St. Theophan the Recluse and the Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Scriptures and Saints Oct 9/Sept 26
19th Week after Pentecost. Tone 1. Fast-free period.
Repose of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian (начало 2nd c.). Glorification of New Hiero-confessor Tikhon (Bellavin), patriarch of Moscow and all Russia (Glorification, 1989).Righteous Gideon, judge of Israel (ca. 1307 b.c.). St. Ephraim, founder of Perekom Monastery (Novgorod) (1492). St. Nilus the Younger, of Rossano (Calabria) (1004). St. Neagoe Basarab, prince of Wallachia (1521).
St. Theophan the Recluse on Today’s Scriptures:
Monday. [Phil. 2:12-16; Luke 6:24-30] Woe to those who are rich, who are full, who laugh, and who are praised. But good shall come to those who endure every wrongful accusation, beating, robbery, or compulsory difficulty. This is completely opposite to what people usually think and feel! The thoughts of God are as far from human thoughts as heaven is from the earth. How else could it be? We are in exile; and it is not remarkable for those in exile to be offended and insulted. We are under a penance; the penance consists of deprivations and labours. We are sick; and most useful for the sick are bitter medicines. The Saviour Himself all of His life did not have a place to lay His head, and He finished his life on the cross — why should his followers have a better lot? The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of preparedness to suffer and bear good-naturedly all that is sorrowful. Comfort, arrogance, splendour, and ease are all foreign to its searching and tastes. Its path lies in the fruitless, dreary desert. The model is the forty-year wandering of the Israelites in the desert. Who follows this path? Everyone who sees Canaan beyond the desert, boiling over with milk and honey. During his wandering he too receives manna, however not from the earth, but from heaven; not bodily, but spiritually. All the glory is within.
Phil. 2:12-16 - Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
Luke 6:24-30 - “But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets. But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back.”
1 John 4:12-19 (Epistle, Apostle) - No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.
John 19:25-27; 21:24-25 (Gospel, Apostle) - Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.
Hebrews 7:26-8:2 (St. Tikhon) - For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people's, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever. Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, Minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle which the Lord erected, and not man.
John 10:9-16 (St. Tikhon) - I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
The Prologue of Ohrid on Today’s Saints
1. Saint John the Theologian, Apostle and Evangelist
John was the son of Zebedee the fisherman and Salome the daughter of Joseph, the betrothed of the Holy Theotokos. Called by the Lord Jesus, John immediately left his father and his fishermen’s nets and, with his brother James, followed Christ. From then on, he was not separated from his Lord until the end. With Peter and James, he was present at the raising of Jairus’s daughter and the Transfiguration of the Lord. At the Last Supper, he inclined his head on Jesus’ breast. When all the other apostles had abandoned the crucified Lord, John and the Holy Mother of God remained beneath the Cross. In obedience to the Lord, he was as a son to the Holy Virgin Mary, and carefully served and watched over her until her Dormition. After her Dormition, John took his disciple Prochorus to preach the Gospel in Asia Minor. He lived and labored mostly in Ephesus. By his inspired preaching and miracles he converted many to Christianity and shook paganism to its foundation. The embittered pagans bound him and sent him to Rome, to face Emperor Dometian. Dometian had him tortured and flogged, but neither the bitterest poison he was given to drink, nor the boiling oil into which he was thrown, did him any harm. This terrified the emperor and, thinking him immortal, Dometian sent him into exile to the island of Patmos. There St. John converted many to Christianity by words and miracles, and confirmed well the Church of God. He also wrote his Gospel and Revelation on Patmos. In the time of Emperor Nero, who granted freedom to all prisoners, John returned to Ephesus, where he lived for some time, confirming the work he had begun earlier. He was over one hundred years old when he went to the Lord. When his disciples later opened his grave, they did not find his body. On May 8 of every year, a fine dust, fragrant and healing, rose from his grave. After a long, laborious and fruitful life on earth, this beloved disciple of Christ, a true pillar of the Church, took up his habitation in the joy of His Lord. Saint John the Theologian, Apostle and Evangelist (icon in Hilandar Monastery, 14th c.)
2. The Venerable Nilus of Calabria
Nilus was a great ascetic among the Greeks of Calabria. The founder of several monasteries, he was a miracle-worker and a defender of the purity of the Orthodox Faith. He undertook a long journey to save a man from grave punishment. He had an ardent love for his neighbor, and entered into rest in the year 1005. Nilus left many worthy disciples, among whom was the distinguished St. Bartholomew, the writer of several canons, who reposed in 1044.
HYMN OF PRAISE Saint John the Theologian, Apostle and Evangelist
St. John the Evangelist, Son of Zebedee the fisherman, Was young when the love Of Jesus greatly warmed him. The most faithful friend of the Lord, With a pure, virginal soul, With a soul pure and loving, Visionary and heroic. He proclaimed wondrous mysteries And removed the seal from eternity. He saw the destiny of the world, from the beginning to the end. He preached love, And in love he walked; To the throne of the Most-high God He was raised up in love. And with love he was exalted Like a snow-capped mountain: The Son of Thunder, an awesome prophet, But meek and tender in heart. O John, seer of wonders, O thundering saint— Bear our small petitions To your Friend, the Savior! Bring us close to Him, The powerful God, the sweet God; And though we are not worthy of His bosom, At least bring us close— to His feet!
Thus writes the Apostle James: Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins (James 5: 20). The apostles of Christ did not simply speak thus, but confirmed it by their work. St. Clement of Alexandria relates that, somewhere in Asia Minor, St. John the Apostle had baptized a pagan youth and entrusted him to the care of the local bishop, while he went on further to preach the Gospel. In John’s absence, this young man became corrupt, and began to drink and steal, and finally joined a band of thieves in the forest, who attacked men and robbed them. After a while John returned, and heard from the bishop what had happened to this young man. Then Apostle John, not wasting a moment, found a horse and a guide and rushed to the forest where the robbers were to be found. Searching through the forest the saint found them, and confronted their leader. When the young man recognized John, he began to flee. Though aged, John chased him and, despite his old age, caught him. The young man fell at the feet of the apostle and, in shame, could not look him in the eye. John embraced and kissed him, as a shepherd does upon finding his lost sheep. The saint brought him back to town and confirmed him anew in the Faith and in virtuous life. Thereafter pleasing God, this young man entered into rest in due time.
Contemplate the divided heart of King Amaziah toward God, and God’s punishment (II Chronicles 25):
1. How Amaziah at first did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, and God granted him victory over the Edomites;
2. How Amaziah brought the Edomite idols (which had not helped the Edomites) to Jerusalem, and worshiped them;
3. How God permitted the Israelites to defeat him, and a rebellion was raised against him and killed him.
HOMILY on prayer inspired by love
Sanctify them by Thy truth. Thy word is truth (John 17: 17) When a mother is led to death, she worries more about the children whom she leaves behind than about herself. Such is the bond of great love. The Lord Jesus Christ had an even greater love for His disciples than that of a mother for her children. Going to His death, the Lord prayed to His heavenly Father for His disciples. He prayed, not because He lacked power to help them, but prayed to the Father to show the unity of His being with, and love for, His Father. But why did He then ascribe Truth to the Father, when before that He referred to the Spirit of Truth (John 14: 17), saying to the disciples: The Spirit of Truth … will guide you into all truth (John 16: 13)? To demonstrate the equality of the Father and the Holy Spirit. Did He not first say of Himself: I am the Truth (John 14: 6)? And, afterward, did He not call the Holy Spirit the Comforter, the Spirit of Truth? And He now ascribes truth to the Father as well: Sanctify them by Thy truth! He who would see any contradiction in this does not comprehend God as Unity and Trinity— Unity of Essence and Trinity of Persons. In that He ascribes truth as something essential to each Person of the Divine Trinity, the Lord demonstrates the equality of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For if one Person of the Divine Trinity would possess less truth, He would be lesser, in Essence, than the other two Persons. With a lessening of truth, there is also a lessening of power, love and wisdom. Therefore, the Lord referred to Himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit as Truth, so that men would know and believe in Their complete, essential unity. Therefore let none of the faithful be deluded by any lie asserting an inequality of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. Everyone should endeavor to wipe his heart clean of sin, as one cleans a mirror: only then can we truly perceive the great truth of the equality of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. O Triune and Divine Truth, enlighten us with Thyself, and save us. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
Velimirovic, Saint Nikolai. The Prologue of Ohrid (Kindle Locations 20181-20249). Sebastian Press Publishing House. Kindle Edition.