Wednesday October 6, 2021 / September 23, 2021
16th Week after Pentecost. Tone six.
Fast. Food with Oil
The Conception of the Honorable, Glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John. Canonization (1977) of St. Innocent Metropolitan of Moscow. New Hieromartyr John priest (1937). Venerables Xanthippa and Polyxena (109), disciples of the Apostles, who died in Spain. Virgin-martyr Irais (Rhais) of Alexandria (308). Martyrs Andrew, John, Peter, and Antoninus of Syracuse, martyred in Africa (886). “Slovensk” Icon of the Mother of God (1635). “Hawaiian” Myrrh-streaming Iveron Ikon of the Theotokos (2007)
The Scripture Readings
The Conception of the Venerable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John:
Commemorated on September 23
The Conception of the Venerable Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, John: The holy Prophet Malachi prophesied that before the Messiah would appear His Forerunner, who would indicate His coming. The Jews therefore in awaiting the Messiah also awaited the appearance of His Forerunner. In a city of the hills of Judea in the land of Palestine lived the righteous priest Saint Zachariah and his wife Saint Elizabeth, assiduously observing the commandments of the Lord. The couple however had a misfortune: getting up in years they remained childless and they prayed unceasingly to God, that He should grant them a child. One time, when Saint Zachariah was in turn priest at the Temple of Jerusalem, he went during the time of Divine-services into the Sanctuary for making an incensing. Having gone in behind the Sanctuary veil, he beheld an Angel of God, standing at the right side of the incense altar. Saint Zachariah was astonished and halted in fear, but the Angel said to him: “Fear not, Zachariah, thine prayer is heard, and thy wife Elizabeth will bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John”. But Righteous Zachariah did not believe the words of the heavenly messenger, and then the Angel said to him: “I – am Gabriel, that standeth before God and am sent to announce this unto thee. But now, thou shalt be mute until the day of birth, since that thou hast not believed my words”. Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zachariah and they were astonished, that he had not come out from the Sanctuary after so long a time. And when he did come out, he was supposed to pronounce a blessing upon the people, but could not pronounce it since he had been struck speechless. When Zachariah explained by gestures that he was unable to speak, the people then understood that he had experienced a vision. The prophecy of the Archangel was fulfilled, and Righteous Elizabeth was delivered from her barrenness, having given birth to the Forerunner and Baptist of the Lord, named John.
“Hawaiian” Myrrh-streaming Iveron Ikon of the Theotokos.
Commemorated on September 23
The Miracleworking Hawaiian Myrrh-streaming Iveron Icon of the Theotokos appeared inexplicably giving myrrh in the home of a pious Orthodox Christian couple on Sep. 23 / Oct 6, 2007, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Since it’s manifestation, it has been recognized by the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia as miraculous and genuine. This icon is well known to have cured many pious individuals of cancer, blindness, kidney and liver diseases, chronic pain, and demonic possession. It currently resides at the Russian Orthodox Church in Honolulu, but frequently travels throughout the world bringing forth healings and cures to all who have shown faith and love to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Most holy Mother.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMN OF PRAISE
THE HOLY GREAT-MARTYR EUPHEMIA
All-blessed Euphemia, the holy virgin,
Offered herself to God as a sacrificial lamb.
She neither gasped, nor sighed, nor sorrowed,
But gave warm thanks to God for her tortures.
Angels appeared to her in the flame,
And extinguished the embers with cool heavenly dew.
Oh, such is our Faith–invincible!
Oh, such is the love for God–unquenchable!
Euphemia, wise virgin, virgin of Christ,
Christ the Lord gave you the Kingdom for your suffering.
You have boldness before the Mother of God and Christ our God,
And help Their work by your holy prayers.
O Euphemia, pray for all sinners,
And convert them,
O saintly one, to repentance.
Often unexpected misfortune befalls us, and in vain we ask “why?” The Church of Christ alone knows how to explain the cause of every misfortune. The Church basically classifies misfortunes into two groups. Some misfortunes befall the sinner because of old, unrepented sins. Other misfortunes assault the righteous and serve, according to the words of St. John Chrysostom, “as a means of receiving a wreath, as was the case with Lazarus and Job.” The Empress Eudocia secretly agreed with the Eutychian heresy, having heeded the counsel of the perfidious eunuch Chrysaphius. But misfortune unexpectedly befell her. One day her husband, Emperor Theodosius, brought her an apple of unusual size. The empress sent the apple to the ailing senator Paulinus and he, out of love for the emperor, sent this same apple to Emperor Theodosius. This gave the emperor reason to suspect an illicit relationship between his wife and the senator. The emperor asked his wife to show him the apple he had given her. The empress lied and said: “I ate it!” This made the emperor’s suspicion even stronger, and he banished Eudocia to Palestine. In time Eudocia cured herself of heresy, and through the counsels of the great Palestinian spiritual fathers returned completely to Orthodoxy. The misfortune that befell the empress did not arise from an illicit relationship with Paulinus–in this, she was completely innocent–but because of her heretical disposition. A second but different case: When he was still a military commander, the future Emperor Marcian was traveling near Philipopolis and saw the corpse of a murdered man on the road. Out of pure compassion, he got off his horse and started to bury the corpse. Just then someone came by and saw him burying the corpse, and reported him to the court as a murderer. Marcian would have been punished by death, had God not shortly revealed the true murderer. This kind of misfortune falls into that second category–“for the receiving of a wreath.” Shortly after this, General Marcian was chosen to be emperor.
Contemplate God’s wondrous judgment with regard to men (I Kings 14):
1. How Jeroboam’s son became ill and died, for the punishment of his apostate father and for his own salvation;
2. How the rest of Jeroboam’s men perished, and were eaten by dogs in the city and by birds in the field.
on the Lord, the holder of power
I have power to lay it [My life] down and I have power to take it again (John 10:18).
The divine power of our Lord Jesus Christ manifested itself in His complete power over Himself. If divine power could be separated from divine love, then it could be said of Christ that He would have been able to incarnate, or not incarnate; or again, that He would have been able to die, or not die. But, He became incarnate according to His divine love for men and, according to this same inexpressible love, He gave Himself up to death as a Good Shepherd for His sheep (John 10:11). A man who kills himself does not truly have power over his life, for he does not kill himself by his own power, but rather by the power of sin, or by the power of the devil, or by the power of some other grave circumstance. So also, a man whom others kill has no power over his life, nor can he speak for his life before his murderers: he cannot say I have power to lay it down, for he must lay it down unwillingly. Only our Lord Jesus Christ could say in the presence of his murderers, the Jews: I have power to lay it down. Having that power, He could, by a miracle that would have been easy for Him, have made all the Jews perish before they crucified Him on the Cross. Yet He foresaw the saving fruits of His death, and that is why He willingly gave Himself up to be slain.
And I have power to take it again. With these words He foretold His Resurrection. Therefore, the Lord both died and resurrected by His divine power.
O Almighty and man-loving Lord, how beautifully Thou didst plan the salvation of men by Thy divine power and love. Help us, O help us, that we might embrace that salvation!
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.