The first Sunday of the month of Tout

 
We are in the first week of the New Martyr’s (Coptic) year 1736, and today’s Gospel talks to us about St John the Baptist since he is the martyr between the two Old and New Testaments.
In the beginning of the new Coptic year for the martyrs we would like to talk about those Martyrs.
The first Church was actually like a race towards martyrdom and who will be fast enough to be sacrificed first for the sake of the LORD JESUS.  Saint Paul says (Philippians 3:13) “brothers and sisters one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”
What is ahead you St. Paul? (Rom 8: 36) “As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
A very unique race that the first Church lived, everyone is running to win this crown, the crown of martyrdom.
The historians tells us about those Martyrs that they faced death with coolness, placidity, joy and peace, they were thrown to hungry lions and they were very calm, filled by internal peace and joy.
They used to light up the streets of Rome by the bodies of the Christians, they rape them in oil soaked cloth and then hang them up on poles and set them in fire, and so the Christian Martyr keeps burning all the night long lighting up the streets of Rome.
I will try to answer the question about what was it that kept those people calm, in peace and joyful?
If we do a field study and meet up with those Martyrs in the dungeons and prisons and ask them why are you not afraid of death?  Why are you so peaceful and tranquil?  Their answer will be because of 3 reasons:
The First reason: the life we are living is a limited life.  How long will we live for, a 100 years?  Then it is a timely limited world in comparison to Eternity.  Any one of us who undergoes a surgical operation, especially in the old days, this was done with no anaesthesia and with very limited primitive sedatives, this person suffers a lot of pain and agony, but this person is been given a new life, the same thing is martyrdom in Christianity.  We know that we will suffer for a while and we might be burned alive, of cores this is not easy and we will die, but after death there is an eternal life awaiting us, so whatever happens to us in this world we are happy with because will reach an endless eternal life.
Okay, then what is the second reason that keeps you in tranquillity peaceful and joyful?  They will answer that we are strangers.
Saint Paul says (2Co 5:6”) (that while we are in the body we are away from the Lord, 8 We are without fear, desiring to be free from the body, and to be with the Lord.)
I have a firm believe that as long as I am living in this flesh then I am absent from the LORD JESUS.  Okay then when will you be not absent from the LORD JESUS? When you are absent from your flesh or body, and how can you absent from your body, through death.  So the best thing about death is that it is a bridge which we cross to meet with the LORD JESUS.  So death is not fearful even if it is preceded by some of the suffering.
So those Martyrs are:
1- Feeling that this world is a timely world.
2- Feeling that they are estranged and they long for the LORD JESUS.
3- Their love for the LORD JESUS was very clear and obvious.
When someone come to the priest and asks to be baptized, the priest tells him (my son to be honest with you, your chance in life before baptism is 100% but after baptism is 50% or even less, because after baptism those who are not Christians might capture you and if you insist on your Christianity you might suffer this and this and that), but the man insist on being baptized.
Why is that?  Because of my great love for the LORD JESUS, I am ready to endure everything even death itself for my love to HIM.
So the 3 things which make the Christians not afraid of death and they are in tranquility and racing for martyrdom are:
1- Their feeling that this world is timely.
2- That they are estranged from Heaven and want to reach it.
3- They truly love the LORD JESUS to the extent that they want their life to end so that they reach HIM and live with HIM for eternity.
Did we understand the story?
       Good News


The Second Coming

 
The readings of the Church these days are all about the end of the World and the second coming for the LORD JESUS CHRIST that is because we are towards the end of the Coptic year. The Gospel for today is from St Mark chapter 13.
The Disciples and the LORD JESUS were coming out from the Temple, the Disciples were feeling proud by the majesty and beauty of the building, the LORD JESUS said to them:
Do you see these great buildings? There shall not be one stone left on another that shall not be thrown down.”
When they have reached the Mount of Olives the Disciples asked HIM to tell them when this will be and what the sings before it happening are. The LORD JESUS started telling them about the destruction of the Jerusalem and the Temple and gave them some of the signs that will happen and then the LORD started telling them about the end of the World and HIS second coming and the sings preceding them, towards the end of HIS talk HE said to them (Mar 13:35-37) “Then you watch, for you do not know when the lord of the house is coming, at evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrowing, or early; lest he come suddenly and find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all. Watch.”
What does it mean to be on the watch and why?
To be on the watch does not mean that we don’t sleep, but it means that the one should be aware about his spiritual life and all his daily acts.
Why should we be on the watch?
1/ Because our enemy does not sleep.
If you were told that a dangerous burglar has escaped from the prison and he is in the area where you live and at any moment you might be the next victim, will you be able to sleep or you will be on the watch with your weapon in hand to protect yourself and your family? This is the situation of my spiritual life when I come to know that my adversary the Devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking someone he may devour;” Then I will be awake so that this lion will not fine me asleep and devour me.
2/ Because I don’t know neither the day nor the hour: The biggest trick the devil uses to cheat us with is that every one of us has a plane for himself, one has a plane for five years to come and the other for ten years, and so on……. Do you remember the parable of the fool rich man which was said by the LORD JESUS “Luke 12:20 But God said to him, Fool! This night your soul shall be required of you”
We must all be vigilant and on the watch all the time knowing that death can be at any moment and any day. Therefore, be on the watch: because my enemy never sleeps and I don’t know the hour.
Be on the watch for what?
Be on the watch for the salvation of your soul: (Mat 16:26) “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” be on the watch for the salvation of your soul meaning that you should judge yourself daily about where are you from the LORD’S commandment, because if you don’t judge yourself your soul will be lost and you will lose your crown and eternity.
The message of the Gospel of today while we are going toward the end of the year is to be vigilant and on the watch.
May the LORD give us the life of vigilance and spiritual watch over so that we protect our crowns and eternity. Good News


The borne blind

 
We arrived today for the seventh Sunday of the Great Fast and The Gospel for today is about the man who was borne blind, the Gospel of St John.
The story is well known. A man who was borne blind and when the LORD JESUS put some mud over his eyes and asked him to go and wash in the lake of Siloam, he did and came back fully sighted.
He came back fully sighted means that he could see.
In the book of Revelation “Rev 3:18 And anoint your eyes with eye salve, so that you may see.”
If you want to see then anoint your eyes with eye salve, means use the eye drops. Anyone who is blind uses eye drops to be cured and can see again, the Gospel (the word of GOD) is the eye salve.
For this HE taught us and said “Mat & Luke 4:4 “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”God
Every Word can do miracles, one single verse can change the life of a man, and the borne blind became sighted by the Word of GOD.
But the LORD JESUS gave him a task that needs some effort “go and wash”, HE was able to cure him there and then, but HE wanted him to have a part, to do something.
Our lives can be much better than what it is now, our problems can be all salved very easily, if the Bible grows more in our life’s, so our role is to treasure the Word of GOD, verse by verse, chapter by chapter, psalm by psalm our life changes. The saints became sanctified by the Word of GOD.
Of course the Word of GOD can make changes, the borne blind man was able to see by the Word of GOD, but, the matter needs (go—-wash), you have to do something, when the borne blind man obeyed the advice he became sighted. Good News


The Samaritan woman


Today’s Gospel is about the Samaritan woman, or we may say about the meeting of the LORD JESUS with the Samaritan woman.  I don’t think that any Christian does not know the story of the Samaritan woman mentioned in the Gospel of St john chapter 4.
The Church cares about this chapter and read it three times throughout the year, in the Holy Great Lent, during the Holy Fifty days after the Easter and in the evening of the feast of the Pentecost.
The Church also insists that during the Great Holy Lent there should be a Sunday known as the Sunday of the Samaritan, this is in the middle of the Lent, the 4th Sunday.  
The meeting of the LORD JESUS with the Samaritan woman proofs a very important point, and that is the LORD GOD loves all of mankind.  There was a great enmity between the Jews and the Samaritans. but, the LORD JESUS is not just a simple Jew, HE is the Saviour of the whole World, HE was the one about WHOM it was said “John 3:15 so that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” HE loved the whole world, Samaritans, and Egyptians…….70 nations mentioned in the book of Genesis all of them were loved by the LORD JESUS.
1- The choice of the LORD JESUS to deal with the Samaritan woman was a proof that our LORD JESUS CHRIST has no enmity with no one of the mankind, if this person was a Jew HE would have dealt with him to lead him to Heave, if he was a Gentile HE would have dealt with him to lead him to heaven, if he was an atheist HE would have dealt with him to lead him to Heaven, if this person was a Samaritan desecrating the true belief with idolatries beliefs HE would have dealt with him to lead him to Heave, HE cares about everyone and was ready to even die for him, the LORD JESUS “1Ti 2:4  who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
2- In the Great Lent the Church is giving us a great hope that no matter my sins were or my weaknesses the LORD JESUS is seeking me to save me, if HE has walked for more than 6 hours to meet with this Samaritan woman and to sit talking to her for a long time, doesn’t this teach us not to belittle or disgrace the sinners?
It is very important that we know that the meeting of the LORD JESUS with the Samaritan woman ended with:
1- The Samaritan woman was changed to a preacher for the LORD JESUS when she went back into Samaria and said “John 4:29 Come see a man who told me all things that I ever did. Is this One not the Christ?”
2- John 4:39-40  And many of the Samaritans of that city believed upon Him, they begged Him that He would stay with them. And He stayed there two days.
3- The LORD JESUS stayed in Samaria for two more days, isn’t this strange, HE is a Jew and yet stayed with the Samaritans talking, eating and sleeping with them and they even said “John 4:42
4- The LORD JESUS made one’s peace between the Jews and the Samaritan when HE has said to HIS disciples “Act 1:8 But you shall receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you. And you shall be witnesses to Me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Good News



Sunday of the treasures

 
 
Today, Sunday, is the first Sunday of the Great Lent and the church calls it the Sunday of the treasures and some people calls as the One Choice Sunday. This is because the Lord says  “Mat 6:19-20  Do not lay up treasures on earth for yourselves, where moth and rust corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal. But lay up treasures in Heaven for yourselves, where neither moth nor rust corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.”  The one should choose the treasure that is on the Heaven and not the one on the Earth.  HE also says “Mat 6:24 No one can serve two masters. For either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” you have to choose one either God or money.
In the Gospel you will find two commandments that are repeated throughout the Lent, these two commandments follows us all the time.
One is do not worry and the other is do not judge.
In the beginning of this fast, the LORD JESUS is telling us not to be worried about our food, drinks, clothes or money and HE is giving to me a very logical argument and telling me  ; and all these things shall be added to you.”  So why are you so worried? Even If you are worried about your children, the Lord consoles us when He says they are more precious to me than they are to you. “Mat 7:11  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him?”  Then HE gives me another promise “Mat 6:32 “For your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.”  Why are you so worried then?  HE knows…..GOD knows quite well all what you need so we should not be troubled.
The commandment of do not judge does not only mean that you should not condemn others by words only, you are judging people by your eyes or by your thoughts even if you say nothing, but unfortunately we always talk.
The LORD JESUS when they brought to HIM the woman who was caught in the very act, all the people saw her as a sinner who deserves to be stoned, but our LORD JESUS did not concentrate on her sin but on how to save her and how to defend her……..all the people were there with the stones ready in their hands to stone her.  The LORD JESUS made it clear for them that if you want to stone her then you will have to stone yourselves first, HE said to them “John 8:7 He who is without sin among you.” She is a sinner and so are you, she deserves to be stoned and so are you, so let he who is without a sin stone her, and so they all went out.
. During this holy fast, we need to rid ourselves of the two great sins of worry and condemnation of others.
It is not right that I fast, attend the Holy Liturgy, have the Holy Communion and read the Bible daily and still worry (work, children, food, drinks and clothes), also it is not right to be in the Church and fasting while I am looking at all the congregation members judging them, exactly like what the Pharisee did with the tax collector, by doing this you have lost the fast and the prayer because you don’t know how to love the others around you.
So from the beginning of this holy lent fast, it is highly important to remember this two commandments of do not worry and do not judge. The person who fasts and forgets about food and drink should also forget about worry and leave matters in the Lord’s hands.
The person who fasts should know how to love people, show them mercy, accept them and defend them.
May the LORD grant us a blessed and holy fast. Good News


Prepare for Great Lent

 
I have good news. Tomorrow we start the Great Lent. We are glad that the Lent is about to begin and off course you know that this Lent is the greatest of all fasts, our fathers used to consider it “The storing season. So please, don’t let the fast end without storing some spiritual stock that could benefit you far the entire year.
Why I fast?
The reason for the fast is to declare that my life is by God not by the food.as Jesus said “Man, shall not live by bread only, but by every world that comes from the mouth of God”. and when the devil fights man; he fights him through his physical needs. Thus the first test that man failed to pass was when the devil tempted him to eat from the fruit that God told him not to eat. And the devil fights people by the same way till our day today, he tempts them during the fast to eat and stop fasting but we have to win our fight with the devil and declare our obedience to Jesus Christ and our unity with him because He was the first to fast this fasting. So when we fast we share with Jesus His fast as well.
I need a very simple training in this Lent, I will call it: Dispensing all what is unnecessary.
Look for something that is unnecessary for you and spare it. It might be something that you got used to do, but if you left it you are not going to be harmed. for example: someone may have got used to watch T.V. a lot, he could stop this during the fast telling himself that it’s unnecessary.
May be others stay or 5 or 6 hours on Facebook, during fasting. I could tell myself that half an hour is quite enough, staying away from the media for a while wouldn’t harm me.
Someone else might be used to talk on the phone for long times, so during fasting he could put his phone on offline mode more and opens it for short periods to take the important calls and finishes fast then turns it. Offline again, as if the phone too is fasting. Anything I feel that it is unnecessary for my life and that I can live without it, I should dispense it. Then I will be saving more time and I will find out that I had a lot of time and I wasted it on useless stuff. Then I could benefit this time I saved; for the students, they could spend it studying, for the servants, they could more services. I could use it for reading and studying the Holy Bible or doing spiritual activities.
I could benefit from it by improving relationships with people whom I haven’t been asking about for a long times and starts communicating more and serving people. Then in this situation, the fast is not just changing the kind of food we eat or its timing but we changed some bad habits we used to do.
A blessed year to all of you, and hope this fast would be a blessing to everyone and every house. Amen. Good News


Parable of the Farmer

Today’s Gospel is about one of the parables of the LORD JESUS, it is the parable of the farmer who went out to sow his field. This parable was mentioned in the three gospels, St Mathew, Mark and Luke, it is a very simple parable but has got very deep meaning.

This parable talks about all those who hear the word of the LORD GOD. The farmer is the same farmer and the seeds are also the same seeds, but with some people it yielded fruits and with the others it did not, that is because it depends on the soil into which the seeds had been sown, this is the main aim of the parable. Read more…



Rising from death the son of the widow of Nain

 
In today’s Gospel the LORD JESUS is approaching a city called Nain, and Nain means joy.  The LORD JESUS entered this city of Nain but although it means joy HE found a very sad seen.  HE found a funeral procession and the deceased was the only son for a widow in that city.  A very tough situation in a city whose name is supposed to means joy.  The LORD JESUS went into the city and approached the grieving widow and HE had compassion for her and said “Luke 7:13 And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, Do not weep. “And HE went forward and touched the bier and said to the young deceased man   “Luke 7:14-15 And He came and touched the bier. And the ones who bore him stood still. And He said, Young man, I say to you, Arise! And the one who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He delivered him to his mother.”  Read more…


Jesus and the Blind Man

Today’s Gospel is from the book of St Mathew chapter 12 and it is about a simple quick miracle done by the LORD JESUS, a blind man possessed by the devil and he was dumb was brought to the LORD JESUS and HE cured him.  The dumb spoke and became sighted.
We are in front of two acts here, the act of the devil and the act of GOD the LORD.
The work of the devil detaches the man from himself, the others and from GOD Almighty.  Always the work of the devil is to detach and separate, on the contrary, the work of GOD Almighty unites and gather together.
When the demon possesses someone, the first thing he does is to detach him from himself, he makes him unaware of himself so that this man will not look to himself and discover that he is living in sin, he separates him from those around him so that he will not look to the others and to know their needs and thus work to satisfy those needs. He separates him from GOD.  When a man is separated from himself and from those around him, he is actually separated from the LORD GOD.  He separates him from the LORD GOD so that he cannot communicate with GOD, dumb, unable to talk to GOD nor with those around him.  Blind, he cannot see GOD or HIS acts, and so the man who is possessed by the devil is a dead man, this is the work of the devil. Read more…


The Nayrouz Feast

Today is the first Sunday of the Coptic year 1735. The Psalm for today says “Psalm 65:11 You crown the year with Your goodness” and the word goodness means good things, so we are asking the LORD GOD to bless the crown of the year with HIS goodness even if we are not worthy because even when we are not trustful HE remains trustful.

Today we must pray so that this New Year will be filled with spiritual work, the love of GOD, repentance, and close attachment with the LORD GOD. We pray so that this New Year will be filled with joy, peace, filled with our love and helping for each other. Read more…