By: GEORGE YOUSSEF
May 28th of this year marks the first day of the Apostles’ fast which concludes on July 11th. This fast precedes the Apostles’ feast on the fifth day of Epip, the day St. Peter and St. Paul were martyred. Through the Apostles’ fast, we thank God for the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, we acknowledge the struggles and tribulations of the holy apostles as they preached and established the foundation of the Christian church, and we prepare ourselves to serve and preach. This fast reflects the fast the apostles took on after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them on the day of
Pentecost. Just as Our Lord fasted for forty days in the wilderness following the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Him during the Theophany, the holy apostles too fasted when the Holy Spirit descended upon them.
To this day, we apply the wisdom of the holy apostles to our everyday lives within the Coptic Orthodox church. The holy apostles fasted in order to prepare for their service and preaching. Fasting prepared them because, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:14).Fasting is a period when we direct our attention more towards God and His words, and less towards the useless earthly things. This truly prepares our mind, body, and soul to effectively serve and preach according to the will of God and not according to any selfish or misguided agenda.
With this said, it is important to note that serving others and preaching the word of God are critical aspects of the Apostles’ fast. Serving should be at the center of all of our lives; “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Therefore, it is crucial to take this opportunity, during the Apostles’ fast, to prepare ourselves to take on new services and sacrifice more towards the services we are a part of.“But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and the evil” (Luke 6:35).
May we all benefit and grow during this time of fasting, and Glory Be to God Forever. Amen.