Saturday, January 07, 2023

The Epiphany or Manifestation of Christ to the world.

"What are you doing, O Magi? Do you adore a little Babe, in a wretched hovel, wrapped in miserable rags? Can this Child be truly God? … Are you become foolish, O Wise Men … Yes, these Wise Men have become fools that they may be wise. (Saint Bernard of Clairvaux).

“Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star at its rising and have come to do him homage.” (Matthew 2: 2).
The three Magi followed the star hundreds of miles before they found Jesus.

"They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh." (Matthew 2: 10 - 11).

Sunday 8th January 2023 is the great Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord.

What is the Epiphany? This is the day when the Divine Child Jesus was shown or revealed to Gentiles represented by the three Wise Men.

Brothers and sisters, this is really a beautiful feast that offers us great insight into the mystery of salvation. Our salvation, redemption, assumption into Christ depends on one thing, only one thing: FAITH! Examples:

#1 The Magi, wealthy lords from the East entered the room where Christ lay with His simply clad mother and father in a sparsely furnished room . They saw and Believed that this is He.
#2 Simeon and Anna entered the Temple during the Presentation of Jesus to His heavenly Father. They saw a simple couple with two small pigeons, the offering of the poor. They saw and they Believed that this is He.
#3 At the crucifixion, Jesus' battered body was hanging between two thieves. One of the thieves turned his head slightly and looked at Jesus. He saw and Believed that this is He, the Savior of the world.
#4. The Roman officer who had seen many crucifixions saw the demeanor of Jesus hanging from the cross said: This is the Son of God.

In all four instances, our examples walked by faith and not by sight or feeling.

In the feast of the Epiphany, we celebrate the fullness of time when God revealed His only Begotten Son to the nations through the Magi by the guidance of a star.

All nations become coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Cf Ephesians 3: 6).

When you became a member of the Body of Christ through Baptism, you were asked: What do you seek from the Church of the living God? We know that the first thing we seek is Faith. Faith opens the door to every good thing in the world.

I believe in God the Father.
I believe in Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son.
I believe in the Holy Spirit.
I believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
I believe in life everlasting.

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Friday, January 06, 2023

Mary asks for a miracle at Cana.

“The prayer of the rosary is, in many ways, the synthesis of the history of God’s mercy, which becomes a history of salvation for all who let themselves be shaped by grace."  (Pope Francis).

"There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.

"When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”

"His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”

"Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”

"So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had ­become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.”

"Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him." (John 2: 1 - 11).

Saturday January 7th 2023, in the Season of Christmas is the First Saturday in January, 2023. We honor the Blessed Virgin Mary.
It is also the feast of St Raymond Peñafort.  (1175 - 1275). Spanish Dominican Priest. Raymond was very erudite and he advanced the knowledge of Canon Law. St Raymond was a contemporary of the great St Thomas Aquinas also a Dominican priest. He studied Arabic in order to study the Koran so that he could evangelize the Moslems. St Raymond Penyafort did a great deal to secure the freedom of Christians during the Crusade. He died at the age of 100.

Raymond is known in history for two key contributions: Like the Curé of Ars, he had an extraordinary charism in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Ask Jesus to lead you to such a priest. One confession is all you need to turn around your life. Raymond wrote volumes which are part of the Canon Law.

Our Gospel for today is the popular Wedding at Cana. Why is this narrative of the wedding with great guests as Jesus and Mary and the Apostles so popular? It may be the only fun, picnic like event in the entire Gospel. Wine is not supposed to runout in such a celebration but it did on this occasion. This provided an opportunity for Mary's intervention and the first miracle of Jesus in front of the His brand new Apostles.

The Church from ancient times did not miss the critical lesson.


The Church has two ancient maxims to apply to this principle.

#1. Sensus fidelis or the intuitive perception of the truth by a large number of the faithful over a considerable period. The power of the Blessed Virgin Mary as an Intercessor had been perceived by the faithful from the beginning of the Church.

#2. Lex orandi, lex credendi. This means that the law of prayer is the law of faith. When the Church gathers in prayer, what it prays is what it believes. For example:
"Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and the hour of our death." It will be ridiculous if the Church would be praying the Hail Mary for hundreds of years and the prayer is inefectual. The experience of the faithful in every age and worldwide tells them that this prayer is effective.

"I have created you for My love, and My love alone can satisfy the desires of your heart. Enter, then, the wound in My side and, penetrating even into My Heart, drink deeply of the springs of love that will refresh and delight your soul and wash you in preparation for the wedding of your soul with Me, for I am the Bridegroom of your soul, your Saviour from all that would defile you, and your God who is love and mercy now and unto the ages of ages." (IN SINU JESU Thursday, April 15, 2010).

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Thursday, January 05, 2023

St André Bessette, Religious.

"Only a tool in the hands of providence; a lowly instrument at the service of St. Joseph” • “Put yourself in God's hands; He abandons no one.” (Brother Andre).

"This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

"It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.

"On coming up out of the water he saw the ­heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1: 7 - 11).

Friday 6th January 2023 in the Season of Christmas is the feast of St André Bessette, popularly known as Brother André. (1845 - 1937). Canadian. Religious Brother of the Congregation of the Holy Cross. Miracle worker when alive. More miracles now from Heaven.

Today Friday, 6th January is also the First Friday in 2023. Start the New Year with a bang by embracing the Sacred Heart of Jesus devotion.

What is the contribution of Brother André to the building up of the mystical Body of Christ?
#1.  St André Bessette had a great devotion to St Joseph, the holy Spouse of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. He helped in the revival of the cult of St Joseph.
#2. His special commitment to the afflicted and the poor could not be unconnected with the torrents of the miracles his ministry unleashed while he was alive and even more when he is in Heaven. Jesus Christ is glorified when we honor the saints. He pays back so to speak His favored saints by granting many miracles through their intercessions.

In the Gospel of today from Mark 1: 7 - 11, please note the humility of St John the Baptist. Our Saint of today, Brother André was noted by all for his humility.

“One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
This is humility.

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Start 2023 Strong by honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus this First Friday by attending Holy Mass and receiving Holy Communion.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the First Friday of 2023.
January 6th, First Friday in 2023.

Start this Year strong by honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus. See yourself stronger in faith by July and finish in December in top form and count your blessings.

Jesus promised 12 special favors to all those who will honor His Sacred Heart especially on the First Friday of every month.

#1. "I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life."

What does Jesus mean by the state of life? Every human being lives in one of two states:  married life for majority of people and single state.  In the single state, there are men and women who have committed themselves to Consecrated life. Human needs are not the same always for the two groups.  Wherever you find yourself married or single is your predestined means for holiness and passport to heaven.

In Promise #1, the Lord promises to provide all the graces necessary in all the circumstances of life, viz:

Family, Health, Money, Job, Possessions and Tools, Food, Future.   Please remember that the Lord Jesus knows exactly what you need and when you need it. Trust Him.

Remind the Lord often of these promises.

Honor the Sacred Heart of Jesus on Friday, 6th of January 2023.

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

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Wednesday, January 04, 2023

The Feast of St John Neumann, Bishop

 "If you truly want to help the soul of your neighbor, you should approach God first with all your heart. Ask him simply to fill you with charity, the greatest of all virtues; with it you can accomplish what you desire."  St. Vincent Ferrer).

"Jesus decided to go to Galilee, and he found Philip. And Jesus said to him, “Follow me.”

"Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the town of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus, son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”

"But Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

"Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Here is a true child of Israel. There is no duplicity in him.” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”

"Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.”

"And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1: 43 - 54).

Thursday 5th January 2023, in the Season of Christmas is the feast of a great missionary priest, Bishop, Church planter, pioneer in the Catholic Schools system in USA. His name is St John Neumann (1811 - 1860). Born in Bohemia. Became a Redemptorist priest. Became Bishop of Philadelphia.  Worn out by his labors, John died at the age of 49.

In our Gospel today, Bartholomew also known as Nathanael is one of the Twelve Apostles.

Here is the amazing faith of Philip in Jesus who had just launched His public ministry:  “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law, and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”

Philip believes that Jesus is the Messiah.
When Philip told his friend Bartholomew that they found Jesus, he said:  “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

But Philip, a great evangelist said to Bartholomew, “Come and see.” Both Philip and Bartholomew spent some friendly time with Jesus that afternoon and both became His disciples. The interaction with Jesus closed the sale. And Bartholomew declared: “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”

St John Neumann is not only a great catechist and educator but a great evangelist.

Who is Jesus planning to draw near Him through you? Evangelization   could be likened to seeing a great deal or sales promotion in the supermarket or Amazon and sharing that information with a friend. You share with family and friends what you value highly.

The first step in evangelization might be sharing Scripture or spiritual content with someone. For example, sharing Christian posts that move you from Instagram, Twitter, Whatsapp, etc with family or friends. You can follow up with inviting the friend to a special event in your church.

Be a Philip. Introduce somebody to Jesus today. Share your faith.

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Tuesday, January 03, 2023

Feast of St Elizabeth Ann Seton, Religious and Founder.

"Cheerfulness prepares a glorious mind for all the noblest acts." (St Elizabeth Ann Seton).

“John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.”

"The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?”

"They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon.

"Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus. He first found his own brother Simon and told him, “We have found the Messiah,” which is translated Christ. Then he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas,” which is translated Peter.” (John 1: 35 - 42).

Wednesday, January 4th 2023 in the Season of Christmas is the feast of St Elizabeth Ann Seton (1774 - 1821). American. Religious. Elizabeth is blessed as wife, mother, educator and founder of a religious order. She was born in New York. Why is she significant in the Church in America? She founded the Sisters of Charity, a teaching order that has made a significant contribution to education and the American parochial school system. Secondly, she was the first person born in continental United States of America to be canonized a saint.

But more to the point is that Elizabeth Ann Seton found the fullness of Jesus Christ and His teaching in the Catholic Church. Like Andrew and John in our Scripture of today, Elizabeth must have exclaimed when she converted to Catholicism and received into the Church: "I have found the fullness of knowledge and faith in Jesus. I have found the Eucharist!"

Be that as it may, John the Baptist is great but he is not Jesus the Christ.

"Behold a wise woman who has built her house. She feared the Lord and walked in the right path." (Proverbs 14: 1 - 2).

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Monday, January 02, 2023

The Feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.

“Faith in Jesus and in the power of His Holy Name is the greatest spiritual force in the world today.... " (Blessed Henry Suso - 1290 to 1365).

"If our life in Christ means anything to you, if love can persuade at all, or the Spirit that we have in common, or any tenderness and sympathy, then be united in your convictions and united in your love, with a common purpose and a common mind. That is the one thing which would make me completely happy.

"There must be no competition among you, no conceit; but everybody is to be self-effacing. Always consider the other person to be better than yourself, so that nobody thinks of his own interests first but everybody thinks of other people’s interests instead. In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus:

"His state was divine,
yet he did not cling
to his equality with God
but emptied himself
to assume the condition of a slave, and became as men are;
and being as all men are,
he was humbler yet,
even to accepting death,
death on a cross.

"But God raised him high
and gave him the name
which is above all other names
so that all beings in the heavens,
on earth and in the underworld,
should bend the knee at the name of Jesus and that every tongue should acclaim
Jesus Christ as Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
  (Philippians 2: 1 - 11).

Tuesday 3rd January, 2023 in the Season of Christmas is the feast of the Most Holy Name of Jesus.
Jesus is the name given to our Redeemer before He was born. The name Jeshua in Hebrew means God Saves!  It is a name that is so appropriate for Jesus because He saves everyone who puts his faith in Him.

Even before the Gospels were written, the Name of Jesus has been revered and venerated. In fact, the power of the Name of Jesus is one of the four pillars of Apostolic Witness. Others are:
#1 The Death of Jesus.
#2 The Resurrection of Jesus.
#3 The Witness of Sacred Scriptures to these events.

Is there any wonder that this hymn from Philippians below is the earliest liturgical hymn recorded? This hymn is a historical testament that Liturgy (the Mass) precedes the written Gospels.

"At the name of Jesus, every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2: 10 - 11).

Demons fear the Name of Jesus. Use it often as an armor of protection. The Jesus Prayer, "Jesus have mercy on me" is a full prayer. Use it when you need a quick prayer.

According to St Bernard of Clairvaux, Doctor of the Church, "The sweet name of Jesus produces in us holy thoughts, fills the soul with noble sentiments, strengthens virtue, and nourishes pure affections.... This name is the cure for all diseases of the soul."

St Bernardine of Siena who wrote a good deal on the power of the name of Jesus teaches:
"The Name of God is awesome; in it is found the ardor of the flame which consumes, the wrath which chastises, the weight which crushes; but all these things have been tempered in the wellspring of mercy by Jesus Christ Who was smitten with love for us in the womb of the Virgin Mary."

If you say the Rosary every day, you mention the name of Jesus at least 60 times a day.
The name of Jesus is the sweetest sound in every language.

Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!

Jesus, I Trust in You.

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Sunday, January 01, 2023

Feast of two great friends: Saints Basil the Great & St Gregory Nazienzen, Bishops & Doctors of the Church.

"A tree is known by its fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love. Many a man curses the rain that falls upon his head, and knows not that it brings abundance to drive away the hunger." (St Basil the Great).

"Beloved: Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well.

Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life. I write you these things about those who would deceive you. As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you. But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; just as it taught you, remain in him.

And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming  (1 John 2 : 22 - 28)

Monday 2nd January 2023, in the Season of Christmas is the feast of two great friends, schoolmates, scholars, saints, Bishops and Doctors of the Church: Saints Basil the Great (329 to 379)and Gregory Nazianzen (329 to 389).  Both men, great friends in this world "proclaimed Christ crucified; Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God." (Cf 1 Corinthians 1: 23 - 24).

One of the words the Spirit gives the Churches today is: Remain. (1 John 2 : 22 - 28)  Several places in the first Reading, the Spirit urges us to "remain in Him."   (1 John 2 : 27,28)
What does remain in something or somebody mean? A few examples from the dictionary.
#1. Stay in the place that one has been occupying.
#2. Continue to possess a particular quality or fulfill a particular role. Eg: Constancy and fidelity.
#3. I'll treat you well, as long as you remain loyal.
#4. Abide in something or dwell in something.

The Spirit instructs us to remain in Jesus.

How do we remain in Jesus?
#1.  We remain in Jesus when we remain or abide in His word every day.  Jesus is in His word.
#2.  We remain in Jesus when we converse with Him in prayer.  When we pray, we talk to Jesus.  When we read the Word or a spiritual book, Jesus talks to us.
#3.  We remain in Jesus when we encounter Jesus in the Eucharist.  The Eucharist is the source, center and summit of the Christian life.
#4.  We remain in Jesus when we are aware of His promised presence in us as Emmanuel, the God who is always with us.

"And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming."  (1 John 2: 28).

Jesus-Emmanuel, I trust in Your merciful love. I remain steadfast in this love. I cling tightly to this love come what may. I believe firmly in Your mighty, merciful and mysterious Providence. I do not depend on my filthy works or my strength. I surrender myself to You completely. Take care of everything Your way according to Your Plan.

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The Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God.

"The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!" (Cf Numbers 6: 22 - 27).

"Brothers and sisters: When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.

"As proof that you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God." (Galatians 4: 4 - 7).

Sunday January 1, 2023 in the Octave of Christmas is the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God.

"Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as "the mother of my Lord". In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly "Mother of God" (Theotokos)." (CCC 495).

Our key Scripture says that in the fullness of time, God fulfilled the promise He made long ago. Are you waiting for the fullness of time on anything? Health, family, finances, job, tools and necessary resources?
Our Scripture today indicates that nothing happens until the fullness of time, the Kairos time. Do you have a relationship with Mary the Mother of God? Mary who after Jesus is our greatest intercessor in Heaven by the gracious and mysterious will of God is waiting to embrace and help you.  Mary is key to our knowledge and relationship with Jesus her Son. Mary is the only human being who knew Jesus from conception to His death to His Resurrection.

Mary Mother of God pray for us.

SeekFirstCommunity Team wishes you a 2023 full of Peace:
The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!

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