The word “apostle” translated from the Greek means, “emissary”. The apostles of Christ were sent to the world to bring the good new of the Gospel, to bring testimony of Christ, and to found and confirm the Church.
A group of men, about 100, caught the whole world in Christ’s nets. And this is an absolute, marvelous miracle! This is the most important proof that God was with them and that God is with us, their followers and children. After all, all the might of the Roman Empire, inflamed by the wrath of the Jews, was against them. Ninety percent of all the civilized aristocratic Romans, refined intellectual Greeks, and hundreds of coarse, barbaric tribes of Europe and Asia never even heard of Christ. Moreover they did not want to hear about Him, and they took an aggressive position against the apostles. Official Roman paganism, centered around the deified figure of the emperor, seemed to be a rock-solid, invincible power.
But as they sing in the old (Russian) rock-and-roll song, “A little shoot cracked open the well-travelled rock.” Just over 300 years went by and the colossus of pagan religion crashed down, and in its place budded the living tree of Orthodoxy.
Isn’t that a miracle? It seemed that everything was against it. It seemed that all the existing earthly conditions were nothing other than mortally dangerous to Christianity. To put it in biological terms, it was a near absolute hostile aggressive environment.
But the vine of Christ blossoms and brings forth fruit…
Also stunning beyond all imagination is of course the apostles’ indefatigability. Just read about what ends of the earth they reached and to what hostile tribes they went in order to preach the Gospel: Rome, Greece, Spain, Briton, Africa, Iran, India, the Caucasus…
And everywhere that vine planted by God’s right hand took root. This is because man did not plant it; the Lord planted it.
And we also probably have to understand that we are the direct descendants and heirs of the apostles, that the world, which has in many ways remained pagan—or better to say that it retains the inclination to roll back into paganism—demands apostolic zeal and witness to Christ from us. In our families, at work, on public transportation the Christian is an apostle, that is, an emissary of Christ.
Riding in the bus past an Orthodox church, we can either cross ourselves or shamefully turn around. At home, tired after work, we can either teach our child the “Our Father” or give him a tablet device with internet, and ourselves dive into the internet or television…
There are a huge amount of possibilities for the modern Christian to be an apostle. It is important that the heart burn with faith and the search for God and the thirst for the knowledge of Him. It is important that we be both the rock (Peter) and small (Paul, Paulos in Latin, means “lesser, small”)—that is, that we be at once an indestructible rock of the Orthodox faith and filled with this littleness, perceiving ourselves as small, poor in spirit; that is, having worked with God’s help to possess the virtue of humility, without which there is no salvation. Meanwhile of course not forgetting the virtue of love. And waiting for us are our own Corinthians, Romans, and Thessalonians in our families, on the subways and buses, and at work. And the Lord is the Same for us as He was for the apostles.
Holy chief apostles Peter and Paul, pray to God for us!