The Feast of the Apostles
June 2020 | Issue No. 10
“All things are possible for those who trust in Christ and seek first His Kingdom.”
No passion, no habit and no trouble are too great for the power of Christ
to restore, to transform, to heal and to save.
Fr Joshua’s Message
The fast of the holy Apostles is very ancient, dating back to the first centuries of Christianity. We have testimonies from St. Athanasius the Great (†373), St. Ambrose of Milan, and others regarding the fast. Fathers from the first century have even quoted, “The Fast of the Apostles is justly established in their honour, for through them we have received numerous benefits and for us they are exemplars and teachers of the fast.”
The spiritual benefit derived from the Apostles’ Fast is so great that some fathers have noted that, “after the extended feast of Pentecost, the fast is particularly needed in order to cleanse our mind by ascetic labours, and to make us worthy of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”
The Church celebrates the feast of the Apostles on the commemoration of the martyrdom of St. Peter and St. Paul on the 5th of Abib, which is the 12th of July.
These apostles followed Christ as He travelled and were eyewitnesses to His numerous wonders. After the Ascension of Jesus, they continued His work of redeeming mankind from sin. In fact, at the Ascension, Christ commanded the apostles to go out and make disciples of all nations through baptism and to teach nations. He enabled them to succeed in that he bestowed the Holy Spirit upon them (at Pentecost) as they travelled to all the ends of the earth.
The authority of the Apostles in the Church was unquestionable from the very beginning. Their powers were derived from Christ Himself, causing them to preach boldly and act as His representatives.
Saint Peter was among the first whom the Lord had chosen to work with Him (Matthew 10). Saint Paul was not among the twelve, and not even among the seventy apostles, but the Lord chose him last, after the resurrection, and years after the choice of Matthias.
Saint Peter was a married man and it was mentioned in the Gospel that Christ healed his step-mother from a fever (Matt. 8: 14-15). Further, in his journeys for the predication, he wandered accompanied by his wife as a sister (1 Cor. 9:5). The apostle Paul was a celibate. (1 Cor. 7:7) and he called for the preference of celibacy saying, “But each one has his own gift from God”, “as the Lord has called each one… Let each one remains in the same calling in which he was called” (1 Cor. 7: 7,17,20).
The apostles are proof that the Lord calls everybody to His service, whether they are married like St Peter, or celibate like St Paul. Each one is different. We have St Peter who began his life with the Lord Christ with love, confidence, and faith. St Paul, on the contrary, began by enmity, as a persecutor of the Church and of everyone who followed Christ, so that the Lord, when He met him on the road to Damascus, began his conversation with him by reprimanding him saying: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4).
Saint Peter was a simple man, a fisherman (Matt. 4:18). He was ignorant and was not instructed into culture or science. He is one of whom “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise” (1 Cor. 27). It was said of him and Saint John, “that they were uneducated and untrained men” (Acts 4:13)
However, Saint Paul was one of learned age, who was educated at the University of Tarsus, and brought up at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). He was well-known for his culture and for reading many books (Acts 26:24). This shows us that the Lord equally calls everybody for His kingdom and His service, both the learned and the simple. The important thing for them is to be useful tools for the work of His Grace and Glory.
Together, their example of repentance, their witness for the truth, their love for the sheep of Christ’s pasture, their zeal for the life-giving Gospel and the salvation of the human race, emboldens us, encourages us to press forward in our own repentance and growth in Christ. In putting first our pursuit of Christ and His Kingdom, in prioritizing our life in Him in His Church above all else, we too can become fellow inheritors of Christ’s Kingdom.
Together these two Apostles proclaim to us this day: “All things are possible for those who trust in Christ and seek first His Kingdom.” No passion, no habit and no trouble are too great for the power of Christ to restore, to transform, to heal and to save. We too should never despair of our salvation as long as we’re willing to repent and be restored. God is the One who allows us to grow, heals us of our spiritual maladies, and uses us to do the glory and honour of His holy name, filling us with His overflowing love, power, and grace. This is the spiritual fruit and encouragement of keeping the Feast of the Apostles.
Let us rejoice in the ministry of these great men, the Apostles of Christ that began the spread of Christianity to the far corners of the earth. Let us remember their sacrifice by our own sacrifice and discipline as we are called to focus on their commitment and devotion to the Lord’s commandments.
“This shows us that the Lord equally calls everybody for His kingdom and His service, both the learned and the simple. The important thing for them is to be useful tools for the work of His Grace and Glory.”