Author: H. H. Pope Shenouda Ill.
Those who fast and receive no benefit from it must have fasted in a wrong way; in this case, what is to blame is not fasting itself, but the method followed. Fasting is a period of concentrated spiritual activity, a period of loving God and adhering to Him.
As a result of this love, one who fasts is lifted above the level of the body and its concerns. He soars above worldly matters, to get a taste of the heavenly. It is a period of sacred feelings towards God, and ultimately, it harbours the feeling that one is close to, and familiar with, Him.
In the Gospel of St. Matthew 4: 1-11, the evangelist tells a beautiful story of how our Lord Jesus can help us fight the devil and his temptations, especially during Great Lent. Our Lord had just been baptized and the revelation of the Trinity had occurred. He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. Here the wilderness can represent the world which is full of various evils and under the devil’s sway. Our Lord shows us 3 main ways to fight the devil. The first is that he fasted for forty days and forty nights. This helps strengthen our spirit when the body is broken and allows us to fight against temptations, and we remember our Lord’s sufferings. The second way is by thoroughly knowing the Bible, which is the word of our Lord God Jesus Christ. The devil has lived a very long time and knows the Bible very well and tries to use verses to trick us.
First, the devil tries to make our Lord fall by the hunger. He calls into question if Lord Jesus is indeed the Son of God by saying “If You are the Son of
By His Holiness Pope Shenouda III
God's children should be strong because they were created in His image and likeness (Gn 1: 26); and God is powerful. We say about Him "Holy is the Lord God Almighty"; therefore, they should be strong like Him.
In the book of Numbers, when God ordered Moses to take a census of the people, this was restricted to young men who can go to war (Nu 1: 3). When the Song of Solomon talks about the men around King Solomon's throne, it describes them as valiant men; "They all hold swords, Being expert in war. Every man has his sword on his thigh, Because of fear in the night." (Sgs 3: 8)
On this day, the great St. Macarius, the son of Basilidis the Chancellor, was martyred. When the messengers reviewed the order of Emperor Diocletian, which dictates the worship of idols, with Macarius, he did not heed them. When the Emperor knew that, he sent Macarius to the governor of Alexandria. He bid farewell to his mother, and asked her to care for the poor and the needy, then he went with the envoy. The Lord Christ appeared to him in a vision, encouraged him, and told him what would happen to him. When he arrived to the city of Alexandria, he stood before Armanius the governor, who deceitfully treated him well because he knew that he was the son of Basilidis the Chancellor.