Departure of the Great Prophet Jonah
On this day we celebrate the departure of the Great Prophet Jonah, the son of Amittai. It was said that he was the son of the widow of Zarephath whom Elijah the Prophet had raised from the dead. Jonah followed Elijah, served him and gained the grace of prophesy.

God commanded Jonah to go to the City of Nineveh to admonish its people and to tell them that after forty days the city would be destroyed. Jonah pondered in his heart saying: "If God wished to destroy them He would not warn them and I am afraid if I go and preach this warning to them, they might repent and He would not destroy them. I would then look like a liar and no one would listen

to me after that and maybe I will get killed because I conveyed to them a false message from God. I shall arise and flee".

What did this prophet think of? How could anyone flee from the face of God? By escaping, he wanted to get away from the City of Nineveh because he did not want to admonish them even though he knew that God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and forgiving. He thought that by staying away from Nineveh the Lord would send another prophet to preach to this city.

The escape of Jonah the Prophet and his having been cast into the sea are to make manifest the miracle of his remaining in the belly of the whale for three days and then coming out safely. It is a symbol and evidence of the Resurrection of our Savior from the dead after three days without encountering decay.

Jonah rose up to flee from the presence of the Lord and went down to Joppa; he found a ship going to Tarshish and sailed on it. The Lord sent out a great wind and there was a mighty tempest in the sea and the ship was about to break. The people on the ship cried out, each one to his god. They said everyone to his fellow: "Let us cast lots, that we may know because of whom this evil has befallen us", and when they had cast lots, it fell upon Jonah.

They said to him: "What have you done that brought such an

affliction on us". He replied: "Cast me in the sea and you shall be saved". They begged god's pardon and they cast him into the sea, and a great whale swallowed him. He remained in its belly for three days and three nights and then he was cast out on the seashore. He rose up straightaway and came into Nineveh. He preached to its people and they all repented; the king, the nobles, the poor, the old and the young. They all cried to God with fasting and everyone turned away from evil and God accepted their repentance and had mercy upon them.

Jonah rose up and returned to the land of Israel and died there. He prophesied in the days of Amos and his son Hosea. He lived nearly one hundred years, out of which he prophesied more than seventy year. He preceded the Lord Jesus by more than 900 years.

The Holy Apostle Thomas was born in the Galileian city of Pansada and plied the trade of fisherman. Hearing the good tidings of Jesus Christ, he left all and followed after Him. The Apostle Thomas is included in the number of the holy Twelve Apostles, the 12 closest disciples of the Saviour.

By the account of Holy Scripture, the holy Apostle Thomas did not believe the reports of the other disciples about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: "Unless I see in His hand the wound of the nail, and place my finger into the wound of the nail, and place my hand in His side, I shalt not believe" (Jn 20: 25). On the eighth day after the Resurrection the Lord appeared to the Apostle Thomas and shew His wounds. "My Lord and my God" -- cried out the holy apostle (Jn 20: 28). "Thomas, being once weaker in faith than the other apostles -- says Saint John Chrysostom -- toiled through the grace of God more bravely, more zealously and tirelessly than them all, such that he went preaching almost over nearly all the earth, not fearing to announce the Word of God to savage nations." According to Church Tradition, the holy apostle Thomas founded Christian churches in Palestine, Mesopotamia, Parthia, Ethiopia and India. Preaching the Gospel earned the apostle a martyr's death. For having converted the wife and son of the governor of the Indian city of Meliapur [Melipur], the holy apostle was locked up in prison, suffered torture, and finally, having been pierced with five spears, he expired to the Lord. Part of the relics of the holy Apostle Thomas are in India, in Hungary, and on Athos.