Thursday, March 04, 2021

The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

"Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the scriptures: "The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; by the Lord has this been done, and it is wonderful in our eyes’?" (Matthew 21: 42).

Friday 5th March 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent is the First Friday in March.

I had an unforgettable experience with our key Scripture for today: "The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone." In the first experience, this was quoted to me by the Head of Personnel of a large company when he handed me a letter of promotion. The background was this: After a period of internationalization, everyone believed an immediate promotion was in the works for me. It never came till five years later.

The second experience with this Scripture came when the job was gone after three years. A regional manager I had known not too well quoted the Scripture to me when he learned I was no longer with the company. This key Scripture is a Messianic prophecy applying to Jesus.

What am I to make of this Scripture? God wants us to understand a central truth of Salvation. This truth is called Divine Providence. It can be understood as Divine Plan, Blueprint, Purpose, Design. God governs all things from Beginning to End through His Divine Providence. We see it in our first Reading today. Joseph was sold by his siblings and ended up in Egypt as a slave. This seemingly blind act of jealousy was part of God's Plan to save the family of Jacob and make Joseph the Prince of Egypt.

The Passion and Resurrection of Jesus was all part of God's plan for the salvation of humanity. This plan  was conceived long ago and faithfully executed. The doctrine of Divine Providence has been called the most beautiful and comforting doctrine in the Deposit of Faith.

Mary answered: Be it done to me according to Your Plan. And the Word became Flesh.

What does the Church teach on Divine Providence? To find out, click the link below:

http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2021/03/the-church-on-divine-providence.html?m=1

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

The Church on Divine Providence.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church :

321 Divine providence consists of the dispositions by which God guides all his creatures with wisdom and love to their ultimate end.

322 Christ invites us to filial trust in the providence of our heavenly Father (cf.Mt 6:26-34), and St. Peter the apostle repeats: "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you" (I Pt 5:7; cf. Ps55:23).

323 Divine providence works also through the actions of creatures. To human beings God grants the ability to cooperate freely with his plans.

324 The fact that God permits physical and even moral evil is a mystery that God illuminates by his Son Jesus Christ who died and rose to vanquish evil. Faith gives us the certainty that God would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life.

SeekFirstcommunity.com

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this First Friday, March 5th.

March 5th, First Friday in March, 2021.

Jesus promised 12 special graces and favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.  In the 3rd month of the year 2021, we look at Promise #3.

#3.  "I will console them in all their troubles."

In Promise #3, Jesus does not promise a trouble free life.  "I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  (John 16: 33 ). Consider also:
"My son, if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal." (Sirach 2: 1).

Troubles are opportunity to grow spiritually.  "I promise to be your strength in proportion to the trust you place on Me." The more you trust Jesus, the more He is your comfort, strength and security in trials.

Remind the Lord often of these promises. Remind Him also of His promise to answer every prayer. (Matthew 7: 7).

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the First Friday of March, 2021.

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

http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2020/08/12-promises-of-sacred-heart-of-jesus.html?m=1

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

The Feast of the Patron Saint of Poland, St Casimir.

"He [former rich man] said, ‘Oh no, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent." (Luke 16: 30).

Thursday 4th March 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent is the feast of St Casimir (1458 - 1484). Son of King Casimir IV of Poland and Lithuania. Casimir refrained from the court life. His siblings, the princes and princesses were not interested in religion.  His faith and piety shone out. Casimir had a great devotion to the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary.
St Casimir is the patron saint of Poland and Lithuania.

Imagine yourself at a Sunday Mass where the Preacher is someone who died three months ago and came back to life after a week in the grave.  You listen with wrap attention as he speaks of what he saw of heaven and hell. How would this experience affect your faith? You become more devout? More Eucharist and Confession? More sensitivity to the poor and afflicted?
If you say Yes to this query, Abraham will say to you point blank:  Man, you are not serious!

The Pharisees and the Religious elites challenged Jesus to climb down from the Cross and they would believe in Him and become His followers. We know what happened. They never believed Him. They never became His followers. Instead, they persecuted His followers.

What is the import of today's Scripture verse?
We have everything we need to become strong Christians from the word of God preached daily in the churches and from the witness of the saints living in our midst.

O man, "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you." (Ephesians 5: 14).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

What do you desire? What do you want?

“What do you wish?” (Matthew 20: 21).

Wednesday 3rd March 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent is the feast of St Katharine Drexel (1858 - 1955). Virgin and Religious Nun. American. Educator and Foundress of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament. Her passion for the education of Indians, Colored and Black people translated in opening mission schools. She founded Xavier University in New Orleans. By the time she was taken home for her eternal rewards, more than 500 of her sisters were teaching in 63 schools.

In our key Scripture for today, Jesus asked the mother of James and John:  “What do you wish?” What if Jesus asks you today, Lent day 2021: What do you want? What is your desire? Some might answer:
a. Important position like Treasurer or finance minister.
b. Great family.
c. Great health.
d. Billions of dollars.
e. Great estate.

Desires are very important revelator of who we are. St Ignatius Loyola, the creator of the Spiritual Exercises writes that Desire makes a man. Therefore watch your desires. The senses are the gateways to desire into the heart. Watch what you admit.

If you allow the Holy Spirit to transform your mind and heart through His word, He transforms your desires at the same time. You no longer desire the things the world desires that make you conform to the thinking and habits of this world. You have a new heart and a new mind enabled to discern the will of God in everything. This will empower you to prove to yourself and your friends that the will of God /plan of God for you is the best possible thing.

"Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire." (Psalm 37: 4).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, March 01, 2021

Humility by Example.

"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Matthew 23: 12).

Tuesday 2nd March 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent.

Today, the lesson from our key Scripture is humility. What is humility? Here is a definition by example:
+ Jesus Christ is humility.
+ St. Mary is humility.
+ St Martin de Poress is humility.
+ St Brother Andre is humility.

How about me? I was sharing faith experience with a prayer partner, when he told me that he was reading a book on humility. Why? I asked. "Everybody thinks I am very proud!" I laughed aloud and he wondered why I found the idea amusing. I answered: "Because over 75% of people who know me tell me in my face that I am proud, arrogant, vain, haughty, etc." I added with a laugh: "They just don't think but they tell me to my face." How did I handle this liability, he wanted to know. I have many patron saints. I wrote down those whose humility impressed me like the Blessed Virgin Mary and prayed to them daily to obtain the grace of humility for me. Prayer  always seems to me a direct way to obtain spiritual gifts than study. Today I am not bothered about what people call me or think of me. I am not bothered whether I am raised to honor or humbled or cast down. Thank You Jesus for your merciful love.

JESUS-EMMANUEL I trust in Your merciful love. I do not depend on my filthy works. I surrender myself completely to You. Take care of everything Your way according to Your Plan and Providence for me?

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Be merciful as Abba Father is merciful to you.

"Be merciful, as your Father is merciful, says the Lord." (Luke 6: 36).

Monday 1st March 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent.

Jesus urges us to show pity on others, to be tender, compassionate, forgiving just as Abba Father treats us.

How is Father merciful to us?
A few examples from the Scriptures:

#1. Bless the Lord, my soul; and do not forget all his gifts,
Who pardons all your sins, and heals all your ills." (Psalm 103: 2 - 3).

#2." 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).

#3.
“Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, you who keep your covenant and show mercy toward those who love you and keep your commandments and your precepts!" (Daniel 9: 4).

The Scriptures have been constant in showing us that our God is the Father of mercies and the God of all consolations. He waits for the sinner to come home as in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

What does this God of mercy expect from His children? He expects three things that can be summarized under the acronym of ABC of Mercy:
#A: Ask for mercy.
#B: Be merciful.
#C: Completely trust Jesus for mercy.

Jesus is the face of mercy of God the Father.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Why we must listen to the Son.

 "Then a cloud came, casting a shadow over them; then from the cloud came a voice, “This is  my beloved Son. Listen to him.” (Mark 9: 7).

Sunday 28th February 2021, in the 2nd Week in Lent.

In today's Gospel of the Transfiguration, Abba Father acknowledged His Son Jesus as the dearly Beloved and urged us to listen to Him always and obey Him. 
What is the import of the Transfiguration in the ministry of Jesus? 
"The Transfiguration gives us a foretaste of Christ's glorious coming, when he "will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body." But it also recalls that "it is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God" (CCC 556).

How do we fulfill the command of the Father to always listen to His Beloved Son? 
#1. We listen to His voice in the Scriptures and obey it. 
#2. We listen to the Bishops and obey them.  "Jesus concluded his instructions to the seventy with these words: “Remember this: Whoever listens to your message is actually listening to me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me, and not only me but the one who sent me.” (Cf Luke 10: 16 TPT).

What is your experience of listening to Jesus? What do you hear? Has what you heard impacted your life?

“So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. (Matthew 6: 33 TPT).

When I heard the above Scripture, I was totally captivated by it. I wrote it everywhere. I used SeekFirst +  as a business name. Today it is SeekFirstcommunity.com that hosts the Daily Bible Verse.

Listening to Jesus and obeying Him can change your life. Don't be afraid to try.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com 

Friday, February 26, 2021

Love your friends but do not hate your enemies.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." (Matthew 5: 43).

Saturday 27th February 2021, in the 1st Week in Lent.

To love your friends and hate those who hate you, a child might not have heard from anyone. The behavior is natural to fallen human nature. But as Christians, have you not heard:  "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you."

Jesus challenges us to be different from the world:
"Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes." (Romans 12: 2 TPT).

If you are today conforming to the habits and customs of the world, realize that on your own, you can never break out of this prison. The Holy Spirit, your Helper and Advocate is standing by to help you. He accomplishes this transformation when you become faithful and constant in daily prayer and daily nourishment with the word of God.

How long will it take for this transformation to happen? It depends on the intensity of your desire and the constancy of your prayer and study of the word of God. To those who manifest a great hunger for God, more will be given them. To those who are lukewarm, the little they have will be snatched from them.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, February 25, 2021

I take no pleasure in the death of a sinner.

"Do I indeed derive any pleasure from the death of the wicked? says the Lord God. Do I not rather rejoice when he turns from his evil way that he may live?" (Ezekiel 18: 23).

Friday 26th February 2021, in the 1st Week in Lent.

Is there a common thread in the Eucharistic Scriptures today? I would say Sin and Reconciliation. What would life be if the world is full of vice and iniquity without the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation?

In the fullness of time, after waiting for the Father's signal to indicate the fullness of time to start His ministry, Jesus put His meagre belongings in a backpack and headed for the Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist.

Why is Baptism the first act of Jesus' ministry? The answer is in the very first words Jesus uttered in His ministry. "At last the fullness of time has come. The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the GoodNews." (Cf Mark 1: 15).

So we see a direct connection between Sin and the GoodNews. (Salvation). No repentance, No GoodNews. No Salvation.

When we hear the call of Jesus and repent, we are baptized. The Baptism wipes out all the sins we have committed, restores us to friendship with God and makes us members of the the Christian community.

What if we commit sins after our Baptism? Jesus anticipated this in instituting the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Why is the Sacrament of Reconciliation necessary after Baptism?

"The forgiveness of sins committed after Baptism is conferred by a particular sacrament called the sacrament of conversion, confession, penance, or reconciliation: • sacrament of conversion because it makes sacramentally present Jesus' call to conversion, the first step in returning to the Father from whom one has strayed," teaches the Church.

"It is through the sacrament of Penance that the baptized can be reconciled with God and with the Church." (CCC 980).

To make the most of this great Sacrament, spend some time in prayer and examination of conscience. For a sample of an Examination of Conscience, click the link below:

http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2020/09/a-good-examination-of-conscience.html?m=1

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Learn how to pray from Queen Esther.

"Everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened." (Matthew 7: 8).

Thursday 25th February 2021, in the 1st Week in Lent. 

I noted many years ago in my Roman Missal that Thursday in the 1st Week in Lent is the "Thursday of Ask and Receive." Why? Because in my opinion, the Scripture Readings today bring together the theory and practice of Prayer. Consider the first Reading from the Book of Easter. What do we learn about Prayer? 
#1. Condition for Prayer. 
#2. Posture of Prayer. 
#3. Length of Prayer. 
#4. Confidence in Prayer. 

I like the topic of Prayer. I am a student of Prayer. I pray a lot. Practically every good thing I have in life, I have received through Prayer. I pray more than I work. When I teach RCIA, I pray about 60% of the time for inspiration and power, light and guidance and the success of the class and work less than 40% in course preparation. 

Prayer is a great gift and anybody can have this gift if you ask for it. 
Jesus promises that when you pray with persistence, you receive what you ask for provided what you ask for is in line with God's will for you. God is a loving and wise Father. No father will give a 12 year old son a BMW Super Bike of 350 miles per hour for a birthday present. Only an insane parent would do that. 
Therefore when you pray, remember this word of God:

"And we have this confidence in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in regard to whatever we ask, we know that what we have asked him for is ours" (1 John 5: 14-15). 

Prayer is one of the greatest gifts. To what can we compare Jesus teaching on Prayer? It can only be compared to the unveiling of the secret of the good life. 
"Seek first the kingdom of God and the holiness of life above every other thing. Then ask and you shall receive." (Cf Matthew 6: 33). 

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

There will be no more signs for you.

"While still more people gathered in the crowd, he [Jesus] said to them, “This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah." (Luke 11: 29).

Wednesday 24th February 2021, in the 1st Week in Lent.

In the first Reading, Jonah preached to the Ninivites and shared the testimony of his stay in the belly of the whale. The people and their king heard the message. They believed and repented.
St Paul preached to the Greeks in the Areopagus. They listened attentively but did not believe.

Jesus told the crowd today:  No more miracles for you. You keep looking for a big sign from heaven to prove that I am the Messiah. But what happened to Jonah is the only sign you will get.

My friends, where are you today in your spiritual walk? Are you still looking for more signs? Listen to what Abraham said to Dives, the former rich man who denied Lazarus the least sign that his life matters.
‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead." (Luke 16: 31).

We have in the Church all the signs we need. The Church of the living God is the sign of salvation. This Church subsists in the One, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church founded by Jesus Christ. This Church has visible structures. It exists in almost every country in the world. The Church has one Shepherd, one Liturgy and holds the entire Deposit of Faith.

What more are we looking for? There will be no more signs till the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, February 22, 2021

The Feast of St Polycarp, Bishop and Martyr.

"Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.... If you forgive men their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” (Matthew 6: 12...14 - 15).

Tuesday 23rd February 2021, in the 1st Week in Lent is the feast of an Apostolic Father, St Polycarp. (circa 69 - 155). Bishop of Smyrna in Turkey. Martyr. St Polycarp was instructed in the faith by St John the Apostle. He, Polycarp instructed St Irenaeus who became a Bishop and an early Church Father in France.

I hope my critics will not roast me alive as St Polycarp was roasted alive and finished off by swords when I make the statement below on our key Scripture for today:
MORE PEOPLE GO TO HELL BECAUSE OF UNFORGIVENESS THAN FOR ABORTION, ADULTERY, FORNICATION, LIES AND DEFAMATION, TAX EVASION, ETC.
Please leave a gentle comment. (Cf CCC 523). This is Lent. 

How do you deal with UNFORGIVENESS? This is what has worked for me:
#1. I try to forgive immediately. I try to forgive everyone: No discrimination as to sex, age, status, race or religion. No discrimination as to nature of offense.
#2. I pray for the offender: Father, forgive her for she knows not what she has done to me.
#3. Father, grant the grace to all the multitude that I have offended to forgive me.
#4. I perform this ritual every single morning during morning prayer. I finish by claiming the sweet peace of Christ.

"When I called, the God of justice gave me answer; from anguish you released me; have mercy, O Lord, and hear my prayer!" (Psalm 4: 2).

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, February 21, 2021

The Feast of the Chair of St Peter.

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”  He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16: 13 - 15).

Monday 22nd February 2021, Feast of the Chair of St Peter the Apostle.

What are we celebrating today?
+ The Papacy.
+ The Pope as Bishop of Rome.
+ St Peter, the Chairman of the Church and his successors to the Chair of St Peter.
+ The Teaching Authority of the Popes.
+ The universal Magisterium of the Roman Church.
+ The unity of the Church founded upon the Apostle Peter and his successors.

To the question of Jesus: Who do people say I am?
"Peter said to Jesus: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus replied: You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church." (Matthew 16: 16, 18).

Let us pray today especially for our Holy Father Pope Francis and for the unity of the Church.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com 

Saturday, February 20, 2021

The Holy Spirit rushed Jesus to the Desert for Spiritual Combat.

"The Spirit drove Jesus out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan. He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him." (Mark 1: 12 - 13).

Sunday 21st February 2021, 1st Sunday of Lent.

Today's short Gospel from Mark (Mark 1: 12 - 15) is packed with spiritual food. Let us consider the key words in our key Scripture for today:
#1. The Holy Spirit: He drove Jesus into the Desert, that is, He compelled Jesus to head to the Desert after His Baptism.
#2. Desert: A place of spiritual combat inhabited by wild beasts.
#3. Satan: The principal antagonist who tempts Jesus and employs the wild beasts.
#4. 40 Days: Critical duration for the Desert experience, the Struggle. Reminds us of Israel's 40 years in the Desert, Moses and Elijah's 40 days fasting.
#5. Wild beasts: A symbol of unsavory characters that haunt the "deserts" of this world. The Prodigal Son was in the abode of wild beasts.

The Temptation of Jesus in the Desert is a key Scripture in Lent to remind us of the real spiritual warfare we are engaged in day after day.

In the early days of my conversion, I heard this Scripture read from the lectern in a Sunday Mass:
“My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.”
"Endure your trials as “discipline”; God treats you as sons. For what “son” is there whom his father does not discipline?" (Hebrews 12: 5 - 7).

I left the Mass very happy because I came to understand what was going on in my life. God was not destroying me. He was training me as a son. I emerged from the School of the Desert a couple of years later equipped with this 7-Way Plan to live the Christian life:
#1. Prayer.
#2. Word of God.
#3. Eucharist.
#4. Penance.
#5. Examen.
#6. Ministry.
#7. Spiritual Reading.

Jesus showed me the Way: the 7-Way Plan.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, February 19, 2021

Light shall rise for you in the darkness.

"Thus says the Lord: If you remove from your midst oppression, false accusation and malicious speech; If you bestow your bread on the hungry and satisfy the afflicted; Then light shall rise for you in the darkness, and the gloom shall become for you like midday." (Isaiah 58: 9 - 10).

Saturday, 20th February 2021, Saturday after Ash Wednesday.

The Bible, God's own Book teaches us about God's mercy and loving kindness. The Church proclaims loudly that the holy Season of Lent is the time of salvation, the favorable season for God to pour out His goodness to His children who are prepared to receive.

Let us consider the promises in the first Reading from Isaiah. There is no doubt that there is darkness and gloom in the world today. The pandemics does not appear to be going away anytime soon. Governments all over the world are jittery. Banks and stock markets are sitting on edge. In all this commotion, the Creator of the universe makes a promise that cannot fail:

#1. Light shall rise for you in the darkness.
#2.  The gloom shall become for you like midday.
#3. The Lord will guide you always and give you plenty even on the parched land.
#4. He will renew your strength.
#5. You shall be like a watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.

There are more promises in Isaiah 58: 9 - 14. You may be tempted to think: Can all this be true? Yes of course if you fulfill the conditions which are not difficult:

#1. Stop oppression, false accusation and malicious speech.
#2. Share your bread with the hungry.
#3. Comfort the afflicted.
#4. Do not mess with the Lord's Day, Sunday.

Father, be merciful and consider our weakness. Help us with your loving power and merciful love for without You, we can do nothing.

The Church helps us know what is pleasing to God by giving us the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. To see the Works of Mercy, click the link below:
http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2020/11/works-of-mercy.html?m=1

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Fasting is not an optional tool in the Christian arsenal.

"Would that today you might fast so as to make your voice heard on high!" (Isaiah 58: 4).

Friday 19th February 2021, Friday after Ash Wednesday.

Friday is the traditional day of fasting. It is not a coincidence that the first Reading from Isaiah and the Gospel from Matthew today deal with fasting.  You surely know as a Christian that fasting is not optional as part of the armor of living the Christian life. Is there a good way to fast and unacceptable way?

In Isaiah 58, God says that there is an unacceptable way to fast:
"Even when you fast, you argue and fight and ·hit each other with your  wicked/sinful fists. You cannot do these things as you do now and ·believe your prayers are [expect to be] heard ·in heaven [on high]. (Isaiah 58: 4 EXB).
To decode the above:  Fasting and sinning are incompatible. Any fasting done without a repentant heart is useless. The fasting that appears to be recommended here is fasting and the Spiritual Works of Mercy.

Jesus adds an important note on fasting:  "But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to others to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you." (Matthew 6: 17 - 18).

Listen to God to find out the type of fasting that is acceptable to Him. Pursue His will and not yours.
"See, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits" (Isaiah 58: 3).

To see the Works of Mercy, click the link below:
http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2020/11/works-of-mercy.html?m=1

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

The Apostles forgot three predictions of the Passion and Death of Jesus the Messiah.

"Jesus said to his disciples: “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” (Luke 9: 22 - 23).

Thursday 18th February 2021, Thursday after Ash Wednesday.

In our key Scripture for today, Jesus made the first prediction of His passion and death. Sad to say, this prediction was rejected by those who heard it and blotted it out of their memory so to speak. They decided to believe what they wanted to believe which of course is falsehood. Accept it or reject it, it is a divine necessity that the Messiah must suffer many things.

The world today is saturated by false doctrines, massive deceptions and fake news. Even the Church, the pillar and foundation of the truth (1 Timothy 3: 15) is not spared. Have you heard the phrase: "The smoke of Satan has infiltrated the Church."

Be on your guard. Watch and pray always that you too will not be deceived. If the Apostles could forget three predictions of the passion and death and resurrection of Jesus, who are you to pretend that you are so strong that nothing can shake you?

“The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.”  This is Lent. Pray to understand this Scripture.
The follower of Jesus Christ whose desire is to do the will of God is destined for rejection, suffering and even death. But if he perseveres, he is promised Resurrection.

"Father, in Your will is our peace."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

You are dust and will return to dust: Ash Wednesday 2021.

"Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return."

Welcome to Ash Wednesday 2021, the beginning of the holy Season of Lent. Let us reflect on four key messages from today's Ash Wednesday Scripture Readings and note the messages.

#1. "Yet even now—oracle of the Lord—return to me with your whole heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God, For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment." (Joel 2: 12 - 13).

#2. " A clean heart create for me, O God, and a steadfast spirit renew within me. Cast me not out from your presence, and your Holy Spirit take not from me." (Psalm 51: 12 - 13).

#3. "We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2 Corinthians 5: 20).

#4. "When you give alms..." (Matthew 6: 2).
“When you pray ... " (Matthew 6: 5).
"But when you fast..."
..(Matthew 6: 6).

Conclusion: Lent is about Metanoia, Conversion. Lent is about turning back to God through almsgiving, fasting and prayer. Lent is about evangelization through being ambassador for Christ.
Finally, Lent is about emerging at Easter with a holy, steadfast and new spirit.

The 40 day period of Lent is God's gift to us to become New Creation.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, February 15, 2021

What not to forget.

"Do you not yet understand or comprehend? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear? And do you not remember?" (Mark 8: 17 - 18).

Tuesday 16th February 2021, in the 6th Week in Ordinary Time is Ash Wednesday eve, Mardi Gras.

Each of the questions Jesus fired off to his dull disciples can wake us up to faith and dispose us to understand sacred things and grow in grace in Lent 2021.
#1. "Do you not yet understand or comprehend?
#2. Are your hearts hardened?
#3. Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
#4. And do you not remember?"

The background to the event: Almost immediately after Jesus fed 4000 people, the disciples were worrying that they had forgotten to bring food. Consider this analogy:
After Jesus had healed someone of cancer, he starts to worry about headache. Am I going to die?

#1. Do you not yet understand or comprehend that He who heals you of cancer can heal you of anything? He can even raise you from the grave.

#2. Are your hearts hardened?
Unbelief is often caused by a hardened heart. Unrepentant sin hardens the heart.

#3. Do you have eyes and not see, ears and not hear?
When your eyes do not see the wonderful things God is doing for you every day, your ears shut to the joyful sounds of His presence all around you, this is another sign of a hardened heart.

#3. And do you not remember?
Nothing is more tragic than forgetfulness of God's mercies to you. It is like a man who forgets the password to his smart phone. The phone has to be reset and everything wiped out: the memory and every data.

The only way you grow in the knowledge, love and friendship with God is to remember what He has done for you; what He is doing for you. You remember and give thanks. You grow in trust.

"The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you." (John 14: 26).

The above Scripture changed how I handle memories of God's wonderful deeds in my life. In my morning prayer every day, I petition the Holy Spirit to reveal to me the wonderful things God has done and is doing in my life so that I can give due thanks to God.

Make friends with the Holy Spirit and He will always cover your back.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, February 14, 2021

It is a question of trust. To trust or not to trust.

"The Pharisees came forward and began to argue with him [Jesus], seeking from him a sign from heaven to test him.  He sighed from the depth of his spirit and said, “Why does this generation seek a sign? Amen, I say to you, no sign will be given to this generation.” (Mark 8: 11 - 12).

Monday 15th February 2021, in the 6th Week in Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time ends on Tuesday and we enter the holy Season of Lent on Ash Wednesday, February 17th.

The Pharisees touched the nerves of Jesus in our key Scripture for today. How will you feel if your teenage children confront you one day and ask: "When at last will you give us a birthday?" You will be angry because you have been planning and executing beautiful birthday parties every year for sixteen years.

In asking Jesus for a sign, the Pharisees committed the grave sin of the Israelites in the Desert. They witnessed the historic miracle of the Red Sea. They were fed daily with meat and sweet bread. Yet they rose in rebellion against God threatening to march back to Egypt.
God was angry with them. Who would not?

The Pharisees were part of the educated class and knew the Scriptures and the signs Isaiah laid out for recognizing the Messiah: He will open the eyes of the blind and ears of the deaf. He will perform numerous miracles and will teach the people the knowledge of the Lord.  He cast out many demons.  Why then did they provoke Him by asking for a sign? Hardness of heart and pride.

It would appear from the Bible Timeline that the one Sin that offends God deeply is the Sin of Unbelief. Unbelief rolls a number of grave sins into one: ingratitude, ignorance of God and His ways, willful blindness, gross unreasonableness and others.

I do ask the Lord for signs from time to time and He has been gracious in opening my eyes to see the signs that are there all along. I have asked: "Lord are You with me in this project?" The sign the Lord usually gives me is the Sign of the Emmanuel. "I am with you always." Think of it. This is the greatest Sign in Sacred Scripture. Why? All the great Bible characters received this Sign.  If God is with you, then the mission is accomplished. If God is with you, then No fear, No worry, No doubt. All you need is trust.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Leprosy is a symbol of deadly sin.

"A leper came to him and kneeling down begged him and said, “If you wish, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand, touched him, and said to him, “I do will it. Be made clean.” (Mark 1: 40 - 41).

Sunday 14th February 2021, in the 6th Week of Ordinary Time. Last Sunday before the holy Season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 17th February.

Lent is all about Metanoia, Conversion. The Scripture Readings in this Sunday's Liturgy prepare our minds and hearts for a good Lent.

In the Gospel, our key Scripture, Jesus heals a leper by touching him and said: "I do will it. Be made clean.” Jesus wants to touch us too during the coming 40 Days of Lent.

The second Reading explains to us modern people the drastic consequences of leprosy on the unfortunate individual in the early Israelite history:
“The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’ As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.” (Leviticus 13:  45 - 46).

Leprosy is a symbol of Sin. Our Sins are invisible to our mortal eyes but not to God. Some saintly Confessors have the gift of seeing the state of one's soul. They describe some nasty sights that remind us of the man "full of leprosy."

"The Responsorial Psalm 32 encourages us to deal with sin with Confession:
"Blessed is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered.
Blessed the man to whom the Lord imputes not guilt, in whose spirit there is no guile.

"Then I acknowledged my sin to you, my guilt I covered not.
I said, “I confess my faults to the Lord,” and you took away the guilt of my sin." (Cf Psalm 32).

To have a good Lent, you need a good plan. To have a good plan, you need some time in prayer seeking light and guidance from the Holy Spirit. The reward of a good Lent is huge.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, February 12, 2021

Mary as Warrior.

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; They will strike at your head, while you strike at their heel. (Genesis 3: 15).

Saturday 13th February 2021, in the 5th Week in Ordinary Time.

#1. Who is the woman in our key Scripture?
#2. Who are "they"?
#3. How does the woman fight?
#4. What is the witness of history to the woman's place in the history of the Church?

#1. Although Christian tradition has speculated endlessly as to the identity of the "woman". In this reflection, we follow many Church Fathers, Doctors of the Church in saying that the woman in question is Mary, Mother of the Redeemer. She is full of grace whose Son Jesus will redeem the world from sin. No surprise that Christians see Genesis 3: 15 as Protoevangelium, the Gospel-in-Genesis.

#2. Following #1 above, we can identify "They" as Jesus and Mary. Mary is the perfect disciple of Jesus and the only person who witnessed the unfolding of the Gospel from the Annunciation of Archangel Gabriel to the Crucifixion to the birth of the Church on Pentecost Sunday. And this is no accident.

#3. How does Mary wage war against the sworn enemy of mankind? The humble Virgin of Nazareth fight with the weapons provided by God: "The weapons of our battle are not of flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses. We destroy arguments" (2 Corinthians 10: 4).

Mary has been honored in the Church as: Comforter of the afflicted, Help of Christians, Queen of Angels, Queen of Martyrs, Tower of David. She is a seasoned warrior in the fight against Satan and evil. The weapons she uses are not of flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses of Evil.  (Cf 2 Corinthians 10: 4). They are the weapons the Church uses and recommends:

Prayer, Word of God, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Examination of Conscience, Spiritual Reading, Faith sharing.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, February 11, 2021

How Satan seduced Adam and Eve.

"The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eyes, and the tree was desirable for gaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it." (Genesis 3: 6).

Friday 12th February 2021, in the 5th Week in Ordinary Time.

The first Reading is the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve that caused the Original Sin. Adam and Eve were created pure and innocent.
#1. Why did Satan succeed in seducing them?
#2. How did it happen?
#3. What are the consequences of the Fall?
#4. What is the divine Remedy?

Scripture says that Satan is the most cunning of all the animals. He convinced Eve that he was telling the truth and that God was keeping something back from them. As Satan spoke, Eve was thinking in her mind: good fruit, pleasant, delicious and desirable. Moreover the fruit will make her wise, knowledgeable and admired. She fell for the lie. She ate the forbidden fruit and gave some to her husband.

The consequences of this rebellion are the war between the body, mind and soul that results in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.  Every man and woman can attest to this. The Church teaches that one of the grave consequences of the Fall is the damage to the relationship between the sexes. Women try to manipulate men and men are prepared to use violence to get what they want.

What then is the divine Remedy?
All things are created twice. The first creation is from below. Adam and Eve represent the first creation.
The second creation is from above. This is what happened at Pentecost. Jesus says that we must be born of Spirit and water to gain eternal life. This promise was fulfilled at Pentecost.

This second creation is far superior to the first creation. The Church sings in Easter Vigil: "O Happy Fault" that brought the Redeemer who opened the door of Paradise for us and made it possible for the Holy Spirit to live inside us.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

“Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” Then he said to her, “For saying this, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.” (Mark 7: 28 - 29).

Thursday 11th February 2021, in the 5th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is also a Day of Prayer for the Sick.

In 1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to 14 year-old Marie Bernarde Soubirous  in Lourdes, France. She was to become St Bernadette Soubirous. The first apparition was followed by seventeen others. Many healing miracles happens in Lourdes. Lourdes has become a major pilgrimage center in the world.

We have a miracle of healing in the Gospel Reading for today.
Who is involved? A Greek woman whose daughter was possessed by a demon. There are three lessons on her interaction with Jesus:
#1. She heard about Jesus the Healer and she believes that Jesus could help her.
#2. When she met Jesus, she shows her faith and reverence by bowing low before Jesus.
#3. She was not easily put off by Jesus' initial hesitation to cure her daughter. This woman has what we may call persistence, lingering and staying power.

We need all three attributes to make the most of our encounters with Jesus.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Be careful of what you allow into your mind.

“But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” (Mark 7: 20 - 23).

Wednesday 10th February 2021, in the 5th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Scholastica (480 - 547). Italian. Religious nun.  She founded the Benedictine Nuns that continue to serve the Church for 1500 years. Scholastica is the twin sister of the great St Benedict. St Scholastica is the patron saint of education, convulsive children and  Benedictine Nuns.

Where is the source of all these sinful habits in you and in me?  Lust, theft, murder, adultery,  wanting what belongs to others, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, abusiveness, pride, recklessness and thoughtless behavior, and others.
Jesus says that they all come from inside the mind. Thoughts, words and actions defile a person and food does not defile.

Psychologists have recognized the importance of the mind in behavior:
Sow a thought, you reap a deed.
Sow a deed, you reap a habit.
Sow a habit, you reap a character.
Sow a character, you reap a destiny.

What cleanses the heart?

“But what comes out of a person, that is what defiles. From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.” (Mark 7: 20 - 23).

Wednesday 10th February 2021, in the 5th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Scholastica (480 - 547). Italian. Religious nun.  She founded the Benedictine Nuns that continue to serve the Church for 1500 years. Scholastica is the twin sister of the great St Benedict. St Scholastica is the patron saint of education, convulsive children and  Benedictine Nuns.

Where is the source of all these sinful habits in you and in me?  Lust, theft, murder, adultery,  wanting what belongs to others, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, abusiveness, pride, recklessness and thoughtless behavior, and others.
Jesus says that they all come from inside the mind. Thoughts, words and actions defile a person and food does not defile.

Psychologists have recognized the importance of the mind in behavior:
Sow a thought, you reap a deed.
Sow a deed, you reap a habit.
Sow a habit, you reap a character.
Sow a character, you reap a destiny.

What cleanses the heart? 

The word of God. 

David after his adultery prayed:
"Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Create in me a pure and clean heart." (Cf Psalm 51).

If you pray the above prayer every day, be ready to be surprised by mercy.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

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David after his adultery prayed:
"Do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Create in me a pure and clean heart." (Cf Psalm 51).

If you pray the above prayer every day, be ready to be surprised by mercy.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, February 08, 2021

Let us create mankind in our image and likeness.

"God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that crawl on the earth.  (Genesis 1: 27 - 28).

Tuesday 9th February 2021, 5th Week in Ordinary Time.

What can we learn from the story of creation from Genesis to nourish us?

#1. Human beings are the only thing God created in His image and likeness.  This truth lays the foundation for the rest of the story of man in the Scriptures. God gave man free will and never curtailed or interfered with man's liberty.

#2. God gave humans dominion over the works of His hands.  This is an incredibly important fact. If man wants to destroy his natural environment through selfish abuse, he is free to do so but the consequences will be dire.

#3. "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." 
(Genesis 1: 27).
It is irrational to speculate that male and female are exactly the same in everything except for a few physiological features.
God purposely created man and woman equal ontologically but different physiologically and psychologically. Each being attuned to its grand purpose in the logic of creation.

#4.  "God blessed them and God said to them: Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it." (Genesis 1: 28).
Man is the crown of God's creation. But Genesis Chapter 1 describes the first creation. The second creation which happened at Pentecost is not an update but the plan.  Man receives the Holy Spirit to live inside him. It is the Holy Spirit that makes us into the image of God. He endows us with the attributes of God:
Wisdom, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, holiness and reverence.
I like the way St Augustine puts it:  "God became man so that man will become god."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, February 07, 2021

The Feast of St Josephine Bakhita.

"Wherever he went—in villages, cities, or the countryside—they brought the sick out to the marketplaces. They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed." (Mark 6: 56).

Monday 8th February 2021, in the 5th Week in Ordinary Time. We celebrate the feast of two saints today:
++ St Josephine Bakhita (1869 - 1947). Sudanese. Virgin and Religious. Josephine was brought to Italy as a slave. By Divine Providence, she became a sister of the Canossian order. Her exemplary and holy life was noticed. She bore patiently and heroically her last illness. Pope St John Paul II brought her relics to Sudan where she was canonized in 2000. St Josephine Bakhita is the patron saint of Sudan and victims of human trafficking.
++ St Jerome Emiliani. (1481 - 1537). Italian. Priest. Jerome was wayward as a young man. When he was surprised by grace, his life changed 360 degrees. He founded a religious congregation (Somaschi) which looked after the sick, the poor and orphans and abandoned children. St Jerome Emiliani died of the plague while ministering to the afflicted.

In our key Scripture for today, we observe again the importance of faith in healing. The woman with the issue of blood was full of faith and desire to be healed. She quietly crept behind Jesus and touched the hem of His clothes. She was instantly healed.  Prominent doctors tried but could not help her for twelve years. It is likely that the people of the village in Mark's narrative today knew of the story of the woman with the issue of blood. They brought the sick on mats to where Jesus landed in a boat. Like catechists, they prepared the sick to come to faith through testimonies of healings by Jesus. The sick who believed and touched Jesus were healed instantly.

What is the lesson here?
You may make a pilgrimage to Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe or Medjugorie. Without faith, you may come back disappointed.

The spiritual law here is simple to grasp. Whenever anyone in need comes to Jesus with expectant faith, he receives whatever he needs in accordance with the will of God. In all the pilgrimage sites mentioned above, many have received physical healing. Others have received spiritual and emotional healing. "All ate and were satisfied."

How is this so?
"Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes." (Romans 12: 2).

In God's will in our peace. How? Because God knows what is best for us not just today but for eternity.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, February 06, 2021

How Jesus prayed.

"Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed." (Mark 1: 35).

Sunday 7th February 2021, 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

In today's Gospel, we see Jesus heal Peter's mother-in-law.  After sunset on the same day, Jesus went on a healing spree: casting out demons and healing many with various diseases. In this reflection, we want to focus on the prayer habits of Jesus. We start by making some point blank statements:

#1. Prayer is a priority for Jesus and not an after thought. He connects with His heavenly Father through prayer. We connect with Jesus through prayer.
#2. No prayer, no power for ministry.
#3. Jesus prayed in a solitary place. Other translations describe the place as: a desert place, a secluded place, a lonely spot, a place where He could be alone, a place in the wilderness, etc. We get the point. Not in Starbucks Coffee.

Spiritual writers write about the 3 S of Prayer:
#1. Sacred Place: We see this in today's Gospel.
#2. Sacred Time: We also see this in Mark's narrative. While everyone is snoozing, Jesus slipped out of the house to seek solitude in prayer.
#3. Sacred Intention: The intention is always the same. Communion with the Father.

To pray like Jesus, we must realize that Prayer is a sacrifice we must be willing to make. This is why the Catechism of the Catholic Church calls Prayer a battle. The devil wages an intense war to dissuade us from Prayer. St Alphonsus Liguori, Founder of the Redemptorists and Bishop and Doctor of the Church writes that if you pray, you are saved. If you do not pray, you are lost

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Friday, February 05, 2021

The Feast of St Paul Miki and Companion Martyrs.

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” (Mark 6: 31).

Saturday 6th February 2021, in the 4th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Paul Miki of the Society of Jesus (+ 1597). Japanese Priest and his companion martyrs. They were stabbed with spears while raised on the cross.

In our key Scripture for today, Jesus acted as a compassionate boss. “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” You do not find such a behavior in the corporate world. It is work, work and work. If you fall dead, you will be replaced immediately.

Leisure is an important command in the Bible. God in His love ordered the Sabbath Rest so that people could have one full day for rest after working for six days. The Israelites experienced no rest as slaves in Egypt. No rest, no retirement. You work until you drop dead. There used to be little rest for the worker during the Industrial Revolution until the encyclical of Pope Leo XIII in 1891, Rerum Novarum called society to its responsibility to workers.
Jesus anticipated the Encyclical when He said to His disciples:

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted placement."

Man does not live on bread and money alone. The spirit and mind of man need to be nourished as well. If a balance is not maintained, there will be burnouts, breakdowns and crashes. This is the lot of some pastors. This need not happen because Jesus said: "Without Me, you can do nothing." The work is the Lord's.

In the Responsorial Psalm 23, Jesus has a great promise for us:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; Beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul."

Do not refuse the rest, the leisure provided by the Lord Jesus.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, February 04, 2021

Trust Me completely with regards to money.

Trust Me completely with regards to money.

"Let your life be free from love of money but be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never forsake you or abandon you.” Thus we may say with confidence:
“The Lord is my Helper, and I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 5 - 6).

Friday 5th February 2021, in the 4th Week in Ordinary is First Friday in February and also the feast of St Agatha (+ 3rd century). Italian. Virgin and Martyr. Agatha resisted attempt to force her into marriage and refused to violate her vows of chastity. She resisted to the point of shedding her blood. The Lord Jesus, Prince of Virgins and Martyrs welcomed Agatha into Paradise.

"Everything in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--comes not from the Father but from the world." (1 John 2: 16).

Money is at the heart of the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Our key Scripture for today deals with this ruthless enemy of the human heart that Jesus called "filthy lucre."

Many people are not ashamed to be obsessed with money. They believe that with money, they can get anything they want in life.

But God's word on money is straightforward: "Man does not live on money alone. There is life for him in every word that comes from the mouth of God." (Cf Matthew 4: 4). God further instructs us about money: "Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have."

When I heard this the first time, I asked God: "How can I be satisfied with what I have since I have so little. Not enough for rent, food, insurance, etc." God answered:
“I will never forsake you or abandon you.” Thus we may say with confidence:
“The Lord is my Helper, and I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” (Hebrews 13: 6).

I saw the ball is in my court to believe or not to believe. I chose to believe God. The belief brought me peace and trust in God's loving and powerful Providence. I came to understand what saints mean when they say: "GOD WILL PROVIDE."

Daily Bible Verse @
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First Friday in February 2021. Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

February 5, 2021  -  First Friday in February.

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 2nd  month of the year 2021, we look at Promise #2.

#2.  "I will give peace in their families."

My friends, many people like this promise. Why? Because peace in the family is the foundation of health and prosperity. Do not doubt this. Moreover, if there is peace in the family, there will be peace at work and school, peace in the nation and peace on earth!

Jesus is our peace. He is the Prince of Peace.  Would you accept today His generous offer of peace in your family?

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus this Friday.

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

http://seekfirst.blogspot.com/2020/08/12-promises-of-sacred-heart-of-jesus.html?m=1

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Wednesday, February 03, 2021

Take nothing for the journey.

"He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick—no food, no sack, no money in their belts."

Thursday 4th February 2021, in the 4th Week in Ordinary Time.

The student fishers of men are now ready for practicum. This would be their first practice teaching. They were to take no worldly backup: food, plenty of clothes, laptop, smart phones, wallet with many credit cards and plenty of cash. They were not to plan for every contingency to avoid unpleasant surprises.
When I worked for Unilever and traveled to foreign countries, this was standard practice. But not in the Kingdom that Christ founded.  We must follow the teaching and example of the Way.

Jesus Christ wanted the student fishermen to travel completely free of baggage and totally dependent on God for their provisions. They would learn that God is trustworthy as a Provider. Hospitality has been fully arranged. The Providence of God leaves nothing to chance.

Not trusting and not obeying this principle of the kingdom is the principal reason why many churches have dire money problems today. They rush to banks for loans and more loans. They carry the heavy burdens of debt. The Lord sits in Heaven and laughs at them:
"I told you: Seek first the kingdom of God and holiness of life above every other thing and all your needs shall be met." Holiness consists in acting as Jesus will act in every situation. "Do this and then try Me and see if I do not provide all your needs."

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Jesus was disappointed by the unbelief in His hometown.

"He was amazed at their lack of faith." (Mark 6: 6).

Wednesday February 3rd, in the 4th Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of two Bishops: Saints Blaise and Ansgar. Blaise (+ 316). Armenian. Martyred under Emperor Licinius. Blaise is known for his cures of throat ailments.

St Ansgar: (801 - 865). French. Worked in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Known as the Apostle of the North for his great evangelical success in these nations.

Our key Scripture is about the great disappointment of Jesus because of the lack of faith of the people of Nazareth in His teachings and miracles. Jesus was so amazed by their unbelief because He invested a great deal of His ministry in His hometown.

Our trust in God is in direct proportion to our awareness of what God is doing for us. The more aware you are, the more grateful you become and the more you trust God the next time you are in need. Imagine the teenage girl whose mom grooms with tender care. One day the mother overheard her telling her friend that it was her classmate mother that gave her all she has and taught her the little home economics she knows.
For us adults, our version of this behavior is to attribute all our good breaks to luck or hard work.
Paraphrasing 2 Corinthians 1: 3 - 4, the Liturgy of the Hours put it poetically:
"Tis not from chance our comfort springs, Thou art our trust, O King of kings." (Liturgy of the Hours: #52 Lauds Hymn).

Jesus had good reason to be disappointed by the inexplicable unbelief of the people of Nazareth when He compared it with the striking faith of the Centurion and the woman with the issue of blood. The Centurion and the woman are foreigners.

There is a pricey cost to wilful unbelief:
"Jesus wasn’t able to do much of anything there—he laid hands on a few sick people and healed them, that’s all. He couldn’t get over their stubbornness."
In order words, unbelief costs you your miracles.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Monday, February 01, 2021

The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.

“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” (Luke 2: 34 - 35).

Tuesday 2nd February 2021, in the 4th Week in Ordinary Time is the great feast of the Presentation of the Lord. With this feast, the Church concludes the festivities of the Nativity of Jesus Christ. With the Presentation of the Child Jesus to His heavenly Father and the custom offering for the first born son Jesus, and the prophecy of Simeon, the saintly old prophet, the liturgical calendar now points to Easter.

Although this feast is not the Presentation of Mary but of Jesus, we want to reflect on the great insight into the Virgin Mother that we glean from this feast that we honor universally in the fourth mystery of the Holy Rosary. Consider Mary's: shining
Humility, silence, purity, obedience and charity.

Mary is the shining model of the Christian woman. St Monica, the mother of the great St Augustine imitated Mary. The result: Mother and son became great saints.
St Monica is the patron saint of these causes:
Married women and women with difficult marriages; undisciplined children; victims of adultery or unfaithfulness; victims of verbal abuse.

St Monica is a great intercessor for the causes listed above. The Blessed Virgin Mary is a greater intercessor for us in every need. She is the Mediatrix of all graces, all favors. Her intercession is indispensable in life in Christ. When in dire need, go to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pray her Rosary every day.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Power of Faith.

"I have not time to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,
who by faith conquered kingdoms, did what was righteous, obtained the promises." (Hebrews 11: 32 - 33).

Monday 1st February 2021, in the 4th Week in Ordinary Time.

Hebrews 11 is the great chapter on Faith. We have seen that Faith is one of the greatest gifts in life.        "For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith." (1 John 5: 4) proclaims the Beloved Disciple. What more could be said to convince you of the power of Faith.

Our key Scripture uses a powerful technique to convince us that without Faith, our lives will be unfulfilled. He uses testimonies and examples. Most of the names are familiar: David, Samuel. We can add Abraham, Elijah, Mary etc. These heroes of Faith teach us how to turn disadvantages into advantages with Faith. Their Faith is not a formality. If they are in battle, Faith is called upon as a vital armor. This trust in God is enduring through out the struggle.

How do we get this Faith?
#1. Daily nourishment with the word of God.
#2. Prayer is the activator of power in the mind.

A few examples of power producing prayer are below:

Father, I believe that You are a Father to me at every moment of my life, and that I am Your Child!
I believe that You love me with an infinite love!

I believe that You are watching over me night and day and that not a hair falls from my head without Your permission!

I believe that, in Your infinite Wisdom, You know better than I what is good for me.
I believe that, in Your infinite power, You can bring good even out of evil. 

I believe that, in your infinite goodness, You make everything to the advantage of those who love You:  even under the hands of those who strike me, I kiss Your hand which heals!

Prayers like the above affirm God's attributes in your mind at the moment of your greatest need. With bold faith, you can now ask for the specifics.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Saturday, January 30, 2021

Jesus Christ the Rabbi.

"[Jesus] came to Capernaum, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.  The people were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes." (Mark 1: 21 - 22).

Sunday 31st January, in the 4th Week of Ordinary Time.

In the public ministry of Jesus the Christ, He fed the crowd, He healed the sick. He cast out demons and raised the dead. The crowd and teachers of the law remembered Jesus most for His electrifying skills as a Teacher. "He taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes."

Jesus bequeathed the authority to teach to the Church He founded. Where is this authority and how does it work? The authority is called Magisterium from the Latin word, magister which means teacher. It resides in the Pope who is the universal pastor and teacher in the Church. The Pope shares this authority with his Brother Bishops. Only with Bishops who are in Communion with the Pope. The Bishop is the Pastor-in-Chief and Teacher in his diocese. He delegates this authority to priests and catechists in his local church. The Teachers are to teach with clarity. No ambiguity. No equivocation.

The Devil is the agent who sows the tares after the farmer has planted the good seeds and gone home. Tares are pernicious doctrines, lies and campaigns of disinformation against the true doctrine of the Church. This cancer has plagued the Church from the very beginning. This is the greatest threat to the core mission of the Church, Evangelization. A House divided cannot stand. This is why we need to stand strong united in one heart, one mind and one purpose in the mission of Jesus Christ.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Friday, January 29, 2021

How I deal with fears.

“Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” (Mark 4: 40).

Saturday 30th January 2021, in the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time.

Can fear be learned? A child who sees her friend put her hand on a hot stove and be burned would be afraid to try the same thing. Just as fear can be learned and unlearned, faith and trust can be learned and forgotten.

The human mind can hold faith or fear but not faith and fear at the same time. In our key Scripture for today, we see the disciples of Jesus terrified by a raging sea. Jesus was in the boat sound asleep. They rudely woke Him up by their panicky screams. They showed that after all the miracles they had seen, they still lacked confidence in Jesus.

The first Reading from Hebrews and the Gospel from Mark deal with faith. Faith is probably the most important subject in the Bible. Without faith, we cannot please God. Without faith we cannot enjoy the fruits of Redemption like the Sacraments and miracles. In its essence, faith is a very simple concept to understand. Faith is believing that what God says to you is true and will happen come what may. For example: A woman prays for the fruit of the womb. God says: "Yes I will do it." The woman goes home and trusts in God's word. She knows that God's word cannot fail no matter how long it takes for the promise to be fulfilled. When it is fulfilled, she makes a note of it because she wants to remember it. She wants the remembrance to help her the next time she has needs.

Different people have developed different ways of dealing with fear. The one that works for me is from Mark 5: 36: "Fear is useless. All you need is trust."
I copy this Scripture and post it on the wall where I can see it easily. When I am afraid, I look at it and repeat it several times. I add: "This is my word from God. My word from God is not fear or worry or doubt but trust."

You can defeat fear, worry and doubt with faith. Read the Bible every day.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Thursday, January 28, 2021

What happened to your bold confidence?

"Therefore, do not throw away your confidence; it will have great recompense.  You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised." (Hebrews 10: 35 - 36).

Friday 29th January 2021, in the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time.

Can you remember a time in your life when you trusted God with abandon? Perhaps graduation, wedding, first job, first house? Everything seemed possible. You believed the sky was the limit. What happened to that bold confidence? Yes, you had a couple of rude trials on the way and you allowed this awesome trust in God to die.

Now you have a second chance and you are learning what you did not know the first time about how faith works. You learn the following truths:

#1. The test of your sincerity, your conversion is endurance. What is your staying power (hang on) power when trial comes? One day, two weeks, a couple of months?
#2. The just person lives by faith. Faith in the promise of God which can never fail.
#3. A firm conviction that the gracious and mysterious will of God is the best thing for you always, everywhere and in everything.

Armed with this new knowledge, you resolve never again to neglect daily prayer, daily nourishment from the word of God. You commit yourself never to slacken in doing good to your neighbor.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Feast of the Patron Saint of Catholic Schools, St Thomas Aquinas.

“Take care what you hear. The measure with which you measure will be measured out to you, and still more will be given to you. To the one who has, more will be given; from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Mark 4: 24 - 25).

Thursday 28th January 2021, is the feast of the Angelic Doctor, St Thomas Aquinas. (1225 - 1274). Italian. Dominican Priest. Doctor of the Church. He wrote the Summa Theologica. Apart from being one of the greatest theologians in the Church, Thomas is noted for his humility and holiness.

The NABRE rendition of our key Scripture for today is not clear. Let us use the NLT translation for our reflection today:

“Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.” (NLT).

What is Jesus saying here?
Scripture is God's love letter to you. Do you read a love letter once? You read it many times. The more you read it, the more you appreciate the love codes and nuances. But those who have little love for the sender, browse through the letter rapidly and toss it away.

St Thomas Aquinas has a great  longing for the word of God and Jesus revealed to him a ton of truth.

Do you yearn to know Jesus passionately? Do you have a teachable heart? Do you try to apply the spiritual truths of Sacred Scripture to your life?
To receive, you must start by receiving the word Now. The more you receive what is offered Today, the more you will receive Tomorrow.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Sower of the seed is Jesus. If you find Him, you will find life and peace.

"The seed is the word of God, Christ the sower; whoever finds this seed will remain for ever." (Gospel Acclamation).

Wednesday 27 January 2021 in the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time is the feast of St Angela Merici (1474 - 1540), Virgin.  Italian. She founded the Ursuline Order, the first women teaching order in the Church. St Angela believed that the formation and education of Christian women is society's greatest investment.
Convinced of this truth, St. Angela Merici founded the Company of St. Ursula,  [Ursulines] a secular institute devoted to educating young women to be Christian wives, mothers, teachers, and catechists.

The Seed in the Parable of the Sower is the word of God and the Sower is Jesus the Word of God. Not every soil is born equal.

"Those sown among thorns are another sort. They are the people who hear the word, but worldly anxiety, the lure of riches, and the craving for other things intrude and choke the word, and it bears no fruit." (Mark 4: 18 - 19).

The causes of barrenness in Kingdom investment are listed in Mark 4: 18 - 19:
#1. Worries about this life.
#2. Deceitfulness of wealth.
#3. Desires of other things. For example: Success and nice things of life.

These three are killers of faith and peace.

What is the clear prescription by the Divine Physician? In order to return the soil to fruitfulness?
#1. Singleness of purpose in seeking and finding Christ Jesus. Put in another way. Seek Jesus and make Him your first priority in life. Make His way of talking and doing things your way. Believe absolutely that Jesus will provide all your needs always, everywhere and in everything.

Daily Bible Verse @ SeekFirstcommunity.com