Third Week of Pascha. Tone two.
Fast. Fish Allowed
Apostles Jason and Sosipater of the Seventy, and their companions: Martyrs Saturninus, Jakischolus (Inischolus), Faustianus, Januarius, Marsalius, Euphrasius, Mammius, the Virgin Cercyra, and Christodolus the Ethiopian, at Corfu (1st. c.). Martyrs Dada, Maximus, and Quintilian at Dorostolum (286). Virgin-martyr Anna (1940). St. Cyril, bishop of Turov (1183). Martyrs Zeno, Eusebius, Neon, and Vitalis, who were converted by Apostles Jason and Sosipater.
The Disciple Jason
Commemorated on April 28
The Disciple Jason hailed from Tarsus (Asia Minor). He was the first Christian in the city. The Disciple Sosipater was a native of Achaeia. They both became disciples of the Apostle Paul, who even called them his “kinsmen” (Rom. 16: 21). Saint Jason was made bishop in his native city of Tarsus, and Saint Sosipater – in Iconium. They set out to the West preaching the Gospel, and in the year 63 they reached the island of Kerkyra (Korfu) in the Ionian Sea near Greece.
There they built a church in the name of the First-Martyr Stephen and they baptised many. The governor of the island learned about this and locked them up in prison, where they saw seven thieves: Satornius, Iakyscholus, Faustian, Jannuarius, Marsalius, Euphrasius and Mammius. The disciples converted them to Christ. For their confession of Christ the seven prisoners died as martyrs in a cauldron of molten tar, wax and sulfur.
The prison guard, having beheld their act of martyrdom, declared himself a Christian. For this they cut off his left hand, then both feet and finally his head. The governor ordered the disciples Jason and Sosipater to be whipped and again locked up in prison.
When the daughter of the governor, the maiden Kerkyra, learned how the martyrs would suffer for Christ, she declared herself a Christian and gave away all her finery to the poor. The infuriated governor attempted to persuade his daughter into a renunciation of Christ, but Saint Kerkyra stood firm against both persuasions and against threats. Then the enraged father devised a terrible punishment for his daughter: he gave orders to situate her in a separate prison-cell and bring in to her the robber and murderer Murinus, so that he would defile the betrothed of Christ.
But when the robber approached the door of the prison-cell, a bear pounced upon him. Saint Kerkyra heard the noise and in the Name of Christ she drove off the beast, and then by her prayer she healed the wounds of Murinus. After this Saint Kerkyra enlightened him with the faith of Christ, and Saint Murinus declared himself a Christian and thereupon was executed.
The governor gave orders to burn down the prison, but the holy virgin remained alive. Then by order of her enraged father, she was suspended upon a tree, choked with bitter smoke and executed with arrows. After her death, the governor decided to execute all the Christians on the island of Kerkyra. The Martyrs Zinon, Eusebios, Neonos and Vitalius, having been enlightened by the Disciples Jason and Sosipater, were burnt.
The inhabitants of Kerkyra, escaping from the persecution, crossed over to an adjoining island. The governor set sail with a detachment of soldiers, but was swallowed up by the waves. The governor succeeding him gave orders to throw the Disciples Jason and Sosipater into a cauldron of boiling tar, but when he beheld them unharmed, with tears he cried out: “O God of Jason and Sosipater, have mercy on me!”
Having been set free, the disciples baptised the governor and gave him the name Sebastian. With his help the Disciples Jason and Sosipater built several churches on the island and, living there until old age, by their fervent preaching increased the flock of Christ.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HOLY VIRGIN CERCYRA
The virgin Cercyra, tender and pure,
Heard from the imperial court about the name of Christ.
That holy name overpowered her heart,
And she was ready to suffer for Him.
A father instructs his daughter–but how? And in what?
“God is One, Father. Bow down to Him!
Through Christ is His love manifested;
With that love am I now seized.
I do not mourn for myself, nor am I afraid of torture.
Do what you wish: I stand before God.”
Cercyra the virgin stood in the flame,
Quiet, meek, radiant like a dove.
The crimson flame raged, the whole dungeon cracked.
Cercyra’s heart beat unafraid;
Prayer and hope nested in her heart.
With these she overcame the fire, and not the fire, her.
The virgin, pierced with arrows, easily separated herself
From the vanity of the world by divine love.
Her body was shattered by deadly arrows,
But the Lord received the soul of the virgin intact.
The mystery of our salvation is concluded with the appearance of God among men in a human body. St. Meliton of Sardis writes: “The works of Christ following His baptism manifested and proved to the world that His divinity was hidden in His body. Being God, He was also perfect man. He revealed to us His two natures: His divinity, by His miracles performed throughout the three years following His baptism; and His humanity, throughout those years when the weakness of the flesh hid the signs of His divinity, even though He was truly the Pre-eternal God.” The manner of the union of divinity with humanity is difficult to comprehend, but the event of the appearance of God as a man among men is perfectly comprehensible from the viewpoint of the love of God for man. Even the creation of the world, as an event, is not more comprehensible–one can even say it is less comprehensible–than the event above all events: the Incarnation of God.
Contemplate the Ascension of the Lord Jesus:
1. How He led His disciples to a hill near Bethany;
2. How, with uplifted hands, He blessed the disciples.
on seeking the face of the Lord
“Thy face, O Lord, will I seek” (Psalms 27:8).
“Let Thy face shine upon Thy servant” (Psalm 31:16).
King David sought that which the simple fishermen received without seeking. King David was in a state of darkness and yearned to see the radiant face of the Lord, which was revealed to the simple fishermen in its complete refulgence (radiance). King David belonged to the period of waiting, but the disciples belonged to the period of fulfillment. There, it was only the announcement of the coming of the Lord, but here, it is the coming. There, a presentiment and reverie about the face of the Lord; here, the radiance and beauty of that same face. The face of the Lord was radiant even before the Resurrection, and how much more radiant after the Resurrection! The inextinguishable flame of divinity hid behind the icon of His body and shone through that bodily icon. The disciples gazed upon Him fixedly and they rejoiced in their hearts. For forty days they gazed upon His glorified body and they rejoiced in their hearts!
O my brethren, let us also seek the radiant face of the Lord that we might feel the delight with which the angels of God are elated. If we seek Him with yearning in this life, then we will see Him at least in the other life. But if we do not seek Him in this life, then we will not see Him either in this life or in the other life. Brethren, let us yearn for the face of Christ! His every word shows us one feature of His face. Each of His apostles shows us some characteristic of His face. His every deed shows us some feature of His face. Each of His saints shows us some ray of His radiant face. With yearning, brethren, let us examine the face of the Lord. Let us assemble ray after ray, until the entire sun is revealed. Let us enshrine that Sun in the depths of our hearts, that He may illumine our bodily courts from within. Let us plant this inexpressibly sweet vineyard in our hearts, that we may taste of that immortal drink with which the angels are filled.
O Lord, Bearer of light, make Thy face to shine upon us, Thy servants.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.