Dear friends, Tuesday marked the feast of the Twelve Apostles, and Monday was the celebration of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Enlightened and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were sent out to several areas, sharing, preaching and living-out Christ’s Gospel and guiding the Christian flock. St Paul evangelised and guided the Gentile world of Asia Minor, Greece and Rome. St Peter also travelled to Rome. St Thomas travelled to India and St Andrew to Greece as well as to the city of Byzantium (later renamed Constantinople and Istanbul) the See of our Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The fast of the Apostles – beginning on ‘All Saints Day’ and ending on the feast of Sts Peter and Paul – is mentioned by St Athanasius in the fourth century and in other testimonies within the early Church. The commemoration of the Apostles should inspire us, as young members of Christ’s Apostolic Church, to reclaim our own missionary work and our aim of bringing people to Christ. Rather than remaining indifferent towards our Christian faith, let us look to the Apostles as we try to cultivate, our prayerful relationship with the Lord, our way of life and example in society, our philanthropic outreach to those in need, and vitally, our participation in the Church’s sacramental life. Following these three challenging months, unable to attend church, we are finally called to return to our parishes, to relight the warm charcoal of our Christian faith and accept within us, like the sweet fragrance of incense that sweetens and comforts everything in its path, the Grace of God within the life of the Church, for the sweetening of our own hearts and sharing this sweetness of His love and mercy with those around us.
The Apostles’ thirst for Christ, their dedication to His ministry and salvific work and their readiness to sacrifice their own personal lives for the good of His Church may seem to others a form of poverty, St Basil writes. However, in reality, this sacrificial way of life ‘is a source of true richness – for through it you become a co-worker of Christ.’ Today, dear sisters and brothers in Christ, the commemoration of the twelve apostles also reminds us of the twelve tribes of Israel, proving the completeness and universality of the Church’s evangelical teaching.
Just as the Apostles, following Pentecost and the Apostolic Council in 49AD, went out their way to share the Risen Christ’s truth and love, let us also participate in His commandment to ‘go and make disciples of all nations.’ (Matt 28:19) Dear friends, our Bishops today, in the Orthodox Church, are the direct continuation of the work of the Apostles. Yet we are all essential members of Christ’s body, responsible for keeping the flame of our Christian faith and tradition lit and warm. The late Metropolitan of Sylivria, Aimilianos, notably writes, ‘truth awaits sharing, distribution, participation and communion. Every good acquires value only when it is shared with others…in participation, in offering…’ Let us share our Christian faith and offer ourselves entirely to Christ and neighbour, as the salt of the earth. (Matt 5:13-16)
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