Week One: Zewerede - God came down to Earth
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God AMEN!!!
Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry. Psalms 2:11
This past Monday 3/7/2016, we began the fast of the Great Lent. This Great Lent is considered the Holiest fast since our Lord Jesus Christ Himself had fasted it. During this Lent, we follow the example set by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who fasted on our behalf forty days and forty nights (Matt. 4: 2). Our Holy forefathers have taught and described this fast in many way. Some stated it is fast of transition. As Moses fasted for forty days and forty nights to secure his people's transition from the Law of conscience to that of the Tablet, So did Our Lord to bring about our transition from the Old Testament to the New One. Others called it a fast of blessing monasticism. By fasting it in complete seclusion, Our Lord blessed the life of celibacy which fathers like Elijah and St John the Baptist did live and others followed soon after. And mainly it is a fast of reparation and exemplary. Adam and Eve were chased out of the Garden of Eden because of their disobedience to God’s commandment and the need to quench their flesh. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who can do whatever He wills so just in His Word without undergoing ups and downs, has fasted to give a practical lesson to us on how to self control and overcome temptation.
In the Fetha Negest/the book of Kings/, fasting is defined as follows: "Fasting is abstinence from food, and is observed by man at certain times determined by law, to attain forgiveness of sins and much reward, obeying thus the one who fixed the law. Fasting (also) serves to weaken the force of concupiscence so that (the body) may obey the rational soul". Fasting could be also defined as a form of abstinence or minimization of carnal pleasures for the sake of spiritual development. During this fasting period, Christians abstain from alcoholic drink, meat and all animal products: meat, milk, butter and eggs. Only the seriously sick, Mothers in their early months of child bearing and children less than seven years of age are exempted from fasting. The rest are expected to fast with utmost commitment. Fasting is dated back to the Old Testament in which prophets had to fast seriously to communicate with God and the faithful had to do the same to avoid His wrath (Exodus 34:28; John 3:5-10).
Our Lord and Savior has done what a noble teacher does to his disciples. Rather than solely tell the disciples in words, He shows them practically what is expected of them/us to be holy. He showed us that fasting is a spiritual weapon to overcome and be victorious over the three cardinal Sins-greed, pomposity and monetary lust (Mat. 4:1-11).
|The Tempter's (Devil's) statement||Type of Temptation||The Lord's Reaction (Statement)||Approach of overcoming the temptation|
|If you are the Son of God, Command that these stones become bread||Greed||Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God||Patience|
|If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down||Pomposity||You shall not tempt the Lord your God.||Meekness|
|I will give you if you will fall down and worship me||Excess Love of money||Away with you satan you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve||Reasonable `hatred' of excess riches.|
In the above table, Our Lord Christ has set a living example to us how to overcome the temptations of the Devil through fasting. He has showed us practically that through fasting we could disentangle ourselves from the slavery of the unholy spirit (addiction/ bad behaviour/and e.t.c) [(Mat. 17:21, Mark.9:2)]. After overcoming the cardinal sins the bible tell us, " the devil left Him, and behold, Angels come and ministered to Him". So will they do to us if we overcome the temptations of satan following the Lord's example.
The FIRST WEEK/ Zewerede / Museni/ Fast of King Heraclius
Because of the significance and holiness of the Great Lent, the Church designated a week of preparation to precede the 40 days. The Church teaches us to prepare for Great Lent in a spiritual manner. In fact, the preparatory week is not the only fast which the Church designated to get us ready for Great Lent and Holy Week. Two weeks prior to Great Lent there is Jonah's Fast, also known as Nineveh's Fast. It is a short fast, only three days, and it is a fast of repentance. During this fast, we live with Jonah, his fasting and repentance in the whale's belly. We also live with the Ninevites, their fasting and repentance. Just as the fasting accompanied by repentance saved Jonah and the Ninevites from perdition, also our fasting accompanied by repentance will save us from eternal destruction and death due to sin.
In our church each Sunday of the Great Lent carries a spiritual theme, which helps us to engage in spiritual dialogue with God through the incarnate, crucified and risen Christ. The First week of Great Lent is called Zewerede (God came to the earth) / Museni/ The Fast of a King (Heraclius). The first name of the week “Zewerede” is taken from St. Yared's mezmure saying, "Jews has crucified God who came to the earth to save Adam". On this song, St. Yared sings about the path of salvation taken (i.e. birth, baptism, crucifixion and resurrection) by our lord Jesus Christ (John 1:9-11; 3:13-21). It is also called the fast of King Heraclius who was king of Byzantines. During his reign, the neighboring country invades Jerusalem and took the cross of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Church fathers asked King Heraclius to bring back the cross and agreed to fast a week while he went to retrieve the cross. It is like a preparatory fasting period for Great Lent in a spiritual manner. We fast to prepare ourselves for the 40 holy days which started the following Sunday. The additional 15 days could be also counted as the substitution of the Saturdays and Sundays that we are eating on the 40 days of the Holy fast. We start eating in morning during the weekends unlike the rest of the week. [55 days = 40 days + a week of preparatory fast/ Kings fast + Passion week].
Deacon Medhanie Haile
Source- Mahiber Kidusan website.