My Beloved the benevolent
Grace and peace wishing every goodness and blessing
I am pleased to congratulate you on the Feast of the Apostles, which we celebrate this year on Monday, July 12th (15th of Abib). This feast commemorates the martyrdom of the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul and comes at the end of the Fast of the Apostles, which began after we celebrated the Feast of Pentecost on Sunday, June 20th.
The apostles are the pillars of the church, who carried the gospel of salvation to the whole world in accordance with the commandment Christ gave to them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirt. Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:19-20 A great task that needed a lot of potential, especially since the disciples were a small group with limited human capabilities. But God gave them the greatest power and the greatest abilities, and He promised to be with them all their days. Therefore, before His ascension, He instructed them to wait until they had received divine power from the Holy Spirit, before setting off to carry out His will to preach the Gospel to the whole world. The Book of Acts says, “And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me” Acts 1:4 He promised them saying “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts1:8
The secret behind the power of the apostles is not in their number, education, or social standards, but in the work of God’s grace in them and through them. When St. Paul the Apostle mentions his struggle in service, he says, “Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” 1 Cor. 15:10 When he writes about his preaching, he writes, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1Cor. 2:4-5. When he talks about God’s choice of His servants, he says, “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became of us wisdom from God-and righteousness and sanctification and redemptions – that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 1Cor. 1:27-31
When we celebrate the fathers the apostles and the great saints, we celebrate God’s work in them and with them. The fathers the apostles were ordinary people, but they responded to the grace of God, and they gave us great examples to learn from. But we must remember St. Paul’s saying, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.” 2Cor. 4:7 The treasure is God’s grace, and we are weak earthen vessels, but God gives us strength, so we must remember the following:
1. Indeed, the fathers the apostles are great personalities, and the apostolic age is a golden age of the ecclesiastical life, but this does not mean that it can’t be repeated. God is yesterday, today and forever, and God’s hand did not fail to save, and God is able to save with little and with many. God will not leave Himself without a witness. In every generation, there are pious people who interacted and responded to the work of divine grace.
2. We must strive in our lives and follow the example of the fathers the apostles and trust that the grace of God that has worked in lives of the fathers the apostles also work in us, if we are faithful in our lives and services just as they were faithful in their love for God, their spiritual striving, and their devotion to service and sacrifice for the sake of building the Kingdom of God.
3.The apostles faced many difficulties, but they did not give up; they endured, and most of them were martyred and received the crown of martyrdom. Spiritual life and service requires striving to the point of bloodshed. “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” Heb 12:4
4. The success of the service does not depend on material resources. The apostles preached the Gospel to the world with almost non-existent resources; but they succeeded because God’s grace supported them and worked with them. Therefore, the source of strength in service is God’s grace, and the stronger our relationship with God, the stronger the service.
5. The apostles were interested in serving the needy and achieved great goals in their service to the needy, “Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. “Acts 4:34-35
We pray that God grants us to follow our fathers the apostles and work together with true love and strong faith so that no one among us is in need, and may God bless your offerings to support Santa Verena Charity Programs.