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The fast of Nineveh - የነነዌ ፆም

The fast of Nineveh is a three-day lent recognized by the Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The fast of Nineveh lasts from Monday to Wednesday, two weeks before the beginning of the Great Lent. The dates of this fast vary every year according to the date of Easter.

The scriptures not only teach us to fast and pray but also provide us examples of people who fasted and prayed and received their reward.

The Ninevites trembled at the voice of Jonah the son of Mattay, and took refuge in penitence. They admitted their sin , and humbled themselves before God with fasting and prayer.

Jonah 3: 5-9

" 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth.

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh:

“By the decree of the king and his nobles:

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.”"

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened."

Our Lord Eyesus Kristos spoke of Jonah’s time spent in the belly of a large fish as the only sign he was prepared to give to the unbelieving Jews when they seek from him to show them more miracles.

Matthew 12:39-40

“But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: for as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

During this fast, we also remember the three days Prophet Jonah spent in the belly of a large fish/whale.

Matthew 12:40

“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Matthew 6:16-18

“Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”

The story of the people of Nineveh teaches us the power of fasting and prayer.

The Feeding of the Five Thousand from five loaves and two fish

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo church commemorates the miracle of Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Kristos feeding five thousand people from the five loaves and the two fish on Terr 28 (February 06).

The Holy Bible mentions this as one of the great miracles which prove that He is the Creator.

Matthew 14:13-21

“Listen, when Jesus heard of it, he departed thence by ship into a desert place apart: and when the people had heard thereof, they followed him on foot out of the cities. And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick. And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals. But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat. And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes. He said, Bring them hither to me. And he commanded the multitude to sit down on the grass, and took the five loaves, and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed, and brake, and gave the loaves to his disciples, and the disciples to the multitude. And they did all eat, and were filled: and they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full. And they that had eaten were about five thousand men, beside women and children.”

This great miracle, which had not existed before and can be performed by God alone, manifested the Divinity of Our Lord Eyesus Kristos.

The interceding power of the Apostles: Our Lord Eyesus Kristos knows the multitude are tired and hungry and he already had a plan to feed them but he waits until the Apostles are moved to intercede for them saying, “This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals”. Our Lord Eyesus Kristos answered to them saying, “give ye them to eat”.

The eternal food we all need (Holy Communion) is what Our Lord commands to be distributed by the hands of he Apostles to the faithful. He blessed it, broke it, and gave the loaves to his Apostles, and the Apostles gave it to the multitude. The Lord gave authority to his Apostles, and through them, to the priests of the church. Our Lord and Savior Eyesus Kristos came to this world to supply the spiritual needs of the people.

John 6:31-36

“Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.”.

The mystical meaning:

The five thousand multitude are those who are sick in their five senses, and healed by the five loaves and the two fish.

The five loaves represent the Five Pillars of Mystery (Trinity, Incarnation, Baptism, Holy Communion, Resurrection).

The two fishes represent the precious Flesh and Blood of Our Lord Eyesus Kristos .

The twelve baskets represent the twelve Apostles who preach the words of Our Lord to the ends of the world.

One basket of fragments from each of the Disciples shows the true believers of Our Lord that would come from the preaching the Apostles.

Twelve basket fragments were lifted up and carried by the Apostles; for what the prophets, the kings and the fathers in the Old Testament wanted but were not able to see. The Apostles, who carried, held and preached to the ends of the world, carried the baskets. As our Lord and Savior said:

Luke 10:24

“For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

The story of the feeding five thousand people teaches us not to turn away from the people who need our help. The Apostles said "send them away so they could go into the villages and buy something to eat” But our loving father, Our Lord Eyesus Kristos said "give ye them to eat".

Whenever we possess anything beyond our needs, we have stolen it from the hungry, homeless, or the one who has no clothes. As John the Baptist told us:

This great miracle, which had not existed before and can be performed by God alone, manifested the Divinity of Our Lord Eyesus Kristos “And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.”

Lord doesn't expect us to help all the needy by ourselves but to offer what little we have to Him. Then Our Lord Eyesus Kristos will work the miracle to make sure that it is enough and some leftover.

Glory be to our God and Savior Eyesus Kirstios forever. Amen.

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