My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
On the 30th of June, the Holy Orthodox Church commemorates
the Synaxis (Assembly) of the Holy, Glorious, and All-Lauded
TWELVE APOSTLES, and others.
[The Synaxis of the Holy Twelve Apostles:
Philip–Thaddaeus (Jude), Bartholomew
(Nathaniel)–Andrew, Iakovos (of Zebedee)–Peter,
Simeon the Zealot–Thomas, Matthew–Iakovos (of
"The saints are the firstfruits of the Lord, particularly the Holy Apostles," declares Saint Ambrose, Bishop of Milan. "God first placed Apostles in the Church who prophesied many things and preached the Lord Jesus, for thy first received Him…These are the firstfruits of our Faith…THEY WERE CHOSEN OUT OF ALL THE FRUITS OF THAT TIME, TO WHOM IT WAS SAID, 'Greater works than these shall ye do' [cf. John 14:12], since the grace of God poured itself out upon them." [The Great Synaxaristes then reminds the reader of all the others that assembled in Jerusalem after the Ascension on the Mount of Olives. They went into the Upper Room (Chamber) where they were staying, both Peter and Iakovos, John and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, Iakovos the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the brother of Iakovos. There were also all the holy women, the myrrh-bearers, Mary the Mother of Jesus, and the Lord's brethren, as well as the Seventy (70), so that when Peter stood up in the midst of the Disciples who were in that same place, they numbered about a hundred and twenty.]
The Holy Apostles, those who were sent forth, were dispatched by Christ. He said to them after the Resurrection, "Peace be to you even as the Father hath sent Me forth, I also send you" [John 20:21]. Before the Resurrection, when He called them to Himself, He gave to them authority over unclean spirits, so as to cast them out, and to cure every disease and every weakness" (Matthew 10:11). He directed them to go to the lost of the House of Israel. He instructed them to go and preach, saying, "The Kingdom of the heavens hath drawn near. Heal the sick, cleanse lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons, freely ye received, freely give. Do not begin to procure for yourselves gold, nor silver, nor money in our belts, nor leathern pouch for the way, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the worker is worthy of his food. And to whatsoever city or village ye enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and there remain until ye go out. But when ye enter into the house, salute it, saying, ‘Peace be to this house.’ And if indeed the house be worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it be not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosoever shall NOT receive you, nor hear your words, when ye go out of the house or city, SHAKE OFF THE DUST OF YOUR FEET" (Matthew 10:7-14).
Jesus foretold that they would encounter trials and persecutions, saying to them: "Behold, I send you forth AS SHEEP IN THE MIDST OF WOLVES. Become therefore WISE AS THE SERPENTS AND GUILELESS AS THE DOVES. But continue being on guard against 10:16=18)., for they will deliver you up to councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. And also you shall be brought before governors and kings on account of Me, for a testimony to them and to the nations" (Matthew 10:16-18).
He bade them proclaim the glad tidings upon the housetops. He exhorted them not to become "afraid because of those who kill the body, but ARE NOT ABLE TO KILL THE SOUL; but rather fear the One Who is able to send away both soul and body into Gehenna" (Matthew 10:28). He also promised that "EVERYONE, THEREFORE, WHO SHALL CONFESS IN ME BEFORE MEN, I ALSO WILL CONFESS IN HIM BEFORE My Father Who is in the heavens. But whosoever SHALL DENY Me before men, him will I also deny before My Fathe Who is in the heavens (Matthew 10:32-33).
The Great Commission
For forty days after the Resurrection, the Lord Jesus appeared to the Apostles. At times he ate with them, and at other times he spoke to them about the Kingdom of God. Now when the Lord partook of a "portion of a broiled fish and of a honeycomb" (Luke 24:42), and ate TO CONFIRM THE REALITY OF HIS RESURRECTION. He wished to asure His Disciples that the One Who was eating with them was the same Who had been nailed to the Cross. Saint Epiphanios observes that "Christ revealed Himself IN TRUTH. He was touched by Thomas and with the Apostles He ate and drank and was witht them FOR 40 DAYS AND FORTY NIGHTS. But He also entered while the doors were shut. After He entered He showed nerves and bones, the mrks of the nails and the place of the spear wound. He showed A REAL BODY. HE ASCENDED INTO HEAVEN AND SAT AT THE RIGHT OF GOD, WITHOUT HAVING SET ASIDE THE BODY.
"And suddenly there came to be a sound out of the heaven, like as of a violent wind borne along, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues, as if of fire, being distributed, and it sat upon each one of them. And THEY WERE ALL FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, AND BEGAN TO SPEAK IN OTHER TONGUES, EEN AS THE SPIRIT WAS GIVING THEM TO UTTER" (Acts 2:2-4).
inmates of the
The Apostolic Ministry (Diakonia)
Now it is true that before the Cross, the Disciples were yet in an IMPERFECT STATE, since the grace of the Spirit hd not yet been given. After this THEY WERE SUPERIOR TO EVERY PASSION. IT WAS WITH THIS OBJECT THAT THEIR DEFICIENCIES WERE REVEALED IN THE GOSPELS, THAT YOU MIGHT KNOW WHAT MANNER OF MEN THEY BECAME BY GRACE. Indeed, they who were once timorous and void of understanding, NOW DISPISE WEALTH, GLORY, PASSION, AND PREEMINENCE, FOR THEIR MASTER HAD GIVEN THEM SO MANY CHARGES, SAYIING, ‘BY THIS SHALL ALL KNOW THAT YE ARE MY DISCIPLES, IF YE BE HAVING LOVE AMONG ONE ANOTHER’ (John 13:35).
The Sufferings and Godly Sorrows
of the Holy Apostles
God has not pledged a recompense and promise here, but in the future life. "The Apostles," maintains Saint John Chrysostom, "when they preached–although scourged, stoned, and constant inmates of the prisons, yet not only after deliverance from dangers but also in those very dangers–announced with forwardness THE MESSAGE OF TRUTH. (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Glorious and Divine Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George