Wednesday June 2, 2021 / May 20, 2021
Apodosis of Prepolovenie. Tone four.
Fast. Fish Allowed
Martyr Thalelaeus at Aegae in Cilicia and companions, Martyrs Alexander and Asterius (284). Uncovering of the relics (1431) of St. Alexis, metropolitan of Moscow and wonderworker of all Russia (1378). St. Dovmont-Timothy, prince of Pskov (1299). Martyr Asclas of Egypt (287). Sts. Zabulon and Susanna, parents of St. Nina (Nino) (4th c.) (Georgia)
The Scripture Readings
Sts. Zabulon and Susanna, parents of St. Nina (Nino)
Commemorated on May 20
According to Holy Tradition, St. Nino and Great-martyr George were blood relatives. At the same time as St. George’s martyrdom, a certain nobleman, the servant of God Zabulon, arrived in Rome from Cappadocia. Zabulon began to serve in the emperor’s army, and before long he was widely recognized as a courageous cavalryman and a fine soldier.
During a battle with the Franks the Lord granted victory to Zabulon—he captured the Frankish king and his suite and delivered them to the Roman emperor. The emperor sentenced the captives to death, but before they were executed they confessed their desire to be baptized into the Christian Faith. Zabulon relayed this to the emperor, and Zabulon himself became their godfather. Then he pleaded with the emperor to have mercy on his godchildren, and the emperor set them free.
Nearly all the Franks were converted to Christianity as a result of Zabulon’s struggles on behalf of the Faith. A 9th-century Georgian hymnographer wrote, “Her father Zabulon converted Gaul with his sword, and blessed Nino converted Georgia with the Life-giving Cross.”
Some time later, St. Zabulon journeyed to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage. While he was there he distributed all his possessions to the poor and began to serve Patriarch Juvenal of Jerusalem. There he met Sosana, the sister of the patriarch. Shortly thereafter they were joined in marriage by the patriarch.
The newly wedded couple moved to Cappadocia, where they had a baby girl whom they named Nino. While raising Nino, St. Sosana served God and the needy with great dedication.
When Nino reached the age of twelve, her parents sold all their possessions and moved back to Jerusalem. With the blessing of Patriarch Juvenal, Zabulon departed for the wilderness to begin a life of asceticism. The place where he labored is known only to God. With the patriarch’s blessing, Sosana ministered to the poor and infirm. On December 10, 1996, theGeorgian Orthodox Church declared Zabulon and Sosana, the parents of St. Nino, confessors of the Christian Faith. Living during a time when pagan religions were still widely practiced and Christians were often persecuted, they converted many people and then abandoned worldly things to follow God alone.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
HYMNS OF PRAISE
Great was Nicephorus, great among the saints;
Great was Nicephorus, like a giant among men.
But [Leo] the emperor with the name of a lion was small;
Of spite and malice his [Leo’s] entire “glory” consisted.
An emperor is to lead the affairs of the state,
Not the dogmas of the Orthodox Faith to judge.
The dogmas for him, Patriarch Nicephorus interpreted,
But the arrogant little emperor pretended to be wise.
Though emperor he had become, a simple shudra(*) he remained,
Not heeding the counsels of the wise saint.
The emperor banished the patriarch to a desolate, distant place,
And he himself, divine truth, began to interpret.
Great was Nicephorus, great in exile,
As also on the throne in his dignity.
From within, was all of his greatness,
And not false and incidental, changing from day to day.
Nicephorus, by faith and purity, a saint became,
By strong faith, fasting and humble simplicity.
And Emperor Leo was slain–terribly slain.
Perhaps he would have repented, but it was too late.
(*)Shudra: one of the four original castes in India, whose members engaged in the lowest professions. —Trans.
The veneration of icons is an integral part of Orthodoxy, from which it cannot be separated. That the veneration of icons appears to some people the same as idolatry is no proof against icons. To the Jews it seemed that Christ worked miracles by the power of Satan and not God, and to the Romans it seemed that Christian martyrs were ordinary sorcerers and magicians. Saint Nicephorus said to Leo the Armenian, the iconoclastic emperor: “An icon is a divine thing, but not to be worshipped.” Then he explained how God commanded Moses to make a serpent of brass and to raise it in the wilderness, even though just before this He had commanded: Thou shall not make unto thee any graven image (Exodus 20:4). The latter He commanded in order to save the chosen people from the idolatry of the Egyptians, and He commanded the former that He, the One and Most High God, might manifest His power through a visible thing. In the same manner He manifests His power through icons. This is His holy will and our aid for salvation. If icons are things of little significance or even idolatry, why would many of the holiest and most spiritual men and women in the history of the Church have suffered to the death for icons?
To contemplate the miraculous healing of the leper: And behold, there came a leper and worshipped him saying, Lord, if You will, You can make me clean (St. Matthew 8:2):
1. How the leper implored the Lord to heal him and how the Lord touched him with His hand and he was healed;
2. How I, too, am leperous from sin, and how the Lord can touch my soul and heal it, if I pray to Him.
About how wisdom proclaims itself everywhere
“Wisdom cries aloud in the street, in the open squares she raises her voice; down the crowded ways she calls out, at the city gates she utters her words” (Proverbs 1:20-21).
The Wisdom of God is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, through Whom every created thing was created. All that was created manifests its All-wise Creator, both that which is in the fields and that which is in the city. In the fields is pure and bright nature, while in the city is man with his trades and skills. The Wisdom of God cries out–and does not whisper–through all of nature and through all beneficial trades and skills of man. She [Wisdom] has covered all the fields; she has filled the entire city; she is above the earth and under the earth, in the starry firmament and in the depths of the seas. He who wants to hear her can hear her in every place; he who wants to learn from her and be delighted by her can be taught and delighted in every place; he who wants to be corrected and built up by her can be corrected and built up by her in every place.
Thus the Wisdom of God is clear and evident in all created things in the world from its very beginning. But the Wisdom of God is clearer and more evident in the prophets and in other men of God who were made worthy to approach her [Wisdom] outside created nature. Through their mouths, the Wisdom of God has been proclaimed in the fields, in the cities, on the streets of the cities, and at the doors of men.
But the Wisdom of God is most audible and most clear in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. In the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Wisdom of God was manifested in the flesh and demonstrated to men in Its miraculous power and beauty. This Wisdom of God does not speak through things nor through men, but speaks of Itself and from Itself alone, personally and directly. By His wisdom the Lord has filled the entire world through His Holy Church, so that it can be said that today, just as twenty centuries ago in Palestine, He cries out in the fields, on the streets, to the greatest throngs in the world, throughout the cities, and before all doors, through the servants of the Word.
O my brethren, let us open the doors of our souls to the Wisdom of God, incarnate in the Lord Jesus Christ!
O Lord Jesus, Wisdom and Power of God, open our souls and abide in them.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.