Imagine you are in a big garden, one with flowers of all beautiful bright colors imaginable, with bright blue skies and clear blue waters flowing smoothly like silk; the sun is shining a gentle warmth you’ve never felt before, and the grass is the perfect shade of green. Imagine being carefree, no responsibilities of the world to worry about, just as you were as a child. Imagine having all this and remember God’s promise to us: that He will give us “what no eye has seen nor ear heard”: a true Paradise indeed, one so good that we cannot even imagine it. Such is the promise that we are hoping and waiting for.
On the last Sunday before Palm Sunday, we talk about the man who was born blind. This story is quite important and is found in John 9. This story teaches us not to judge people because of their appearances and disabilities. The blind man was not paid attention to, as people thought he was blind because one of his parents committed a sin. This is unfair as he was treated badly and was not helped. He was healed when Jesus spat on the ground, and with this he told the blind man to put the mud on his eyes and wash it in the pool of Siloam. This must mean that the blind man had faith in Jesus, as this pool was far away, and the man had never seen Jesus before. The fact that the man saw again emphasizes the point that Jesus is the `light of the world`. The blind man had great faith in Jesus, as he had never seen him, and therefore he could have easily thought he was being tricked. We should
"Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into Heaven, You are there; if I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me" (Psalm 139:7-10).
Jonah, according to Hebrew tradition, was the son of the widow, whom Elijah, the prophet, raised from the dead at Zarephath of Sidon (II Kings 17:10-24). He was a prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel around 825-784 BC. Therefore, Jonah prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II, the King of Samaria (II Kings 14:25).
The Holy Book of Jonah in the Old Testament tells the familiar story of Jonah, the fleeing prophet. Forty-eight verses comprise the entire story. This is a story of a legendary character with a nature similar to our own. Jonah, a contemporary of the prophet Amos, had faults, shortcomings, and weaknesses.
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.