Apostles’ Fast

By Hiwot Salelew

Apostles’ fast, traditionally known as the fast of June by laities, due to its seasonality at the month of June, is amongst the seventh fasting. Apostles fasted after accepting the Holy Spirit and before setting out to preach gospel.

It is a fast transpiring after the holiday of Pentecost. On the fortieth day our LORD and Savior Jesus Christ rising from the dead, he went to the house where the diligence of holy apostles arise by praying with disciples. He led them upfront to the longest mountain covered with tall trees, Debrezeit. Alerting them about it, he ascended up higher and higher. A bright white cloud hailed GOD. He rose up far disappearing from their sight not with distancing with but profundity. Out of the very profound love for their LORD Jesus Christ and grieving about his ascending, apostles gazed at the sky for a long time.

Suddenly, they saw two Holy Angels with white clothes standing beside them. The angels told the apostles, “People of Galilee, why are you standing staring at the sky? Jesus shall return back just as you saw Him ascend to the sky.”(Apostles 1÷ 8-11). After apostles heard the angel’s calming words, they went to the temple in Jerusalem to pray and fast with unity, with Holy Mother Saint Virgin Mary beside them, where they remained till the prophecy that LORD Jesus Christ spoke about is fulfilled.

Apostles’ Fast takes places on the first Monday, after the holiday of Pentecost. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in his era on earth acquainted with the disciples to fast. On those days, Jonathon’s disciples come near him and asked, “The Pharisees and along with us will massively fast. Why don’t the disciples fast?  (Matthew 9÷14). And LORD Christ replied saying, “Made of Honors won’t grief while the bride is with them; However, there shall come seasons when the bride is taken from them. Then they will fast.” (Matthew 9÷15).

His words meant, while He is here without His death, ascending and embracing Holy Spirit; devoid of renewal of their corporal with the Holy Spirit, they can’t fast and trounce. Just as the apostles fasted and prayed creating heavenly world, we fast the Apostles’ Fast to plead GOD gives us power to defeat our enemy. Though each laities ought to fast, these days most of them refer it as “fast of Priests” and recoil. This is not based on the church’s liturgy and must be altered. Epitomizing Apostles, we merit to fast and be blessed.

May GOD’s mercy,

The intersession of Holy Mother Saint Virgin Mary,

Blessing of Holy Apostles,

The intercession and prayer of the Righteous and Martyrs be with us.

Amen

 

Source: Amharic text by Teklehawariyat at/ www.mahberekidusan.com/amharic website/

 

“Why do you seek the Living among the Dead?” (Luke 24:5)

Happy Easter!

Translated by Minwagaw Temesegen

As written in Exodus, 12:21-28, this day is called Pascha, the meaning of which is crossing over. The day is commemorated for the Israelites who were freed from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land in Canaan. In the New Testament the day is called Easter, a holiday celebrated in the memory of our LORD Jesus Christ who conquered and defeated death by His own death and freed the human race, transforming them from death to life and sleaze to glory. That is why we call it the Resurrection of Jesus. In this text, we will read about Easter from St. Luke’s word of GOD at 24:5.

 “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” (Luke. 24:5). This question was posed by the Angel of God to the Holy Women, who went to his grave early in the morning. The Holy Mothers, who spent days and nights with Jesus Christ, listening to the words of His mouth and looking at the miracles of His hands, went early in the morning to the sepulcher, avoiding the fear of the guards and of the darkness. While, the Angel of God asked them this question and then the Holy Women remembered what Jesus said three days ago about His resurrection. Then after, they went to the Holy Apostles and told them what they saw and heard. They spread the good news about Jesus’ resurrection. The Holy Apostles, then, clearly understood that He is the God of the living, not of the dead. Afterwards, they taught to the whole world about Jesus’ being the Son of God, about His passion and resurrection, and about His sitting in the divine throne equal to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Easter is one of the main feasts celebrated in the name of Jesus. It is known as the head of all feats by the church fathers, for it was on this occasion that the hope of the holy fathers and the prophecy of the holy prophets were fulfilled. The passion and death of Jesus Christ; the Savior is not a simple piteous occurrence; it is a living truth. The teaching of the Holy Apostles on the resurrection of Christ is the foundation for our church. Thus, in our Liturgy, we clearly declare that as we die with Christ and also rise with Him. We always preach His passion, His death, His resurrection, His ascension and His second coming. At the Easter is changed the cry of pity with the melody of happiness. On this day, the church wears in white and chants hymn of delight.

It is known that Prophet Elijah and his disciple Elisha made the dead arose. The daughter of the head of a temple, whose story is written in Matthew 8:14, the son of the poor woman in Nain, whose story is recorded in Luke 7:12, and Lazarus, whose story is read in John 11, all were arisen from grave. Furthermore, on the Good Friday, when Jesus separated His holy soul from His holy flesh by his power and authority, many (between five hundred and six hundred) were arisen from the dead. However, all of them died again. Jesus’ resurrection is very special from all these. His resurrection did not need any agent; He did the resurrection by His power and authority. He resurrected from the dead with never-dying, never-changing flesh that he would not have any second death and second resurrection. As St. Paul, the light of the world, said it in the 1 Cor. 15:23, Jesus is known to be  the beginner of our resurrection because, He arose from the dead, conquering death and corruption (with undying and unchanging flesh), defeating death with His own, winning the spears of death and looting all the possessions of Hell. Moreover, St. Paul in Colossians 1:18 called Jesus the beginning, the first born from the dead.

The Word of God Jesus Christ, our benevolent of salvation, with His passion and death has given us the power to defeat death and Satan. In order to perish the power of the Devil and to save the world He created, the Son of God Jesus Christ came to this world in the will of His Father, of His Own, and of the Holy Spirit. The owner of glory Jesus Christ crucified Himself on the Cross and died in flesh but living in divinity. The Son of the Living God died in flesh to destroy the power of the Devil; He died to destroy death and to save the dead from the ever-lasting death. The One who sits on the back of the angel spent three days and three nights in grave. Going to Hell Himself in spirit, He freed the souls of Adam and his children who were under the yoke of the Original Sin. Just like He told the holy disciples and the holy apostles, He arose from the dead in His power and authority. With this, He conquered, dismiss death and corruption in the sepulcher; He also became the beginner of our resurrection like He resurrected from the dead (Col. 1:18). He revealed our resurrection with His resurrection. He turned us from death to life. The Sun of Righteousness Jesus Christ gave us resurrection to our flesh and life to our soul. Alike as He taught us in John 11:25, He is the resurrection and the life; He is the source of our life.

When celebrating Easter, then, we should bear in mind that Jesus is the God of the living, not of the dead. The angel told the women near the sepulcher, Jesus Christ has been present among the living; He is not present among the dead. Adam, our father, because he wished Godhood and ate the forbidden tree, which he did not deserve, died for a reason, flesh and spirit. In addition, he was sentenced to go to grave in his body and to hell in his soul. Death of the reason is living in sin. As St. Paul, the chosen instrument, said in Ephesus 2:1, “And you have he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins,” to live in sin is to die; moreover, as the apostle taught us the wage of sin is death. The death of the flesh is the departure of flesh from soul. The death of spirit instead is the departure of soul from God. In the contrary, resurrection can be seen in three aspects: resurrection of the reason, of the flesh, and of the spirit. As resurrection of the flesh is returning to God through repentance, resurrection of the flesh is like the daughter of Jaures and like Lazarus who arose from the dead, died again and will rise in the general resurrection. Resurrection of the spirit, on the other hand, is standing on the right side of Jesus in His second coming.

It is impossible to meet Jesus and live with Him without repentance and without participating in the Eucharist. The conqueror of death and the owner of life Jesus Christ will be with us, and we be with Him, only when we take the Holy Communion that was given in the Calvary Square. We should celebrate Easter participating in the Holy Communion, not with the meat and blood of animals. What should worry us, therefore, is not the absence of the earthly food we buy with money, but what should worry us more is our not taking of the Eucharist from the Lamb of God. Easter is the feast on which we receive Jesus and invite Him to be with us by the resurrection of our reason. Therefore, we should participate in the Holy Communion while celebrating Easter.

Christians who believe in the resurrection should get closer to God, to the One with stretched hands for love, and approach Him in confession. Let’s take the Holy Communion being God-fearing and loving, as a result of which we get the resurrection of the reason. Then we stand in glory on His right hand during the general resurrection. We inherit the Kingdom of God that was not seen by eyes of the flesh, not heard by ears of the flesh and thought by heart of the flesh. The Son of the Living God, whose Kingdom is eternal, with His life-giving death, changed our death to life and revealed His resurrection and showed us the light of the resurrection. St. Epiphanius of Cyprus in the book he called Anchor said, “In His resurrection, we narrate the mystery of our own resurrection.” As the holy fathers who met in Nicaea wrote, “We believe in the resurrection of the dead and in the life to come.” The Living God Jesus Christ took us closer to His heavenly Father so that we live in Him. He ruined the Wall of Quarrel made between Him and us. He opened the door of repentance with His Holy resurrection. Our Savior Jesus Christ, with His redeeming death, opened the gate of Heaven, and He gave us Hs fruit, i.e. the Holy Communion. Therefore, in order for us to be living, let’s take this Holy Communion. In order to forbid death from governing our life and so as to get the resurrection of reason of the soul, let’s celebrate Easter performing good deeds to the needy.

As we celebrate Easter, we should avoid absolute fall of the spirit and shame through not eating and drinking too much, not dancing and committing a variety of sins. Let’s be aware, therefore, not to be caught with the snares of sin. Not to lose the hope of resurrection as a result of sin, let’s wash our body with confession. Let’s be faster to get the resurrection of reason. Let’s help the poor, share from what we have, and ask the sick so that we could be given back two fold in the general resurrection.

May the mercy and kindness of our Savior Jesus Christ be with us. May the absolute faith of our fathers and their winning good deeds grant us to inherit the Kingdom of GOD, Amen!

Source: Amharic text by Priest Solomon Wondimu at www.mahiberekidusan.com/amharicwebsite/

 

 

Safeguarding the Holy Church from enemy scam obligates fasting and praying!

By Hiwot Salelew

Our LORD Jesus Christ formed Holy church for our salvation and existence. With his message at 2 Cor.11:2, apostle Saint Paul informs, “By the merit of envying GOD, as I shall thy; for I have engaged you to one virgin bride Jesus Christ, whom I might present you to him”.

History inscribed about our Church tormented by her enemy. We read of Christians who were tortured to death, scrutinized without their sin and scarifying for their faith. For instance, “The years of Martyrs saw many miseries. Whenever we think of Church, we are reminiscent of Good Friday. Our savior LORD Jesus Christ spilled his blood to form it; a holy place where Priests and Church Ministers serve,” explains Megabe Hadis Priest Mengest Mariam, Head of Addis Ababa’s diocese, Bole Bulbula Medhanealem Church sermon.

The prestige of Ethiopian Orthodox Church ought to be safeguarded. Churches are burnt down these days of which are widely spoken off. After the Jimma incidence, our Church has been repeatedly encountering disasters. In addressing this national matter; Holy Fathers, Church Ministers and we all are responsible. Whereas people who committed Arson eventually dies, Holy Church lives thru all the years of Martyrs till the future, serving the sermon and endowing the flesh and blood of the Son of Man.

Megabe Hadis Priest Mengest Mariam further elaborated, “Laities’s duty at the holy church is preserving it. To seize its grievance, we are obliged to fast and pray. If not, we deem not fire as martyrdom, but as grievance. Foremost, devoid of GOD’s willed, neither corporeal nor spiritual deed undertakes”.

Inspecting this enemy scam from its core is expected of us, given that it is swindled to devastate Church. “Holy Fathers must defend laities to have freedom in conserving their right and carry out the order of worship. Omitting our shielding words is immoral whilst they migrate, get slaughtered and victimized by various attacks.  The services of the ministers which gradually lessened have affected Holy Church. Whether by their power or shudder, the demeanor of some people must be seized,” says Saint Paul New Testament Preacher Megabea Hadis Aemero Demessie.

Counterfeiting as Christians and forging preachers, ad infinitum attempt to deteriorate Orthodox Tewhado Church, contrive doubt within laities; raze the true religion and Christianity. Our savior LORD Jesus Christ originally informed us, “Be on the watch for the spurious prophets that come to you in sheep’s pelting, but inside they are ravenous wolves,” (Matt.7፡15).

Scoundrels who absconder from Orthodox Tewhado religion Church’s dogma, Liturgy and Marvel, are deluding others as well. Since ancient, our enemy satan’s deed abscond laities hopeless, sloughing their faith and religion; thus we oblige to have endurance, probable when we creed, get baptized; strengthen our good feat and live by GOD’s rule. Just as it’s in scripted in the book, these powers with fortitude are faith, hope and love. Apostles Saint Paul in his message to Corinthians says, “we won’t force you to creed, but aid your good will,” (2 Cor. 1:24).

We live in a world that is drifting on sin wave; despite of our lack of faith and heresy’s hegemony, being cautious of spurious prophets is crucial. Like our LORD said, “Be careful of those attempting to deceive you. Numerous will approach you stating to be LORD Christ and deceive countless. You will hear about war and its rumors; it is indispensable, so be careful. Don’t be scared, however, the ending is yet to come, (Mat.24:4-6).

Amid GOD’s righteousness on our side, we can escape from enemy scam. He will save us bracing our unity with Holy Fathers. We each have to go to Church, custom Christian Liturgy, prayer, repentance and fasting.

Source: Amharic text by Hiwot Salelew at/ www.mahiberekidusan.com/amharicwebsite/

 

Why did our savior LORD Jesus Christ fast?

 

Translated By Hiwot Salelew

His fasting in the Corinthians monastery for 40 days and night was:-

a) To Fulfill the law

Our creator God; Who is above all of the law, passed on His ‘fasting’ for the first mankind Adam, by the Pentateuch for him to inherit Eternal Life, fortifying his stability and safety by Holy Spirit as his cure.  It is the formation of the Pentateuch as well.

Our father Mosses, in Deu. 9:9 says, “While I went to the mountain for me to take the promised arc that GOD vowed with you on the two stone Holy plate, I didn’t eat bread nor have I drank water for 40 days and 40 nights.”

With this, mosses received the Pentateuch law; and thus, it is vital to fast. Our savior Jesus Christ made ‘fasting’ as the commencement of the Gospel to fulfill the law. At the Mathew’s Gospel 4:1-11, he says “I didn’t come to condemn the law but to fulfill it.”

b) To pay our debt (for our remuneration)

As GOD order our Father Adam, “Do not eat this fig (the forbidden fruit); if so, you shall die,” Gen.2፡16-17, but he disobeyed his law eating the fig and committing a delinquency. Then after he was baptized and resided in Corinthians monastery for 40 days and 40 nights without any consumption and drinking for the revocation of Adam’s eating the poison that consort death upon him; so GOD spilled his blood.

c) To be an ideal

The initiation of spiritual life and good conduct is fasting. GOD started his salvation on Friday and made it the origination of the Gospel as well. Our savior LORD Jesus Christ was baptized in this world in Jordan, where afterwards his endeavor started with fasting; as the apostles’ have also understood, they commenced abstaining.

Our Fathers made fasting the beginning of the Gospel; via which we can live with GOD’s Kingdom forever and the door to the Eternal Life was unlocked making them exemplary. However, we haven’t order them to fast while they don’t; we ought to fast and pray while living on earth with him as our savior, saving us from the predicament and ceaseless smoldering.

d) To preach us

 We should devote our life to LORD Jesus Christ to feat what is permitted, abscond what is forbidden, abiding the law, for salvation by the Gospel and to heal our sore soul. A soul with courage to fast and consequently experiencing spirituality and being diffident , denying the desire of eating and drinking needed for our corporeal can be permitted as the soul’s will.

If this soul attains what Christ sermons, we can bare every difficulty including imprisonment and whipping. Our abstaining to repentant our sin, not only to return back to GOD, but also to live Eternal Life and express our love by the Gospel of our savior LORD Jesus Christ.

e) To defeat Satan

 LORD Jesus Christ in Matthew’s Gospel 4:1-11 stated, during His fast, satan tormented him by greed, haughty and materialism. He defeated greed by tolerance, haughty with courteous and materialism through generosity.

Nowadays, we can identify these ordeals to defeat our enemy just as LORD Christ defeated satan and throw him to Hell! In Gospel of John 16-33, Christ said, “Therefore, conquer; for I have surmount the world,” because fasting heals Leprosy of soul’s. It wipes out the desire for physical craving; satisfy soul’s starvation and enslavement from satan uniting us with LORD Christ.

Why do we fast?

Alike our LORD Jesus Christ fast for our salvation; we need to follow his foot step and defeat our enemy satan for becoming heir to what our Fathers have inherited.  In the spiritual life of maturity and the physical longing, fast is a sacrifice to GOD. Fast is the foundation of every good deed of the Gospel, His first order to Adam and charismatic gifts, the beginning and the end; Alpha and Omega; GOD.

In Genesis 2:17, what He orders Adam was, “However, do not eat from the tree that distinguishes good and bad; the day you eat from that, you die.”

When we say fasting:-

  1. It is way for our trepidation of GOD and to ask for His mercy

In Ezra 8:23, it is stated, “We fast pleading GOD; and He hears our prayer,” for us to understand that fasting is our way to commune with GOD and for prayer; we recognize that those people have comprehended it.

  1. We appeal to GOD with our poignant and problems

The prophet Joel, during Israel was in their sorrow and starvation in Joel 1:14, informed us that we should “Bless fasting, announce the synod, gather elderly people and all living on earth to GOD pleading Him.”

The prophet Joel 2:12 told us, “GOD said, return back to Me with your entire heart with sorrow, fast and yelping; blow the trumpet in Zion; bless fasting, and announce the synod.” Thus, we shouldn’t ask GOD about our physical desire, what we eat, drink, for our peace and harmony. Foremost, Jesus Christ thought us through the prophets to fast and pray; for our enslavement of our problems and sorrow.

  1. It is a gear that heals our grievance and strain good generation

The prophet Isaiah in 58፡12 informs, “The houses torn down at ancient time, will be reconstructed, its formation will pass on to the next generation and you will be known as the emissary of what is broken and renewing the path of life”. Furthermore, in verse 5 “I didn’t choose this fast, at the day like this, we shouldn’t grief and while fast makes diffident, with that GOD is faithful; there will be blessing upon earth as well; GOD will nourish him with Jacob’s bequest as He Himself stated”.

  1. Way of worshiping

It is affirmed in the apostles 13:1-2 that Barnabas and Saul were called for spiritual life by fasting and praying. On those days after their fast, prayer and their blessing with their holy hand, they escorted them out.  When a person commences the path of worship, he ought to fast and pray; Like Lord Jesus Christ taught us, fast is the way of worship. To find the generation, the apostles fasted before taking apostolic pilgrimage.

  1. It is our weapon to exorcise satan and evil spirit; Mark 9:29

Subsequent to our LORD exorcising demons whom the disciples were unable too; they asked “Why couldn’t we exorcise,” and so he elucidated their lack of faith. “This generation can get salvation by praying and fasting; but none other.” Other than that, it is important to understand the improbability to exorcise. Opposing and resenting fasting, without its functionality and thinking we could expel demons; it could lead us into being despair and fools of satan.

Weeks of the Great fasting

Whilst our LORD and savior Jesus Christ abstained Himself for 40 days and night, Christians tribute the eight weeks termed in their holy scriptures.  These are:-

  1. The first Sunday of the Great fast is known as ‘Zewerede’ meaning the one who descended from above.
  2. The second Sunday known as ‘Kidist’, the name signifying GOD’s holiness.
  3. The third Sunday is ‘Mikurab’; the word standing for the synagogue, reminding us that our LORD during His ministry taught in the synagogue.
  4. The fourth Sunday is ‘Metsague’; meaning the one who infirm. A hymn for the healing of the sick and giving sight to the blind by the LORD is sung on this day.
  5. The fifth Sunday is ‘Debrezeit’ a geez word standing for mount olives. A hymn of our lord’s second coming -dooms day which he taught on Mount of Olives is sung on this day.
  6. The sixth Sunday ‘Gebreher’/Good servant/, the story of the good servant who received two talents are told and sung on this day.
  7. The seventh is ‘Nikodimus’– a hymn commerating the coming to ‘Nikodimus’ to our LORD during the night is sung.
  8. The eight Sunday is ‘Hosanna’/Palm Sunday/. It is a commemorative day on which our LORD entered into the temple in triumph and during which the people sung Hosanna in the highest.

Source: Amharic text by Deacon Yosef Bekele at/www.mahiberekidusan.com/amharicwebsite/

Hosaena: Eighth Sunday of Lent

April 8, 2017
By Kassa Nigus
Hosa’ena:  is one of the moveable feasts of our Lord that falls on Sunday prior to Easter. The feast commemorates the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-9), when palm branches were placed in His path, before His arrest on Thursday and His crucifixion on Good Friday. It thus marks the beginning of Passion Week, the final week of Lent. According to (Mathew 21:1-16), the story of Hosa’ena (Palm Sunday) was narrated as follows: 
The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem
Jesus had spent many times traveling through the towns and villages around Jerusalem. He preached about the kingdom of God and healed the sick wherever He went. As they came near Jerusalem, Jesus told two of His disciples to go into a nearby village and bring a donkey that would be waiting there. Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the donkey. Crowds of people spread their coats on the ground in front of Him. The holy city of Jerusalem was crowded with pilgrims who had come for the annual Passover celebration. 
 
Some waved branches of palm trees, a sign of victory. The people shouted, Hosanna!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord – the King of Israel! (Psalm 118: 26)
 
The Ethiopian churches decorated with palms and the Arch deacon  distribute palm branches to the fellowship in memory of the greetings Jesus received from the pilgrims as He rode into Jerusalem. It is customary in Ethiopian churches for the worshippers to receive fresh palm leaves on Palm Sunday. The walls of the temple ornamented with emblems of the palm. Believers often prepare palm fronds by knotting them into crosses used as rings and tied on their heads in preparation for the procession on Sunday.
 
Why Jesus carried on the donkey?
 To fulfill the prophesy of Zachariah, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon a donkey, and upon a colt the foal of a donkey.”(Zachariah 9:9 KJV)
 
The symbolism of the donkey may refer to the ancient tradition that it is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which is the animal of war. A king come riding upon a horse when he was bent on war and rode upon a donkey when he wanted to point out he was coming in peace. Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem would thus symbolize His entry as the Prince of Peace, not as a war-waging king.
 
In many cultures, donkeys are among the lowliest and have almost no value in our eyes. He comes in peace and humility and rides in on a donkey. According to church’s tradition,  in ancient times, palm branches symbolized goodness and victory, for example, Abraham praised His Lord holding palm branches when he gave birth his first Child Isaac, and his descendants, Isaac and Jacob had done the same. During their departure, Israelites also praised their Lord using palm branches.  
 
Source: Holy Bible King James Version, 1769. 
The Ethiopian Gospel Commentary 1983E.C (pp.233-236)

Nicodemus: Seventh Sunday of Lent

April 5, 2017
By Kassa Nigus 
The seventh Sunday of the great lent is known in the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church as Niqodimos (ኒቆዲሞስ). The day is named after a member of the Jewish ruling council who took special interest in the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in the third chapter of St. John the evangelist. Throughout the week of the seventh Sunday, the Church narrates story of Nicodemus and the lesson of rebirth he learned from our Lord Jesus Christ. The story is recorded in John 3:1-8 as follows:
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” He was impressed with the signs that Jesus performed in Jerusalem.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old?" Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”. This meant that God is above and therefore to enter His Kingdom we must all be born from above.
 
 What does being ‘born of water’ mean?
We understand in the phrase ‘born of water’ a reference to baptism, either that of John the Baptist, or Christian baptism. The phrase describes our Christian baptism which unites us with the Holy Spirit. Through this wonderful sacrament, we become children of God. Nicodemus desired to become a child of God and was baptized. He believed in the Words of Jesus, was born from above and became one of God’s children.
 
Why did Nicodemus come to Jesus at night?
Based on our Church’s interpretation, Nicodemus chose to come to Christ during the night time for fear of being seen by the Jews; he was a scholar and member of the Jewish ruling council. The other reason was probably to get enough time to converse with the Lord and ask Him whatever questions he might have had.
 
Nicodemus bearing fruit
After our Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross, Nicodemus got a chance to collect and bury the body of His Lord. He and Joseph had lived as secret disciples of the Lord and thus buried His body together. 
 
Before that fateful time, Judas sold the Lord for thirty pieces of silver; the chief apostle Peter denied Him and swore that he never knew Him; the other disciples too forsake Him; the chief priests accused Him of blasphemy and the council condemned Him to death.
 
The only people who took risk of the ridicule of the Romans and persecution from the Jewish religious council for following the Lord till the end were Nicodemus and Joseph – the hidden disciples. The two men came to collect and bury the body of Jesus at their own expense. Here we witness the word Nicodemus received from Jesus in private bearing public fruit.
 
What can we learn from Nicodemus?
Nicodemus held a high position of trust in the Jewish nation. He was highly educated and possessed talents of no ordinary character, and he was an honored member of the national council. Though rich, learned, and honored, he had been strangely attracted by the humble Nazarene, our Lord Jesus. He did not talk with Christ about state affairs, though he was a ruler, but about the concerns of his own soul and its salvation.
 
If we are to grow, like Nicodemus, we need to admit and seek Jesus for the grace to make the change. Education, culture and science may change us but only the grace of God can transform us. The word of Jesus has the power to transform and release us from every hold of egotism, pessimism, criticism and worldly mindsets.
 
So let us not boast in our authority, wealth, knowledge, …. that God gave us. Let’s rather learn from the life of this giant saint and seek the rebirth that ushers us into eternal life.
Sources:  Holy Bible, King James Version.
                 Tesfaye Mitiku, 2006 E.C. ሰብዐቱ አጽዋማት (The Seven Fasts) 

Debre Zeit: the 5th Sunday of the Great Lent

March 23, 2017
By  Kassa Nigus
Debre Zeit (ደብረ ዘይት): the Ge’ez phrase for Mount of Olives is one of the nine minor feast days of the Lord observed halfway in the fifth week of the great lent. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrates the feast with special consideration based upon the second coming of Christ, which was announced by our Lord on the Mount of Olives. Biblical verses and the hymn of St.Yared pertinent to our Lord’s second coming are read and sung on this day.

The signs of the end times spoken by our Lord will culminate in final judgment and resurrection of the living and dead, believers and unbelievers, righteous and sinners. It is in the knowledge of this truth of the second coming of Christ that all people must repent, believe and baptize in preparation for the arrival of God’ Kingdom.

The church advises us to be spiritually prepared for judgment at any moment and to put our trust in God that He will make everything right in the end. The final phase of the process of redemption began with the first coming of Jesus and will culminate in the events surrounding His Second Coming. There will be a final judgment of all people, living and dead. There will be a final defeat and destruction of all evil — Satan, sin, suffering and death. The kingdom of God will come to its fulfillment at last.

                              Signs of the end
Jesus, Himself, said no one would be able to predict exactly the end of the time but He informs that many events will occur before the Second Coming and which will be signs that the end is near. There will be wars, famines, earthquakes, false prophets, persecutions and an increase in wickedness, rebellion against God, worship of demons, idolatry, murders, sorceries, sexual immorality, and thefts. (Matthew 24:3-14; Rev. 9: 20). The Gospel of the kingdom must be preached to all nations for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.  (Matthew 24:14-28).

                         Resurrection and Final Judgment
Everyone who has ever lived will be brought back to life in some form to face the final judgment along with those still living. When the end time comes, all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth and   can be in front of two different Judgment Seats (righteous in the right hand of Jesus and sinners in the left) — those who have done good will be granted eternal life; and those who have done evil, will be condemned to eternal punishment. (Matthew 5:29-30, 25:31-46, Mark 9:43-48 ; John 5:25-29)

While we are still living, or until Jesus comes again, we have every opportunity to repent. We can change our ways from evil to good. But in the end we will all be judged. No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. You do not know when that time will come. The event, when it happens, will be swift and unexpected. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him. (Mark 13:32-33; Matthew 24:43-44)

                                            Be alert! Be Prepared!

The Feast of Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus

Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus was entitled “the Star of the desert” and “the Head of Anchorites”

March 12, 2017 

By Kassa Nigus

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Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus [means the salve of the Holy Spirit] was born on Tahisas 29 in 829 E.C; his date of birth and conception coincided with the day of His GOD, JESUS CHRIST. His father’s name was Simeon, and his mother’s name was ‘Aklesya who were righteous before GOD.  

  They remained childless in moan and prayer for a period of thirty years because they had not got a son. However, later God heard their prayer and gave them this child.
According to his Gadl (Hagiography), the saint was appeared from the city of Nehisa, in Egypt and lived there 300 years in the desert of Egypt. Then, he came to Ethiopia by the order of God and wandered about the wildernesses of Ethiopia.   He, then, departed to the land of Ziquala, that later on became the great monastery of the saint and lived there 265 years as if naked and drinking no water and eating no food, exceeding many prophets of old and unlike a man upon earth, but likened to the angels. 
 So his holy life began and was accomplished, now on the third year of his birth, GOD commanded the angel Gabriel and said unto him, “Go to the house of Simeon, and take the child from the breast of his mother, and bring him into the desert where there are many monks, and lay him down in their courtyard.” And say to the abbot, “Take the child from the courtyard, and bring him into the sanctuary”
Due to this divine order, the abbot raised him according to the Church’s rule, teaching all the scriptures and other religious learning. Later, he got ordination from the bishop called Abba Abraham and he dwelt in the Egyptian desert called ‘Gebota’ [most probably in Upper Egypt] three hundred years. 
Later on, he came to Ethiopia via Axum in 1129 E.C. during the reign of Qidus Harbey (also called Gebre Mariam), and expanded evangelistic activities in north and central Ethiopia. Then, he went to the next reigning king ‘Lalibela’, said to be in 1168 E.C., to discuss church issues. King Lalibela was excited and bowed to the saint many times and requested of him to stay with him.  But the saint did not accept the king’s request, instead he promised the king saying, “I will live in mount Ziquala and I will not depart from your country.” 
He is one of the most renowned Saints in Ethiopia along with St. Tekle Haymanot in evangelistic activities and is known as the founder of Zequala monastery.He is known by performing incredible miracles throughout his age and afterwards and is recognized by his exceptional quality, here are some of his miracles;    
 on the third day of his birth, the child rose up, and came down from his mother’s breast, and he stood up and bowed three times to the FATHER, the SON, and the HOLY SPIRIT, and who also said, “Glory be to the FATHER, Glory be to the SON, Glory be to the HOLY SPIRIT, Who has brought me out of the darkness into the light.”
The saint did not eat the bread of earth, or drink water, or wear raiment and he never prepared anything for his body, but he lived naked in the desert. However, he was arrayed by his beard and the hair of his head that covered his whole body like a thatch and swept the ground.  He was like the fowls of heaven, for he thought nothing about the food of this world, but he hungered and thirsted for God; his sustenance was offered from heaven.
 One day, the three saints (Abba Samuel of Waldebba, Abba Anbes of the land of Hazalo and Abba Benyam of the upper land of Egypt) came to the land of Kabd, carried on their lions, to ask and see Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus ’s celebrity. When they reached there they couldn’t get him and they stayed there for seven days in search of him.  Then a certain lion came to the three saints and devoured their lions. Then, the saints felt bitterly sad, and their sorrow was revealed unto our father, Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus.  Then after he came to them with the great power accompanied by his lions and leopards  , the saint rebuked the lions, and he rose up the dead lions from the belly of the lions and sent them away to their former owners.
During his combat, Satan came to him in the form of a black raven, pecked at his eyes, and dug out his eyeballs. Consequently, the saint remained blind for ninety-eight years, till the angles (Michael and Gabriel) healed his eyes through their breathing.   
  He lived 100 years in solitude in Lake Ziquala, praying for Ethiopia and the world as well. He lived in the desert escorted by 60 lions and 60 tigers that served him. The saint lived 300 years in Egypt and 262 in Ethiopia with a total life span of 562 years on earth and died on Megabit 5 /March 13. Due to his spiritual struggle, he was entitled with these names: “the Star of the desert” and “the Head of Anchorites”.
The Ethiopian church commemorates the feast of the saint on the 5th date of every Ethiopian month, of which Megabit 5 /March 13 is the day of the death of the saint), and Tikmit 5 /October 15 is the great annual feast of the saint. The reason for his commemoration on the 5th date of every Ethiopian month is: 
The entry of the saint from Egypt to Ethiopia; the day on which he went out from the lake where he received the covenant from God; the day on which he raised the dead lions; the first mass of his church built in his name was also celebrated on this day.  His departure is commemorated on Megabit 5/March 13.  Consequently his Gadl states that, he died in Ziquala and rested in Medre Kebd.
             May the prayer of Abune Gebre Menfes Qidus be up on us!
 Source:
• ገድለ ገብረ መንፈስ ቅዱስ : 1992 E.C :: (The Hagiography of Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus) 1992 E.C.
• Synaxarium:The book of saints of the Ethiopian Church
• የዝቋላ ደብረ ከዋክብት አቡነ ገብረ መንፈስ ቅዱስ ገዳም ዐመታዊ መጽሔት ጥቅምት: 2007::  (Annual Journal of Ziquala Debre Kewakibt Abune Gebre Menfes Kidus, October, 2007).

The Covenant of St. Mary (Kidane Mihret)

Februray 22, 2017
By Kassa Nigus 

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Saints enjoy greater grace before God for forsaking the world and receiving hardship for the love of God. They have received spiritual powers to perform miracles while in this world such as making the dead rise, healing different ailments and driving out demons.

Likewise, one who implores by invoking their names, commemorates them and believes in their role of intercession shall be rewarded as has been confirmed by God.Our Lord says in the Gospel of Mathew 10:41-42 “that if any one receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple; verily I say unto you, he shall in nowise lose his reward.”

Saints intercede not only in the realms of the flesh as the scriptures testify for they are alive in soul. (Ex.32:2-15; Enoch 12:33-40, Luke 20:37-40). The word of God is living, and it works on the living. His covenant never changes and He Himself has said that saints are also living.

The church believes in the covenant and honor bestowed on holy Apostles, martyrs and the righteous. Covenant has been given to them that those who forsook all and followed him by carrying his cross and received hardship for the name and glory of Christ shall sit upon the twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel when the son of man sits on his glorious throne. (Matt. 19:28)

If the Lord said this about the apostles, then how much more effective would be the prayers of the Mother of God for the salvation of her children? We have seen St. Mary receiving the motherhood of the Incarnate Son of God. This motherhood is not merely an honorable title but a responsibility of unceasing work. Being a superior member of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, she responds to the need of the other members seeking the salvation of everyone.

The story of the wedding of Cana of Galilee shows how great the intercession of Virgin Mary is. When St. Mary saw that the wine at the wedding had run out, she informed her Son, “they have no wine” (Jn 2:3). Of course the Lord was aware of that and surely he does not need to be reminded with the need of his children. But He who is full of love is pleased to see the mutual feeling of love in His mother and His children.

Her request was only made once, which shows clearly her confidence in Her Son’s reply, for she did not repeat her request but with every assurance she said to the people, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”  (Jn 2:5)  Through her conversation with the people of the wedding, we can visualize her role in intercession. For she presents our needs to her Son and then directs our hearts to diligently carry out His comandments and to do whatever He tells us.
Accordingly, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church commemorates  the covenant of St. Mary by the name Kidane Mehret.

Kidane Mihret (ኪዳነ ምሕረት) is a Ge’ez phrase which literally means ‘covenant of mercy’. The phrase is used to refer to God’s promise to St. Mary that he would forgive the sins of those who seek her intercession – a fact that underscores the enormous grace of Our Lady before the Almighty.  Kidane Mihret also refers to Yekatit 16 (February 23), the day on which St. Mary received the promise.It is also observed on the 16th day of each month though not as colorfully as on February 23. The day marks one of the 33 feasts of St.Mary.

According to the Ethiopic Synaxarium (pp.365), God has promised St. Mary that he will bless those who celebrate her commemoration, call upon her name, or give alms to the poor even if it were only a cup of cold water. He also promised to bless those who build churches in her name, give cloth to the poor; those who visit the sick, feed the hungry, comfort the grieving, or write the history of her strife.
 
May her prayer and intercession be with us!!!
 Source: 
• The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church Faith, Order of Worship and Ecumenical Relations (1996: 60-62).    
• The book of the saints of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church (Synaxarium).

The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple

February 15, 2017

By Kassa Nigus

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church celebrates the entrance of Our Lord Jesus Christ into the Temple on Yekatit 8 (February 15) carried by His mother, Saint Mary. The Ethiopian Church calls the feast, ‘Lidete Semon’ to remember the anticipation of Semon with the Holy family at the Temple.

The event is described in the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2:22–40).  St. Mary and Joseph took the baby Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem forty days after His birth to complete the ritual purification after childbirth, and to perform the redemption of the firstborn son, in obedience to the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12, Exodus 13:12–15, etc.).

Saint Mary and Saint Joseph kept this law, even though, St.Mary would not have had to go through ritual purification since she remained a virgin after the birth of Christ. They did this to fulfill the customs of their nation as Jews. This was according to the law which God had given to Israel, and Jesus also abided by that very rule. Luke explicitly says that St Joseph and St Mary took the option for poor people offering "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons" as they couldn’t afford a lamb. (Leviticus 12:1–4)

Upon bringing Jesus into the temple, they encountered Simeon, an old man who had been promised that "he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ" (Luke 2:26). According to church manuscripts, Simeon was one of the 70 scholars who were chosen by a king called Betlimos (Ptolemy II ) to translate and interpret the book of the prophets from Hebrew to  Greek (Tsir’e). The translation of the Hebrew Bible into the Greek language is known as the Septuagint (the LXX). The name “Septuagint” comes from the Latin word for seventy. 

Simeon was in charge of translating the book of Isaiah. As he reached the sentence that read, “behold the Virgin becomes pregnant and gives birth” (Isa. 7:14), he was confused by the discrepancy as women cannot be virgin and pregnant at the same time except St Mary. 

As he feared that a direct translation of the text will cast a shadow of doubt over his translation skills and he could face punishment due to that, he replaced the word ‘virgin’ with ‘woman’.  But after a while he witnessed a miracle: the word ‘woman’ was replaced by ‘virgin’. He erased that and wrote ‘woman’ instead of ‘virgin’. But the word was erased again miraculously.  Then an angel came to him, told him not to erase the word ‘virgin’ and said, “you shall not see death before you see the Lord’s Christ (whom the Virgin gave birth to)" (Luke 2:26). 

Simeon lived for 500 years was bed ridden. But when he met the Holy Family at the temple and carried the Child Jesus Christ, he regained his strength and was full of energy like a young man. That is why the Ethiopian Orthodox Church celebrates the day and named it ‘Lidete Simeon’ (Birth of Simeon).  

At that time, Simeon offered a prayer which came to be known as the prayer of Simeon, or Canticle of Simeon, which prophesied the redemption of the world by Jesus: “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant departs in peace; according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation, which Thou hast prepared before the face of all people: to be a light to lighten the gentiles and to be the glory of Thy people Israel.”  (Luke 2:29–32).

Simeon then said to Mary: "Behold, this child is set for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which is spoken against. Yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Luke 2:34–35).

Source: 
• ወንጌል ቅዱስ ዘእግዚእነ ወመድኃኒነ ኤየሱስ ክርስቶስ ዘዜነዉ ማቴዎስ ወማርቆስ ሉቃስ ወዮሐንስ::( The four Gospels commentary), written and interpreted by Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church scholars, 19 88 Eth.Ca, pp. 382.
• Ethiopic Synaxarium on February 16.