St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct. 29/Oct 16
21st Sunday after Pentecost. Tone 4. Fast-free period.
Saints for Today:
Martyr Longinus the Centurion, who stood at the Cross of the Lord (1st c.). St. Longinus the Gate-keeper, of the Kiev Caves (13th c.-14th c.). Sts. John and Longinus of Yarenga, monks of Solovki (1561). St. Eupraxia, abbess, in the world Princess Euphrosyne, of Pskov (1243). St. Domna, fool-for-Christ, of Tomsk (1872). Martyrs Isaurus and Aphrodisius, who suffered with St. Longinus (1st c.). St. Gall, monk of Bangor Monastery and enlightener of Switzerland (ca. 646). Repose of Patriarch Adrian of Moscow (1700) and Abbot Neonil of Neamts, Romania (1853).
Scriptures for Today:
Galatians 2:16-20 (Epistle)
knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. But if, while we seek to be justi fied by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Luke 8:5-15 (Gospel)
A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it. Some fell on rock; and as soon as it sprang up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it and choked it. But others fell on good ground, sprang up, and yielded a crop a hundredfold. When He had said these things He cried, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" Then His disciples asked Him, saying, "What does this parable mean?" And He said, "To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that 'Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.' Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.
St. Theophan on Today’s Scriptures:
The Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost. [Gal. 2:16-20; Luke 8:5-15]
The thorns and thistles which choke the word of Divine truth, in addition to being riches, pleasures and cares of this life, at the current time must also be understood to be various false teachings, spread by scholars who have lost the truth and have been knocked off the path to it. Among us such theories differ much: some publicly and openly go against the truth; others do so by oblique hints that are nevertheless understood by those toward whom they are directed. In essence they act like carbon monoxide poisoning—they enter unnoticeably, and cloud the head, leading to a loss of clear consciousness of everything around. He who gets this carbon monoxide poisoning begins to rave like one who is asleep, for everything already appears to him entirely not as it is, not as it appears to one who is in his right mind. When you meet such a person you see that not only is all truth is suppressed in him, but any feeling for the truth is also stifled, and a lie has penetrated all the components of his mind. How should one be? Do not listen to these ravings or read them; and when they are unwillingly heard or read, throw them out of your head. When they are not thrown out—submit them to reason, and they all will scatter like smoke.
From the Prologue of Ohrid:
1. The Holy Martyr Longinus
The divine Matthew the Evangelist, in describing the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, says: Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God (Matthew 27: 54). That centurion was this blessed Longinus, who with two other of his soldiers came to believe in Jesus, the Son of God. Longinus was chief of the soldiers who were present at the Crucifixion of the Lord on Golgotha, and was also the chief of the watch that guarded the tomb. When the Jewish elders learned of the Resurrection of Christ, they bribed the soldiers to spread the false news that Christ did not resurrect, but rather that His disciples stole His body. The Jews also tried to bribe Longinus, but he did not allow himself to be bribed. Then the Jews resorted to their usual strategy: they decided to kill Longinus. Learning of this, Longinus removed his military belt, was baptized with his two companions by an apostle, secretly left Jerusalem and moved to Cappadocia with his companions. There, he devoted himself to fasting and prayer and, as a living witness of Christ’s Resurrection, converted many pagans to the true Faith by his witness. After that, he withdrew to a village on the estate of his father. Even there, however, the malice of the Jews did not leave him in peace. Due to the calumnies of the Jews, Pilate dispatched soldiers to behead Longinus. St. Longinus foresaw in the spirit the approach of his executioners and went out to meet them. He brought them to his home, not telling them who he was. He was a good host to the soldiers, and soon they lay down to sleep. But St. Longinus stood up to pray, and prayed all night long, preparing himself for death. In the morning, he called his two companions to him, clothed himself in white burial clothes, and instructed the other members of his household to bury him on a particular small hill. He then went to the soldiers and told them that he was that Longinus whom they were seeking. The soldiers were perplexed and ashamed, and could not even contemplate beheading Longinus, but he insisted that they fulfill the order of their superior. Thus, Longinus and his two companions were beheaded. The soldiers took Longinus’s head to Pilate, and he turned it over to the Jews. They threw it on a dung heap outside the city. The Holy Martyr Longinus (fresco in Studenica Monastery, Serbia, 1208-9)
2. The Venerable Longinus, the Lover of Labor
Longinus was a monk of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves in the fourteenth century. He was the gatekeeper of the monastery, and had such a pure and grace-filled heart that he always knew the thoughts of those who were entering the monastery and of those who were leaving the monastery. The miracle-working relics of Longinus repose in the Cave of St. Theodosius.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The Holy Martyr Longinus St. Longinus stood beneath the Cross When, on the Cross, Christ breathed His last. Longinus beheld the wrath of the mild sky, Witnessed the earth as it shook, And the bright sun as it lost its rays And clothed the whole world in darkness. The tombs of many were opened, And many of the dead appeared alive. Brave Longinus was filled with fear, And exclaimed with a remorseful sigh: “This Man was the Son of God! Sinful men have crucified the Innocent One!” Next to him, two other soldiers Echoed the exclamation of their centurion. Longinus was a witness of the Resurrection, And he could attest to His humiliation as well. An eyewitness, a true witness, Longinus desired to not conceal the truth, But proclaimed it everywhere he went, And glorified the resurrected Christ God! To his death he remained Christ’s soldier; And for Christ, Longinus gave his head.
The first appearance of the Holy Martyr Longinus was as follows: Much time had passed since his martyrdom when it happened that a widow in Cappadocia became blind. The doctors were unable to do anything at all for her. Suddenly, the thought came to her to go to Jerusalem and venerate the holy places there, hoping that she might find help. She had an only son, a boy, who served as her guide, but as soon as they arrived in Jerusalem, her son died of an illness. Oh, how immeasurable was her sorrow! Having lost her eyes, she now lost her only son, whose eyes had guided her. But in her pain and sorrow, St. Longinus appeared to her and comforted her with the promise that he would restore her sight and reveal to her the heavenly glory in which her son now dwelt. Longinus told her everything about himself, and told her to go outside the city walls to the dung heap, and there to dig up his head, and that she herself would see what would happen next. The woman arose and, stumbling, somehow managed to get out of the city. She cried out for someone to lead her to the dung heap and to leave her there. When she was led to the dung heap, she bent down and began to dig with her hands, having a strong faith that she would find that for which the saint asked. As she was digging, she touched the holy martyr’s buried head, and her eyes were opened, and she saw a man’s head beneath her hands. Filled with gratitude to God and great joy, she took the head of St. Longinus, washed it, censed it, and placed it in her home as the most precious treasure on earth.
Contemplate the courage of St. Stephen the Archdeacon in confessing Christ (Acts 7):
1. How St. Stephen enumerated the miracles and mercies of God toward the people of Israel throughout the ages;
2. How he denounced the opposition to God and the evil doings of the Jewish elders;
3. How he called them betrayers and murderers of Christ.
HOMILY on the mountains and depths of God
Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; Thy judgments are a great deep (Psalm 36: 6) The mountains of God’s righteousness cut through all the distances of time and space, rising up from earth to heaven; and from the clouds of time they ascend to the clearness of eternity. Are not the saints the bearers of God’s righteousness? See how they cut through time and space! Born in time, they now rejoice in eternity. Living in eternity, they come down to us in time, and help us like strong brothers help their weaker brothers. They lived on earth in a finite space and now the whole universe glorifies them. On all five continents of the world, churches are built in honor of the apostles, martyrs, and the rest of God’s righteous ones. Such are the mountains of God’s righteousness: you cannot limit them, you cannot encompass them, and you cannot measure them with any measure in this world. What other mountains can compare with the mountains of God? What other men can compare with the men of God? What other glory can compare with the glory of those whom God glorifies? O my brethren, let us rejoice in the righteousness of God and let us make glad in the lofty mountains of God’s righteousness! Thy judgments are a great deep. That is, the judgments of Thy providence are as unfathomable as a great deep. Thou didst cast Job upon a dung heap in order to glorify him; Thou didst raise Saul on the throne, that he might plunge himself into destruction; Thou hast mercy on the sinner, and Thou givest him abundance and health, that he may repent; Thou chastenest the righteous, in order to strengthen him in faith and hope! Thy Holy Church is the greatest mountain of Thy righteousness, the source of many mountains. Thy Holy Church, O God, searches Thy judgments and Thy ways, and her wisdom is great and as sweet as a honeycomb filled with honey. O Lord, disperse the clouds of malice from our hearts, that we may know Thy judgments and see Thy ways. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.