Since birth, we were all taught to “seek first the Kingdom of God.” But in seeking the Kingdom of God we must challenge ourselves and give up our own desires. We often think that by striving for holiness, we will no longer be happy or by striving for righteousness, everything else in our lives will falter. Sadly, we put so much faith in our own abilities and forget the power of God. We forget how much He has given us, we forget how much He suffered for us, we forget that even our trusted abilities were given to us by Him, and the most unfortunate of all, we forget that ALL things are possible to Him.
When we put so much focus on our academic, career, social, or physical goals yet forget our spiritual goals, our hearts and minds begin to accumulate many impurities because of their lack of nourishment. However, we must be careful what we place into our hearts and where we place our hearts, “For where [our] treasure is, there [our] heart will be also.”(Matthew 6: 21). If our focus is on the Kingdom of God, only things leading to the Kingdom of God will be in our hearts and therefore leaving our lips; because, let us not forget that “out of the treasure of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34).
During Preparation week of Great Lent, we should set our eyes on heaven. We must prepare ourselves to place God first in our hearts and lives for He put us first before the creation of the world and set everything under our feet. He promises never to leave us in need of anything as we are more of value to Him than the birds of the air, which He also provides for, according to Matthew 6: 26-27. He promised to love us forever and fulfilled His promise by sending His Son to purchase us by His blood. He promised to always fill us; however, we have to open our hearts and allow Him entrance. So let us all open our hearts before God and allow Him to lead us to Him in purity and righteousness as King David in the Psalms said, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23-24)
Author: Marina Abdelsayed
On this day, the great St. Macarius, the son of Basilidis the Chancellor, was martyred. When the messengers reviewed the order of Emperor Diocletian, which dictates the worship of idols, with Macarius, he did not heed them. When the Emperor knew that, he sent Macarius to the governor of Alexandria. He bid farewell to his mother, and asked her to care for the poor and the needy, then he went with the envoy. The Lord Christ appeared to him in a vision, encouraged him, and told him what would happen to him. When he arrived to the city of Alexandria, he stood before Armanius the governor, who deceitfully treated him well because he knew that he was the son of Basilidis the Chancellor.
On the 24th of Abib, St. Abanoub was martyred. He was born in the city of Nehisa (District of Talkha). His parents were pure and merciful and they reared him in the fear of God. When he was martyred by the Roman rule, Diocletian, who incited the persecution against the Christian, St. Abanoub was twelve years old, and he desired to shed his blood for the Name of Christ. On July 31 our Church celebrates his death, as the day of his birth into eternal life. Abanoub's relics, as well as the relics of many Christians who died with him, are still preserved in St. Virgin Mary and St. Abanoub church in Samanoud.
It is also said that the Holy Family visited that place during their Flight into Egypt. The church still contains the well from which The Lord Jesus, St. Mary, and St. Joseph drank. Numerous apparitions and miracles do occur in that church until this very day. Abanoub was born in a town called Nehisa in the Nile Delta. He was the only son of good Christian parents who died when he was a young child. At age twelve Abanoub entered the church to hear the priest asking the congregation to remain faithful during the persecutions provoked by Diocletian, the Roman emperor.
On the 23rd day of Abib is the commemoration of the martyrdom of the blessed St. Marina, who overcame the Devil. She was one of the daughters of the nobles of Antioch. Her parents were pagan. When her mother died, her father sent her to a nanny to raise her, who was a Christian. She taught Marina the Faith of Christ. When Marina reached the age of fifteen years, her father died.
One day she heard her nurse talking about the biography of the martyrs and what glory they receive in the Kingdom of Heaven. She longed to become a martyr in the Name of the Lord Christ. One day St. Marina went out of her house with her maiden servants, and on her way she passed by Lopharius Ebrotus, the governor, who admired her much when he saw her. He ordered her brought to him. When the soldiers came to her, she told them that she was Christian. In turn, when they told the governor this, he was distressed for he liked her, and he had her brought to him by force. He offered her the worship of the idols and asked her to forsake God, but she refused.
Hosanna in the highest; what praise, what great depth of beauty and worship that the multitudes cry to Christ! Who really is this Man that comes riding on a donkey with great humility? He comes with neither army nor stallion with His head void of the majesty deserving thereof. As Christ the King enters through the gates of Jerusalem, the multitudes greet Him with exceeding bliss, they proclaim, “Hosanna.” But what is the meaning of the term uttered in all four of the Gospels? Derived from the Hebrew as meaning “save, rescue”, the heart reaches out to her Lord calling for salvation from He alone who can offer it. Although exalted above all, the Most High humbled Himself and took the form of a servant (Phil 2:7) and blessed my nature in Himself in order to save me.
After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 2 Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. 3 In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. 4 For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. 5 Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. 6 When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”