospels, as she "spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem." (Luke 2: 38).

When she was 84 years old, the Lord rewarded Anna for her long faithful service. Prompted by the Holy Spirit, she walked into the Temple when Mary and Joseph were in the Temple to present the Child Jesus to the Lord. "And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem." (Luke 2: 38).

Brethren, the story of Anna teaches us that it is good to serve the Lord faithfully. Anna and Mary are two examples of great faithfulness in serving God not for one year or 10 years or 50 years but day after day all life long. But what is most admirable is the faithfulness of God. The Bible says that faithfulness is the essence of who God is. Both Anna, Mary and Joseph responded to the faithful love and mercies of God to them.
May we do the same.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, December 28, 2019

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.


"The shepherds went in haste,
and found Mary and Joseph and the Infant lying in a manger." (Luke 2: 16).

Sunday 29 December 2019, within the Octave of Christmas is the Solemnity of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

We pray with the Church:
"O God, who were pleased to give us the shining example of the Holy Family, graciously grant that we may imitate them in practising the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity, and so, in the joy of your house, delight one day in eternal rewards. Through our Lord Jesus Christ.. ."

In the fullness of time, when all was ready, God sent His Son to dwell among us in time and space and be obedient to the human and natural laws in the world.

As long as I can remember, the sacred blessing below is the gift of God to every family on Holy Family Sunday. God's gift is to be appropriated with joy and faith.
"May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts; let the message of Christ find a home with you." (Colossians 3: 15, 16).

"The Christian family is a Communion of persons. It is called to partake of the prayer and sacrifice of Christ. Daily prayer and the reading of the Word of God strengthen it in charity. The Christian family has an evangelizing and missionary task." (CCC 2205).

A family that prays together stays together.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, December 27, 2019

The blood of the Holy Innocents.


"If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 5 : 9 - 10).

Saturday 28th December 2019 is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. It is surprising how fast we transitioned from the joyful birth of Jesus to the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt and to the slaughter of the Holy Innocents. This is perhaps a rude reminder to all of us that the Mission of Jesus is to be Savior and a Redeemer. Salvation from Sin and Redemption from the debt of Sin.

Our Scripture pick for today lays down clearly the part we must play for the Salvation and Redemption that Jesus Christ accomplished for us.
"If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing. If we say, “We have not sinned,” we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 5 : 9 - 10).

We must acknowledge our sins. We do in every Mass. How about other occasions? Remember the ABC of Mercy?

Ask for Mercy.

Be Merciful.

Completely trust Jesus for Mercy.

"Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD." And You forgave the guilt of my sin." (Psalm 32: 5).

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It is also the beginning of redemption and salvation.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, December 26, 2019

What I have seen and heard this week.


"What we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ." (1 John 1: 3).

Friday 27th December 2019 is the Feast of St John, Apostle and Evangelist. John wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles and the Book of Revelation. John is an eye witness and a credible witness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the will of God that we learn the truth of the Gospel from credible witnesses. The Church is the credible witness for over 2000 years. Countless crowds of witnesses.

Our Scripture text for today challenges me to ask: What have I seen?
+ I have seen the Church gathered for the Eucharist on Christmas Eve to celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ.
+ I have seen people come up to receive the Eucharist with great reverence.
+ Today, I saw the majestic Cathedral, the Seat of the Bishop, a successor to St John the Evangelist, whose feast we celebrate today.
+ I have seen Jesus Christ in the person of the priest at the Altar.
+ I have seen Jesus in a homeless woman in the train station.

What have I heard?
+ I have heard the Good News proclaimed from the Altar.
+ I have heard it proclaimed on television, radio and music.

Father, we pray that with St John the Evangelist we may share in the hidden wisdom of your eternal Word which You reveal to us at the Eucharistic table. We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The Feast of St Stephen, the first Martyr.


"Now Stephen, filled with grace and power, was working great wonders and signs among the people." (Acts 6: 8).

Thursday 26 December 2019 is the feast of Saint Stephen, the first Martyr. "St Stephen was one of the seven deacons who helped the apostles (Acts 6: 1 - 6) and was filled with faith and the Holy Spirit," and was "full of fortitude" (Acts 6: 5, 8). Stephen died praying for his executioners. The similarities between Stephen's martyrdom and the crucifixion of Our Lord emphasize his imitation of Christ even up to the complete gift of self." (Roman Missal).

We learn from the brief summary of the life of St Stephen from the Roman Missal that Stephen must have been a very important witness in the early Church. Consider why:

#1 Stephen's life and experience shows that the promises of Jesus are true. "When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say." (Matthew 10: 19).

#2 Stephen died like Jesus forgiving his executioners.

This vindication of the promises of Jesus and fearless embrace of martyrdom made a deep impression on the Church. The Church included the name of St Stephen in the Canon of the Mass to intercede for the Church.

"As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit." (Acts 7: 58).
The prayer and blood of martyrs are very powerful. God works through prayers. Especially of saints.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The Solemnity of the Nativity of Christ the Lord.

"For a child is born to us, a son is given to us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, Upon David’s throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains By judgment and justice, both now and forever." (Isaiah 9: 5 - 6).

Wednesday December 25th, the Solemnity of the Nativity of Christ the Lord. Listen to Isaiah's joyous proclamation: "For a child is born to us!"

Who is this Child that is born to us?
He is Jesus the Savior!
He is Emmanuel, God with us.
But why is He born to us?
He became man that we may become God. The process of our becoming God starts in Baptism when we receive the Holy Spirit who makes us the adopted children of the Father. This process of becoming continues all our life. What is the end game? Eternal life. Everlasting life. Endless life of bliss with God. Where there is no more death or sorrow. No anger or war. Endless Liturgy, music and feasting.

Thank You Jesus. We love You. We welcome You.

SeekFirstCommunity Team wish all of you the best Christmas ever! Peace and joy!

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, December 23, 2019

The Coming of the Prince of Peace.


"A mighty Savior..... to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1: 69, 79).

Tuesday 24 December, Christmas Eve. At last Advent is almost over.  At the heart of the Christmas celebration is the promise of peace and joy, twin gifts that are unmistakable gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Christian and a sure sign of His presence.

Do you know the peace of Christ? This is how Sacred Scripture describes the peace of David in the 1st Reading:
"Once David had settled into his house and the Lord had given him rest [peace] from all the enemies surrounding him." Note that God bestows peace on David. "You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you." (Isaiah 26: 3).
The Infant Child of Bethlehem promises us:
"A mighty Savior..... to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1: 69, 79).

Jesus declared in His public ministry that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. The Way that leads to peace is the way of the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. If there is no peace in your home, at work, in your church or in the world,  look at the Beatitudes. (Matthew 5: 3 - 11). The Way of Jesus is the sure guide to peace.

"O Morning star, radiance of eternal light, sun of justice, come and enlighten those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

You too, you are my messenger.


"Thus says the Lord God: Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way be­fore me." (Malachi 3: 1).

Monday 23 December 2019 is the feast of St John Kanty (1390 - 1473), Polish priest. University professor and noted for his great humility. The Church teaches that if we pay attention to the example of the saints, we grow in the wisdom of the saints. The example of St Fulton Sheen has helped me in my writing and publishing. Good biography exerts great power over us.

Our key Scripture says that the Lord is sending His messenger to prepare a way for the Coming of Jesus Christ. Has it ever occurred to you that you might be one of the  messengers? What do you make of the Dismissal Rite of the Mass? It can come in one of these words:
"Go forth, the Mass is ended."
Or:
"Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord."
Or:
"Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life."
Or:
"Go in peace." They all mean the same thing. You are being sent forth to prepare the way of the Lord.
We respond:
Thanks be to God.

I was astonished when I learned that this is one of the most important parts of the Mass. How? It is the time the Lord Jesus is sending us out to share the gifts we receive at Mass.

You too "I am sending you as my messenger to prepare the way be­fore me."
O that today you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, December 21, 2019

The Just man shall live by faith.


"Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall ­conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel." (Isaiah 7: 14)

Sunday of the 4th week of Advent. Ahaz, King of Judah and the anti-hero of today's Scripture Readings refused to ask for a sign from God. God wanted to help his beleaguered nation from certain crushing defeat. The sign was to encourage Ahaz to believe that God meant business.

Who is the hero of today's Scriptures?
“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1: 20 - 21).

The anti-hero, Ahaz is governed by pride and selfishness. The hero, Joseph is ruled by the spirit of faith and obedience. He is the Just man of Habakkuk: "The just one who is righteous because of faith shall live." (Habakkuk 2: 4).

The anti-hero despises the numerous signs God sends him to assure him of His presence and faithfulness. The hero is always in the lookout for the sign of Jesus-Emmanuel: the Savior who is with us, who has become an active Presence. We adore You O Christ and bless You.

Jesus-Emmanuel I trust in You.
Jesus-Emmanuel I surrender myself completely to You.
Jesus-Emmanuel take care of everything.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, December 20, 2019

Feast of St Peter Canisius, Catechist and Evangelist.


"Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" (Luke 1: 41 - 43).

Saturday 21 December 2019 is the first of St Peter Canisius of the Society of Jesus. (1521 - 1592), Priest and Doctor of the Church. Born in Holland. Worked all his life in Germany. Called the Apostle of Germany because of his key role in rolling back the advance of Lutheranism in Germany. He participated in the Council of Trent as a theologian. He founded several Jesuit Colleges. He wrote a famous and popular Catechism which was published in several languages and went into many editions.
The Church teaches that Jesus Christ is glorified when we honor the saints. I honor St Peter Canisius as my patron saint.

"Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1: 45). Elizabeth said this to Mary, thereby identifying Faith as one of Mary's strongest gifts. Our saint of today, St Peter Canisius must have been a man of great faith to have bloomed in a time of the greatest challenge to the Church.

"O Key of David, who open the gates of the eternal kingdom, come to liberate from prison the captive who lives in darkness."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, December 19, 2019

How can this be?


“The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you." (Luke 1: 35).

Friday 20 December 2019. To Mary's perplexed question: "How can this be?" we learn a revelation that gives joy and consolation to the heart.

Most of us are tense and nervous when we start a new project. The student teacher stepping into the classroom for the first time; the young doctor faced with his first surgical operation. All complex tasks are intimidating for the first time. Remember that Mary must have been 13 or 14 when she experienced the Annunciation.

Mary's question "how can this be?" would be normal to most people. It is the Archangel Gabriel's response that is pure consolation. God shared with every Christian His life-giving Spirit to abide with us forever. The Spirit is Paraclete, Advocate, Friend and always present in us and with us in all types of situations. My favorite title for the Holy Spirit is the Voice that speaks in Court. He has saved me from certain hardship in litigation by putting the right words in my mouth at precisely the right moment.

The Church teaches that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit. Where Mary is, there is the Holy Spirit. It is not easy to know and cherish Mary without knowing and cherishing the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life.

"O Key of David, who open the gates of the eternal kingdom, come to liberate from prison the captive who lives in darkness."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Dreamer and silent powerful Partner.


“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her." (Matthew 1: 20).

Wednesday of the 3rd week of Advent. Here comes Joseph! The three members of the Holy Family are named in our Gospel of today. Mary, Joseph and Jesus Emmanuel.

While Mary spoke sparingly in the Gospels, Joseph the husband of Mary bore silent witness to the Gospel through his robust faith and humility. God communicated with Joseph through dreams and Joseph showed exceptional docilty and obedience. He protected Mary staunchly during her pregnancy and provided for his family through his manual labor.

Jesus Christ is glorified when we honor the saints. First in rank is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Next is St Joseph. In the Communion of the Saints, Mary and Joseph are very powerful intercessors in the Court of Heaven.

The name of Joseph is in the Canon of the Mass, coming after that of the Virgin Mary.  Pope Francis added the name of St Joseph to the three other Eucharistic Prayers. The cult of St Joseph is solid and universal in the Church. Thanks to what I read from the autobiography of St Teresa of Avila, I have a deep devotion to St Joseph and place my work under his powerful patronage.

"O Ruler of the House of Israel, who gave the law to Moses on Sinai,
come and save us with outstretched arm." (Gospel Antiphon).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, December 16, 2019

This is the family of Jesus Christ.


"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers." (Matthew 1: 1 - 2).

Tuesday of the 3rd week of Advent is the 17th Day of December, we are a week from the Eve of Christmas. The Church starts singing the O - Antiphons. The Gospel today is from the Genealogy of Jesus Christ according to St Matthew. Are you one of those bored by the Genealogy? Do you consider the Genealogy meaningless?

Some years ago, I had the fortune of engaging three bright Mormon young men in a weekly Bible conversation for seven weeks. I did not know much about the Mormon faith and did not have enough time to read up. So I prayed to the Paraclete, the Voice that speaks in Court to help me. The answer to that prayer was delightful and unforgettable.

The Mormons claimed that the need for a new Christian religion was because the Christian religion founded by Jesus Christ apostasized from the time of Emperor Constantine. So God was angry and not only rejected the Church but abrogated His promises. Right? I asked. Right, they answered in chorus. Then let us turn to the Gospel of Matthew. Each of my Mormon friends took turn in reading the Genealogy according to St Matthew. I asked if they were familiar with the life story of the principal characters in the Genealogy.

The Genealogy teaches that God is merciful and faithful. God did not choose the best and unfiltered humanity. He chose whom He pleases, a mixed bag.

"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." (Ephesians I: 5 NLT).

God is faithful to His intentions and promises. He is not Yes and No. He is always Yes.
"The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable." (Romans 11: 29).

"O Wisdom of the Most High,
ordering all things with strength and gentleness, come and teach us the way of truth."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Who gave you this authority?


“By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21: 23).

Monday of the 3rd week of Advent. A confrontation between the chief priests and elders with Jesus over Authority. Consider the following facts:

The kingdom that Jesus came to set up has some commonalities with earthly kingdoms. For example :
1. King
2. A realm/domain
3. A government
4. Laws
5. Citizens

When Jesus threw out the money changers from the Temple, the recognized authorities of the Temple questioned His authority.
"Where was John’s baptism from? Was it of heavenly or of human origin?” By this question, Jesus points to the chief priests and elders the existence of a different type of authority.

In the trial of the Apostles Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, we see the Teacher Gamaliel allude to a different authority:
"So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself.  But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” They were persuaded by him." (Acts 5: 38 - 39).

The truth is that the Kingdom of God is already here and now. The Church is the seed of that Kingdom.
Where does the Pope get his authority? Not from the barrels of the gun as some dictators believe. Stalin quipped:  "How many military divisions does the Pope have?" Jesus answered that question to Pontius Pilate:
"My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place."

The question for us is:
Does King Jesus reign over your heart and mind and finances? If not, Advent is the Season of grace to place your life under the authority of Jesus Christ.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Be patient like a farmer.


"Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient." (James 5: 7 - 8).

How long does it take a mango seedling to grow, bear fruits until that first greenish yellow mango fruit is ripened and ready to be eaten? About 1350 days in the tropics. How do I know? Because I planted a mango seedling to find out . What have I learned as a mango tree farmer?

#1 Patience is Power
"I waited, I waited for the Lord; who bent down and heard my cry"(Psalm 40: 1)

#2 This young mango seedling faced many challenges to its survival in its early years. Storms, strong winds, too much rain, insects; all threatened its existence. But it survived.

#3 The fruit came in the fullness of time. In the right season.

#4 The season for bearing fruit will also come for you if only you remain patient and wait for it.

#5 Fruit bearing season is different for every person.

How long must we wait for the Lord to answer our prayer?
In the fullness of time, God makes everything beautiful. God is faithful and loves those who wait for Him

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, December 13, 2019

St John of the Cross, Mystic and Doctor of the Church.


"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me, says the Lord." (Cf. Matthew  16: 24).

Saturday of the 2nd week of Advent is the feast of St John the Cross (1542 - 1591), Carmelite Priest and Doctor of the Church. Born in Spain near Avila, he cooperated with St Teresa of Avila, another Carmelite mystic and Doctor of the Church for the reform of the Carmelite Order. His Carmelite brothers did not take kindly to his ideas or severe discipline. They captured him and imprisoned him in a high attic where escape was virtually impossible. Providentially, he escaped and continued his writings. He wrote many profound works of mysticism of which THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL remains a spiritual classic.

"May I never boast, except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (Galatians 6: 14).

God endowed St John of the Cross with an outstanding dedication to self-denial and love of the Cross. May we obtain through his intercession similar gifts.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, December 12, 2019

God Himself taught this Virgin and Martyr.


"I am the Lord, your God, teaching you how to prevail, leading you on the way you should go." (Isaiah 48: 17).

Friday of the 2nd week of Advent is the feast of St Lucy (+304), Virgin and Martyr. Lucy died a martyr under Emperor Diocletian. Lucy had been venerated as a saint from antiquity. Her name is included in the Roman Canon.

Look at our Scripture for today:
"I am the Lord, your God, teaching you how to prevail, leading you on the way you should go."
One of the titles of God that I like very much is: TEACHER OF ALL MANKIND. Imagine a toddler being taught by her mother how to walk, eat, talk, write, etc. So does God do for you and for me. But God is simply not only the Teacher of all mankind (homo sapiens). He is the Teacher of all living things. I am incredulous watching wildlife and observing how ferocious wild animals are so tender towards their young ones or mourn them when they are dead. Who taught them? God!

But how does God teach us? The answer is in the Responsorial Psalm of today:
"Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked; nor lingers in the way of sinners nor sits in the company of scoffers, but whose delight is the law of the Lord and who ponders his law day and night." (Psalm 1: 1 - 2).

God teaches us what is best for us through His word. Are you teachable? Do you delight in the word of God? It is not too late. Advent is a Season we are promised plenty of God's unmerited favor. Come today to the throne of grace and mercy with boldness to receive grace now.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Patroness.


“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God." (Luke 1: 30).

Thursday of the 2nd week of Advent is the feast of of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas. The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe started in 1531 long before the United States of America. Mary appeared to Juan Diego, a young Mexican man. She was dressed as a simple pregnant Mexican woman. She left an imprint of herself on her dress. The Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe houses this miraculous dress still with the original imprint. The Basilica has become a place of popular pilgrimage for millions down the centuries. Although I have not fulfilled my desire to visit the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, I have visited a replica Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe  in Port Arthur, Texas. Great experience!

Who is Mary? Mary the Mother of our Savior and Redeemer is called by the great Church document, Lumen Gentium: "A sign of certain hope and comfort to the pilgrim People of God." (CCC 972).Hope of what? Hope of the ultimate blessing for humanity: Eternal life and bliss with GOD forever.

The Church declares that "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion." (CCC 971). Mary is not god or goddess.  "All generations will call me blessed." This is not the will of man but a prophecy. Her apparition in Mexico in 1531 caused the conversion of about 9 million Mexicans from idol worship to the true faith in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Do not be afraid to call upon Mary in all of your necessities.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Do you wait for the Lord? Be confident. God will never be late!


"Even the youths shall be exhausted, and the young men will all give up.  But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40: 30-31 TLB).

Wednesday of the 2nd week of Advent is the feast of St Damasus 1 (305 - 384), Pope. You may never have heard of Pope Damasus but this man has far more impact in the Church than many well-known popes.
He summoned the 1st Council of Constantinople. He promoted the veneration of martyrs. He commissioned St Jerome to translate the Bible into the Vulgate which remained the official version for over 1000 years. Pope St Damasus changed the liturgical language of the Church from Greek to Latin.

The Holy Scriptures say everywhere that it is good to wait for the Lord. This is the core message for us today.
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

Do you wait for the Lord for anything? Health, family well-being, financial peace, job, a new car, home? You should find much comfort in today's word of God.

"Don’t be impatient. Wait for the Lord, and he will come and save you! Be brave, stouthearted, and courageous. Yes, wait and he will help you." (Psalm 27: 14 TLB).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, December 09, 2019

The lost and found sheep.


"What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? (Matthew 18: 12).

Tuesday of the 2nd week of Advent. The Lord puts before us the parable of the Lost and Found Sheep. How do you feel when you lose or misplace something valuable? I do not consider myself a miser. I confess that I embarrass myself how diligently I search for something until I find it. Or I am forced to stop searching because the search has become absurd and ridiculous.

Once upon a time, I prepared for weeks to teach Young Adults Confirmation class, a 7 weeks course. I walked into the classroom on the first night and found just one sheep. Just one sheep? To make a long story short, I declined to go ahead with the course. The Lord came after me quickly. First, He sent the young man's mother to confront me the following Sunday. "I worked so hard to convince my son to register for the course with the hope that the course and the Confirmation Sacrament would lead him back to the Church."

The very next Sunday, we had the Parable of the Lost Sheep as the Gospel. At the end of the Mass, I have got more than enough lesson and rebuke for my misdeed.

"And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.  In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost." (Matthew 18: 13 - 14).

"Paris is worth a Mass," so the saying goes. If bringing home one lost sheep causes rejoicing in Heaven, God forbid that I will deny Heaven such a joy!

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, December 08, 2019

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.

"Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1: 38).

Monday of the 2nd week of Advent is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (Moved from Sunday December 8th). What is the Immaculate Conception?

"To become the mother of the Savior, Mary "was enriched by God with gifts appropriate to such a role." The angel Gabriel at the moment of the annunciation salutes her as "full of grace". In fact, in order for Mary to be able to give the free assent of her faith to the announcement of her vocation, it was necessary that she be wholly borne by God's grace." (CCC 490).

In other words, the Immaculate Conception is the special Gift God bestowed on Mary for her Mission.
Mission = Mother of the Redeemer.
Enabling gift is her sinlessness from the moment of conception.

I experienced my annunciation moment when I returned to the practice of the faith after 20 years of AWOL. God used my brokenness and placed me in a desert for a considerable time. One evening, I broke out in desperate prayer addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The response to that prayer is unforgettable:
"ALL you need is the Holy Spirit." I went searching to find out what is the Holy Spirit. Many years after the blessed elocution, I came to understand what my response will always be: "Lord, let ALL that I need be always the Holy Spirit."

Do you believe that God can speak to you through a silent inner voice, through Sacred Scriptures, in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, in the Mass, through a human being?

"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee! Blessed art thou among women." (Luke 1: 28)."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Second Week of Advent - A Kairos of Grace.


"The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the Lord, and his delight shall be the fear of the Lord." (Isaiah 11: 2 - 3).

Second Sunday of Advent. The Prophet Isaiah prophesying some 700 years before the Birth of Jesus gives us the sharpest profile of the Messiah. In this profile, we see that the Son of Man and Son of Mary will be Son of God.

What the Church teaches as the Seven Gifts and 12 Fruits of the Holy Spirit are attributes of God.

Fathers of the Church have taught for centuries that Jesus Christ became Man so that we humans may become gods. We become gods through the transformative work of the Holy Spirit. A transformation that starts in our Baptism. The Church's liturgical cycle provides some key growth points in this Journey of Faith. Lent and Advent are the principal seasons of the liturgical year.

"Thus says the LORD:
In a time of favor I answer you,
on the day of salvation I help you."  (Isaiah 49: 8).

Faith is accepting the word of God as true.  Then act according to the the word you believe.

Advent is Now. A Time (Kairos) of divine favor.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, December 06, 2019

Feast of St Ambrose of Milan.


"Jesus sent out these twelve after instructing them thus: Go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  As you go, make this proclamation: ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 10: 5, 6 - 7).

Saturday of the 1st week of Advent is the feast of St Ambrose (340 - 397), Bishop and Doctor of the Church. St Ambrose was still unbaptized and mayor of the imperial city of Milan when he was elected the Bishop of Milan. Aided by the Holy Spirit, Ambrose quickly rose to the challenges of his calling. God gave him the courage of an apostle and made him an outstanding teacher in the Church. He was famous for his care of the poor and his apostolic zeal and opposition to the Arian heresy which was the scourge of the Church in the 4th and 5th century. St Ambrose converted and baptized St Augustine.

The Twelve Apostles sent out to mission by Jesus in our Gospel of today has a worthy successor in St Ambrose. Why are the saints a critical part of our Christian heritage?

#1 Honoring the saints glorifies Jesus, the Prince of all the saints.
#2 How do we know that Christianity is true? Because of the lives of the saints. The saints modeled the life of Jesus Christ and many of them laid down their lives to defend the truth of the Faith.

"Lead us, who have been strengthened by the power of this Sacrament, O Lord, so to profit from the teaching of Saint Ambrose that, hastening fearlessly along your paths, we may be prepared for the delights of the eternal banquet.
Through Christ our Lord." (Prayer after Communion, feast of St Ambrose).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, December 05, 2019

Do you believe that I can do this?


“Son of David, have pity on us!” When he entered the house, the blind men approached him and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him." (Matthew 9: 27 - 28).

Friday of the 1st week of Advent is the First Friday in December and the feast of St Nicholas (4th century). St. Nicholas was the Bishop of Myra in present day Turkey. He was at the Council of Nicaea and signed the famous document, the Nicene Creed. His deep concern for the poor and needy netted him the title of Santa Claus throughout the centuries.

In our Scripture verse for today, Jesus asks a point blank question: “Do you believe that I can do this?” When you come to Jesus for intervention in your health, family issues, job, money, tools and possessions, do you come with expectant faith? Or is your attitude: If Jesus does not provide the health or money quickly, I will go to my expert doctor or my bank manager.

Brethren, read the dialog below. Believe what you read. Practice what you believe.
“Do you believe that I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they said to him. Then he touched their eyes and said, “Let it be done for you according to your faith.” (Matthew 9 : 28 - 29).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday, December 6, 2019.


December 6th, 2019  -  First Friday in December.

The 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus:  Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 12th and last month of the year 2019, we look at Promise #12.

#12. "The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour."

Friends, this is a tremendous promise. Let us thank our Lord Jesus Christ for such a generous offer. You will appreciate this promise when you are close to death. No fear. No worry. No doubt about your eternal destiny.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday by attending Holy Mass.

For the 12 Promises of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, click the link below:

http://sfjweb.com/?q=content/sacred-heart-12-promises

Seekfirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Have you ever trusted the Lord in health and in sickness?

"Trust in the Lord for ever,
for the Lord is the everlasting Rock." (Isaiah 26: 4).

Thursday of the 1st week of Advent. What a powerful Scripture we have today for our Advent 2019 Journey of Faith.

Trust in the Lord forever!
Do you trust in the Lord forever?
Have you ever trusted in the Lord forever?
In sickness and in health?
In poverty and riches?
In full stomach and empty stomach?
In popularity and loneliness?

The reason why you must trust in the Lord forever is because "the Lord is an eternal Rock."
God never fails.
He never disappoints.
He never delays.
The Lord is ever faithful (semper fidelis).


Faithfulness is said to be the very essence of God. When I did a word study on Faithfulness, I found it is one of the 12 fruits of the Holy Spirit. I found this on Faithfulness from the dictionary:

"True, devoted, staunch.
Faithful, constant, loyal imply qualities of stability, dependability, and devotion. Faithful implies long-continued and steadfast fidelity to whatever one is bound to by a pledge, duty, or obligation: a faithful friend."

I liked what I read. With this in mind, I reread one of my favorite Bible verse with the word "faithfulness".

"Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3: 22 - 23 NIV).

In another version:
"The Lord’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent;
They are renewed each morning—great is your faithfulness!"
(Lamentations 3: 22 - 23 NABRE).

I decided that I can trust in the Lord forever. I will take the Lord as my eternal Rock! I will be like a wise man who built his house on rock!

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

Have you tried to imagine Heaven?


"On this mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples
A feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines." (Isaiah 25: 6).

Wednesday in the 1st week of Advent is the feast of St John Damascene (675 - 749) priest, religious, Doctor of the Church. Before his ordination to the priesthood in 726, he was finance minister to the Caliph.  His work of life was mostly study and writing where he produced books in dogmatic theology. But his defense of the use of images is his striking contribution to the history of the development of theology. Without John Damascene, we may not be able to use these images in worship or in our devotions: Sacred Heart, Divine Mercy, Mary and the Saints. Thank you St John Damascene.

When we celebrated the Solemnity of Christ the King, we reflected on the nature of the Kingdom that Jesus Christ came to establish.
We noted the core themes of His Kingship. Now let us recall the key attributes of the Son of Man from Daniel 7:

#1 Dominion and kingship
#2 Splendor
#3 Everlasting /eternal
#4 Indestructible
#5 Universal

Daniel saw clearly in the vision of the night Jesus Christ and the Kingdom He established through His death on the Cross.

Today, we are served the vision of Isaiah of the Kingdom, the New Earth. Isaiah calls it: "The Mountain." Consider some of the characteristics:

#1 Great Banquet
#2 No death. No tears.
#3 No sin. No reproaches.
#4 Universal reconciliation.

When you put together a composite of these visions, a very striking picture of the King and the Kingdom begin to emerge. Paul writes that no eye has seen, nor ear heard nor has it ever entered into the mind of man what God has prepared for those who love Him. The Sacred Scriptures give a tiny glimpse of that future.

Today's Gospel from Matthew 15 is a prefiguration of what will happen "on this Mountain."
"They all ate and were satisfied. They picked up the fragments left over—seven baskets full." (Matthew 15: 37). Abundance and generosity of God will be in full display.

I am very excited. How about you?

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, December 02, 2019

Feast of St Francis Xavier, Model of Missionary Zeal!


“Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.  Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned." (Mark 16: 15 - 16).

Tuesday of the 1st week of Advent is the feast of St Francis Xavier (1506 - 1552), priest and missionary. "Born in Navarre, Spain, he studied in Paris where he became a follower of St Ignatius Loyola. He was one of the first seven members of the Society of Jesus. Francis tirelessly proclaimed the Gospel in India, China and Japan bringing over 30,000 souls to Christ." (Roman Missal).

Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. This is exactly what St Francis Xavier did. This endeavor earned him the recognition as one of the greatest missionaries after St Paul. He is the co-patron of the Missions.

The world has changed greatly since the days of St Paul and of our St Francis Xavier who was born in the 16th century. Then, not everyone could participate in evangelization. Today, because of the wide availability of technology, everyone can distribute and share the word even if you can not create content. A good part of the work I do in evangelization is sharing and distributing content created by other people. I use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, etc.
To be able to do this effectively, one needs the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit and Prayer. There is so much fake content in the cyber world. "Buyer Beware!"

"Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature." Most of us should be able to keep this sacred mandate.

St Francis Xavier pray for us.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, December 01, 2019

Lord I believe Your one word can heal me.


“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed." (Matthew 8: 8).

Monday of the 1st week of Advent. Our daily Scripture verse today will be familiar to many people. Have you ever paused to wonder what it means and why we say it before Holy Communion?

When Jesus offered to visit the Roman centurion and heal his sick servant, the centurion said: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed." We know the rest of the story.

The universal Church puts on our mouth the centurion's inspired words just before we receive Jesus in Holy Communion. Imagine the dialog:
Jesus: "I am eager to come into your heart and bless you deeply."
You: “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and I will be healed."

Do you truly believe what you receive in the Eucharist? If you do not believe, your words are ineffectual. But if you believe, this could be your moment of miracle.

Won't you like to hear this sweet music? "And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.” And at that very hour [his] servant was healed." (Matthew 8: 13).

Do not waste the opportunity of a miracle during Holy Communion.
"Let us then approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." (Hebrews 4: 16).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Advent - A Season of Joy and Expectations Begins!


"Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come." (Matthew 24: 42).

Today is the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is the Season when the Church prepares for the memorial of the first Coming of Jesus as a little child in Bethlehem. This remembrance causes us to anticipate His second Coming as Lord and Judge. "Advent is thus a period of devout and joyful expectation."

The purpose of Advent devotions is to cause us to increase our longing for Jesus. The second Reading encourages us to "put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh." (Romans 13: 14).

Praying more and the study of Holy Scriptures are good ways to be expectant and vigilant.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Unsubscribe

Dailybibleverse@sfjweb.com

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Feast of St Andrew the Apostle.

"Beside the Sea of Galilee, the Lord saw two brothers, Peter and Andrew, and he said to them: Come after me and I will make you fishers of men." (Cf: Matthew 4: 18 - 19).

Saturday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time. The Liturgical Year ends today with the feast of St Andrew the Apostle. Who is St Andrew? Brother of St Peter and the first Apostle to be called by Jesus. He introduced Peter to Jesus. Preached the Gospel in Greece where he was crucified on an X-Shaped cross. St Andrew is the patron saint of Russia and Scotland. 

Two things struck me in the Call of St Andrew:

#1 "And they [he & his brother Simon] left their nets at once and followed him."
AT ONCE: No delay. No hesitation. 

#2 "Andrew told his brother Simon:
We have found the Messiah, the Christ, and he brought him to Jesus." (Cf John 1: 41- 42).
When you have SOMETHING really good to share, who is the first on the list? 

Jesus Christ is glorified when we honor His saints. The Liturgy on this feast of St Andrew brings out this marvelous truth of the Communion of the Saints:

#1 "We humbly implore your majesty, O Lord, that, just as the blessed Apostle Andrew was for your Church a preacher and pastor, so he may be for us a constant intercessor before you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.... " (Collect). 

#2 "May communion in your Sacrament strengthen us, O Lord,
so that by the example of the blessed Apostle Andrew we, who carry in our body the Death of Christ, may merit to live with him in glory.Who lives and reigns for ever and ever." (Prayer After Communion).
Use the power of example/biography to climb the ladder of holiness. If she does it, so can I. 

#3 "SOLEMN BLESSING: MASS OF THE APOSTLES:

May God, who has granted you
to stand firm on apostolic foundations, graciously bless you through the glorious merits
of the holy Apostle Andrew.
R. Amen.

And may he who endowed you
with the teaching and example of the Apostles, make you, under their protection,witnesses to the truth before all.
R. Amen.

So that through the intercession of the Apostles, you may inherit the eternal homeland, for by their teaching you possess firmness of faith.
R. Amen.

And may the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit,come down on you and remain with you for ever.
R. Amen."
 (https://www.catholicdoors.com/prayers/prefaces.htm). 

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com 

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The Son of Man is the King of Kings.


"I saw coming with the clouds of heaven One like a son of man.
When he reached the Ancient of Days and was presented before him, He received dominion, splendor, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed." (Daniel 7: 13 - 14).

Friday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time. The Prophet Daniel gives us an astonishing vision of the Son of Man.

Why does our Scripture for today point to the King and the Kingdom to come? Remember last Sunday, we celebrated the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe? We noted the core themes of His Kingship. Now let us look at the key attributes of the Son of Man from Daniel 7:

#1 Dominion and kingship
#2 Splendor
#3 Everlasting /eternal
#4 Indestructible
#5 Universal

Daniel saw clearly in vision of the night Jesus Christ and the Kingdom He established through His death on the Cross. The seed of that Kingdom exists today in His Church. That Kingdom is unfolding bit by bit as the Church grows every day in charity, faith and hope.

Are you inside the Kingdom or are you outside? You are either for Me or you are against Me. "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

His heart is full of joy and gladness because he served the Lord with constancy.


“May your God, whom you serve so constantly, save you.” (Daniel 6: 17).

Thursday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time is Thanksgiving Day in America.

Daniel was accused of breaking the law because he prayed to his God. As a punishment, King Darius had Daniel thrown into the Lion's Den. But Daniel was too valuable for King Darius to lose. He knew palace intrigues got him into the Lion's Den. . Knowing how faithful Daniel has served his God, Darius prayed: “May your God, whom you serve so constantly, save you.”

Have you served your God constantly? Any evidence? If you serve the Lord with constancy, your heart will be filled with constant gladness and lasting happiness, the Church teaches through her Collect Prayer.

On Thanksgiving Day, let us lift our hearts and minds to God:
"Father all-powerful, your gifts of love are countless and your goodness infinite; as we come before you on Thanksgiving Day with gratitude for your kindness, open our hearts to have concern for every man, woman, and child, so that we may share your gifts in loving service.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever." (Collect, Thanksgiving Mass).

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Spirit of Jesus Christ delivered me from the spirit of addiction.


"Under the influence of the wine, Belshazzar ordered the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar, his father,had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, to be brought in so that the king, his nobles, his consorts, and his concubines might drink from them." (Daniel 5: 2).

Wednesday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time. Tomorrow, Thursday is Thanksgiving Day in America. Is it a coincidence that the Sacred Scriptures is inviting us to reflect on the theme of "Under the Influence."

That America is under the curse of addiction, no honest person will deny. This is the downside of being the richest country in human history. Under the influence of alcohol, Belshazzar desecrated sacred vessels reserved for worship in the Temple of the Lord and committed sacrilege. Both are grievous abominations that are punished swiftly. Recall that under the influence of alcohol, King Herod chopped off the head of John the Baptist.

Here in America, alcohol is one of the long list of our addictions, others are prescription drugs, pornography, TV, etc. There is also a curious addiction to activity which saps energy and mental health because the addict is endlessly moving here and there seeking something to engage himself.

There is good news about many addictions. Sacred Scripture identifies the source of addictions as "sarx", flesh:
"Live by the Spirit and you will certainly not gratify the desire of the flesh. For the flesh has desires against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you may not do what you want.  But if you are guided by the Spirit, you are not under the law." The word of God becomes specific:

"Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions,  occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like."  (Galatians 5: 19 - 21).
All the above may be demonic influences.

But if you are guided by the Spirit, you will never be under any kind of influence. The Spirit of Jesus Christ set me free from my own addictions. Now, that I am free, I guard my freedom jealously with the grace of God.

"Even if you have to die, says the Lord, keep faithful, and I will give you the crown of life." (Revelation 2: 10).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, November 25, 2019

All the kingdoms of this world are passing away.


“All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” (Luke 21: 6).

Tuesday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time. We are in the last week in Ordinary Time. The theme of the first Reading and the Gospel centers on the end of the ages.

If the numerous prophecies in the Scriptures do not convince us of the inevitability of the end of all things as we know them, let history convince us. Kingdom after kingdom has risen and fallen. Empire after empire has fallen into the dust heap of history. Where is the Third Reich that Hitler boasted will last a thousand years? It lasted only 12 years.

Last Sunday, we celebrated the Solemnity of Jesus Christ the King of the Universe. His kingdom will be glorious, full of splendor and everlasting. Daniel prophesied in the first Reading:
"In the lifetime of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed or delivered up to another people." (Daniel 2: 44).

Instead of constantly chasing after a kingdom doomed to destruction, make your top priority God's kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from Jesus, not only will you live in peace but everything you need will be given to you abundantly.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Is this widow seeking first the kingdom of God?


"As Jesus looked up, he saw rich people putting their offerings into the treasury; then he happened to notice a poverty-stricken widow putting in two small coins, and he said, ‘I tell you truly, this poor widow has put in more than any of them; for these have all contributed money they had over, but she from the little she had has put in all she had to live on." (Luke 21: 1-4).

Monday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Catherine of Alexandria (+310), Virgin and Martyr. "According to tradition, St Catherine was a woman remarkable for her courage and learning." She was martyred under Emperor Maxentius for converting his wife and 200 soldiers. Why do we honor the saints? Because Christ Jesus is glorified in His saints when we honor them.

Why is the Widow's Mite such a powerful story?

++ God does not see people, events and situations as we see them. 

#1 It is not a parable but an eye witness account of what Jesus observed in the Temple. 

#2 The widow came to the Temple with 2 pennies, her last card and put it all in the collection basket.

#3 Jesus watched her do it.

#4 The enduring lesson of the widow's example: All we are and own come from God. We can never outdo God in generosity.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6: 33 NLT).

"Behold, I am with you always,

even to the end of the age, says the Lord." (Matthew 28: 20). 

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Unsubscribe

Dailybibleverse@sfjweb.com 

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Solemnity of Christ the King.


“If you are King of the Jews, save yourself.”  Above him there was an inscription that read, “This is the King of the Jews.” (Luke 23: 37 - 38).

Sunday of the 34th week in Ordinary Time is the Solemnity of Christ the King. Today marks the end of this Liturgical Year.

We hear that Christ reigns from the Cross. What does this mean? On the last confrontation with the Jewish authorities inside the Temple, "Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." (John 2: 19).  Jesus was referring to the Temple of His body as representing the old law and dispensation. That Temple was destroyed on the Cross. The veil of the Temple was torn in half at the death of Jesus and the entire Temple destroyed 70 years later. And from the Cross emerged not a Temple but a Kingdom. The seed of that Kingdom exists in the Church. Now let's see what the Church says:

"Though already present in his Church, Christ's reign is nevertheless yet to be fulfilled "with power and great glory" by the King's return to earth. This reign is still under attack by the evil powers, even though they have been defeated definitively by Christ's Passover. Until everything is subject to him, "until there be realized new heavens and a new earth in which justice dwells, the pilgrim Church, in her sacraments and institutions, which belong to this present age, carries the mark of this world which will pass, and she herself takes her place among the creatures which groan and travail yet and await the revelation of the sons of God." That is why Christians pray, above all in the Eucharist, to hasten Christ's return by saying to him: Marana tha! "Our Lord, come!" (CCC 671).

"The Lord sits as King for ever.
The Lord will bless his people with peace." (Psalm 28: 10 - 11).

Jesus, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, November 22, 2019

You will be like angels.


"Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise." (Luke 20: 34 - 36).

Saturday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time. The Gospel of today addresses a very important curiosity about the end times and the last things. What is heaven like? Will my husband recognize me? Will my family be together? How about my pets?

Last Sunday, we discussed Heaven and Hell in our RCIA class. It soon became evident how hard it is to imagine the other world. Jesus strikes a familiar New Testament theme about Heaven when He says:
"They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise."

It is going to be everlasting life for those who are chosen. I like very much what Jesus says about the chosen being like angels. The promise of Heaven and eternity becomes even sweeter in this promise:
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2: 9).

Let these promises fill your hearts with peace and joy and comfort one another with these holy thoughts.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Feast of St Cecilia, Patron saint of musicians.


"On the anniversary of the day on which the Gentiles had desecrated it [Temple], on that very day it was rededicated with songs, harps, lyres, and cymbals.  All the people prostrated themselves and adored and praised Heaven, who had given them success." (1 Maccabees 4: 54 - 55).

Friday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Cecilia (+ 3rd century) Virgin and Martyr. St Cecilia is the patron saint of music and musicians. Her name is mentioned in the Roman Canon. Music plays a central role in the worship and liturgy of the Church. St Augustine says that to sing is to pray twice.

Our first Reading from  1 Maccabees is a fitting Scripture to celebrate the feast of St Cecilia. The Maccabees reconsecrated the desecrated Temple on the 25th day of Chislev "with songs, harps, lyres, and cymbals."

At the heart of religion is worship. At the heart of worship is praise and thanksgiving. God loves music. It has been my great joy to listen to about 20 minutes of music every morning. This gift of music makes my day. I thank God for this wonderful blessing.
Let us lift up musicians and artists today in our prayers.

St Cecilia pray for us.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

We will not obey the wicked orders of the king.


"But Mattathias answered in a loud voice: “Although all the Gentiles in the king’s realm obey him, so that they forsake the religion of their ancestors and consent to the king’s orders,  yet I and my sons and my kindred will keep to the covenant of our ancestors.  Heaven forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments." (1 Maccabees 2: 19 - 21).

Thursday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time is the feast of the Presentation of the three year old Virgin Mary in the Temple. Here is what the Church says about this feast:
"The Church preserves the early tradition that as a small child, Mary was presented to the Lord by her parents in the Temple. This celebration calls our attention to the total dedication of Mary to God's service and her obedience to God's plan. We, too, are called to serve God joyfully and without seeking any human glory in return." (Roman Missal).

In our key Scripture today from 1 Maccabees, Mattathias stood his ground and declared: "I and my sons and my kindred will keep to the covenant of our ancestors.  Heaven forbid that we should forsake the law and the commandments." Do you see that such a stance means death sentence for the person. This statement is not made lightly.
Remember Eleazar, the 90 year old man who was bludgeoned to death for refusing to eat meat forbidden by the law? Scripture says that Eleazar made up his mind ahead of time on what to do in such a situation. (Cf 2 Maccabees 6: 23).

In a similar cross road in the early history of Israel, Joshua declared:
"If you refuse to serve the LORD, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24: 15). Joshua had decided that come what may, he would serve the Lord.

"Offer praise as your sacrifice to God; fulfill your vows to the Most High. Then call on me on the day of distress; I will rescue you, and you shall honor me.” (Psalm 50: 14 - 15).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Martyrdom of a mother and her 7 sons.


"Most admirable and worthy of everlasting remembrance was the mother who, seeing her seven sons perish in a single day, bore it courageously because of her hope in the Lord." (2 Maccabees 7: 20).

Wednesday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time. Our first Reading is the incredible story of how a strong and holy mother watched her seven sons martyred one after the other rather than submit to the profanation of their faith. She died last. What are some of the lessons of this incredible story?

"Do not be afraid of this executioner, but be worthy of your brothers and accept death, so that in the time of mercy I may receive you again with your brothers.” (2 Maccabees 7: 29).

In the words of Jesus:
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Matthew 10: 28).

This most admirable mother who birthed her seven sons into heaven is type and shadow of the Blessed Virgin Mary who walked the way of the Cross with her Son Jesus and stood under the Cross for hours to watch Him die for us.

In the Gospel of today from Luke 19, the Parable of the Ten Gold Coins, Jesus teaches:
"I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away." (Luke 19: 26).

Faith may well be our greatest asset. What are you doing with your talents?

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, November 18, 2019

How Eleazar died with dignity.


"But Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years, the dignity of his advanced age, the merited distinction of his gray hair, and of the admirable life he had lived from childhood; and so he declared that above all he would be loyal to the holy laws given by God." (2 Maccabees 6: 23).

Tuesday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time. The 1st Reading from the 2nd Book of Maccabees tells us of how Eleazar, the 90 year old noble man died a martyr's death.

What is the great lesson for us in this Scripture? Never think or say: It is insanity to imagine that such a persecution could ever happen today. We learn that "Eleazar made up his mind in a noble manner, worthy of his years." In the fight against sin and evil, you must make up your mind what to do, how to act in different compromising scenarios. If you don't, you may find yourself compromised "for the sake of a brief moment of life." (2 Maccabees 6: 25). The English Hierarchy under King Henry VIII in the 16th century were completely unprepared for persecution.  Except St John Fisher, all succumbed to the threat of the King and renounced their faith.

Why does the Holy Spirit give the Church this Scripture today? Be vigilant and pray always. O that you would listen to His voice, harden not your hearts.

"Grant us, we pray, O Lord our God,
the constant gladness of being devoted to you, for it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the author of all that is good. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son.. " (Collect, today).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Bartimaeus wanted to see so badly.


 “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” (Luke 18: 37).

Monday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time. Our Gospel story of today is the story of the Blind man called Bartimaeus in the Gospel of Mark.

Why is Bartimaeus a very interesting character and why is the story of his healing filled with spiritual lessons? A Pre-Advent Parish Mission two years ago at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus inspired me with interest in Bartimaeus.  The teaching on Bartimaeus on Day 1 of 4 of the Mission was keynote and made a permanent impression on me. This is why:

Bartimaeus was prepared for this moment.  Fortune favors the prepared person. What would you do if you hear that Jesus is passing by a couple of blocks from you? No one could prevent Bartimaeus from meeting Jesus. Bart has an urgent and pressing problem which he determined that only Jesus can resolve. Problems are good for everyone. 

Jesus saw the faith and enthusiasm of Bartimaeus and said to him: “What do you want me to do for you?”  The blind man replied, “Master, I want to see.” Bart was direct.  No beating about the bush.  Jesus told him, “Go your way; your faith has saved you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed him on the way."  (Mark 10:  49 - 52).

Bartimaeus became a disciple of Jesus. St Ignatius Loyola teaches that desire transforms a man. Some social scientists have stated that we get what we desire with intensity. What do you desire most in your heart? Desire makes a man.

Ask the Holy Spirit with persistence to purify your desires and replace them with God's promises.

"Now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." (Philippians 4: 8).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Are you ready for your opportunity to bear witness?


"They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.  It will lead to your giving testimony." (Luke 21: 12 - 13).

Sunday of the 33rd week in Ordinary Time. Next Sunday will be the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe. It marks the end of the current Liturgical Year. Can you hear from the Scriptures the drumbeat that shift our gear to end times?

In brief, before the end comes, there will be a shakedown of the faith of everyone. Only those who have learned to be faithful from the daily practice of the faith will survive. Those who have put their faith on hold will run to their parents, siblings, children, neighbors and bang on the door and cry in panic: "Please give us some oil for our lamp!"

"By your perseverance you will secure your lives." (Luke 21: 19).

Do not postpone the practice of your faith. There will be no opportunity to go to the Church, get into your home to search for your Bible or Rosary.

"Master,’ they said ‘when will this happen, then, and what sign will there be that this is about to take place?"

O that you hear His voice today, harden not your hearts.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com