Beloved, the time for the fast has drawn nigh. The church is slowly preparing us for this season. Of old, the Wisdom of God filled the Prophets and guided the people of God to love Him, not only with their lips, but with their hearts and souls. In place of whole-burnt offerings, let us offer the fast. In place of the sacrifice of rams, let us make a sacrifice of praise.

Joel 2:12-26

12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: 13 And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. 14 Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering and a drink offering unto the LORD your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly: 16 Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet. 17 Let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, O LORD, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? 18 Then will the LORD be jealous for his land, and pity his people. 19 Yea, the LORD will answer and say unto his people, Behold, I will send you corn, and wine, and oil, and ye shall be satisfied therewith: and I will no more make you a reproach among the heathen: 20 But I will remove far off from you the northern army, and will drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the east sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savour shall come up, because he hath done great things. 21 Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things. 22 Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength. 23 Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the LORD your God: for he hath given you the former rain moderately, and he will cause to come down for you the rain, the former rain, and the latter rain in the first month. 24 And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the vats shall overflow with wine and oil. 25 And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpiller, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. 26 And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.

Of Fasting, and Trumpets, and Feasts.

Come, my beloved, the season calls us to keep the feast. Again, ‘the Sun of Righteousness Malachi 4:2 , causing His divine beams to rise upon
us, proclaims beforehand the time of the feast, in which, obeying Him, we ought to celebrate it, lest when the time has passed by, gladness likewise may pass us by. For discerning the time is one of the duties most urgent on us, for the practice of
virtue ; so that the blessed Paul , when instructing his disciple , teaches him to observe the time, saying, ‘Stand (ready) in season, and out of season’—that
knowing both the one and the other, he might do things befitting the season, and avoid the blame of unseasonableness. For thus the God of all, after the manner of wise Solomon, distributes everythi ng in time and season, to the end that, in due time, the salvation of men should be everywhere spread abroad. Thus the ‘Wisdom of God 1 Corinthians 1:24 ,’ our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ , not out of season, but in season, ‘passed upon holy souls, fashioning the friends of God and the
prophets Wisdom 7:27;’ so that although very many were praying for Him, and saying, ‘O that the salvation of God were come out of Sion!’—the Spouse also, as it is written in the Song of Songs, was praying and saying, ‘O that You were my sister’s son, that sucked the breasts of my mother Song of Songs 8:1!’ that You were like the children of men, and wouldest take upon You human passions
for our sake!—nevertheless, the God of all, the Maker of times and seasons, Who
knows our affairs better than we do, while, as a good physician, He exhorts to
obedience in season—the only one in which we may be healed—so also does He send Him not unseasonably, but seasonably, saying, ‘In an acceptable time have I
heard You, and in the day of salvation I have helped You Isaiah 49:8.

By Saint Athanasius, Letter on Pascha

 

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