Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Afric Archdiocese of Good Hope

ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

4 December 2010 St Barbara, Great Martyr of Heliopolis, Syria

Feast of St Alexander Hotovitzky, New Martyr of Russia – St John of Damascus – St John of Polybotum, Phrygia – St Juliana of Heliopolis, Syria – St Gennadios of Novgorod – St Seraphim, Hieromonk of Phanar – The Holy Icon of the Ever Blessed Theotokos of St John the Damascene
Apolytikion Of St Barbara – Tone 4

Varvaran tin Agian timisomen; ehthrou gar tas pagidas
sinetripse ke os strouthion erristhi ex afton, voithia ke opio tou Stavrou i pansemnos.
Kontakion Of The Nativity Of Christ

Barbara

the Saintly: let us honour now; for she shattered the snares of the enemy, and like a sparrow she freed herself from them, with the Help and Weapon of the Cross all stately.

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Parthenos simeron, ton Iperousion tikti, ke i gi to spyleon to aprito prosagi. Angeli meta Pimenon doxologousi, Magi de meta asteros odiporousi, di’ imas gar egenniti, Pedion neon, O Pro Aionon Theos.

Today the Virgin gives Birth to Him Who is above all
being, and the earth offers a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with Shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a Star. For unto us is Born a young Child: the Pre-Eternal God.

Matins Gospel According to St Matthew 25 : 1 - 13
Be Prepared And Ready At All Times For Only God Knows When Christ Will Return For Our Final Judgement & Eternity

At that time, our Lord Jesus said: “... the Kingdom of Heaven shall be likened to Ten Virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the Bridegroom. Five of them were wise, and five were foolish. And Those who were foolish took their lamps but took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. And while the Bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold! The Bridegroom is coming! Go out to meet Him!’ And all those Virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish Virgins said to the wise: ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise Virgins answered and said: ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell and buy oil for yourselves.’ “And while they went to buy, the Bridegroom came, and those who were ready, went in with Him to the Wedding; and the Door was shut. “Afterwards the other Virgins came also, saying: ‘Lord! Lord! Open to us!’ But He answered and said: ‘Truly, I say to you: I do not know you!’ “Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.” This Parable of our Lord Jesus Christ illustrates the vital Eternal Life, while the Foolish Virgins are those who necessity of being Spiritually Prepared until the selfishly squander (waste) God’s Divine Gifts on Second Coming of Christ - the Divine Bridegroom. themselves without giving anything to others – The Eternal Kingdom of God is often portrayed as Holy thereby condemning themselves to Eternal Death – Matrimony - similar to the Parable of the Great alienation and exile from God and His infinite Wedding Banquet, which also proclaims the transfer Goodness. of God’s Eternal Kingdom from the faithless Our physical death, which is unavoidable due to our Hebrews to the Gentiles. ( MATTHEW 22 : 1 – 14) human condition, is experienced by both the The Eternal Kingdom of God is referred to as a joyful virtuous and the sinful people - “...they all Wedding Banquet with Christ as the awaited slumbered and slept.” Bridegroom. “...at midnight a cry was heard...” refers to Christ’s St Paul, in his Epistle to the Ephesians also used the Second Coming – i.e. His physical Reappearance analogy of Holy Matrimony for the Eternal Kingdom when all Creation – either with great Joy of of God. (EPHESIANS 5 : 21 – 33) anticipation or trembling in fear - will see Him in all In the Parable of the Great Wedding Feast, the repeated His Divine Glory. sending forth of His Servants with invitations to the The living and the dead virtuous and wicked people will Great Wedding Banquet clearly shows our Heavenly stand before His Judgement Seat - being separated Father’s deep desire to have all His people with Him according to their own personal choices throughout in His Eternal Kingdom. their lifetimes. The Divine Marriage – i.e. the Divine Union – will be The inability of the Wise Virgins – the Righteous Ones – consummated at the end of the age when the to share their oil is an illustration of the Bridegroom – Christ – returns to escort His Holy impossibility of entering Eternal Life without one’s Bride – His Holy Church – into the Eternal Wedding own Faith and Virtue and the impossibility of Banquet. changing one’s Spiritual State – whether virtuous or The reference to Christ’s Holy Church encompasses all wicked – after death. faithful Christians and other faithful people of God. L u k e 1 6 : 2 6 – In the account of the Rich Man and This Parable of the Ten Virgins primarily concerns the Poor Lazaros, St Abraham told the condemned Virtue of Charity – the Virtue of Unconditional Rich Man : “... between us and you there is Love/Agape – and Almsgiving since the words “oil” a great gulf fixed, so that those who want and “Mercy” have the same root in Greek: “Eleos.” to pass from here to you cannot, nor can The Wise Virgins are those who practise Charity those from there pass to us.” (unconditional Love/Agape) and Mercy in this The great gulf that separates the virtuous from the lifetime – who are thereby preparing themselves for wicked is not a geographical divide but the

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ST BARBARA THE GREAT MARTYR OF HELIOPOLIS, SYRIA - 4 DECEMBER 2010

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complete separation between virtue and wickedness – a separation that cannot be overcome after death but which – due to the Great Mercy of God – can be rectified through sincere and humble Repentance-Confession, which leads us to Reconciliation with God and mankind. Since we constantly fall from Divine Grace through our conscious or unconscious sins, we must ceaselessly rectify all our errors with Divine Assistance through Prayers, Fasting and correct Worship.

The themes of the Parables of the Great Wedding Banquet (Holy Communion) and the Ten Virgins (Repentance-Confession and Life in Christ – preparing ourselves for Eternal Life) are woven together in the Liturgical Hymns of Holy Week, particularly in the Troparion of Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday and Holy Wednesday: “Behold! The Bridegroom comes at midnight, and Blessed is the servant whom He shall find watching!”

The Epistle of St Paul to the Galatians 3 : 23- 4 : 5
Sonship (Our Divine Adoption) Through Faith And Holy Baptism

Brethren: Before Faith came, we were kept under guard by the Law, kept for the Faith that would afterwards be revealed. Therefore the Law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be Justified by Faith. But after Faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through Faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were Baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; there is neither male nor female; for you are all One in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and Heirs according to the Promise.

The Holy Gospel According to St Mark 5 : 24 – 34
The Faith Of The Woman Whom No One Could Heal

At that time our Lord Jesus went with (Jairus, one of the rulers of the Synagogue,) and a great multitude followed Him and thronged Him. Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was not better, but rather grew worse. And when she heard about Jesus, she went behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment, for she thought: “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” Immediately the fountain of her blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that Power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and asked: “Who touched My clothes?” And His Disciples said to Him: “Thou see the multitude thronging Thee, yet Thou ask: “Who touched Me?’” And He looked around to see her who had done so, but the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, went and fell down before Him and told Him the whole Truth. And He said to her: “Daughter, your Faith has made you well. Go in Peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

The Life & Martyrdom of St Barbara of Heliopolis, Syria
St Barbara’s father, Dioscoros, was a rich and illustrious pagan who lived in Heliopolis and devoted himself to his only child after the death of his wife. Due to St Barbara's extraordinary attractiveness, Dioscoros hid her from the sight of strangers in a tower, where only her pagan teachers were allowed to visit but from which she was able to observe the splendour of wooded hills, the swiftly flowing rivers, the meadows covered with flowers and the spectacular night skies. She began to contemplate the First Cause and Creator of such a harmonious and splendid world – and rejected the soulless idols made by human hands, which could never have created the surrounding natural beauty. St Barbara vowed to devote herself to the True God and a life of virtuous chastity. Although many suitors wanted to marry her and despite the entreaties of her father, she refused them all and she warned him that his persistence might end tragically and separate them forever. Dioscoros decided to permit her the freedom to choose her friends and consequently St Barbara met young Christian maidens who taught her about the Creator of the world, the Holy Trinity, and the Divine Logos and Son of God. By Divine Providence, a Priest, disguised as a merchant, arrived from Alexandria and after instructing her in the Mysteries of the Christian Faith, before returning to Egypt, he Baptized St Barbara. A luxurious bathhouse was being built at her home with two windows installed on the south side. Taking advantage of Dioscoros’ absence, St Barbara requested a third window, thereby forming a trinity of light and on one of the walls she traced a cross with her finger. (It became deeply etched into the marble, as if carved by an iron instrument and eventually her footprints too were imprinted on the stone steps of the bathhouse and the water had great Healing Powers.) When Dioscoros returned and queried the change to his building plans, St Barbara explained that she had come to know the Triune God, the Saving Power of the Son of God, and the futility of paganism. Infuriated, Dioscoros nearly struck her with a sword but she fled from him, and as he pursued her, a hill suddenly opened up and concealed her in a crevice, the other side of which had an entrance leading upwards to a cave where St Barbara managed to hide herself. After some time, a shepherd revealed her hiding place and Dioscoros beat his daughter terribly, placed her under guard and tried to wear her down with starvation. Then he handed her over to the Prefect, Martianos for being a confessed Christian. St Barbara was most cruelly tortured but at night having prayed fervently to her Heavenly Bridegroom, our Saviour Himself appeared and healed her wounds. The executioners subjected the Virgin Martyr to even worse torments and public humiliation. In the crowd of witnesses a virtuous Christian, Juliana, was filled with sympathy and willing to suffer Holy Martyrdom for Christ, she loudly denounced the torturers until they seized her. Both Holy Martyrs were tortured for a very long time but the Prayers of St Barbara brought an Angel of God who covered their nakedness with a splendid robe. The steadfast Confessors of Christ, St Barbara and St Juliana, were beheaded. Dioscoros executed his own daughter but the Wrath of God soon punished both torturers, Martianos and Dioscoros who were all killed after being struck by lightning. Many pious Orthodox Christians chant the Troparion of St Barbara each day, in remembrance of the Divine Promise of our Holy Saviour to St Barbara that those who remembered her and her sufferings would be preserved from sudden, unexpected death, and would not depart this life without benefit of the Holy Mysteries of Christ. May her memory and that of St Juliana be Eternal!

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ST BARBARA THE GREAT MARTYR OF HELIOPOLIS, SYRIA - 4 DECEMBER 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

28th Sunday After Pentecost - Tone 3 10th Sunday of St Luke – The Bowed Woman

5 December 2010

Feast of S t S avv a th e S a n cti fie d – St Diogenes – St Philotheos of Karyes, Mount Athos – S Nektarios of Bitolya & Mount Athos – Monastic Martyrs of Karyes, Mount Athos - St Gurias of Kazan – St Anastasios the Fuller of Salona, Dalmatia – St Cyrion & St Zachariah (his son) of Egypt – St Crispina of Thacora or Tagora, North Africa.
Resurrection Apolytikion - Tone 3

Evfrenestho ta Ourania, agaliastho ta epigia, oti epiise Let
Kratos en Vrahioni Aftou O Kyrios. Epatise to Thanato ton Thanaton. Prototokos ton nekron egeneto. Ek kilias Adou errisato imas ke pareshe to kosmo to Mega Eleos.
Apolytikia Of St Savva The Sanctified

the Heavens rejoice and let the earth be glad, for the Lord has shown Strength with His Arm; He has trampled down Death by Death; He has become the First-born of the dead; from the womb of Hades He has delivered us, and to the world He has granted Great Mercy.

Tes

ton Dakrion Sou roes, tis erimou to agonon egeorgisas, ke tis ek vathou stenagmis, is ekaton tous ponous ekarpoforisas. Ke gegonas fostir, ti ikoumeni lampon tis thavmasin, Ioanni patir imon Osie. Presveve Hristo to Theo, sothine tas psihas imon.

Thy Martyr, O Lord, was worthily awarded by Thee the
Crown of Incorruption, in that he contested fro Thee, our Immortal God. Since he possessed Thy Power, he defeated the tyrants, dashing the demons’ powerless displays of defiance. O Christ God, at his fervent entreaties, save our souls.

Kontakion Of The Nativity Of Christ

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Parthenos simeron, ton Iperousion tikti, ke i gi to spyleon to aprito prosagi. Angeli meta Pimenon doxologousi, Magi de meta asteros odiporousi, di’ imas gar egenniti, Pedion neon, O Pro Aionon Theos.

Today the Virgin gives Birth to Him Who is above all
being, and the earth offers a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with Shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a Star. For unto us is Born a young Child: the Pre-Eternal God.

R e s ur re ctio n G os pe l 6 : Luke 24 : 35 - 53 Prokeimenon :

Sing praises to our God!

Sing praises to our King!

Clap your hands, all you nations!

The E pi stle o f S t P aul to the G al ati a ns 5 : 2 2 – 6 : 2
War Against The Flesh & Do Good To Everyone

Brethren: the Fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Brethren: if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are Spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of Gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the Law of Christ. This Sacred Lesson commemorates all Holy Monks and instead of indulging our own flawed and destructive it reminds us, AS STRUGGLING DISCIPLES OF CHRIST, desires and whims that do not benefit anyone at all.
WHOM WE STRIVE TO IMITATE AND FAITHFULLY FOLLOW – OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST WHO IS THE SON OF GOD – BEING GUIDED AND ENABLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT – OUR DIVINE COMFORTER, ADVOCATE AND HELPER WHO GRANTS US HIS DIVINE GIFTS OF VIRTUE – such as Love, Joy, WITHOUT HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE – TWO INSEPARABLE VIRTUES – WE CANNOT EXPECT TO MAKE EVEN THE SLIGHTEST PROGRESS FOR ONLY BY WORKING IN HARMONY AND UNITY WITH GOD AND WITH ONE ANOTHER, CAN WE ACHIEVE THEOSIS – SPIRITUAL PERFECTION AND ETERNAL LIFE. BEING ENLIGHTENED BY CHRIST AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE AND ASSIST ONE ANOTHER,

Peace, Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control. As developing, maturing and faithful Christians we are reminded that THROUGH OUR HOLY BAPTISM WE
HAVE ABANDONED OUR FORMER SELVES – “THE OLD MAN” – who were ruled and dominated by our

especially when anyone of us stumbles or falls along the way. However, WHEN CORRECTING OUR FALLEN OR
STUMBLING BRETHREN, WE MUST ALWAYS DO SO WITH HUMBLE AGAPE OR LOVE – “... a spirit of

passions or vices and selfish desires but now,
HAVING BEEN REGENERATED IN CHRIST, OUR ONLY DESIRE TO BECOME LIKE HIM THROUGH HUMILITY AND WILLING OBEDIENCE TO GOD IN ALL ASPECTS OF LIFE. TO WALK IN THE (HOLY) SPIRIT IS TO LIVE EVERY MOMENT “IN THE (HOLY) SPIRIT,” BEING CONSTANTLY AWARE OF OUR HOLY MISSION DURING THIS PREPARATORY PERIOD OF LIFE ON EARTH AND MAKING EVERY EFFORT TO FULFIL GOD’S DIVINE WILL

Gentleness...” and never with a sense of criticism or condemnation because the next time we ourselves may fall even harder than any of our fellow sinners: “Today my brother, tomorrow me!” (ST JOHN OF
KRONSTADT)

BE ABLE TO ADMINISTER CORRECTION WITH “GENTLENESS” IS A SPIRITUAL GIFT OF GOD. St Paul admonishes us to BEAR ONE ANOTHER’S BURDENS AND TO BEAR OUR OWN BURDENS AS WELL

TO

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28th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 10TH OF ST LUKE – THE BOWED WOMAN – 5 DECEMBER 2010

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because we are Called to initiate True Care-giving in our Holy Church and NEVER TO BE NEEDLESS

BURDENS TO OTHERS!

The Ho ly G o s pe l A cc o rd in g to S t L uk e 1 3 : 1 0 – 1 7
CHRIST HEALS A BOWED WOMAN ON THE SABBATH

At that time Jesus was teaching in one of the Synagogues. And behold, there was a woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years, and was bent over and who could in no way raise herself up. But when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him and said to her: “Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.” And He laid His Hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and Glorified God. But the ruler of the Synagogue answered with indignation, because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath: and he said to the crowd: “There are six days on which men ought to work; therefore come and be healed on them, and not on the Sabbath Day.” The Lord then answered him and said, “Hypocrite! Does not each of you on the Sabbath loosen his ox or donkey from the stall, and lead it away to water it? So ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has bound – think of it – for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath?” And when He said these things, all His adversaries were put to shame; and all the multitude rejoiced for all the glorious things that were done by Him. According to certain traditions that the Scribes and Greek expression is literally translated “ten and eight Pharisees had built up around the Mosaic Law, years.” healing was considered to be “work,” and thus was St Ambrose and St Theophylact regarded “ten” as a forbidden on the Sabbath. reference to the Ten Commandments while “eight” They believed that they served God by zealously keeping signified Divine Grace for the Day of the General these peripheral traditions, but this legalism made Resurrection is often called “the Eighth Day.” them insensitive to God’s Mercy. Thus humanity is uplifted by Faith in Christ Who fulfils When our Lord said: Think of it!” He directs us to a both the Divine Law – the Ten Commandments – Spiritual meaning for the “Eighteen years” for the and Divine Grace.

The Love of God for All Mankind
Dear
GOD LOVES NOTHING MORE THAN MANKIND, AND HE DESPISES AND REJECTS NOTHING MORE THAN HYPOCRISY. ® OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST, IS UTTER LOVE AND MERCY FOR ALL HUMANITY; ONLY HYPOCRITES ARE SEVERELY SCOLDED AND CONDEMNED BY HIM.

Brethren,

All repentant sinners who seek His Forgiveness are joyfully and freely pardoned by His infinite Goodness, Love and Mercy; but OUR LORD JESUS SEVERELY
DENOUNCES HYPOCRITES, WHO PRETEND TO BE FILLED WITH CONSIDERATION FOR THE WELFARE OF OTHERS - and on one occasion He even threatened

of our Lord Jesus Christ Who prepared her for His Divine Grace. When He had finished His Sermon, our Lord “... called her to Him and said to her: ‘Woman, you are loosed from your infirmity.’ And He laid His Hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and Glorified God.” V Christ beheld not only her physical appearance. HE
WAS ESPECIALLY AWARE OF AND RESPONSIVE TO HER HUMBLE SOUL, WHICH WAS BOWED IN SUCH DEEP AND SINCERE REPENTANCE. He then “... laid His Hands on her...” - BESTOWING HIS DIVINE, SANCTIFYING AND REGENERATING POWER UPON HER – INSTANTLY RESTORING HER TO COMPLETE PHYSICAL HEALTH AND SPIRITUAL RENEWAL AS ONLY OUR CREATOR HIMSELF CAN DO!

them with whips for having desecrated His Father’s Holy Temple. In today’s Sacred Lesson we hear of A LONG-SUFFERING
BOWED WOMAN WHO, DESPITE HER PHYSICAL PAIN AND DISCOMFORT, WENT TO THE SYNAGOGUE ON THE SABBATH DAY - i.e. Saturday, the Hebrew day of rest. WE SHOULD IMITATE HER GOODNESS AND PIETY OF SOUL BY CONSISTENTLY ATTENDING HOLY SERVICES EVERY SUNDAY AND FEAST DAY ® TO OFFER OUR PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING AND WORSHIP, AND ® TO HEAR GOD’S DIVINE AND PERFECT TRUTH (HOLY SCRIPTURE) AND ® THE INSPIRED PREACHING OF GOD'S WORD (THE
SERMON WHICH CLARIFIES THE SACRED LESSONS)

Behold, dear Christians, how the Love of God is manifested and poured out upon us!

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NO OBSTACLE CAN COME BETWEEN GOD AND THOSE WHO SEEK HIS DIVINE HELP - not even the

customary “restrictions” of the Sabbath Day, because THE LAW, THE COMMANDMENTS, AND
EVEN THE SABBATH, WERE CREATED FOR US HUMAN BEINGS – but WE WERE NOT CREATED FOR THEM! In fact, GOD'S VERY LAWS AND COMMANDMENTS ARE EMBODIMENTS OF HIS DIVINE LOVE FOR ALL HUMAN BEINGS and the same should apply to our

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MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, OUR CLOSE RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD ENABLES US TO ENDURE AND TO OVERCOME ALL OBSTACLES OF EARTHLY LIFE. ® THUS IT IS ESSENTIAL TO EXPRESS OUR DEEP GRATITUDE AND APPRECIATION OF GOD’S LIMITLESS PROVIDENCE AND BLESSINGS.

man-made laws and customs, which should be for our own good, not for our enslavement — otherwise such laws are unrighteous and inhuman. ® LAWS ARE MADE IN ORDER TO PREVENT THE
WICKED, SELF-SERVING PEOPLE FROM PERFORMING THEIR DEEDS OF DARKNESS. GOOD PEOPLE - RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE - NEED NO LAWS.

For these reasons alone, the Bowed Woman hobbled along to the Synagogue every Sabbath Day (and, no doubt on other days as well) — this poor creature who was so wracked with spinal disease that she could not straighten herself and had difficulty walking.
SHE WENT TO THE PLACE OF WORSHIP – INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD - TO FIND CONSOLATION AND STRENGTH TO BEAR HER AFFLICTIONS — yet on that Sabbath Day SHE RECEIVED FAR MORE THAN SHE EVER EXPECTED OR HOPED FOR: SHE WAS COMPLETELY HEALED OF THE CRIPPLING ILLNESS that

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had troubled her for eighteen very long, agonizing years!

"It must be remembered, of course, that laws are made, not for good people, but for lawbreakers and criminals, for the godless and sinful, for those who are not religious or spiritual, for men who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the immoral, for sexual perverts … for those … who do anything else contrary to the True Teaching..." of God. (1 TIMOTHY 1:9-10). V For all good souls – especially FOR FAITHFUL
CHRISTIANS – TRUE DISCIPLES OF CHRIST - THERE EXISTS BUT ONE LAW - THE LAW OF LOVE! ® THE LAW OF LOVE IS POSITIVE ® AND NOT ONLY FORBIDS WICKEDNESS ® BUT IT ENCOURAGES POSITIVE ACTS OF GOODNESS. ® NOTHING CAN RESIST GOD’S LAW OF LOVE. HOWEVER, THERE IS MUCH THAT WOULD KEEP US FROM GOD’S DIVINE GOODNESS:

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GOD HEALS US ALL FROM OUR CRIPPLING SPIRITUAL DISEASES IN HIS OWN TIME - SOMETIMES ACCORDING TO OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION AND ALWAYS WHEN WE LEAST EXPECT IT OR DESERVE IT!

We can imagine her standing bent over in a quiet corner of the Synagogue, beseeching the Mercy of God and listening with Humility and Repentance to the Sermon

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28th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 10TH OF ST LUKE – THE BOWED WOMAN – 5 DECEMBER 2010

® First and foremost is HYPOCRISY, WHICH IS THE
TERRIBLE SIN OF PRETENDING TO BE UPRIGHT AND GOOD, WHILE IN TRUTH, BEING PUTRID AND CORRUPT! In other words, HYPOCRITES GIVE THE IMPRESSION THAT THEY ARE SOMETHING WHICH, IN REALITY, THEY ARE NOT. ® HYPOCRITES ARE DISHONEST, CONNIVING LIARS. ® HYPOCRITES PRETEND TO BE CONCERNED ABOUT THE LAW AND THE COMMANDMENTS, BUT ONLY SO THAT THEY MIGHT FRUSTRATE AND CONFUSE THE GOOD. ® HYPOCRITES TRY TO CONVINCE OTHERS THAT THEY ARE “GUARDIANS” OF THE DIVINE LAW, who

® HYPOCRITES LOUDLY AND PROUDLY PREACH AND
SCOLD OTHERS CONCERNING GOD’S LAWS, COMMANDMENTS, AND TEACHINGS, YET THEY MOCK THEIR OWN WORDS AND NEVER APPLY ANY OF THEM TO THEMSELVES. ® HYPOCRITES CONSTANTLY JUSTIFY THEIR OWN MALICIOUSNESS AND DECEPTIONS, WHILE ATTACKING OTHERS BY POINTING ACCUSATORY FINGERS IN ALL DIRECTIONS EXCEPT TOWARDS THEIR OWN SOULS.
THE FALSE AND OFTEN RIDICULOUS, INAPPROPRIATE ACCUSATIONS OF SUCH HYPOCRITES CLEARLY EXPOSE THE CONDITION OF THEIR OWN POLLUTED AND WARPED SOULS FOR THEY USUALLY BLAME OTHERS FOR EVERYTHING OF WHICH THEY THEMSELVES ARE GUILTY!

V No one denies THE VALUE OF GOD’S LAWS, HIS DIVINE
COMMANDMENTS, OR THE HOLY CANONS OF HIS HOLY CHURCH, yet these merely exist FOR OUR

fight for the preservation of human law, while
IN TRUTH THEIR ONLY DESIRE IS TO UPROOT, BURN, AND DESTROY THE VERY FOUNDATIONS OF SOCIETY. ® HYPOCRITES DO NOT CARE if others lose their

lives, if injustice appears as truth, if innocent people are crucified, if venerable institutions are demolished - and the fact that the Devil is dancing as he beholds all this only delights the hypocrite! If the “ruler of the Synagogue...” had been able to, he would have had both our Lord Jesus and the Bowed Woman stoned to death for the sake of preserving the Sabbath Day’s rest, which he held in higher esteem that God’s Divine Love!
HE WAS INDIFFERENT TO AND UNAFFECTED BY THE MIRACULOUS HEALING, WHICH HE HAD ACTUALLY WITNESSED!

SAKE and not the other way round! ® What good does it do to preach the Commandment "Thou shall not kill", when
WE RELENTLESSLY MURDER SINNERS WITH OUR CRUEL WORDS AND ACTIONS? OUR FELLOW AND LETHAL

® What good is it to argue over the Holy Canons, when WE CONSISTENTLY HARM OR EVEN TRY
TO DESTROY THE HOLY CHURCH OF CHRIST – I.E. THE MEMBERS – THE FAITHFUL OF CHRIST’S HOLY BODY - WITH OUR UNKIND, TACTLESS OR APATHETIC WORDS AND DEEDS? HYPOCRITES SHOUT THE LOUDEST CONCERNING THESE THINGS BUT THEY NEITHER KNOW NOR RESPECT THEM THEMSELVES. They pay empty, useless “lip service” to

The Bowed Woman must have been a regular worshipper at that particular Synagogue, and within the small Hebrew Community, everyone would have known one another. However, THE LETHAL VICE OF HATRED AND ENVY
OVERWHELMED THE RULER, WHICH STIFLED ANY COMPASSION OR MERCY HE MAY HAVE HAD FOR THE SUFFERING WOMAN. HYPOCRISY CRUSHED ALL HIS NATURAL WONDER, AMAZEMENT AND PRAISE FOR GOD’S GREAT MERCY,

them – always quick to point them out to others and preaching meaningless words, which they neither believe nor live by.

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OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST LOVED AND STILL LOVES ALL SINNERS, THE TIRED, THE SICK AND THE HUMBLE. HE EVEN LOVES HYPOCRITES, BUT HE REJECTS THEIR HYPOCRISY! V HYPOCRITES HATE CHRIST, FOR DIVINE, PURE LOVE AND HYPOCRISY CANNOT CO-EXIST FOR THEY ARE MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE!

which had been revealed right before them all by Christ’s Great Act of Love.
HIS DUPLICITY WAS SO DEEPLY EMBEDDED THAT HE SEEMED TO BE CONCERNED ONLY WITH THE VIOLATION OF GOD'S SABBATH DAY - WHILE REJECTING GOD'S CHRIST!

Let us truthfully Love and respect God and one another by honouring the New Sabbath Day, (WHICH IS NOW RESURRECTION DAY/PASCHA OR OUR LORD’S DAY – SUNDAY), with genuine and sincere worship, praise and thanksgiving to God and by doing good deeds of Charity/Love, Kindness and Mercy to our fellow sinners, thereby substantiating or VERIFYING OUR CHRISTIAN LOVE –
TRUE AGAPE. IF WE ONLY “GO THROUGH THE MOTIONS” OF WORSHIP, PRAISE AND THANKSGIVING WITHOUT HEARTFELT COMMITMENT TO AND LOVE OF GOD, OR GRUDGINGLY FULFIL THE REQUIRED ACTS OF MERCY for others so

Although the members of that Synagogue were deceived by his self-righteousness - by thinking they knew the ruler well - OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST LOOKED INTO
THE VERY DEPTHS OF HIS SOUL AND EXPOSED HIM AS A HYPOCRITE – an impostor, liar and deceiver who pretended to be good and pious yet was WICKED AND UNGODLY.

as to receive recognition, flattery, fame or fortune, IT EXPOSES THE REALITY OF OUR SPIRITUAL CONDITION – THE DEPTH OF OUR WICKEDNESS - IT REVEALS OUR DEADLY AND HYPOCRITICAL HATRED OF AND REBELLION AGAINST GOD AND OUR FELLOW SINNERS - IT CLEARLY DECLARES OUR DISREGARD FOR GOD AND ALL HIS LAWS, COMMANDMENTS AND TEACHINGS, DESPITE OUR LOFTY, POMPOUS WORDS TO THE CONTRARY - HYPOCRISY CLEARLY EXPOSES US AS LIARS! V THE DIVINE LAWS AND COMMANDMENTS AS WELL AS THE HOLY CANONS OF THE CHURCH ARE LAWS OF DIVINE AND PURE LOVE. Therefore let us LEARN TO LOVE GOD AND TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER AS MUCH AS GOD LOVES US – EVEN THOUGH WE ARE SUCH OBSTINATE SINNERS! LET US LOVE AND THEREBY GAIN ETERNAL LIFE AND SALVATION!
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: "ORTHODOX SERMONS" – “27TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST CHRIST STILL LOVES SINNERS” BY REV. GEORGE DIMOPOULOS

Unfortunately, dear Brethren, we have many such hypocrites amongst us. Consequently, WE MUST BE CONSTANTLY ALERT AND AWARE OF SUCH DANGEROUS HYPOCRITES as they may convince us of being virtuous while inwardly THEY ARE
WICKED AND DESTRUCTIVE.

® HYPOCRITES ARE MASTERS AT HIDING THE TRUTH
FROM OTHERS.

® HYPOCRITES COVER THEMSELVES WITH THE CLOAK OF
GOODNESS AND WARM FRIENDSHIP WITH A WILLINGNESS TO HELP OR SEEKING HELP FROM THEIR VICTIMS – AND ALL THE WHILE WATCHING AND WAITING FOR THE FIRST OPPORTUNITY TO COMMIT THEIR EVIL DEEDS OR TO PLANT THEIR WICKED SEEDS OF DESTRUCTION, DISTRUST OR DISBELIEF.

® Words of good advice or Truth go unheeded and deeds of kindness are snatched up with both greedy, self-indulgent hands but WITHOUT ANY
SENSE OF GRATITUDE OR OBLIGATION TO GOD OR THEIR FELLOW SINNERS.

http://www.holytrinitymission.org/books/english/sermons_g_dimopoul os.htm#_Toc44633674

Suffering in a One-Storey Universe – By Father Stephen – “Glory to God for All Things!”
For those who wrestle with the inherent difficulties of giving thanks for all things – I hope this reflection will be helpful. The comment which occasioned these thoughts: “...I think the lines separating suffering FOR Christ/for His Sake and the suffering in life as is common to ALL men have become blurred….if I suffer persecution or if I am treated unjustly for naming Christ or for Righteousness sake then I partake/share in Christ’s Sufferings and would have joyful reason to Thank God for it…Yet for the Christian NOT ALL suffering experienced is FOR Christ’s Sake…the vast majority

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28th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 10TH OF ST LUKE – THE BOWED WOMAN – 5 DECEMBER 2010

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(if not all) of my sufferings and trials while living my life as an American Christian has nothing at all to do with my being a Christian but is the common ‘stuff’ of life….there is a difference.. is there not?” As I thought about this very excellent question – I began to see the familiar pattern of secular thought which marks the “default position” of our culture – for believers and un-believers alike. Secularism does not disbelieve in God, but it divides the world into separate spheres: we inhabit a natural “non-God” arena – but God may be “accessed” in Prayer, etc. In earlier writings I have described this construct as a “Two-Storey Universe:” God dwells in Heaven (or somewhere) while we live here in a world which works according to its own laws, etc. Transcendent meaning and all things “religious” are thus exiled to certain moments, or certain spaces, or to events of a certain nature. Things that are not so exiled are just “the stuff of life.” In such a scenario, suffering takes on a “two-storey” character. THERE ARE SPECIFICALLY DIFFICULT
THINGS TO BE BORNE FOR CHRIST’S SAKE – PERSECUTION AND OTHER HEROIC RELIGIOUS ACTS – BUT THERE IS ALSO SUFFERING THAT IS JUST THE “STUFF OF LIFE”: CANCER, TSUNAMIS, EARTHQUAKES, BEING LOST IN A BAD ECONOMY, THE DEATH OF A CHILD OR A SPOUSE, ETC.

OUR SALVATION IN CHRIST WAS MADE POSSIBLE BY THE FACT THAT HE TOOK UPON HIMSELF THE WHOLE OF HUMAN NATURE. In the same manner, ALL OF CREATION WOULD HAVE NO HOPE WERE IT NOT FOR THE FACT THAT THE CREATOR ASSUMED CREATION.

The two-storey approach to the world also creates a twostorey approach to our Salvation.
THOSE ACTS WHICH HAVE SIGNIFICANCE AND TRANSCENDENCE ARE ULTIMATELY CONNECTED WITH HUMAN CHOICE. THUS CHRIST DIES FOR OUR SINS (OUR WRONG CHOICES AND ACTIONS). ACTIONS WHICH ARE NOT “WRONG” THUS HAVE NO NEED OF REDEMPTION.

Cancer caused by our choice to smoke, might thus be seen as a redeemable suffering – but the mindless, meaningless suffering of a childhood cancer cannot partake of that Redemption - is simply absurd within a two-storey universe. I would readily grant that the suffering and evil which we encounter within the Created Order has the character of absurdity – but this is also part of its very character. If “all things are being gathered together in Christ,” then even absurdity is being gathered into Him – and in that Union, ceases to be absurd. The Orthodox approach to THE SAVING ACTION OF CHRIST
HAS ALWAYS HAD A VERY ALL-ENCOMPASSING APPROACH. THE REDEMPTION OF THE WORLD is not

This division of the world in which some suffering is “for Christ’s sake” while other suffering carries no particular meaning at all, partakes of the same problems raised by the two-storey model in every other area it touches. One part of our life is capable of transcendence while most of our lives collapse into the banality of “stuff.” Thus most of life is meaningless and absurd. It also seems to me, that the islands of transcendence which we posit in such a massive sea of absurdity, run the risk of a constantly shrinking shoreline. Transcendent meaning has not only been diminished, but stands on the edge of extinction. I will offer a few observations:
1. EITHER CHRIST’S PASCHA (HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION) CONTAINED ALL OF EXISTENCE (INCLUDING ALL SUFFERING) OR IT CONTAINED NOTHING. 2. EITHER CHRIST’S PASCHA HAS FILLED EVERYTHING WITH TRANSCENDENCE OR IT HAS FILLED NOTHING. 3. EVERY EVENT, EVERY PARTICLE OF EXISTENCE IS “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE,” OR NOTHING IS “FOR HIS SAKE.” THIS “ALL OR NOTHING” APPROACH TO CHRIST AND HIS PASCHA LIES AT THE VERY HEART OF THE GOSPEL AND ALONE REPRESENTS THE FULLNESS OF LIFE IN CHRIST.

unique to Christ’s Death on the Cross (AS PAYMENT FOR SIN), but BEGINS WITH HIS INCARNATION, WHEN THE CREATOR UNITES HIMSELF TO CREATION. That same Creator is crucified on the Cross, and WITHIN HIM ALL CREATION IS CRUCIFIED. The same CHRIST TAKES ALL
OF CREATION WITH HIM IN HADES AND RAISES IT TOGETHER WITH HIM IN THE RESURRECTION: “That

which is not assumed is not saved.”
ALL IS ASSUMED. THE ROLE OF THE HUMAN WILL (IN ITS ACCEPTANCE OF CHRIST) IS NOT INSIGNIFICANT IN OUR SALVATION – BUT OUR WILL CHOOSES OR REJECTS WHAT CHRIST HAS ALREADY ACCOMPLISHED. V THE ULTIMATE OUTCOME OF THOSE CHOICES ARE KNOWN TO GOD ALONE. However, God’s Will is

clear: He is “...not willing that any should perish but that all should come to Repentance” (2 PETER 3:9). The Great Mystery of the Suffering of Christ cannot be confined to a forensic account in which His Death is simply a Payment for sin. Holy Scripture and our Church Fathers’ understanding of Christ is far more cosmic. Evil is inherently absurd and meaningless (for God is the only source of good and meaning is always relative to Him). V However, CHRIST HAS TAKEN THAT ABSURDITY INTO
HIMSELF AND ULTIMATELY TRANSFORMS IT.

“Surely He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the Chastisement of our Peace was upon Him; and with His Stripes we are Healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (ISAIAH 53:46).

It is THE INCARNATION, CRUCIFIXION, DESCENT INTO HADES AND RESURRECTION OF CHRIST that MAKE
THANKSGIVING POSSIBLE – INCLUDING THANKSGIVING FOR ALL THINGS. V CHRIST IS THE EUCHARIST (THANKSGIVING) OF THE WORLD AND EVERY ACT OF THANKSGIVING FINDS ITS FULFILLMENT IN HIM. THE CREATED WORLD IS NOT BROKEN INTO SACRED AND PROFANE: “Heaven and earth are full of Thy

Glory,” the Angels sing in Isaiah’s Great Vision.

St Paul’s description of CHRIST’S SAVING WORK IS
EXPRESSED IN COSMIC, ALL-ENCOMPASSING TERMS.

V

THE GLORY THEY BEHOLD IS NOTHING OTHER THAN THE LIFE OF CHRIST WHICH IS OFFERED “...on behalf

In Romans 8 he describes the “whole” Creation as
GROANING IN TRAVAIL AWAITING THE FREEDOM THAT COMES IN CHRIST.

In the first chapter of Ephesians, St. Paul speaks in unmistakable terms: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him…” (EPHESIANS 1:9-11). One of the great Theological aphorisms of the Fathers is that of St Gregory the Theologian, who, addressing the Doctrine of Christ’s Humanity, said: “That which is not assumed is not Saved.” His point was that

of all and for all...” for which I give Thanks! On Knowing God The Orthodox “Experience,” if I can use such a phrase, is the confirmation in the Heart of the Truth we have received as we grow in Grace and in Purity of Heart. But the Truth of the Faith must be confirmed in such a living manner or it simply becomes an historical item and the Church would be a collection of antiquarians and not the Living Temple of God, for my knowledge of God is also my Life in God. Life, Light, Truth, Knowledge - all of these have something of a synonymous character.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “SUFFERING IN A ONE-STOREY UNIVERSE – BY FATHER STEPHEN – “GLORY TO GOD FOR ALL THINGS!”

http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/

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28th SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – 10TH OF ST LUKE – THE BOWED WOMAN – 5 DECEMBER 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

6 December 2010 Feast of St Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra St Nicholas the New of Asia Minor – St Maximos of Kiev
Apolytikion Of St Nicholas The Wonderworker Of Myra – Tone 4

Kanona pisteos ke ikona praotitos, engratias didaskalon As
anedixe se ti pimni sou i ton pragmaton alithia. Dia touto ekomiso ti tapinosi ta ipsila, ti ptohia ta piousia. Pater Ierarha Nikolae, presveve Hristo to Theo, sothine tas psihas imon.
Kontakion Of St Nicholas The Wonderworkder Of Myra

Rule of the Faith and picture of gentleness, and teacher of temperance thou were exhibited to thy flock, by the Truth of the evidence. Thus thou acquired the lofty through humility, the abundant through poverty. O Father and Hierarch Nicholas: intercede with Christ our God, so that our souls may be saved!

En

tis Myris Agie, irourgos anedihthis; tou Hristou gar Osie, to Evangelion plirosas, ethikas tin Psihin Sou iper laou Sou, esosas tous athoous, ek tou thanatou: dia touto igiasthis, os megas mistis Theou tis Haritos

Saintly One, (St. Nicholas) in Myra thou proved thyself
a Priest; for in fulfilling the Gospel of Christ, Venerable One, thou laid down thy life for thy people and saved the innocent from death. For this thou were Sanctified as One learned in Divine Grace.

Kontakion Of The Ever Blessed Theotokos - The Nativity Of Christ

I

Parthenos simeron, ton Iperousion tikti, ke i gi to spyleon to aprito prosagi. Angeli meta Pimenon doxologousi, Magi de meta asteros odiporousi, di’ imas gar egenniti, Pedion neon, O Pro Aionon Theos.

Today the Virgin gives Birth to Him Who is above all
being, and the earth offers a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with Shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a Star. For unto us is Born a young Child: the Pre-Eternal God.

The Epistle of St Paul to the Hebrews 13: 17 – 21
Holy Life in Christ our Lord

Brethren: Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with Joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honourably. But I especially urge you to do this, so that I may be restored to you sooner. Now may the God of Peace Who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead that Great Shepherd of the Sheep – through the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant, make you complete in every Good Work to do His Will, working in you what is well pleasing in His Sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be Glory forever and ever. Amen. We must always obey and respect our Holy Church Fathers His concluding Blessing noted the sufficiency of the Divine who are consecrated and Sanctified members of the and Most Sacred Blood of Christ which is realised in Holy Priesthood of Christ our Lord. His Glorious Resurrection as Christ offers His Most Our Holy Church Fathers are part of the Eternal Spiritual Precious Blood in the Eternal Sanctuary and thereby Fatherhood of Christ’s Holy Church who will be held inaugurates a New, “... Everlasting (Eternal) Covenant,” accountable for their earthly ministry at the Great which makes us “Complete in every Good Work to Judgement of our Lord. do His Will...” as we co0operate with God in all St Paul, as one of our Holy Church Fathers, asked all things and so are able to progress towards Holy Christians for their Prayers so that he might live an Sainthood – Holy Perfection or Theosis – i.e. the exemplary life according to God’s Will and not be Regeneration of our original created state. tempted by the evil one into committing any sins or worse – leading others into wickedness or blasphemy.
Our Lord Jesus Christ Delivers His Sermon On The Plain Concerning The Beatitudes

The Holy Gospel According to St Luke 6 : 17 – 23

At that time, our Lord Jesus came down with them and stood on a level place with a crowd of His Disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem, and from the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who went to hear Him and to be healed of their diseases, as well as those who were tormented by unclean spirits. And they were healed. And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for Power went out from Him and healed them all. Then He lifted up His Eyes towards His Disciples and said: “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall be comforted. Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for Joy! For indeed your Reward is great in Heaven...” PURPOSE ON EARTH DURING THIS PREPARATORY In the age of the Old Covenant a select few were chosen PERIOD BEFORE ETERNITY. to hear God directly. (REFER EXODUS 19: 3 – 13) The term “Blessed” indicates HEAVENLY, SPIRITUAL IN THE AGE OF THE NEW COVENANT GOD INCARNATE
SPEAKS DIRECTLY TO HIS FAITHFUL DISCIPLES AND ALL THOSE WHO SEEK DIVINE TRUTH.

Our Lord Jesus Christ speaks to us with His own Divine Authority and WE, AS HIS DISCIPLES, DO NOT DISCUSS
OR DEBATE BUT LISTEN CAREFULLY TO WHAT HE REVEALS AND TEACHES US CONCERNING GOD’S TRUTH – READY AND EAGER TO FULFIL WHATEVER IS REQUIRED FROM US. THIS IS OUR HOLY MISSION AND

EXALTATION RATHER THAN EARTHLY HAPPINESS OR PROSPERITY. In Hebrew, “poor” means both THE MATERIALLY POOR AND GOD’S FAITHFUL PEOPLE. “The poor in spirit,” are THOSE WHO HAVE THE HEART OF THE POOR, THE SAME ATTITUDE AS THE POOR, AND WHO ARE TOTALLY DEPENDENT ON GOD. REGARD THE PRESENCE OF GOD AND HIS ETERNAL

“Those who hunger ...” and thirst for Righteousness

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ST NICHOLAS THE WONDERWORKER OF MYRA – 6 DECEMBER 2010

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KINGDOM AS THE MOST IMPORTANT PRIORITIES OF LIFE. They have a TREMENDOUS CRAVING AND YEARNING FOR WHAT IS RIGHT AND GOOD – A SPIRITUAL HUNGER THAT IS FAR MORE COMPELLING THAN A DESIRE FOR FOOD. “Those who weep...” refers to THOSE WHO ARE DISTRESSED BY THE SUFFERINGS OF THIS LIFE, ESPECIALLY BY THE MISERY OF SO MANY OTHERS, THE STATE OF THE FALLEN WORLD, AND THEIR OWN PERSONAL SINS. (REFER JOHN 11:35... LUKE 19:41 & LUKE 7 : 36 – 38) ALL THESE ARE COMFORTED BY THE POWER OF GOD BOTH IN THIS WORLD AND IN THE AGE TO COME. HOLY SORROW IS PART OF OUR REPENTANCE, CONVERSION AND VIRTUOUS ACTION. HOLY SORROW OR JOYFUL MOURNING IS THE FIRSTFRUIT – THE INITIAL RESULT – OF INFINITE OR ETERNAL BLISS/JOY, which is completely different from ungodly

This “Sermon on the Plain” is similar but not as extensive as Christ’s profound “Sermon on the Mount.” (Matthew 5 – 7)
OUR LORD JESUS REPEATED MANY OF HIS DIVINE TEACHINGS OVER THE PERIOD OF THREE YEARS – HIS PUBLIC MINISTRY TO THE HEBREWS AND GENTILES, WHICH WERE LATER SPREAD THROUGHOUT THE WORLD BY HIS DIVINELY INSPIRED APOSTLES AND FAITHFUL DISCIPLES.

sorrow – an inconsolable sadness that leads to despair – utter hopelessness. (REFER TO 2 CORINTHIANS 7 : 10 )
THE GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT OF ALL IS WHEN WE COMMIT OUR LIVES ENTIRELY TO CHRIST – when we LIVE IN CHRIST and NEVER COMPROMISE OUR FAITH no matter

St John the Divine Apostle, Evangelist and Theologian wrote of three Passover Feasts that occurred between Theophany – the Revelation of the Holy Trinity at the Baptism of our Lord in the River Jordan by St John the Baptist – and His Passion – the New Covenant Pascha – which shows us that our Lord’s earthly Divine Mission – the direct Teaching by God Incarnate Himself – lasted only three short years! This short section of the Holy Gospel according to St Luke is read on Feast Days commemorating our Holy Hierarchs, Hieromartyrs and Monks.

what the circumstances or threats against us.

St Nicholas the Wonderworker of Myra
St Nicholas was born in the city of Patara in the region of Lycia - the only son of pious parents Theophanes and Nonna, who had vowed to dedicate him to God. As the Fruit of the Prayers of his parents, from the very day of his birth, St Nicholas was revealed as a Wonderworker when after giving birth his mother was immediately restored to good health. St Nicholas began a life of Fasting from infancy. On Wednesdays and Fridays he refused milk from his mother until after his parents had finished their Evening Prayers. During childhood St Nicholas thrived on the study of Divine Scripture - remaining in church all day, and praying and reading throughout the night - a worthy Dwelling Place of the Holy Spirit indeed. Bishop Nicholas of Patara rejoiced at his nephew’s Spiritual Accomplishment and Deep Piety and ordained him as Reader, and then elevated him to the Priesthood, making him his assistant and entrusting him to teach and guide Christ’s Holy Flock. St Nicholas was fervent of spirit, and in his proficiency of Faith he was like an Elder, who aroused the wonder and deep respect of believers, tirelessly and unceasingly working and praying, always compassionate, kind and generous to all who sought his help. A formerly rich inhabitant of Patara, whom St Nicholas had saved from great sin, had three grown daughters. Due to their utter destitution and starvation he was tempted to prostitute them to raise money for food. As soon as St Nicholas heard of their dire circumstances and the father’s wicked intention, he went to their home in the dead of night and threw a small pouch of gold coins through the window, resulting in honourable marriages for the daughters and saving the family from Spiritual Destruction. All St Nicholas’ Acts of Love/Charity were bestowed secretly and anonymously – only for the Glory of God. When the Bishop of Patara went on Pilgrimage to the Holy Places in Jerusalem, he entrusted his Holy Flock to St Nicholas, who fulfilled this Obedience carefully and with Love and when the Bishop returned, St Nicholas asked his Blessing for his own Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During his journey, St Nicholas had a Vision: he saw the evil one aboard their ship, intending to sink it and drown all the passengers. As foreseen, a frightening storm arose but at the supplications of the despairing Pilgrims, he calmed the waves of the sea by his Intercessory Prayers and miraculously healed one of the sailors who had been seriously injured after falling from the high mast. When St Nicholas reached Jerusalem he went to Golgotha, and gave Thanks to our Saviour before setting off to visit all the Holy Sites, where he joyfully worshipped and praised God. One night, on Mount Zion, the locked doors of a church opened by themselves, to admit the great Pilgrim. While visiting the Holy Places of Christ’s earthly Life, St Nicholas decided to withdraw into the desert, but a Divine Voice urged him to return to Lycia. Yearning for Silence, the Saint entered the Holy Zion Monastery, which had been founded by his uncle, but once again our Lord’s Voice compelled him to follow another Path: "Nicholas, this is not the Vineyard where you shall bear Fruit for Me. Return to the world, and Glorify My Name there." So he left Patara and went to Myra in Lycia. Upon the death of Archbishop John, St Nicholas was chosen as Bishop of Myra after one of the Bishops of the Council proclaimed that the new Archbishop should be revealed by God, not chosen by men. An elderly Bishop had a Vision of a radiant Man, Who told him that the one who first entered the church that night should be made Archbishop and he would be named ‘Nicholas.’ So he went to the church early that night to await the first arrival and St Nicholas always the first to arrive at church - was asked by the elderly Bishop: "What is your name, child?" and God's Chosen One replied: "My name is Nicholas, Master, and I am your servant." After his Consecration as Archbishop, St Nicholas remained a great Ascetic - an image of True Gentleness, Kindness and Love, which was a great Blessing for the Lycian Church during the persecution of Christians under Emperor Diocletian (284-305). St Nicholas was imprisoned together with other Christians for refusing to worship the pagan idols and he sustained them and exhorted them to endure the fetters, punishment and torture, while our Lord preserved him unharmed. Upon the appointment of St Constantine the Great ( as Emperor of the Roman/Byzantine Empire, St Nicholas was joyfully restored to his Flock as their devoted Spiritual Father, Guide, Teacher and Intercessor. Despite his great gentleness of spirit and Purity of Heart, St Nicholas was a zealous and ardent Warrior of the Church of Christ. By conquering the evil spirits, he shattered idols of the pagan temples and shrines into dust throughout the city of Myra and its surroundings merely by his Prayers and the Invocation of the Divine Power and Name of our Living God. In 325 St Nicholas participated in the First Ecumenical Council, which proclaimed the Nicean Symbol of Faith. Together with St Sylvester of Rome, St Alexander of Alexandria, St Spyridon of Trimythontos and other Holy Fathers of the Ecumenical Council, St Nicholas opposed the heretic Arius. He worked innumerable Miracles, and struggled many long years at his Holy Labour of Love. Through his Prayers and deeds he saves many from life-threatening events, captivity and imprisonment. Having reached old age, St Nicholas peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. His Venerable Relics were preserved incorrupt in the local cathedral church and flowed with curative myrrh, from which many received healing.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP:

http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsLife.asp?FSID=103484

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ST NICHOLAS THE WONDERWORKER OF MYRA – 6 DECEMBER 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR TOGETHER WITH ALL THE AMEN. WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND AMEN. MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD.

9 December 2010 The Conception of the Ever Blessed Virgin Mary By St Anna & St Zacharias

Also the Feast of St Hannah the Prophetess, mother of St Samuel the Holy Prophet of God – St Sophronios of Cyprus – St Stephen the New Light of Constantinople – St Narses of Persia – St Anthimos Hieromonk & Fool for Christ of Mount Athos – the Appearance of the Holy Icon of the Ever Blessed Theotokos the Unexpected Joy –Commemoration of the Consecration of the Holy Church of St John Chrysostomos, Cyprus
Apolytikion Of The Conception Of The Ever Blessed Virgin Mary – Tone 4:

Simeron tis ateknias desma dialionte; tou Ioakim gar ke Today the bonds of barrenness are loosed away;
tis Annis, i sakouson O Theos, par elpida tekin aftous, safos ipiskhnite Theopeda, ex is aftos etehthi, o aperigraptos vrotos gegonos, di Angelou kelefsas voise afti: Here Keharitomeni, O Kyrios meta Sou!

for God hearing the prayers of Joachim and Anna, clearly promised them they would bear, against all hope, the God-Bearer; from whom was born the Uncircumcised Himself, as a mortal Man, Who ordered the Angel to cry out unto her: Rejoice, O Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee!
– Tone 2

Kontakion Of St Anna – Righteous Mother Of The Ever Blessed Virgin Mary & Theotokos

Eortazi I

simeron, i ikoumeni, tin tis Annis sillipsin, gegenimenin en Theo; ke gar afti apekiise, tin iper logon, ton Logon kiisasan.

Today

the world rejoices in the conception of Anna, wrought by God. For she bore the One who beyond comprehension conceived the Logos.

Kontakion Of The Nativity Of Christ

Parthenos simeron, ton Iperousion tikti, ke i gi to spyleon to aprito prosagi. Angeli meta Pimenon doxologousi, Magi de meta asteros odiporousi, di’ imas gar egenniti, Pedion neon, O Pro Aionon Theos.

Today the Virgin gives Birth to Him Who is above all
being, and the earth offers a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with Shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a Star. For unto us is Born a young Child: the Pre-Eternal God.

The Epistle of St Paul to the Galatians 4:22-27
An Allegory of Slavery And Sonship

Brethren, it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through Promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two Covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children - but the Jerusalem Above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: “Rejoice, O Barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labour! For the desolate have many more children, than she who has a husband.” By saying that Abraham’s “two sons” and related events and St Sarah were both extremely old and far were “symbolic” [allegoreo] St Paul did not imply that beyond childbearing age and furthermore, ST SARAH HAD ALWAYS BEEN BARREN OR they were not historical events. INFERTILE – UNABLE TO BEAR ANY CHILDREN To be more precise he affirmed that OLD TESTAMENT
HISTORY ANNOUNCED SOMETHING FAR GREATER THAN ITSELF. NATURALLY.

® “His conception was not by the flesh, nor his birth
by the seed, for the womb was dead both through age and barrenness....” which bears out the Truth that WITH ALMIGHTY GOD EVEN
THE MOST ILLOGICAL, UNLIKELY OR IMPOSSIBLE IS FEASIBLE BY DIVINE WILL AND DIVINE POWER! “...But the Word of God fashioned him ...“ - ONLY GOD MAKES SUCH A MIRACLE POSSIBLE BECAUSE HE IS THE CREATOR OF EVERYTHING IN EXISTENCE AND SIMPLY BY HIS DIVINE WORD SOMETHING IS CREATED OR RESTORED ACCORDING TO HIS DIVINE WILL AND POWER..

y “Hagar” and “Mount Sinai” symbolise earthly Jerusalem and the Hebrews who live according to the Divine Laws of St Moses – i.e THOSE WHO ARE
COMMITTED TO MOSAIC LAW OR OLD COVENANT LAW.

y Sarah, the “freewoman” symbolises the Heavenly Jerusalem that is THE CHURCH OF CHRIST – I.E.
WE WHO ARE GRANTED COMPLETE SPIRITUAL FREEDOM IN CHRIST JESUS.

®

“The desolate” are those in the Church of Christ, especially the Gentiles [non Jews] - i.e. THE SPIRITUALLY
BARREN WHO ARE NOW SPIRITUALLY FRUITFUL.

“She who has a husband” refers to Israel – the Chosen People of God – i.e. A LEGITIMATE, GODLY
RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.

® “…he that was not according to the flesh was more honourable than he that was born after the flesh…. “ ALTHOUGH ISHMAEL WAS THE
FIRST BORN OF ST ABRAHAM, HE WAS ILLEGITIMATE AND HAD NO CLAIM UPON HIS FATHER, being the result of the adulterous,

Sarah is a type of Theotokos since her son, Isaac, was
BORN THROUGH A DIVINE PROMISE – ACCORDING TO THE DIVINE WILL OF GOD.

In commenting on verse 23, “… he of the freewoman…” St John Chrysostom taught us : ® Isaac “...was the issue of bodies that were dead, and of a womb that was dead.“ St Abraham

unlawful union of St Abraham and his slave woman, Hagar.
ISAAC, HOWEVER, BEING BORN BY THE WILL OF GOD TO ST ABRAHAM AND ST SARAH WHO WERE LAWFULLY

THE CONCEPTION OF THE EVER VIRGIN MARY BY ST ANNA & ST JOACHIM – 9 DECEMBER 2010

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MARRIED IN GOD’S SIGHT, WAS THEREFORE LEGITIMATE, CONSIDERED MORE HONOURABLE THAN ISHMAEL AND WAS THE ACKNOWLEDGED HEIR TO THE FATHER.
THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN A BONE OF BITTER CONTENTION BETWEEN JEWISH, CHRISTIAN AND ISLAMIC FAITHFUL BECAUSE THE MOSLEMS BELIEVE THAT ISHMAEL, WHO IS THEIR FOREFATHER, BEING THE FIRST BORN OF ST ABRAHAM, IS THE LEGAL HEIR. THE PROMISED LAND OF PALESTINE IS THE INHERITANCE OVER WHICH THE JEWS AND MOSLEMS HAVE FOUGHT BITTERLY EVER SINCE THE FORMATION OF THE ISLAMIC FAITH.

are not so born, are you most of all abraham’s kindred.” St Paul tells ALL CHRISTIANS, ESPECIALLY THE GENTILES, that THROUGH OUR FAITH IN GOD, AND OUR SPIRITUAL
REBIRTH AND ADOPTION AT HOLY BAPTISM AND CHRISMATION, WE TOO ARE THE MIRACULOUS CHILDREN OF ST ABRAHAM. WE ARE NOT HIS HEIRS THROUGH BIOLOGICAL CONDITIONS, BUT SPIRITUALLY, THROUGH THE WILL AND GRACE OF GOD, JUST AS ISAAC WAS CONCEIVED BY GOD’S GRACIOUS WILL.

“…therefore let it not disturb you that you were not born after the flesh. For from the very reason that you

The Holy Gospel According to St Luke 8:16-21
Jesus Christ Warns Us To Listen Carefully & He Reveals His True Family

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: “No one - when he has lit a lamp - covers it with a vessel or puts it under a bed, but sets it on a lamp stand, that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is secret that will not be revealed, nor anything hidden that will not be known and come to light. “Therefore take heed how you hear. For whoever has, to him more will be given; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.” Then His mother and brothers came to Him, and could not approach Him because of the crowd. And it was told Him by some, who said, “Thy mother and Thy brothers are standing outside, desiring to see Thee.” But He answered and said to them: “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the Word of God and do it.”
TAKING “HEED” TO HEAR JESUS CHRIST, THE WORD OF GOD, BRINGS LIGHT WITHIN THE SOUL. AND WHO STRUGGLED TO APPLY THEM TO EVERY ASPECT OF LIFE.

Spiritual Light must not be covered or hidden but allowed to shine forth because THE MORE WE PERMIT GOD’S
LIGHT TO SHINE, THE MORE DIVINE LIGHT WE RECEIVE.

Jesus Christ warns us to listen very carefully to His Instructions and Commandments and then carry them out accordingly because ONLY THROUGH FAITHFUL
OBEDIENCE TO GOD IN ALL MATTERS CAN WE BE ASSURED OF A PLACE IN HEAVEN

St Luke does not report the reason why Jesus Christ’s Family wanted to see Him because it was of no significance. However, THE STATEMENT OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST IS OF IMMENSE IMPORTANCE: He declares quite clearly that HIS FAMILY IS A SPIRITUAL FAMILY CONSISTING OF
ALL WHO HEAR COMMANDMENTS. AND OBEY GOD’S WILL OR

His “brothers” were either His legal “step-brothers” or cousins who were the sons of St Joseph the Betrothed and his late wife, Salome, (sister of St Anna) or they were other close male relatives. The fact that our Lord handed over the care of His Beloved Mother to St John the Apostle and Theologian and his family instead of anyone else, highlights the fact that there were no other biological male siblings whose responsibility it would have been to care for their mother (and any unmarried sisters.) Our kind, compassionate and loving Lord would never have insulted others by commissioning His Beloved Apostle instead of them to protect Her. In addition, when Christ said to St John: “Behold, thy Mother!” HE DECLARED TO EACH OF US, THROUGHOUT
THE AGES, THAT THE EVER BLESSED THEOTOKOS IS THE HOLY MOTHER OF THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE! Finally: IF WE FULFIL EVERY ASPECT OF CHRIST’S TEACHINGS WITH HUMILITY AND OBEDIENCE TO GOD, WE, TOO, BECOME WORTHY ADOPTED SIBLINGS OF CHRIST AND THUS CO-HEIRS TO THE ETERNAL KINGDOM OF GOD THE FATHER.

He most certainly was not denigrating or insulting His Righteous Relatives who lived their entire lives in humble Obedience to God.
OUR LORD JESUS USED EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO TEACH AS MUCH DIVINE TRUTH AS POSSIBLE TO ALL THOSE WHO LISTENED CAREFULLY AND UNDERSTOOD HIS WORDS –

Father George Calciu - On The Meaning Of Suffering
People have died In my arms and in the arms of others who were a thousand times more worthy than me the sinner. Nevertheless, even if I say what good or evil I did I would still be bragging. So, I find it very difficult to talk about these things. My life in (Communist) Romania, was full of events for better and for worse. I do not accuse or blame anyone - all these were sent by God to exercise my soul. When asked if my suffering in prison helped me somehow, I answered: no, but I’m the result of this suffering. If I do something, if I am anything, if you see something in me, know that it is due to suffering.
WITHOUT SUFFERING, I HAVE NOTHING!

Perhaps the most difficult of all questions concerns suffering, because it is the most inexplicable. Why is suffering necessary? I have experienced suffering that enriched my soul and I believe that such suffering was necessary for me. However, it is very difficult for others to accept this principle. When we were in prison (concentration camps), we asked each other: Why such pain? Why us? Of all the millions of Romanians, why were we chosen to suffer? What is the purpose? And God did not seem to enlighten us at all. Every day we cried out to God, beseeching Him to lessen our pain yet He seemed to permit us even more suffering. Even after being liberated, I held within me this sign of the pain, which seemed to mark my whole life thereafter. After my second imprisonment, I immigrated to the West and travelled through every country in Europe and

America to speak about what happened under Communism. I was compelled to break the silence and to tell the world about the suffering of my country - the injustice, the oppression of Communism, the destruction of churches and of human beings... In my wanderings I eventually arrived at a Catholic Monastery where I spent the night in its library. Among the many books I saw a small booklet with Christian apothegms (PROFOUND SAYINGS) and opening its pages at random, I read a reflection of Paul Claudel, a famous French writer: “Christ did not come into the world to eliminate suffering, Christ has not even come into the world to explain it. Rather, He came to fill human suffering with His Presence! “ Suddenly I understood that in times of tears, or when we rebel or cry out “God, what are You doing to us?! HE
IS (PRESENT) WITHIN US MORE THAN EVER - DESPITE ALL OUR SINS AND ALL OUR INFIRMITIES - HE FILLS OUR SUFFERING WITH HIS PRESENCE.

Then I understood exactly the deep meaning of this pain:
GOD IS PRESENT IN US!
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP : http://orthodoxword.wordpress.com/category/orthodox-saintsand-church-fathers/father-george-calciu/page/2/

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THE CONCEPTION OF THE EVER VIRGIN MARY BY ST ANNA & ST JOACHIM – 9 DECEMBER 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

29th Sunday After Pentecost

Tone 4

12 December 2010

Sunday of the Holy Ancestors of Christ According to the Flesh

Also the Feast of St Spyridon the Wonderworker of Tremyhos – St Therapon, Abbot of Monza Monastery – St Alexander of Jerusalem – St Synetos of Rome, St John, Abbot of Zedazeni Monastery
Resurrection Apolytikion - Tone 4

To

fedron tis Anastaseos Kirigma ek tou Angelou Mathouse e tou Kyriou Mathitrie ke tin Progonikin apofasin aporipsase, tis Apostolis kafhomene elegon: Eskilefte O Thanatos, igerthi Hristos O Theos, doroumenos to kosmo to Mega Eleos!

When the Women Disciples of the Lord had learnt from
the Angels the Glad Tidings of the Resurrection, and had cast away the Condemnation of their Forefather, they spoke exultingly to the Apostles: Death is no more: Christ-God is Risen, granting to the world Great Mercy!

Apolytikion Of The Ancestors Of Christ – Tone 2

En

pisti tous Propatoras edikeosas, tin ex ethnon diafton Pomnistefsamenos Ekklisian. Kafhonte en doxi i Agii, oti ek spermatos afton, iparhi karpos efkeleis, i asporos tekousa se. Tes afton ikesies Hriste O Theos, soson ta psihas imon.

In

Faith the Forefathers Thou has justified by producing through them, the Church from the Nations. The Saints boast in glory that from their seed came forth Noble Fruit - the One Who gave Thee Birth without seed. Through their intercessions, O Christ our God, Save our souls! the first of the Synods, thou emerged as the Champion, and Wonder-worker, our God-bearing Father Spyridon. Wherefore, thou addressed thy dead daughter in the grave, and a serpent thou changed into gold. And while chanting in service thy sacred prayers, thou had Angels celebrating, O Most Holy One. Glory to Christ Who glorified thee, glory to Him Who crowned thee, glory to the One Who works through thee, healings for everyone!

Apolytikion Of St Spyridon Of Trymithous – Tone 1

Tis

sinodou tis protis anedihthis ipermahos, ke Thavmatourgos Theofore, Spyridon Patir imon; dio nekra si en tafo prosfonis, ke ofin is hrisoun metevales; ke en to melpin tas Agias sou ehas, Angelous eskhes sillitougountas si ierotate. Doxa to se doxasanti Hristo, Doxa to se stefanosanti, Doxa to energounti dia sou, pasin iamata.

At

Kontakion Of The Nativity Of Christ

I

Parthenos simeron, ton Iperousion tikti, ke i gi to spyleon to aprito prosagi. Angeli meta Pimenon doxologousi, Magi de meta asteros odiporousi, di’ imas gar egenniti, Pedion neon, O Pro Aionon Theos.

Today the Virgin gives Birth to Him Who is above all
being, and the earth offers a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with Shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a Star. For unto us is Born a young Child: the Pre-Eternal God.

Resurrection Gospel 7 : John 20 : 1 – 10

ST PETER & ST JOHN WITNESS THE EMPTY TOMB OF OUR RISEN LORD JESUS CHRIST

Prokeimenon : Blessed art Thou, O Lord, God of our Forefathers. For Thou hast always dealt Righteously with us. The Epistle of St Paul to the Ephesians 5 : 8 – 19
We must live in the Divine Light of our Lord Jesus Christ

Brethren: You were once darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord. Walk as Children of Light (for the Fruit of the Spirit is in all Goodness, Righteousness and Truth), finding out what is acceptable to our Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them, for it is shameful even to speak of those things that are done by them in secrete. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the Light, for whatever reveals is Light. Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep! Arise from the dead, and Christ will give you Light!” See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the Will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in Psalms and Hymns and Spiritual Songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord... We must judge whatever the world considers as being However, before we are able to do so, we must first “reasonable” according to Divine Truth – the Perfect expose and correct our own sins and errors. and Absolute Truth of our Lord God. We must seek out from the depths of our soul all our Besides separating ourselves from the darkness of sin sins which we must then repent – reject and and Spiritual Ignorance, we are obliged to expose all renounce – and Confess. deceptions and lies in the Light of Christ. J o h n 3 : 1 9 – 2 1 – “... this is the Condemnation, that the Light has come into the world, but

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29TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – THE HOLY ANCESTORS

– 12 DECEMBER 2010

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men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practising evil hates the Light and does not come to the Light, lest his deeds be exposed. But he who practises the Truth comes to the Light so that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” Orthodox Christians do this before Holy Baptism – especially as Godparents and parents of small children, and before partaking of Holy Eucharist or Holy Unction. We unload our Spiritual Baggage and lessen our Final Judgement with regular self-examination and especially - with the Holy Mystery of RepentanceConfession, which permanently removes our repented and confessed sins. “Awake, you who sleep! Arise from the dead, and Christ will give you Light!” This is an early Baptismal Hymn. Holy Baptism is Divine Illumination – “...Christ will give you Light...” A c t s 2 6 : 1 8 – Christ told St Paul at his Calling: “... rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this Purpose: to make you a Minister and Witness both of the Things which you have seen and of the Things that I will yet reveal to you.” 2 C o r i n t h i a n s 4 : 6 – “It is the God Who Commanded Light to shine out of darkness, Who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ.” H e b r e w s 6 : 4 – “It is impossible for those who were once Enlightened, and have tasted the Heavenly Gift, and have become Partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the Good Word of God, and the Powers of the Ages to come, if they fall away, to Renew them again to Repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” This refers to those who have apostatized – those who after being Baptised, have rejected Christ and His Saving Power. Certain Holy Fathers believed that apostasy was such a grave or grievous sin that Repentance is impossible for such souls. However, Christ’s Holy Church maintains the belief that those who have apostatized but, realising their serious error, have sincerely repented, may return

to full Orthodox Worship after a period of humble penance. Nevertheless, SUCH ‘SECOND CONVERSIONS’ ARE
DIFFICULT AND RARE – SO THIS SHOULD BE TAKEN AS A MOST SERIOUS WARNING TO ALL STRUGGLING DISCIPLES OF CHRIST.

H e b r e w s 1 0 : 3 2 - “... recall the former days in which, after you were Illuminated, you endured a great Struggle with sufferings...” To “walk in the Light” means that we live every moment of our lives IN CHRIST – we live as though newly Baptised or Divinely Enlightened – according to the Will of God alone and not according our own limited and flawed understanding or our own selfish, self-indulgent manner. The Sacred Goal or Purpose of Orthodox Christianity is not to abandon God’s beautiful created world but rather to maintain ourselves IN CHRIST – to salvage as much as possible from this fallen, corrupt world of human ego and greed. Faithful Disciples of Christ renounce the wickedness of the fallen human condition – the fallen world of the flesh – not the beautiful Creation of God. After we have genuinely repented and Confessed we experience a wonderful surge of Spiritual Joy and Life. A distinctive spirit – a kind of euphoria or elation energises both the darkness of sin and Spiritual Light. Those who exist in a state of Spiritual Death or darkness experience a type of intoxication that is artificial, deceptive and temporary, while those who live in Spiritual Light – the Divine Light of God – experience the very Presence of the Holy Spirit and the True Joy of our New Covenant with Almighty God – the everlasting reality of the Glory, Honour and Worship of the Holy Trinity – the True Joy and Reality of the Holy Eucharist – the Eternal Thanksgiving and Union with God: to God the Father, through God the Son Incarnate and in the Holy Spirit. Those who are inebriated by alcohol or drugs totter and sway and keep craving something that never satisfies but only destroys. Those who are inebriated with the Holy Spirit are rooted in our Saviour, Jesus Christ, and are gloriously sober and Redeemed Eternally. Being able to quote Holy Scripture chapter and verse or singing Hymns are not at all Spiritual. Our thoughts, words and deeds must constantly spring forth from a heartfelt virtuous state of Humility, Obedience and a Fear of God – a humble state of deepest Love of and respect for Almighty God.

The Holy Gospel According to St Luke 14: 16 – 24
Worldly Entanglements And Poor Excuses!

At that time, our Lord Jesus said to a certain Pharisee: “A certain Man gave a Great Supper and invited many, and sent His servant at supper time to tell those who were invited: “Come, for all Things are now ready!” But they all – with one accord – began to make excuses. “The first said to him: ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it. I ask you to have me excused.’ Another said: ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them. I ask you to have me excused.’ Still another said: ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ “So that servant went and reported these things to his Master. Then the Master of the House, being angry, said to His servant: ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and fetch the poor and the maimed, the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said: ‘Master, it is done as Thou Commanded, and still there is room.’ So the Master said to His servant: ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in so that My House may be filled. For I say to you: none of those who were invited shall taste My Supper!’” This Parable of our Lord Jesus Christ is applicable on The first people to be invited by God to His Eternal two levels, ILLUSTRATING BOTH THE FIRST AND Mystical Supper were initially the Hebrews and then, SECOND COMING OF CHRIST OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR. later, ALL MANKIND WITHOUT DISTINCTION. THE INCARNATE SON OF GOD – AS THE “SERVANT” OF Our Holy Church Fathers regarded the three types of GOD THE FATHER – IS SENT TO CALL HIS CHOSEN excuses as having both A LITERAL AND SPIRITUAL PEOPLE who were the Hebrews – the Old Covenant MEANING. Nation of Israel – most of whom made excuses to All too many of us are so entangled by the attractions reject His Divine Calling – and then the New and cares of the physical world - which are fleeting, Covenant Israel – Hebrews and Gentiles who chose of no benefit, and often destructive - WE IGNORE OR to accept His Divine Invitation – His Divine Calling TO REJECT OUR SPIRITUAL WELFARE WHICH IS
PARTAKE OF THE DIVINE LIFE-GIVING MYSTERIES OF THE HOLY CHURCH OF CHRIST. ETERNALLY BENEFICIAL, FULFILLING AND SALVIFIC.

The term “Supper” indicates evening – the end of day or
THE END OF THE AGES.

St Ambrose saw the three types of excuses as representing THE GENTILE, THE HEBREW AND THE
HERETIC.

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29TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – THE HOLY ANCESTORS

– 12 DECEMBER 2010

® THE

GENTILE’S DEVOTION TO EARTHLY POSSESSIONS AND STATUS is represented by

the “piece of ground,” ® THE HEBREW’S ENSLAVEMENT TO THE FIVE BOOKS OF THE LAW is represented by the “five yoke of oxen,” ® and THE HERETIC’S ESPOUSAL OF ERROR is represented by blaming or using someone else - “ a wife...” – as an excuse for rejecting or avoiding God. St Theophylact generally regarded these excuses as those of PEOPLE WHO WERE ENSLAVED AND
DOMINATED BY THEIR FIVE SENSES AND THUS WERE DEVOTED TO EARTHLY MATTERS AND ALL SELFINDULGENT PLEASURES OF THE FLESH.

Those whom CHRIST CALLS from the “streets and lanes” and those from “the highways and hedges” indicate THE GENTILES WHO SO WILLINGLY
AND JOYFULLY ACCEPTED HIM AFTER THE FAITHLESS HEBREWS HAD REJECTED HIM AND ALSO THOSE WHO WERE OUTSIDE HIS HOLY CHURCH BUT WHO NOW REPLACE THOSE WITHIN IT WHO HAVE REJECTED THEIR OWN HOLY BAPTISM THROUGH APOSTASY, SPIRITUAL REBELLION AND OUTRIGHT DISREGARD FOR GOD’S HOLY TEACHINGS AND COMMANDMENTS.

Sunday of the Holy Forefathers
Sunday of the Holy Forefathers is commemorated on the Sunday that falls between 11 – 17 December - two Sundays before the Nativity of Christ our Lord and Saviour (western “Christmas.”) The Righteous Ancestors of Christ according to the flesh are remembered on this Sunday of the Nativity Fast, which we began on 15 November and which lasts until 25 December – the Nativity. These are all our great Holy Church Fathers and Mothers including all the Holy Prophets of the Old Covenant: beginning with Adam, St Abraham the ancient Patriarch, the Righteous St Sarah, St Isaac and St Jacob, the Holy Prophets St Elias and St Daniel... and concluding with St Zechariah (Zachary) Among the greatest blasphemies ever constructed by humankind was that of Nazi Germany. Not satisfied with their political dominance, they also sought a religious dominance as well. The notion of an “Aryan Christ” was perhaps the depths of their theological blasphemies mirrored in their dehumanization and murder of the Jews. At many points in the past two millennia, the relationship between Christians and Jews has hit low points – with the Jews almost universally at the short end of the stick. But to seek to create a Christ who Himself was not a Jew is (for a Christian) the worst of insults. The Second Sunday Before the Nativity, in Orthodox Tradition, is set aside as the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers in which the Church remembers all those who are of the Ancestry of Christ. These are the ancestors of Christ according to the flesh, who lived before the Law and under the Law, especially the Patriarch Abraham, to whom God said, “In thy seed shall all of the nations of the earth be blessed.” (GENESIS 12:3, 22:18) In this modern century it also stands as a stark reminder that Christ was a Jew and as He said, “Salvation is of the Jews.” (JOHN 4:22) There is a tendency (seen at its worst in Germany of the 1930′s and 40′s) to divorce Christ from His history, to treat Him as though He simply appeared on earth, full-grown. This same tendency diminishes the role of His Mother in the events of our Salvation, contrary to the Witness of Holy Scripture. For most of the Christian Church divorced from the Fullness of Orthodox Tradition, the Saints are only those of the New Testament, the Old Testament having been relegated to a questionable status (not questionable as Scripture, per se, but often divorced from its proper role in the story of Salvation). Many Christians, on the popular level, distance themselves from the Old Testament saying, “I believe in the God of the New Testament.” This last statement is, although unknown to many, a heresy (Marcionism). The theological maxim: “the Law of praying is the Law of believing,” is again manifested in its proper manner in Orthodox worship. There, the Ancestors of Christ are remembered in a singular way, understanding that the Plan of our the Holy Prophet of God and father of St John the Baptist, St Joachim and St Anna, the aged Righteous parents of our Lady Theotokos, St John the Baptist, Forerunner to Christ and the last but greatest of all Holy Prophets as confirmed by Christ Himself - and, finally, Christ’s earthly Mother - our Most Holy, All Pure Virgin Mary and Ever Blessed Theotokos. They lived before and under the Law of God, given to St Moses - and especially St Abraham – the ancient Patriarch to whom God Promised:, "In thy seed shall all of the nations of the earth be Blessed"
(GENESIS 12:3, 22:18)

Father Stephen’s “Glory to God for All Things – The Forefathers of Christ”
Salvation stretches through the whole of human history (indeed it is prophesied in Genesis). Added to this is the Orthodox custom of celebrating Old Testament Saints, many with their own singular Feast Day (Churches are named for them as well). Unless the Church actually incorporates the whole life of the people of God into its own worship Life, its people will begin to think that those prior to the New Testament have some lesser value – occasionally to a disastrous conclusion. It is true that for Christians, the New Testament is the means for reading the Old (a neglected practice by those who practice a number of the so-called historical approaches). We must learn to see in the Old Testament the shadow of the New Testament and in so doing, not to despise the shadow because it was yet looking for its fulfilment. To despise the shadow is to despise the image is to despise the very reality itself. Related to a theme I have touched on several times lately – to preach the Fullness of the Gospel of Christ – the Christian story must not be truncated in any manner. Thus to remember the Ancestors of Christ is to remember that the Gospel of Christ, the Salvation accomplished on the Cross, is a Divine Work, taken up by generations who preserved the Torah, who observed the Law, who suffered under Egyptian, Philistine, Babylonian, Persian, Alexandrian and numerous other oppressors as well as struggling against their own temptations (no less than we must ourselves). There is a great line of Faithfulness that runs throughout those generations, despite any lapses, that finds its culmination for Christians in the Theotokos, the One Whom all generations will call Blessed. She recapitulates the whole of human history that had gone before, and unlike the primordial Ancestor Eve, she responds to the initiative of God with, “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord; be it done unto me according to Thy Word.” And thus the Word became Flesh and dwelt among us, Full of Grace and Truth. But let us tell the whole story so that the Fullness of the Mercy of God might be remembered and the full Company of His Faithful Children might be recalled. May they be Blessed forever.

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29TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – THE HOLY ANCESTORS

– 12 DECEMBER 2010

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Today, as we celebrate the Memorial of the Forefathers, let us the Faithful raise a Hymn to Christ the Redeemer, the Lord Who magnifies them among all the nations, and faithfully performs extraordinary Wonders, as He is Mighty and Powerful; and He showed forth from them a Rod of Power for us,
TRUE LOVE IS LIKE THE FLAME OF A CANDLE.

Pure Mary the Child of God Who alone knew no man, from Whom the Flower, Christ, came forth, blossoming Life for all and pleasure without cost, and Eternal Life.
(STICHERA ON LORD I CALL FOR THE SUNDAY OF THE HOLY ANCESTORS, TONE 8)

http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2007/12/14/the-forefathers-of-christ

Precious Vessels of the Holy Spirit – Blessed Theophanios (Theodoropoulos)
However many candles we light from the flame, the initial flame remains unaffected. It doesn’t lessen at all. And every freshly lit candle has as much flame as the others do.
I WANT WHOEVER IS NEAR ME TO FEEL THAT HE HAS ROOM TO BREATHE, not that he is suffocated. I WHY DO THEY PUT RUBBER TIRES WITH INNER TUBES ON CARS? So that they give in, to collapse a little

don’t call anyone to me. I don’t hold onto anyone. I don’t chase anyone away. Whoever wants comes, whoever wants stays, whoever wants leaves. I don’t consider anyone a supporter or a follower. I AM NOT AFRAID OF DEATH. Not, of course, because of my works, but because I believe in God’s mercy.
SPEAK MORE TO GOD ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN THAN TO YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT GOD…. The soul of

with every little stone or pothole on the road, and in this way they pass obstacles. If the wheels were firm and unyielding, the car wouldn’t be able to move forward. It would fall apart after a short distance because of the vibration from the small inconsistencies of terrain. The same thing happens with yielding to others in the family. In this way many problems are surpassed and continuous spiritual progress is assured.
WHEN PEOPLE TREAT US UNJUSTLY, GOD JUSTIFIES US. [GOD ALLOWS VIRTUOUS PEOPLE TO SUFFER] so that

teenagers is in a state of an explosion of freedom. For this reason they have a hard time accepting various counsels (ADVICE). So, rather than counselling them continuously and reproaching them now and again, leave the situation to Christ, to the Panaghia (GREEK WORD
MEANING “ALL-HOLY” - THE MOST BELOVED TERM OF ENDEARMENT FOR THE MOTHER OF GOD) and to the Saints, asking them to bring them to reason. DON’T BE NEGLECTFUL OF PRAYER! At table, in the morning, afternoon and evening. In particular we must not miss Small Compline for any reason, tired though we may be. It’s a question of selfsacrifice and, in particular, of Love. When a beloved person calls us very late at night, how are we able to speak sometimes for a few hours, despite our fatigue, without being put out, and being rather pleased?

we might be Purified from even the slightest traces of our passions and so that we might receive an even greater Crown in Heaven. Furthermore, as He allowed His Beloved Son to suffer and to die on the Cross, what can we say about those people who, as Holy as they may be, have filth and stains from sin? SADNESS PURIFIES US. We are truly human in sadness. In Joy we are changed – we become someone else. In sadness we become that which we truly are. And this is the way, par excellence, that we approach God. We sense our weakness. Many times, when we experience glory and joy, we may feel that we are the “eye of the earth” or, if you prefer, the centre of the Universe: “I am, and nobody else!”
IN PAIN AND SADNESS WE FEEL LIKE AN INSIGNIFICANT ANT IN THE UNIVERSE – we feel

DEAL WITH YOUR CHILDREN AS WITH COLTS, SOMETIMES TIGHTENING AND OTHER TIMES LOOSENING THE BIT. When the colt kicks, without

abandoning the bit, we loosen it, otherwise it will break. When, however, it is peaceful, then we tighten the bit and take the colt where we like.
PARENTS SHOULD LOVE THEIR CHILDREN AS THEIR CHILDREN AND NOT AS THEIR IDOLS. That is to

completely dependent, and we seek the Help and Companionship of God. Those of us who have passed through pains, either psychical or physical, know that we never prayed as hard and with such quality and length, as we did when we were in that bed of pain or when some heavy psychical sadness tested us. Meanwhile, when we have everything, we forget Prayer and Fasting, and many essential Things so it is for this reason that God allows us to experience pain.
DON’T SIT, GLUED TO THE TELEVISION…. GUARD YOURSELVES FROM THE MEANS OF MASS SPIRITUAL BLINDING. WE DIDN’T COME HERE [TO THE MONASTERY] MAINLY FOR HANDIWORK, OR FOR THE GARDENS OR FOR THE BUILDINGS. For even without these things

say, we should love our children as they are and not how we would like them to be - to be like us.
WHOEVER FEARS GOD DOESN’T FEAR ANYTHING ELSE. I AM IN PAIN AND AGONIZE OVER THE PATH OF THE GREEK PEOPLE who are constantly being de-

Hellenized, de-Christianized, de-colorized and cut off from their roots, and are losing their identity.
IN MARRIAGE, ABSTENTION SOLELY OUT OF LOVE FOR GOD IS PERFECT, “THE GREATEST.”(ELDER EPIPHANIOS
USES TERMINOLOGY FROM THE GRADING SYSTEM AT SCHOOL TO MAKE HIS POINT. “THE GREATEST” IS AN “A,” “VERY GOOD,” IS A “B,” ETC).

we can save our soul. We came here primarily for the soul. And in order to save the soul, we must
PASS THE DAY WITHOUT SIN, WITH MEEKNESS, WITH PRAYERS AND WITH THE HOLY CANON (IN THIS
CASE, THE DAILY RULE OF PRAYER, READING, PROSTRATIONS, AND SO ON, THAT A MONK PRACTISES IN HIS ROOM).

When the couple comes together, not obstructing the procreation of children, it is at the level of “very good.” And when they abstain solely to avoid the procreation of children, they are on the level of “good.” In any case all of these categories are above average and are only legitimate with the presupposition that they have been agreed upon by both spouses and not just one. Otherwise it is a sin.

I SACRIFICED EVERYTHING EVEN BEFORE I HAD ANYTHING. I sacrificed a place at the University as

a Professor. I sacrificed the position of First Secretary of the Holy Synod. I sacrificed the position of Director of a Missionary Brotherhood. I sacrificed the position of Protopresbyter of a large church. I sacrificed Episcopal Thrones ( THE POSITION OF BISHOP)…. All I have is a little Epilrahili
(LITERALLY TRANSLATED FROM GREEK AS: “UPON THE NECK” - THE STOLE THAT THE PRIEST OR BISHOP WEARS AROUND HIS NECK WHEN PERFORMING THE HOLY MYSTERIES)

so as to confess ten

GOD APPOINTED THE SALVATION OF THE WORLD TO HIS SON AND NOT TO US…. We must first look at

souls. Nothing else!
THERE IS NO GREATER SATISFACTION FOR ME THAN TO REMAIN FOR HOURS IN THE SEAT OF THE CONFESSIONAL AND TO RECONCILE MAN TO GOD.
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: ELDER EPIPHANIOS IN “PRECIOUS VESSELS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT” - PROTECTING VEIL PRESS -

our soul and if we can, let’s help five or six people around us.
WHEN WE ARE FREE, WE HAVE RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES. When we marry, we have few

rights and very many responsibilities. When, however, we have children, we do not have any rights at all, but only responsibilities.

http://orthodoxword.wordpress.com/

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29TH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST – THE HOLY ANCESTORS

– 12 DECEMBER 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

15 December 2010 St Eleutherios, Hieromartyr of Illyria & St Anthia, his mother Also the Feast of St Susannah the Deaconness – St Paul of Latros – St Stephen the Confessor of Surrentium (Sourozh) – St Tryphon & St Jonah, his disciple, of Pechenga (Kolsk) Monastery – St Eleutherios of Constantinople – St Pardos the Hermit of Palestine – St Hilarion, Hieromartyr of Vereiya – St Nektarios of Bitel

Apolytikion Of St Eleutherios – Tone (5) Plagal 1

Ieron

podiri katakosmoumenos, ke ematon tis rithris epistazomenos, to Despoti Sou Hristo Makar anedrames, Eleftherie Sofe, kathereta tou Satan. Dio mi pafsi Presvevon iper ton Pisti Timonton, tin Makarian Sou Athlisin.

Being

adorned with a Priest’s gown that reached the ground, and immersed in the streams of Martyr’s Blood, Thou hastened to Christ Thy Lord, O Eleutherios, the Blessed and Wise One, Destroyer of Satan. Hence, do not cease Interceding for those who honour in Faith Thy Blessed Martyrdom.

K o n t a k i o n O f T h e E v e r B l e s s e d T h e o t o k o s - Of The Nativity Of Christ

I

Parthenos simeron, ton Iperousion tikti, ke i gi to spyleon to aprito prosagi. Angeli meta Pimenon doxologousi, Magi de meta asteros odiporousi, di’ imas gar egenniti, Pedion neon, o pro aionon Theos.

Today the Virgin gives Birth to Him Who is above all
being, and the earth offers a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with Shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a Star. For unto us is Born a young Child: the Pre-Eternal God.

The Second Epistle of St Paul to St Timothy 1 : 8 - 18
St Timothy’s Gift – The Power of God

To Timothy, a Beloved Son: ... Do not be ashamed of the Testimony of our Lord, nor of me, His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the Gospel according to the Power of God, Who has Saved us and Called us with a Holy Calling, not according to our works, but according to His own Purpose and Grace, which was granted to us by Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who has abolished death and brought Life and Immortality to Light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a Preacher, an Apostle, and a Teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason, I also suffer these things; nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day. Hold fast the pattern of sound words, which you have heard from me, in Faith and Love, which are in Christ Jesus. That Good Thing that was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit Who dwells in us. This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellos and Hermogenes. The Lord grant Mercy to the household of Onesiphoros, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain; but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me. The Lord grant to him that he may find Mercy from the Lord in that Day – and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesos. V As faithful Disciples of Christ we must NEVER BE Even before God created the invisible and visible EMBARRASSED BY OR ASHAMED OF ANYTHING Universe, He provided everything necessary for our CONCERNING OUR BELOVED LORD JESUS CHRIST, Salvation and Calling, which are based solely on His ALMIGHTY GOD OR OUR CHRISTIAN FAITH. Divine Grace and Love and not on anything we have Furthermore, we must BE READY TO SUFFER AND done or can do to merit God’s Love and infinite ENDURE THE INSULTS AND INJURIES INFLICTED UPON Benevolence. US FOR OUR FAITH IN CHRIST, CONFIDENT IN THE E p h e s i a n s 2 : 8 – 1 0 “... by Grace you have been KNOWLEDGE THAT GOD MAKES EVERYTHING Saved through Faith, and that not of POSSIBLE FOR US TO ACHIEVE – SINCE WITHOUT HIM, yourselves; it is the Gift of God, not of WE ARE LESS THAN NOTHING! works, lest anyone should boast. For we V WE MUST LIVE EVERY DAY IN CHRIST AND ONLY CONCERN OURSELVES WITH OUR INNER, are His Workmanship, created in Christ SPIRITUAL CONDITION, FOREVER CLOSELY Jesus for Good Works, which God prepared EXAMINING OUR SPIRITUAL DEPTHS – BEING beforehand so that we should walk in (live CONSTANTLY ALERT AND WATCHFUL AND by) them.” IMMEDIATELY PLUCKING OUT AND ERADICATING T i t u s 3 : 5 - 6 “... not by Works of Righteousness, ALL ERRORS AND SINS THROUGH REGULAR which we have done, but according to His REPENTANCE-CONFESSION, FASTING, PRAYER AND Mercy He Saved us, through the Washing of HOLY COMMUNION. Regeneration and Renewing of the Holy V OUR HOLY CALLING IS TO FULFIL - to the best of our Spirit, Whom He poured out on us ability and by the Grace of God – EVERYTHING abundantly through Jesus Christ our ESSENTIAL FOR OUR SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT Saviour.” AND PROGRESS - “... according to His own Purpose and Grace.”

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ST ELEFTHERIOS, HIEROMARTYR OF ILLYRIA & ST ANTHIA, HIS MOTHER – 15 DECEMBER 2010

15

“The Washing of Regeneration” is our Holy Baptism and the “Renewing of the Holy Spirit,” is our Chrismation, which form A UNITY IN OUR SALVATION,
THROUGHOUT THE NEW COVENANT.

V “The pattern of sound words,” means the oral
Apostolic Tradition or Teaching of God’s Truth, which is as important as the written Apostolic Tradition, which came about from the verbal or oral Teachings of Christ and His Apostles. V Whether oral or written, Holy Tradition or Teaching is rooted in our Lord Jesus Christ from Whom it originated, and it is kept intact, unchanged and carefully preserved and protected by “... the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.” V From St Paul’s words, it appears that “Onesiphoros” had died. The Holy Church of Christ has always prayed for Her departed souls, that they might “find Mercy” from God at our Final Judgement.

Our Lord Jesus Christ taught us that WE ARE BORN FROM
ABOVE THROUGH “WATER AND THE (HOLY) SPIRIT.”

Consequently, WE ARE ALL CALLED TO HOLY BAPTISM
AND HOLY CHRISMATION, WHICH IS THE BEGINNING OF ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST JESUS.

V Our Lord Jesus Christ “... submitted (to suffering) so
that He might break the power of Death and demonstrate the Resurrection from the dead – thus it was necessary for Him to be manifested (revealed) in the flesh. Christ also submitted so that he might fulfil the Promise to the Fathers and, while he was preparing the New People for Himself and while He was still on earth, to prove that after He has brought about Resurrection, He will Judge.” (BARNABAS 5: 6-7)

The Holy Gospel According to St Mark 2 : 23 : 3 - 5
Our Lord Jesus Christ Transcends the Holy Sabbath

A t that time, our Lord Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath; and as they went, His Disciples began to pluck the heads of grain. And the Pharisees said to Him: “Look! Why do they do what is not lawful on the Sabbath?” And He said to them: “Have you never read what David did when he was in need and hungry – he and those with him: how he went into the House of God, in the days of Abiathar the High Priest, and ate the Showbread, which is not lawful to eat except for the Priests, and also gave some to those who were with him?” And He said to them: “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.” And our Lord Jesus entered the Synagogue again, and a man was there who had a withered hand. And they watched Him closely, whether He would heal him on the Sabbath so that they might accuse Him. And He said to the man who had the withered hand: “Step forward.” Then He said to them: “Is is lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil? To save life or to take it?” But they kept silent. And when He had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man: “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Then the Pharisees went out and immediately plotted with the Herodians against Him – how they might destroy Him. Consequently, even Divine Miracles were scorned by Feast Days were also referred to as Sabbath Days and these self-righteous people who believed that they according to the Holy Gospel account of St Luke, this incident fell on a Feast Day or a “Second Sabbath.” alone served God correctly by zealously practising According to St Ambrose, the term “Second Sabbath” these peripheral traditions or customs. served as an image of the New Covenant and the However such rigid legalism made them insensitive to God’s Divine Mercy and Compassion. Eternal Resurrection: the first Sabbath indicating the Mosaic Law, and the second indicating the Holy Our “hardness of ... heart” is a grave sin against the Gospel of Christ that followed it. Love of God and against our fellow sinners who are denied acts of mercy and compassion due to our Under the New Covenant the food that was “not lawful” for anyone but the Priests to eat is now freely given own wickedness and error. Rather than surrender to such wickedness, Christ our to all Faithful Christians by “the Lord of the Saviour healed the man’s withered hand and without Sabbath”- our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. a doubt changed his life and that of his family King David prefigured this when he gave the forever. “Showbread... to those with him.” According to certain traditions that the Scribes and Pharisees had instituted concerning the Law, healing was considered to be work or labour!

St Eleutherios the Holy Hieromartyr of Illyria
St Eleutherios was born in Rome, where his father was an Imperial Proconsul. His mother, Anthia, heard the Gospel from the great Apostle St Paul and was Baptized by him. Having been left a widow early, she entrusted her only son for study and service to Aniketos the Bishop of Rome. Seeing how St Eleutherios was gifted by God and Illumined by the Grace of God, the Bishop Ordained him a Deacon at the age of fifteen, a Priest at the age of eighteen, and a Bishop at the age of twenty. St Eleutherios' God-given Wisdom made up for what he lacked in years, and this Chosen One of God was appointed Bishop of Illyria with his seat in Valona (Avlona), Albania. The Good Shepherd guarded his Flock well and increased their number day by day. Emperor Hadrian, a persecutor of Christians, sent the Commander Felix with soldiers to seize St Eleutherios and take him to Rome. When the raging Felix arrived in Valona and entered the church, he saw and heard the Holy Hierarch of God; suddenly his heart changed, and he became a Christian. St Eleutherios Baptized Felix and departed for Rome with him, returning joyfully as if he were going to a feast and not to trial and torture. The Emperor subjected the noble St Eleutherios to harsh torture: flogging, roasting on an iron bed, boiling in pitch, and burning in a fiery furnace. However,St Eleutherios was delivered from all these deadly tortures by God's Power. Witnessing all this, Caribus the Roman Eparch declared that he also was a Christian and was also tortured and then beheaded, as was Blessed St Felix. Finally, the executioners beheaded St Eleutherios and as his mother, St Anthia, stood over the body of her martyred son, she too was beheaded. Their bodies were translated to Valona, where to this day St Eleutherios Glorifies the Name of Christ with many Miracles. St Eleutherios was martyred during the reign of Hadrian in the year 120. May their memories be Eternal!

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ST ELEFTHERIOS, HIEROMARTYR OF ILLYRIA & ST ANTHIA, HIS MOTHER – 15 DECEMBER 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

17 December 2010 St Daniel, Holy Prophet of God & St Ananias, St Azarios, & St Misael, the Three Holy Youths, Also the Feast of St Dionysios of Zakynthos & Aegina St Daniel the Confessor of Spain and Egypt – St Avakum, Deacon of Serbia – St Paisios, New Martyr of Annunciation Monastery, Trnava, Serbia
Apolytikion of St Daniel – Tone 2

Great

are the accomplishments of Faith. In the fountain of flame the three Holy Youths rejoiced as though they were resting by the waters. And the Prophet Daniel showed himself to be a Shepherd to the lions, as though they were sheep. Through their Prayers O Christ our God, Save our souls.

Kontakion of St Daniel & the three Holy youths – Tone 3

Since

Thy pure and hallowed heart had been made pure by the Spirit, it became His Dwelling-place and clearest Prophecy's Vessel; for Thou beheld things far off as near and present, and when cast into the den, Thou muzzled lions; for which cause, O Blessed Prophet, Glorious Daniel, we all revere Thee in Faith.

K o n t a k i o n O f T h e E v e r B l e s s e d T h e o t o k o s - Of The Nativity Of Christ

I

Parthenos simeron, ton Iperousion tikti, ke i gi to spyleon to aprito prosagi. Angeli meta Pimenon doxologousi, Magi de meta asteros odiporousi, di’ imas gar egenniti, Pedion neon, o pro aionon Theos.

Today the Virgin gives Birth to Him Who is above all
being, and the earth offers a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with Shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a Star. For unto us is Born a young Child: the Pre-Eternal God.

Matins Gospel – Luke 11 : 47 – 12: 1
Our Lord’s admonition against Pharisaic Pride and Hypocrisy

At that time, our Lord Jesus said: “Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the Prophets, and your fathers killed them. In fact, you bear witness that you approve of the deeds of your fathers; for they indeed killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore, the Wisdom of God also said, ‘I will send them Prophets and Apostles, and some of them they will kill and persecute,’ that the blood of all the Prophets which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation. “Woe to you Lawyers! For you have taken away the Key of Knowledge. You did not enter in yourselves, and those who were entering in you hindered.” And as He said these things to them, the Scribes and the Pharisees began to assail Him vehemently, and to crossexamine Him about many things, lying in wait for Him, and seeking to catch Him in something He might say, so that they might accuse Him. In the meantime, when an innumerable multitude of people had gathered together, so that they trampled one another, He began to say to His Disciples first of all: “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy!”

The Epistle of St Paul to the Hebrews 11 : 33 – 12: 2
The Faith of Certain Israelites & the Perfection of Faith

Brethren: ... time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah - also of David and Samuel and the Prophets – who, through Faith, subdued Kingdoms, worked Righteousness, obtained Promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword; out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens; women received their dead raised to Life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, so that they might obtain a better Resurrection. Still others had trials of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted and slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a Good Testimony through Faith, did not receive the Promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made Perfect apart from us. Therefore, we also – since we are surrounded by so great a Cloud of Witnesses – let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, Who, for the Joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the Throne of God.

The Holy Gospel According to St Mark 9 : 33 – 41
The Way Of Holy Discipleship

At that time, our Lord Jesus went to Capernaum. And when He was in the house, He asked them: “What was it that you disputed amongst yourselves on the road?” But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed amongst themselves who would be the greatest.

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ST DANIEL THE HOLY PROPHET OF GOD & THE THREE HOLY YOUTHS – 17 DECEMBER 2010

17

And Jesus sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them: “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His Arms, He said to them: “Whoever receives one of these little children in My Name, receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him Who sent Me.” Now John answered Him, saying: “Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Thy Name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us.” But Jesus said: “Do not forbid him, for no one who works a Miracle in My Name can soon afterwards speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side. For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My Name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his Reward.”

The Holy Prophet St Daniel & the Three Holy Youths: St Ananias, St Azarias and St Misael
(THE ORIGINAL HEBREW NAMES FOR SHADRACH, MESHACK & ABEDNEGO)

All four were of the Royal Tribe of Judah. When King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed and plundered Jerusalem, St Daniel, as a boy, was carried away into slavery together with the Jewish King Jehoiachim and countless other Israelites. An account of his life, his sufferings and his Divinely Inspired Prophecies can be found in detail in the Old Testament Book of Daniel. Completely devoted to God, St. Daniel from his early youth received the Divine Gift of great Discernment. His fame among the Hebrews in Babylon began when he denounced two lecherous and unrighteous Elders who were Jewish Judges, and saved the chaste Susanna from an unjust death. However, his fame among the Babylonians began from the day he interpreted the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar, for which St Daniel was installed as a Prince at his court. The King had a golden idol made and set up on the Plain of Dura, which he then ordered everyone to bow down and worship whenever they heard “the sound of the trumpet, the pipe, the harp, the fourstringed instrument, the psaltery, the symphony and every kind of music...” All the people, including the Hebrews, obeyed the pagan King and fell down to worship the golden idol, terrified of being “... cast into the burning, fiery furnace...” except St Ananias, St Azarias and St Misael who adamantly refused to worship anything besides the one True, Living and Almighty God. They were arrested and thrown into the furnace and immediately an Angel of God appeared with them and cooled the flames while the Divinely Protected and unharmed Holy Youths walked around inside the furnace, continuing to loudly sing their Hymns of Praise to God: “ Blessed art Thou, Lord God of our Fathers!” (REFER DANIEL 3:26 - 90). The King personally witnessed this Divine Miracle. He was shocked to hear them singing, and then he saw “...four men untied and walking in the midst of the fire, yet they are not destroyed and the Vision of the fourth is like the Son of God!” As the most powerful officials of the land watched, the King called out to the Three Holy Youths by name and ordered them to get out of the furnace. When everyone saw that not a hair had been singed nor their clothing scorched by the intense heat of the furnace, “... nor was the smell of fire on them...” the King acknowledged the True Magnificence and Great Power of their living God by decreeing that anyone In answer to the essential question: “WHAT SHALL I DO IN ORDER TO PLEASE GOD?” St Anthony the Great of Egypt replied: “Do what I tell you, which is this: wherever you go, keep God in mind; whatever you do, follow the example of Holy Scripture; wherever you are, stay there and do not move away in a hurry. If you keep to these guidelines, you will be Saved.”
THE DIFFICULTIES THAT WE ENCOUNTER ARE A “LIVING DIAGNOSIS” THAT SOMETHING IS WRONG. When I lie,

who blasphemed such a Powerful God would be “... destroyed, and their houses plundered, because there is no other god who can deliver in this way!” In the time of King Belshazzar, during a great banquet when the king was eating and drinking with his guests from Consecrated Vessels plundered from the Temple of Jerusalem, an invisible Hand wrote three words on the wall: “Mene, Tekel, Upharsin” (DANIEL
5:25-28).

No one was able to interpret these words except St Daniel, the Holy Prophet of God. “Mene; God has measured your kingdom and finished it. Tekel: He weighed you on the Scales but you were found lacking. Upharsin: You kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.” That same night, King Belshazzar was executed. St Daniel was twice thrown into the lions' den because of his unwavering Faith in the One, Living God, and both times the Lord saved him and kept him alive. St Daniel beheld God on a Throne with the Heavenly Hosts. He saw Angels of God and Discerned the future of certain people, of kingdoms, and of the whole human race. He prophesied the time of the Coming of our Saviour on earth. According to St Cyril of Alexandria, St Daniel and the Three Holy Youths lived to old age in Babylon but were eventually beheaded for their True Faith. As the executioners beheaded St Ananias, St Azarias stretched out his cloak and caught his head before it fell to the ground and following his example, St Misael caught St Azarias' head and St Daniel caught St Misael's head. An Angel of the God translated their bodies to Judea, to Mount Gebal, and placed them under a rock. According to Holy Tradition, these four God-pleasers arose at the time of the Death of our Lord Christ, appeared to many and again reposed in peace until the General Resurrection. St Daniel is numbered among the four great Holy Prophets of God (St Isaiah, St Jeremiah, St Ezekiel and St Daniel). St Daniel, the Holy Prophet of God lived and prophesied five hundred years before the Nativity of Christ our Lord and Saviour. May their memories be Eternal!
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “PROLOGUE FROM OCHRID” http://www.rocor.org.au/?page_id=925

The Eternal Wisdom of our Holy Church Fathers
integrity. OUR LIES ARE A REFUSAL TO LIVE IN THE
TRUTH.

The failure to Love is equally a diagnosis and evidence of the disordered condition of our lives. Christ’s teaching in Luke 6 makes the point that THE LOVE
AND FORGIVENESS THAT ARE ASKED OF US ARE COMMANDMENTS TO BE LIKE GOD.
(FATHER STEPHEN “GLORY TO GOD FOR ALL THINGS” http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/2009/12/

it is clear that something is wrong. The inside of me and the outside of me do not match – I have no

18

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ST DANIEL THE HOLY PROPHET OF GOD & THE THREE HOLY YOUTHS – 17 DECEMBER 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

19 December 2010
30
th

Sunday After Pentecost

Tone (5) Plagal 1

Sunday Before the Nativity of Christ our Saviour – The Genealogy of Christ According to the Flesh

The Righteous Ancestors of Christ according to the Flesh: St Aaron the Righteous Priest – St Benjamin the Righteous – St Deborah the Righteous – St Ezra the Righteous – St Isaac the Righteous – St Jacob the Righteous – St Judith the Righteous – St Miriam the Righteous – St Nathan the Holy Prophet of God – St Nehemiah the Holy Prophet – St Noah the Righteous – St Rebecca the Righteous – St Sarah the Righteous – St Solomon, King & Holy Prophet – St Susanna the Righteous Also the Feast of St Boniface the Merciful of Tarsos, Cilicia – St Eutychios of Thessalonika – St Gregentios of Ethiopia – St Aglaia the Righteous of Rome – St Elias, Wonderworker of Murom, Kiev Near Caves – St Elias, St Probus & St Ares of Egypt, Holy Martyrs of Cilicia – St Polyeuktos of Caesarea, Cappadocia – St Timothy the Deacon of Mauretania – St Boniface the Merciful of Ferentino – St Gregory of Omirits – St George the Scribe & St Savva of Khakhuli

Resurrection Apolytikion – Tone(5) Plagal 1

Ton

sinanarhon Logon Patri ke Pnevmati, ton ek Parthenou tehthenta is Sotirian imon, animnisomen, Pisti, ke proskinisomen. Oti ivdokise Sarki anelthin en to Stavro ke Thanaton ipomine ke egire tous tethneotas en ti Evdoxo Anastasi Aftou.

The

Word, Who with the Father and the Spirit has no beginning, and Who, for our Salvation, was born of a Virgin, let us Faithful believers hymn and adore. For it was His Good Pleasure to ascend the Cross in the Flesh, and to Suffer Death, and through His own Glorious Resurrection to raise the dead.

K o n t a k i o n O f T h e E v e r B l e s s e d T h e o t o k o s - Of The Nativity Of Christ

I

Parthenos simeron, ton Iperousion tikti, ke i gi to spyleon to aprito prosagi. Angeli meta Pimenon doxologousi, Magi de meta asteros odiporousi, di’ imas gar egenniti, Pedion neon, o pro aionon Theos.

Today the Virgin gives Birth to Him Who is above all
being, and the earth offers a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with Shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a Star. For unto us is Born a young Child: the Pre-Eternal God.
MARY MAGDALENE

Resurrection Gospel 8: John 20:11-18 Prokeimenon :
us.

OUR RISEN LORD JESUS SPEAKS TO ST

Blessed art Thou, O Lord, God of our Forefathers. For Thou has always dealt Righteously with
The Epistle of St Paul to the Hebrews 11 : 9 – 10 & 32 - 40

The Faith Of The Old Covenant Hebrews – From St Abraham The Patriarch To St Joseph The Betrothed

Brethren: Through Faith Abraham dwelt in the Land of Promise, as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same Promise; for he waited for the City that has Foundations, whose Builder and Maker is God. And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the Prophets: who through Faith subdued kingdoms, worked Righteousness, obtained Promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens; and women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, so that they might obtain a better Resurrection. Still others had trials mockings and scourgings, yes, of chains and imprisonments. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted and they were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – or whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a Good Testimony through Faith, did not receive the Promise – God having provided something better for us – so that they should not be made Perfect apart from us.

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 1 : 1 – 25
The Genealogy Of Our Lord And Saviour, Jesus Christ, According To The Flesh

The Book of the Genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac; Isaac begot Jacob and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. Judah begot Perez and Zerah by Tamar; Perez begot Hezron, and Hezron begot Ram. Ram begot Amminadab; Amminadab begot Nahshon, and Nahshon begot Salmon. Salmon begot Boaz by Rahab; Boaz begot Obed by Ruth; Obed begot Jesse and Jesse begot David the King.

SUNDAY BEFORE THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST – THE GENEALOGY OF OUR LORD– 19 DECEMBER 2010

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David the King begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah; Solomon begot Rehoboam; Rehoboam begot Abijah, and Abijah begot Asa. Asa begot Jehoshaphat; Jehoshaphat begot Joran, and Joran begot Uzziah. Uzziah begot Jotham, Jotham begot Ahaz, and Ahaz begot Hezekiah. Hezekiah begot Manasseh; Manasseh begot Amon, and Amon begot Josiah. Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon. After they were taken to Babylon, Jeconiah begot Shealtiel, and Shealtiel begot Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel begot Abiud; Abiud begot Eliakim, and Eliakim begot Azor. Azor begot Zadok; Zadok begot Achim, and Achim begot Eliud. Eliud begot Eleazar; Eleazar begot Matthan, and Matthan begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Joseph the (Betrothed) Husband of Mary (Miriam) of Whom was born Jesus Who is called Christ. So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations; from David until the captivity in Babylon were fourteen generations; and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations. Now the Birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: after His Mother, Mary, was Betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with Child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly, but while he thought about these things, behold, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying: “Joseph, son of David: do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is Conceived in Her is of the Holy Spirit. And She will bring forth a Son, and Thou shalt call His Name Jesus, for He will Save His People from their sins.” So all this was done so that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the Prophet, saying: “Behold, the Virgin shall be with Child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His Name Immanuel,” which is translated: “God with us.” Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the Angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know until she had brought forth her Firstborn Son. And he called His Name Jesus. THE NAME “JESUS” OR “JOSHUA” MEANS “O LORD SAVE St Paul explained to the Galatians: “... the Scripture, US,” WHICH REFERS TO OUR LORD’S DIVINE ROLE AS foreseeing that God would Justify the Gentiles by THE SAVIOUR OF ALL MANKIND. Faith, preached the Gospel to Abraham beforehand, THE TITLE “CHRIST” MEANS “ANOINTED ONE,” OR saying: ‘In Thee all the Nations shall be Blessed.’ “MESSIAH,” WHICH MEANS THE ONE WHO IS FILLED (Galatians 3:8) WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT. So it was that the Holy Spirit preached the Holy Gospel of J o h n 1 : 3 3 : St John the Baptist and Forerunner to Christ Christ centuries before to St Abraham, the ancient said: “I did not know Him, but He Who sent Patriarch of the Old Covenant Israel. me to Baptise with water said to me: ‘Upon Furthermore, the “Angel of the Lord” Whom St Abraham Whom you see the (HOLY) Spirit descending, beheld in a Vision was no created being – He was truly and remaining on Him, is He Who Baptises the Son and Word of God. with the Holy Spirit.’” St Athanasios the Great taught that our Lord Jesus Christ, THE FACT THAT THE HOLY SPIRIT REMAINED UPON CHRIST the Son and Word of God, was referred to as “an Angel OUR SAVIOUR WAS A DIVINE SIGN THAT HE POSSESSES (Messenger of God) because He alone reveals the THE HOLY SPIRIT IN HIS FULLNESS FROM ALL ETERNITY Father.” – i.e. there has never been a moment when the Son In other words, our Lord Jesus Christ reveals God the of God was not united with God the Holy Spirit for Father to us as A GOD OF INFINITE LOVE AND MERCY together with God the Father they are co-Eternal. WHO, BEING ABSOLUTE GOODNESS, TRUTH AND LOVE, Our Lord Jesus Christ did not receive the Holy Spirit at His IS INCAPABLE OF ANYTHING EVIL, CRUEL OR Baptism by St John the Baptist. Instead, the Vision DESTRUCTIVE (which are the inventions of the evil one that St John the Baptist experienced revealed the who typifies hatred, everything wicked, deceitful and Absolute Truth that THE HOLY SPIRIT HAS ALWAYS destructive.) BEEN WITH CHRIST. G e n e s i s 2 8 : 1 4 - The Lord God told St Jacob: “... Although ONLY GOD THE SON (THE SECOND DIVINE PERSON OF THE HOLY your seed shall be like the dust of the earth; TRINITY – THE GODHEAD) WAS INCARNATED (BECAME MAN AND THUS PHYSICAL AND VISIBLE TO US) GOD THE FATHER AND THE HOLY you shall spread abroad to the west and to SPIRIT WORK IN PERFECT HARMONY IN OUR LORD the east, to the north and to the south; and JESUS CHRIST FOR OUR ETERNAL SALVATION. in you and in your seed all the Tribes of the V THE HOLY TRINITY ALWAYS WORKS IN PERFECT UNISON earth shall be Blessed.”
AS ONE GOD.

Our Lord was Incarnate as a Hebrew, from the lineage of St Abraham, the Father or Patriarch of all Hebrews, and of St David, Israel’s greatest King and Prototype of our Royal Messiah. The Genealogy of Christ according to the Holy Gospel of St Matthew reveals that THE SON OF GOD IDENTIFIES SO
DEEPLY WITH OUR HUMAN NATURE THAT HE TOOK IT UPON HIMSELF AND HAS BECOME PART OF IT FOR THE SAKE OF OUR SALVATION. THE ANCESTRY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST INCLUDES

Righteous and wicked people, faithful Kings and murderers, Jews and Gentiles, royalty and peasants –
A COMPLETE CROSS-SECTION OF HUMANITY.

JEWISH GENEALOGY NORMALLY INCLUDED ONLY MALE RELATIVES SO THE MENTION OF FEMALE RELATIVES SUCH AS TAMAR, RAHAB, RUTH AND BATHSHEBA WAS MOST UNUSUAL, ESPECIALLY SINCE EACH OF THEM WAS EITHER A GENTILE OR A SINNER. HENCE, THE INCLUSION OF THESE WOMEN CONFIRMED THE GRACIOUS MERCY OF GOD AND PREFIGURED THE CALLING OF GENTILES INTO THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. V IT ALSO EMPHASISED THE IMPORTANT ROLE OF WOMEN IN GOD’S ETERNAL PLAN OF SALVATION AND ANTICIPATED THE VERY SPECIAL PLACE OF THE EVER BLESSED AND ALL HOLY VIRGIN THEOTOKOS IN HIS DIVINE PLAN.

® ST MATTHEW’S GENEALOGY OF CHRIST DESCENDS FROM ST ABRAHAM to whom God Promised to Bless all tribes of the earth in Abraham, which was fulfilled in his greatest Descendent, Jesus Christ. ® ST LUKE, on the contrary, LISTED HIS GENEALOGY IN
ASCENDING ORDER – FROM CHRIST ALL THE WAY BACK TO ADAM. (LUKE 3 : 23 – 38)

By means of Anointing by St Samuel the Holy Prophet of God, St David the Psalmist was consecrated King of Israel and through his Psalms, St David was revealed as a great and Holy Prophet of God. Consequently, St David the Psalmist, King and Holy Prophet foreshadowed the Royal and Prophetic Nature of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Psalm 109)_ In addition, as a wicked adulterer and murderer, ST DAVID
IS A GOOD EXAMPLE OF SINCERE CONTRITION, REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS OF SINS, which encourages us - for EVEN THE WORST OF SINNERS IS GRANTED THE POSSIBILITY OF REGENERATION OR RESTORATION BY THE DIVINE GRACE of our Most Loving and Merciful God THROUGH OUR WILLING AND HEARTFELT REPENTANCE-CONFESSION.

G e n e s i s 1 2 : 3 – God said to Abram: “... I will Bless those who Bless Thee and curse those who curse Thee; and in Thee all the Tribes of the earth shall be Blessed.” The Holy Spirit spoke through the Prophets and He spoke through St Moses the Holy Prophet of God who wrote this Holy Book of Genesis.

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SUNDAY BEFORE THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST – THE GENEALOGY OF OUR LORD– 19 DECEMBER 2010

St Joseph the Betrothed is named as our Lord Jesus’ immediate predecessor since according to the Old Covenant, MARRIAGE LAWS CONFER HEREDITARY
RIGHTS ON CHILDREN. ADOPTED AS WELL AS BIOLOGICAL

UNDERSCORES THE DIVINE INTERVENTION OF GOD

The Ever Blessed Virgin Mary was also descended from King David, as was her aunt Salome, (THE SISTER OF ST ANNA AND THE LATE WIFE OF ST JOSEPH THE BETROTHED) since, according to Hebrew Laws of the time, BETROTHALS WERE
ARRANGED FROM WITHIN THE SAME TRIBE.

For the same reason, the Temple Priests had consented to her Betrothal to her aged uncle who was actually her legal guardian and protector of her Vow of Chastity. The term “of whom” is feminine in Greek, REFERRING ONLY TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY. So OUR LORD IS
SHOWN TO HAVE BEEN BORN ONLY OF HER AND NOT BEGOTTEN OF ST JOSEPH THE BETROTHED.

The Ancestors were arranged in three groups of fourteen generations since fourteen is the numerical equivalent of the consonants in the name “David,” underlining Christ’s descent from St David. It also shows the division of the leadership of the Hebrews, being under Judges until St David, under Kings until Babylon and under Priests until Christ.
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF ST JOSEPH THE BETROTHED CONSISTED OF A MERCIFUL NATURE THAT TRANSCENDED THE DEMANDS OF THE LAW. H o s e a 6 : 6 “... I desire Mercy not sacrifice, and the

Knowledge of God more than Whole Burnt Offerings...” St Joseph’s natural compassion and mercy was evident from his unwillingness to expose the young Virgin’s assumed sin, even though he was obliged by Mosaic Law to do so. The term “husband” and “wife” applied to all Betrothed couples even before the Marriage had been Sanctified by God and consummated.
THE HOLY ORTHODOX CHURCH REFERS TO ST JOSEPH AS “THE BETROTHED,” EMPHASISING THE TRUTH OF THE ALL HOLY AND ALL PURE, EVER VIRGINITY OF THE BLESSED THEOTOKOS (WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN CONFIRMED BY THE
ASTOUNDED MIDWIVES WHO ATTENDED TO THE YOUNG VIRGIN BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST.)

Mordecai of the Tribe of Benjamin “ ... had raised the daughter of Abihail, his father’s brother, and her name was Esther; and when her parents died, he brought her up to be his wife, and she was beautiful.” Mordecai’s relation to Esther was that of both guardian and husband, a necessary social and legal arrangement, which was not unusual at the time. This was similar to THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN
Esther 2 : 7 ST JOSEPH THE BETROTHED AND THE EVER VIRGIN MARY, IN WHICH THERE WAS NO SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP,

throughout human history and which demonstrates the continuity between the Old and New Covenants with God, indicating the beginning of the New Creation. The Divine Conception of our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the Prophecy of St Isaiah that specifically a VIRGIN – not a “young woman!” – would Conceive and Bear a Son Who was not a new Person coming into existence but Who is the Eternal Son of God Who used Her Womb as His Throne! Both the Mysterious Virginal Conception by the Holy Spirit and the name “Immanuel” – meaning “God with us” – declares and confirms the Divinity – the Divine Nature – of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Finally: when St Joseph the Betrothed in Obedience to God “... took to him his wife, and did not know Her until She had brought forth Her Firstborn Son...” it did not mean that the Betrothal or Marriage was ever consummated, nor does the expression “Firstborn Son” mean that our All Holy Lady ever bore any other children for She kept her Most Sacred Vow of Chastity until She reposed in Peace many years later. In Holy Scripture the word “until” which is sometimes translated as “to,” is often used to express a situation that actually continues after the event. M a t t h e w 2 8 : 2 0 – Christ instructed His Apostles to go forth and Baptise and Teach all nations “... to observe all Things that I have commanded you; and lo, I Am with you always, even TO the end of the Age.” This does not mean that we are separated from Christ at the end of the world for HE IS ALWAYS – ETERNALLY PRESENT AND NEVER ABSENT, no matter where or how we are! G e n e s i s 8 : 7 - Noah “... sent out a raven, which kept going to and fro, UNTIL the waters dried up from the earth.” D e u t e r o n o m y 3 4 : 6 – When Moses has died God “... buried him in a valley in the Land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave TO this day.” V The term “Firstborn Son,” does not imply that the Blessed Virgin had other children, but only that no child was born to Her before our Lord Jesus Christ. Traditionally, the firstborn son was the primary heir and recipient of Blessings and our Lord Jesus Christ is the Firstborn over all Creation, and therefore the Firstborn from the dead.
HE WAS THE FIRST TO BE PHYSICALLY RESURRECTED AND RETURNED TO SHOW THAT DIVINE TRUTH TO HIS FAITHFUL APOSTLES AND DISCIPLES FOR 40 DAYS BEFORE HIS GLORIOUS ASCENSION – RETURNING TO HIS FORMER INVISIBLE STATE AND MAJESTIC POSITION, SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND SIDE OF GOD THE FATHER – THE MOST HONOURABLE POSITION AS CO-EQUAL, CO-ETERNAL AND CO-ESSENTIAL.

as demonstrated as well by Esther’s virginity and chastity.

V

AN ANGEL OR MESSENGER OF GOD DISPELLED ST JOSEPH’S FALSE ASSUMPTIONS BY ANNOUNCING THE UTTERLY UNREASONABLE AND ILLOGICAL BUT DIVINE AND ABSOLUTE TRUTH: THE VIRGIN’S CONCEPTION WAS BY THE WILL OF GOD – BY THE LIFE-GIVING HOLY SPIRIT. BEING BORN OF THE VIRGIN PROVED CHRIST’S DIVINITY AND ONLY A DIVINE REVELATION BY GOD COULD SERVE AS ADEQUATE EVIDENCE OF SUCH A UNIQUE MIRACLE.

In the Orthodox Holy Icons of the Nativity of Christ, His swaddling clothes are depicted as burial wrappings, affirming that one Purpose of His Coming was to endure Death. The Manger would have been in a cave where domestic animals were kept at night thus fulfilling the Prophecy of St Isaiah: “The ox knows its Owner and the donkey its Master’s crib.” (ISAIAH 1:3)

St Matthew repeatedly used the expression: “...that it might be fulfilled which was spoken...” which

Sunday Before the Nativity of Christ our Saviour – Sunday of the Ancestors
“These all died in Faith, not having received the Promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and Pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a Homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a Heavenly Country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a City for them.” (HEBREWS 11:13-16).
ON THE ORTHODOX CALENDAR, THE TWO SUNDAYS BEFORE THE FEAST OF THE NATIVITY ARE SET ASIDE FOR THE COMMEMORATION OF THE “FOREFATHERS.” The first of these Sundays remembers THE RIGHTEOUS ONES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT; the second, THE ANCESTORS OF CHRIST ACCORDING TO THE FLESH.

The Eastern Church differs from the West in its treatment of THE SAINTS OF THE OLD COVENANT. They ARE COMMEMORATED on their Feast Days (WHICH ARE USUALLY
THE DAY UPON WHICH THEY REPOSED IN FAITH, SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE INDEED!)

AND CHURCHES, CHAPELS AND HOLY SITES ARE DEDICATED TO THEM.

SUNDAY BEFORE THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST – THE GENEALOGY OF OUR LORD– 19 DECEMBER 2010

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IN EVERY WAY THEY ARE AS HONOURED AND VENERATED AS THE NEW COVENANT SAINTS.

® It is this same Christ UNTO WHOM ALL THINGS
ARE BEING GATHERED TOGETHER INTO ONE.
(EPHESIANS 1:10)

There is something of a “historical temptation” in the modern world, for the modern mind is largely responsible for the creation of “history,” - not that stories of the past have not always been told. But THE TEMPTATION OF HISTORY IS TO VALUE THE PAST ONLY AS HISTORICAL ARTEFACT. Things of the past are seen as having value only for what they have caused in the present – or worse – as having value only if you are interested in that sort of thing! America was one of the first truly “modern” nations. The story of its founding is the story of the triumph of ideas. America is a decision and not an inheritance or an ethnicity and history is a very tenuous thing in America. The knowledge of the young about the past is often nonexistent. As a modern nation, America looks to the present and believes that it can create the future (or one of our controlling myths certainly believes this).
AN INCREASING NUMBER OF MODERN NATIONS ARE COMING TO SEE THE WORLD IN THIS SAME MODERN WAY.

® It is this End of history that is the meaning of all history – THE MEANING OF ALL THINGS. ® It is also this Christ (the End of all things) Who is
THE FOCUS AND CENTRE OF THE FAITHFUL THROUGHOUT THE AGES.

St Paul’s Letter to the Hebrews, quoted at the beginning, makes clear that it is THIS VISION OF CHRIST THAT
GRANTS THE SINGLE PURPOSE FOR ALL THE RIGHTEOUS (INCLUDING THE OLD TESTAMENT RIGHTEOUS cited by St Paul). ® THE HOMELAND THEY SEEK IS NONE OTHER THAN CHRIST HIMSELF. ® And it is this same Seeking that UNITES THE PEOPLE OF GOD THROUGH ALL TIME IN ONE SINGLE HOLY TRADITION. ® The Seeking of Christ is THE HOLY TRADITION OF THE CHURCH (or so it can be said).

The temptation of history is to reverse Holy Tradition as though it were a seeking of the past. But WHAT UNITES US WITH THE HISTORICAL PAST IS THE
SAME FAITH, THE SAME PURPOSE, THE SAME VISION, THE SAME LORD.

If the Saints who have come before us directed their gaze to Christ, then IT IS TO CHRIST THAT OUR OWN
GAZE SHOULD BE FIXED. THE PREACHING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS not a proclamation of the past, but THE PROCLAMATION OF HIM “...Who was, and is, and is to come.”

Europe is daily re-inventing itself with little view to its past. The temptation of history is becoming ubiquitous. I describe history as a “temptation” - because history does not properly have a place within the Christian Faith, which may seem a strange statement coming from an Orthodox Priest.
NO CHURCH IS MORE FIRMLY GROUNDED IN TRADITION THAN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH. BUT TO BE GROUNDED IN TRADITION IS NOT THE SAME THING AS BEING GROUNDED IN HISTORY (as Moderns think of

The same Christ Who died and rose again is the same Christ Who is COMING AGAIN IN ALL HIS GLORY
(RETURNING OR REAPPEARING IN HIS VISIBLE, HUMAN FORM. )

It is the same Christ Who is GIVEN TO US IN THE HOLY
MYSTERIES OF THE CHURCH.

history).
HOLY TRADITION IS NOT THE TYRANNY OF THE PAST OVER THE PRESENT: HOLY TRADITION IS THE ADHERENCE TO THE SAME ETERNAL REALITY THROUGHOUT ALL TIME. V That ETERNAL REALITY FOR CHRISTIANS (AND FOR ALL CREATION) IS THE END OF THINGS – CHRIST THE COMING LORD. V Our Faith proclaims that HE WHO WAS BORN OF THE VIRGIN IS ALSO THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA - THE BEGINNING AND THE END (REVELATION 1:8). CHRIST’S NATIVITY OCCURRED IN A CAVE, which served

It is a Theological irony that modernity - whose selfdefinition was an opposition to Holy Tradition - is itself the creator of a history devoid of a future. MODERNITY DENIES CHRIST AS THE END OF ALL THINGS, and in so doing RELEGATES ITSELF TO A PLACE IN
HISTORY, BUT NOT TO A PLACE AT THE END.

For THE FAITHFUL, we should DESIRE A BETTER, A HEAVENLY COUNTRY, so that “...God will not be ashamed to be called our God, for He has already prepared such a city for...” US!

The Cave of the Nativity of Christ
as a stable which was typical at that time. However, THE TRADITIONAL ICON OF CHRIST’S NATIVITY REVEALS THE CAVE IN AN UNMISTAKEABLE MANNER:
IT RESEMBLES THE CAVERN OF HADES INTO WHICH CHRIST DESCENDED AT HIS DEATH AND IS FRAMED BY ROCKS SIMILAR TO THOSE DEPICTED IN MOST ICONS OF CHRIST’S BAPTISM. A SIMILAR DEPICTION IS EVIDENT ON MOST ICONS OF THE CRUCIFIXION - BENEATH THE CROSS AND FRAMING A SKULL. This iconographic similarity is not accidental: THE CAVE OF BETHLEHEM IS MEANT TO RESEMBLE THE CAVERN OF HADES - JUST AS THE CHILD IN SWADDLING CLOTHES RESEMBLES A BODY WRAPPED FOR BURIAL. THE CHURCH, HOWEVER, SEES THE CAVE OF BETHLEHEM FOR WHAT IT IS: THE DARKNESS OF THE FALLEN WORLD – into which no sooner was the Christ Child

born than His Life was in danger. The wicked King Herod, upon hearing of such a Great King, immediately sought His Death, and, having failed in his first scheme, (HAVING REQUESTED THE MAGI TO REVEAL HIS LOCATION) he turned his frustrated and depraved wrath on the Holy Innocents of that region – the murder of all male children under the age of two.
(ROMAN RECORDS ESTIMATED 14,000 BABIES!)

It resembles Hades for the same reason as the framing rocks of Christ’s Theophany, which point to one and the same thing: CHRIST’S INCARNATION IS GOD’S
DESCENT INTO OUR WORLD WHERE SIN AND DEATH REIGN. THE INCARNATION OF THE WORD IS IMMEDIATELY A CHALLENGE TO THE DARKNESS OF DEATH AND HELL.

Such is the utter devastating darkness of sin! V Nevertheless, GOD’S DIVINE AND ETERNAL LIGHT SHINES BRIGHTLY in the darkened cave of worldly sin and IT CAN NEVER BE EXTINGUISHED!

V

St John made it clear in the Prologue of his Gospel by referring to CHRIST AS THE “LIGHT OF THE WORLD,” and by bringing the Divine Light into conflict with the darkness of sin: “...THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS and the darkness has not overcome It.” Christ’s Nativity has become marked by certain popular elements but in typical fashion the fallen world looks no further than the acquisition of material things – the desires of the flesh.

WE WHO ARE BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST ARE BAPTIZED INTO HIS DEATH AND WE “RECEIVE THE LIGHT OF CHRIST!” V AS SANCTIFIED PARTICIPANTS IN THE LIGHT OF CHRIST IN THIS DARK WORLD WE TOO HAVE BECOME HOLY LIGHTS SHINING FORTH IN THE MIDST OF SPIRITUAL DARKNESS. V OUR GREATEST JOY IS CHRIST - BORN IN THE DARK CAVE - WHO IS INDEED THE ETERNAL LIGHT IN THE FALLEN WORLD OF DESTRUCTION THAT CAN NEVER EVER OVERCOME HIS DIVINE LIGHT OF LOVE AND EVERLASTING LIFE. V EVERY REVELATION OF CHRIST IS VICTORY OVER SIN AND DEATH SO WHAT’S IN THE DARK CAVE? GOD HIMSELF!!
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: “GLORY TO GOD FOR ALL THINGS!” BY FATHER STEPHEN http://fatherstephen.wordpress.com/ (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!)

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SUNDAY BEFORE THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST – THE GENEALOGY OF OUR LORD– 19 DECEMBER 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

Forefeast of the Nativity of Christ our Saviour St Ignatios the God-Bearer & Great Hieromartyr of Antioch

20 December 2010

Also the Feast of St Philogonos, Hieromartyr of Antioch – St John the New Martyr of Thasos – St Ignatios, Archimandrite of Kiev Caves – St Daniel of Serbia – St John of Kronstadt – Holy Icon of the Ever Blessed Theotokos, “Resecuer of the the Drowning– the Miracle-Working Icon of the Ever Blessed Theotokos of Novgorod
Apolytikion Of The Forefeast Of The Nativity

Etimazou

Vithleem, inikte pasin i Edem; eftrepizou Efratha, oti to xilon tis zois, en to spileo exinthisen ek dis Parthenou; Paradisos ke gar, i ekinis gastir, edihthi noitos, en o to thion fiton; ex ou faontes zisomen, ouhi de os o Adam tethnixometha. Hristos gennate, tin prin pesousan, anastison ikona.

Make ready, O Bethlehem, for Eden opened up to all;
and prepare, O Ephratha, because the very Tree of Life, has blossomed forth in the cave from the Virgin; for it has come about, that her Womb has become a Spiritual Paradise, where grew the Divine Plant; from which, if we eat, we shall Live and not die as Adam did. Christ is Born to Resurrect the Image that had fallen!

Apolytikion Of St Ignatios Of Antioch – Tone 4

Ke

Tropon metohos, ke Thronon diadohos, ton Apostolon genomenos, tin praxin efres Theopnevste, is theorias epivasin. Dia touto ton logon tis Alithias orthotomon, ke ti Pisti enithlisas mehris ematos; Ieromartis Ignatie: Presveve Hristo to Theo, sothine tas psihas imon.

As

a Sharer of the Ways and a Successor to the Throne of the Apostles, O Inspired of God, Thou found Discipline to be a means of Ascent to Divine Vision. Wherefore, having rightly divided the Word of Truth, Thou also contested for the Faith even by blood; O Hieromartyr Ignatios: Intercede with Christ our God that our souls be Saved! Divine and Brilliant Day of Thine illustrious Contests proclaims to all mankind Him Who was born of a Virgin; for it was for Him that Thou thirsted to delight in, and hastened to be devoured by beasts in Thy longing. Hence, O Glorious Ignatios, the Name God-bearer was rightly given to Thee!

Kontakion Of St Ignatios Of Antioch – Tone 3

Ton lampron agonon Sou, i fotoforos imera, prokiritti The
apasi, ton ek Parthenou tehthenta. Toutou gar dipson ek pothou katarifise, espefsas ipo thirion analothine: dia touto Theoforos, prosigorefthis, Ignatie Endoxe!
Kontakion Of The Forefeast Of The Nativity – Tone 3

I

Parthenos simeron, ton Proeonion Logon, en Spileo ethete apotekin aporritos. Horeve, i ikoumeni, akoutisthisa; Doxason meta Angelon ke ton Pimenon, voilithenta apofthine, Pedion Neon, ton Pro Eonon Theon.

Today

the Virgin comes to the Cave to give Birth Ineffably to the Word Pre-eternal. Hearing this, be of good cheer, O Earth and its people: Glorify Him with the Angels and the Shepherds, Whose Will was to be made manifest as a young Child – the PreEternal God.

The Epistle of St Paul to the Hebrews 12 : 17 - 31
The Power of True Faith

Brethren: by Faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the Promises offered up his only begotten son of whom it was said: “In Isaac your seed shall be Called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense. By Faith Isaac Blessed Jacob and Esau concerning Things to come. By Faith Jacob, when he was dying, Blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped, leaning on the top of his staff. By Faith Joseph, when he was dying, mentioned the departure of the Children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. By Faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the King’s command. By Faith Moses, when he came of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the People of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the Reproach of Christ to be greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked to the Reward. By Faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the King; for he endured as though seeing Him Who is invisible. By Faith Moses kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the Firstborn should touch them.

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By Faith they passed through the Red Sea as though on dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned. By Faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days. By Faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace. And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and the Prophets... HAVE EXPERIENCED LIFE IN CHRIST (and even the St Paul reminds us that all these OLD COVENANT SAINTS HAD UNWAVERING FAITH IN GOD WHEREBY – BY THE historical proof of everything for those who need it!)
GRACE OF GOD – THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS WERE AMAZING AND OFTEN TRULY MIRACULOUS. ST PAUL WROTE THIS EPISTLE TO ALL THOSE HEBREWS WHO WERE SUFFERING THE PERSECUTION OF OTHERS

V

CONSEQUENTLY, WE SHOULD HAVE UNSHAKEABLE FAITH IN GOD for so much has been ratified over

– whether their Roman oppressors or other Hebrews who stubbornly rejected Christ and the New Covenant with God – AS A REMINDER OF THE
INCREDIBLE FAITH OF THEIR FOREFATHERS.

the years and continues to be confirmed or proved and fulfilled – almost daily!
IS SIMPLE BUT IT BECOMES A MANY SPLENDORED ASPECT OF LIFE IN CHRIST. ® FAITH BECOMES A VENTURESOME ACTION THROUGH OUR OBEDIENCE, PATIENCE, TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN GOD. ® FAITH TRANSFORMS US FROM THE IMPERMANENCE AND DISCOMFORT OF EXISTENCE AND SURVIVAL TO THE PERMANENT PEACE AND CONSOLATION OF GOD’S ETERNAL KINGDOM OF DIVINE LOVE.

® FAITH

Throughout the ages ST PAUL’S REMINDER OF THE
STEADFAST FAITH OF THE ANCIENT SAINTS ENCOURAGES US AND GUIDES US TOWARDS THE DIVINE THINGS THAT OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR HAS PROMISED US AND WHICH WE LIVE IN THE HOPE OF ACHIEVING. OUR VISION OF THE AGE TO COME – ETERNITY – KEEPS US FOCUSED and as our Faith deepens and matures, we discover that THE INVISIBLE IS OFTEN MORE REAL THAN THIS TEMPORARY VISIBLE WORLD. In the past centuries, MIGHTY WORKS OF FAITH WERE FULFILLED BY THOSE WHOSE FAITH WAS UNFULFILLED since THEY DID NOT HAVE EVERYTHING WE HAVE NOW INHERITED – THE ACTUAL PRESENCE OF GOD WHO TAUGHT US DIRECTLY AND WHO CONTINUES TO GUIDE, TEACH AND ENABLE US TO FULFIL OUR HOLY CALLING TO HIS DIVINE SERVICE, AS WELL AS ALL THE WRITTEN AND VERBAL DIVINE TRUTH OF CHRIST, HIS APOSTLES AND DISCIPLES, OUR HOLY CHURCH FATHERS AND MOTHERS WHO

St Jacob prefigured the Holy Cross of Christ when he venerated the top of the staff of Joseph and when he Blessed Joseph’s sons with his hands crossed. G e n e s i s 4 7 : 3 1 After St Jacob had asked his son, Joseph to bury him with his Hebrew ancestors rather than in Egypt, because he looked to the Inheritance of the world to come, “ ...he said: ‘Swear to me.’ And (Joseph) swore to him. And Israel bowed himself on the top of his staff.” G e n e s i s 4 8 : 1 4 : “Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands in Knowledge, (although) Manasseh was the Firstborn.”

The Holy Gospel According to St Mark 9 : 42 – 10 : 1
Holy Discipleship to Christ requires The Eradication Of our Sinful Habits

At that time, our Lord Jesus Christ said: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he was thrown into the sea. “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off, for it is better for you to enter into Life maimed, rather than having two hands and to go to Hell, into the Fire that shall never be quenched – where ‘their Worm does not die and the Fire is not quenched.’ “And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off, for it is better for you to enter Life lame, rather than having two feet and to be cast into Hell, into the Fire that shall never be quenched – where ‘their Worm does not die, and the Fire is not quenched.’ “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out, for it is better for you to enter the Kingdom of God without one eye, rather than having two eyes and to be cast into Hell Fire – where ‘their Worm does not die, and the Fire is not quenched.’ “For everyone will be seasoned with Fire and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt, which is good, but if the salt loses its flavour, how will you season it? “Have Salt in yourselves, and have Peace with one another. Then He arose from there and went to the region of Judea on the other side of the Jordan River. And multitudes gathered to Him again, and as He was accustomed, He taught them again.

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OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST’S WARNING IS LOUD AND CLEAR: THOSE WHO DARE TO CORRUPT OR HARM IN ANY WAY THE PURE AND INNOCENT SOULS – WHETHER CHILDREN OR ADULTS – WILL RECEIVE THE HARSHEST OF ALL ETERNAL CONDEMNATION.

® Those who harbour deep, dark perversions in their soul, must immediately expose them to the Divine Light through sincere and heartfelt Repentance-Confession, ensuring that they are never acted upon or even fantasised! ® Only through constant Prayer, Fasting and partaking of the Holy Mysteries of Christ’s Holy Church can such vicious or harmful inclinations be destroyed.

PROVIDES US WITH HIS HOLY MYSTERIES OF REPENTANCE-CONFESSION AND HOLY EUCHARIST FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF OUR REPENTED SINS WHICH RESULTS IN ETERNAL LIFE WITH GOD. Thus IT IS ESSENTIAL TO TAKE DECISIVE ACTION AGAINST OUR OWN SINS AND TO AVOID THE TEMPTATION OF OTHERS so that we are able TO CONTINUE OUR LIFE IN CHRIST - PURIFIED AND HUMBLY OBEDIENT TO GOD.

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CHRIST’S EMPHASIS AND REPETITION – THREE TIMES! – OF THE HORRENDOUS CONSEQUENCES OF ANY FORM OF DEPRAVITY OR IMMORALITY DESCRIBES THE UNALLEVIATED TORTURE OF ETERNAL DEATH OR HELL. THESE UNSPEAKABLE HORRORS ARE REAL and not simply

used to “scare us straight!”
GOD IS ABSOLUTE LOVE AND GOODNESS and cannot deceive or lie SO EVERYTHING THAT OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST TELLS US CAN BE CONFIDENTLY ACCEPTED AS 100% PURE, DIVINE TRUTH!!

As Disciples of Christ, we are forbidden to mutilate or harm our bodies, which are the Sanctified Temples of God and which belong exclusively to Him alone. This also applies to harmful relationships that need to be severed for the Salvation of all concerned. L u k e 1 4 : 2 6 - 2 7 – “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My Disciple. And whoever does not bear his Cross and come after Me cannot be My Disciple!” This Divine Commandment of Christ is not by any means to be taken literally. V Our Lord Jesus cautions us to REJECT OR AVOID ANY
RELATIONSHIP THAT HINDERS OUR DEDICATION TO GOD AND HIS EVERLASTING KINGDOM. ® WE MUST “HATE” DESTRUCTIVE AND DEADLY SIN – NOT THOSE WHO COMMIT SUCH SIN! ® OUR DEVOTION TO GOD SHOULD BE GREATER AND BEYOND MEASURE MORE IMPORTANT THAN

The imagery such as “your hand... your foot... your eye...” is not to be taken literally since it is simply
TO STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF CORRECTING WHATEVER LEADS US TO COMMIT SIN – for GOD

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ST IGNATIOS THE GREAT GOD-BEARING HIEROMARTYR OF ANTIOCH – 20 DECEMBER 2010

with ANYTHING ELSE including relationships family members or friends. However, THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE NEGLECT OUR
SACRED DUTIES TO OUR FAMILIES OR TO SOCIETY IN GENERAL.

Although formal Ecclesiastical Excommunication is a rare occurrence these days, WILFUL AND
UNREPENTANT SINNERS EXCOMMUNICATE THEMSELVES FROM THE HOLY PROTECTION OF CHRIST’S CHURCH THROUGH THEIR OWN PERSONAL STUBBORNNESS AND CHOICE: SADLY, MANY WHO HAVE CONVERTED FOR ALL THE WRONG REASONS AND WHO ALSO HAVE NOT BEEN CORRECTLY GUIDED AND TAUGHT IN ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY, COMMIT THE SIN OF APOSTASY IN VARIOUS WAYS:

If we truly Love God with all our mind, with all our heart, with all our strength and with all our soul, WE WILL
ALSO NATURALLY LOVE ALL HIS CREATION, ESPECIALLY OUR FELLOW BEING who are struggling

V

along the same Path towards Eternity.

V

EVER SINCE OUR HOLY BAPTISM AND CHRISMATION, WE ARE CONSECRATED DISCIPLES OF CHRIST WHO ARE DEDICATED TO FOLLOWING IN OUR LORD’S FOOTSTEPS. V GOD-PARENTS AND PARENTS ARE OBLIGED BY A SACRED COMMITMENT TO ENSURE THE PROPER EDUCATION OF LITTLE CHILDREN AND TO FULFIL ALL REQUIREMENTS OF ORTHODOX CHRISTIANITY TOGETHER – TEACHING BY EXAMPLE, NOT BY EMPTY, WHIMSICAL GESTURES!! 1 C o r i n t h i a n s 5 : 5 – St Paul warned against THOSE WHO ARE SEXUALLY PROMISCUOUS, IMMORAL AND DESTRUCTIVE, AND THOSE WHO COMMIT INCEST
(FORBIDDEN SEXUAL RELATIONS WITH FAMILY MEMBERS)

: “... deliver such a person to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that his spirit may be Saved in the Day of the Lord Jesus!”

® by returning to their former practises ® by rejecting certain aspects of Orthodoxy ® by conforming to Protestant, “New Age,” or other heretical beliefs and practises. ® by not partaking of the Holy Mysteries AND ® by not observing Fasting requirements ® by advocating the cremation of Sanctified Temples of God – the bodies of the reposed and encouraging or forcing others to do so ® by rejecting the Holy Orthodox Church due to a break-down of personal relationships ® BY ENCOURAGING OR FORCING OTHERS TO COMMIT
APOSTASY OR HERESY!!

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THESE DEADLY SINS ARE ANATHEMA – ABOMINATIONS! THE HOLY CHURCH OF CHRIST PROTECTS US FROM THE MUTILATION OF SATAN.

Which brings us back to Christ’s admonitory words: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble...”

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M a t t h e w 1 6 : 1 8 : Our Lord Jesus Christ said to St Peter “... on this Rock I will build My Church, and the Gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” ® This Rock is not a reference to St Peter, but rather to the SINCERITY AND STRENGTH OF FAITHFUL CONFESSION OF CHRIST - “Thou art the Christ – the Son of the Living God!” The Gates of Hades – the imprisonment of Death – were shattered by Christ in His Divine Nature - after His Crucifixion when - like all Old Covenant souls – He entered Hades and Death in His human Nature. At “the Harrowing of Hades” Christ set the souls of the Righteous free to rest peacefully in His re-opened Paradise until the General Resurrection and Final Judgement. ® So, too, HIS HOLY CHURCH SHALL NOT BE
PREVENTED FROM HER PROCLAMATION AND FULFILMENT OF SALVATION. IN EXTREME CASES OF ANATHEMA OR ABOMINATION THE HOLY PROTECTION OF THE CHURCH IS REMOVED THROUGH EXCOMMUNICATION in the hope that,

THE LOVE OF GOD IS INFINITE AND INDISCRIMINATING SO HE PROVIDES US WITH EVERYTHING NECESSARY FOR OUR ETERNAL SALVATION. ® IT IS ENTIRELY UP TO US TO CHOOSE WHAT SORT OF ETERNITY WE WOULD RATHER HAVE: Eternal Life

and all the Goodness, Peace and Joy of God or Eternal Death with its unremitting vicious and excruciating horrors? ® HE
GRANTS US EVERY OPPORTUNITY FOR REPENTANCE AND FORGIVENESS OF SINS while

our Sanctified bodies and souls are still united in this life SO THAT WE MAY RECEIVE ETERNAL

V

SALVATION – ETERNAL LIFE IN CHRIST. THE HOLY CHURCH OF CHRIST ALWAYS KEEPS ITS DOORS WIDE OPEN – AS BOTH CHURCH MILITANT AND CHURCH TRIUMPHANT JOYFULLY AND EXPECTANTLY WAIT TO WELCOME EVERYONE – ESPECIALLY THE LOST AND THE FALLEN SOULS

who seek the True Love and Comfort of God’s Eternal Agape. ® WE ARE ALL LOST AND FALLEN TO A GREATER OR LESSER DEGREE for as we journey towards Eternity, we continuously stumble and we fall, but we rise again, until the next time... ® OUR SACRED JOURNEY IS NOT – CANNOT BE ACCOMPLISHED ALONE... we all travel together ... we all need one another to help and encourage and guide... to lift up the fallen and steady the stumbling... to carry and support the infirm or the weak...until finally, we reach our glorious Destination.

having experienced the difference between God’s Rule and Satan’s miserable, deceptive enslavement the sinner may repent and finally be Saved from Eternal Spiritual Death and Condemnation. V The reference to “the destruction of the flesh” is not synonymous with the destruction of the body – the Sacred, Sanctified Temple of God, but rather to THE PURGING AND ERADICATION OF
DEADLY LUSTS OF THE FLESH – THE DEPRAVED AND CRUEL WORDS, THOUGHTS AND DEEDS.

St Ignatios the Great Theophoros (God-Bearer) & Hieromartyr of Antioch
St Ignatios - together with St Polycarp, the great Hieromartyr of Smyrna - was a loyal disciple of St John the Beloved Apostle of Christ and great Theologian since early childhood. St Ignatios became the second elected Bishop of Antioch, and the successor to St Euodios, one of the 70 Apostles of Christ. When St Ignatios was a little boy, our Saviour Jesus Christ had hugged him and told His Disciples: "Unless you become like little children, you shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." (
MATTHEW 18 : 3 )

St Ignatios was called “Theophoros” ("God-Bearer"), because he always kept God in his heart and prayed unceasingly to Him. Furthermore, he received this title since he had been held in the Arms of the incarnate Son of God while he was a small boy and a faithful Disciple of Christ, following Him wherever he could.

Both St Ignatios and St Polycarp were guided by St John the Theologian, who was their Spiritual Father. As Bishop of Antioch, St Ignatios was zealous and spared no effort to build up the Church of Christ. To him is attributed the practice of antiphonal singing (by two choirs) during Church Services after having beheld a Vision of the Angels of God in Heaven alternately singing praises to God. During the terrible persecution of the Christians, St Ignatios was an inspired source of Spiritual Strength for his Holy Flock, who, together with their Holy Father, were willing to suffer for their deep Faith, rather than to surrender to the temporary but fatal temptations of the ungodly. In 106, after his victory over the Scythians, Emperor Trajan (98-117) ordered everyone to make offerings to their pagan gods and to put to death anyone who refused to bow down and worship the idols.

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ST IGNATIO S THE GREAT GOD-BEARING HIEROMARTYR OF ANTIO CH – 20 DECEMBER 2010

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The following year, Emperor Trajan travelled towards Antioch where he was informed that the Christian Bishop – St Ignatios - openly confessed Christ our Lord and taught the citizens to scorn riches, to lead virtuous lives and to preserve their virginity and chastity. In order to avert the impending slaughter of the Antiochian Christian Community, St Ignatios voluntarily presented himself to Emperor Trajan. However, when the Saint adamantly rejected the tenacious demands to make the required offerings to the pagan gods, Trajan ordered him to be taken to Rome for cruel tortures to “persuade” him to obey his commandments or be thrown to the wild beasts as entertainment for the blood-thirsty mob. To the amazement of all witnesses, St Ignatios joyfully accepted the sentence imposed upon him and his readiness for Martyrdom was attested to by those who accompanied him from Antioch to Rome. During his journey to Rome, the ship, sailing from Seleucia, stopped at Smyrna, where St Ignatios was able to bid farewell to his fellow Disciple and beloved friend, St Polycarp. A great multitude of Christian Clergy and Faithful from many other cities and towns thronged to see St Ignatios, who urged and encouraged everyone not to fear death nor to grieve for him. In his Epistle to the Roman Christians, St Ignatios besought them to assist him with their Prayers - to pray that God would strengthen him in his impending Martyrdom for Christ: "I seek Him Who died for us; I desire Him Who rose for our Salvation... “In me, desire has been nailed to the Cross, and no flame of material longing is left. Only the Living Water speaks within me, saying, 'Hasten to the Father!'" From Smyrna, St Ignatios went to Troas. There he heard the most joyful news of the end of the persecution against Christians in Antioch. From Troas, St Ignatios sailed to Neapolis (in Macedonia) and then to Philippi. On the way to Rome St Ignatios visited several churches, teaching and guiding the Christians who struggled and worshipped there. He wrote seven Epistles: to the churches of Ephesus, Magnesia, Tralles, Rome, Philadelphia, and Smyrna. He also addressed a letter to St Polycarp, who subsequently mentioned a collection of letters from St Ignatios in his own Epistle to the Philippians. I do not command you as if I were someone great, for even though I be bound in the Name, I am not yet perfect in Jesus Christ. For now I only begin to be a Disciple and I speak to you as to my fellow students. It was fitting for me to be anointed by you for the contest (HIS MARTYRDOM) with Faith, Admonition, Patience and Long-suffering. And since Love does not suffer me to be silent concerning you, I have therefore hastened to exhort you to set yourselves in harmony with the Mind of God. For Jesus Christ, our inseparable Life, is the Mind of the Father, even as the Bishops who are settled in the farthest parts of the earth are the Mind of Christ... Hence it is fitting for you to set yourselves in harmony with the mind of the Bishop, as indeed you do. For your noble Presbytery, worthy of God, is attuned to the Bishop, even as the strings to a lyre. And thus by means of your accord and harmonious Love Jesus Christ is sung. Form yourselves one and all into a Choir so that blending in concord and taking the keynote of

St Irenaeos of Lyons quoted from St Ignatios' Epistle to the Romans. (AGAINST HERESIES 5:28:4). All these writings have survived to the present day. In Rome the Christian Community greeted St Ignatios with great joy but with profound sorrow. Several influential Christians hoped to prevent his execution, but St Ignatios implored them not to do so. Kneeling down, he prayed together with the Faithful for the Holy Church of Christ, for Love between the Brethren, and for an end to the devastating persecution against Christians. On 20 December, a pagan festival, St Ignatios was led into the arena. He turned to the great expectant multitude and loudly proclaimed: "Men of Rome, you know that I am sentenced to death - not because of any crime but because of my Love for God, by Whose Love I am embraced. “I long to be with Him, and offer myself to him as a pure loaf, made of fine wheat ground fine by the teeth of wild beasts." The ravenous, brutalised lions were released upon him and they immediately tore St Ignatios to pieces, leaving only his heart and a few bones. All along the way to his cruel Martyrdom, St Ignatios had unceasingly repeated the Divine and Powerful Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and when he was asked why he did so, St Ignatios revealed that His Most Beloved Name was written in his heart, and he Confessed with his lips Him Whom he always carried within. When the Saint was devoured by the lions, his heart was untouched and when they cut open the heart as a final insult, the pagans were shocked to see an inscription in gold letters: "Jesus Christ." After his execution St Ignatios appeared to many of the Faithful to comfort them while they slept, and some saw him praying for the citizens of Rome. Hearing of St Ignatios’ great courage and unwavering Faith, Emperor Trajan was overwhelmed by deep respect for him and he ended the persecution against the Christians. The Holy Relics of St Ignatios were transferred to Antioch on 29 January. In 637 on 1 February 1, St Ignatios’ Holy Relics were returned to Rome and laid to rest in the church of San Clemente. May his memory be Eternal!

Excerpts from the Epistle of St Ignatios to the Ephesians:
God, you may sing in unison with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father, that He may hear you and recognize you through your good deeds to be members of His Son. Therefore it is profitable for you to live in blameless unity, that you may always enjoy communion with God.... And for the rest of mankind - pray unceasingly -for there is in them hope of Repentance, that they may attain unto God and let them also be instructed by the example of your works. Confronted by their outbursts of wrath be patient; by their arrogant words be humble; meet their revilings with Prayers; where they are in error be steadfast in Faith; in their violence be gentle. Be not anxious to retaliate and let our forbearance prove us as their Brethren. Endeavour to imitate the Lord, striving to suffer the greater wrong, being more defrauded, being set at naught, that no rank weed of the devil be found in you. In all purity and sobriety abide in Christ Jesus in flesh and in spirit.

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ST IGNATIOS THE GREAT GOD-BEARING HIEROMARTYR OF ANTIOCH – 20 DECEMBER 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

25 December 2010

The Feast of the Adoration of the Shepherds & the Magi the Commemoration of St Jonah the Holy Monk-Martyr, 50 MonkMartyrs & 65 Holy (Lay)Martyrs of St Tryphon of Pechenga Monastery
Isodikon Of The Nativity

Ek Gastros pro eosforou Egennisa Se.
ou metamelithisete. taxin Melihisedek.

Omose Kyrios ke Si Ierefs is ton eona, kata tin

Out

of the Womb, before the Morning Star have I Begotten Thee: the Lord has sworn and will not repent: Thou art a Priest forever, after the Order of Melchizidek. sing to Thee: Alleluia!

Soson

imas, Ie Theou, O ek Parthenou tehthis, psallontas Si Allilouia!

Save us, O Son of God, Born of the Virgin, who Thy Nativity, O Christ our God,
has given rise to the Light of Knowledge in the world; for they who worshipped the Star learnt therefrom to worship Thee, O Sun of Justice, and to know that from the East of the Highest Thou came. O Lord: Glory to Thee!

Apolytikion Of The Nativity:

I Gennisis Sou Hriste O Theos imon, anetele to kosmo,
to Fos to tis Gnoseos. En afti gar i tis astris latrevontes, ipo Asteros edi daskonto, Se Proskinin, ton Ilion tis Dikeosinis, ke Se Ginoskin ex Ipsous anatolin. Kyrie Doxa Si!
Kontakion Of The Nativity Of Christ

I

Parthenos simeron, ton Iperousion tikti, ke i gi to spyleon to aprito prosagi. Angeli meta Pimenon Doxologousi, Magi de meta Asteros odiporousi, di’ imas gar Egenniti, Pedion Neon, O Pro Aionon Theos.
“Agios O Theos...”

Today the Virgin gives Birth to Him Who is above all
being, and the earth offers a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with Shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a Star. For unto us is Born a young Child: the Pre-Eternal God.

Instead Of The

Osi

is Hriston Evaptisthite, Hriston enedisasthe: Allelouia!

As

many of you as were Baptised into Christ, have put on Christ: Alleluia!

M at in s G o sp e l: M atthe w 1 : 1 8- 2 5
The Revelation Of The Incarnated Son Of God - Our Lord And Saviour, Jesus Christ

At that time, the Birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was Betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with Child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying: "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is Conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His Name Jesus, for He will Save His people from their sins." So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the Prophet, saying: "Behold, the Virgin shall be with Child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His Name Immanuel," which is translated:"God with us." Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the Angel of the Lord commanded him and took unto him his wife, and did not know her until she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His Name Jesus THE BETROTHED BY ANNOUNCING THE UTTERLY V ST JOSEPH THE BETROTHED’S RIGHTEOUSNESS – UNREASONABLE: THE CONCEPTION OF THE ALL PURE the Righteousness of Mercy, which TRANSCENDED AND MOST BLESSED VIRGIN WAS BY THE LIFE-GIVING THE LAW – is evident from his unwillingness to HOLY SPIRIT (ACCORDING TO THE WILL OF GOD THE expose the young Virgin Mary’s presumed sin.
UNDER MOSAIC LAW, BETROTHAL INVOLVED ALMOST THE SAME COMMITMENT AS MARRIAGE and the

V

elderly St Joseph the Betrothed could not help but suspect a violation of Divine Law when he realised his Betrothed niece had Conceived - despite her Sacred Vow of Chastity.
ALTHOUGH HE WAS OBLIGED BY LAW TO REPORT HER "MISCONDUCT" ST JOSEPH DECIDED "TO PUT HER AWAY SECRETLY" – WHICH WOULD PREVENT HER FROM BEING EXPOSED TO PUBLIC SCANDAL AND SPECULATION. Furthermore, THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS PHARISEES WOULD HAVE STONED HER TO DEATH for having broken a

FATHER.) SINCE BEING BORN OF A VIRGIN PROVES OUR LORD JESUS’ DIVINITY, ONLY THE REVELATION OF ALMIGHTY GOD, in this case "a dream" - IS ADEQUATE EVIDENCE OF THIS MIRACULOUS CONCEPTION.

Holy Scripture refers to Betrothed couples as "husband" and "wife" before the actual marriage. Just as Rachel was called the "wife of Jacob" before Marriage, because of her Betrothal, so St Joseph the Betrothed was referred to as the "husband" of the Blessed Virgin Mary; and she was known as the "wife" of Joseph the Carpenter.

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Sacred Vow and Mosaic Law concerning immorality.

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A HOLY MESSENGER OR "ANGEL OF THE LORD" DISPELLED THE FALSE REASONING OF ST JOSEPH

THE EVER BLESSED THEOTOKOS - HAVING GROWN UP IN THE TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM HAD TAKEN A MOST SACRED VOW OF CHASTITY and had refused to be

THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD & SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST –25 DECEMBER 2010

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married to any man since her only desire was to serve the Lord Her God. Therefore THE TEMPLES PRIESTS who had watched over this extraordinarily devout little girl RESPECTED
BOTH HER DEDICATION TO GOD AND THE SANCTITY OF HER VOW OF CHASTITY. AS AN ORPHAN, SHE HAD NO IMMEDIATE FAMILY TO TAKE CARE OF HER AND TO PROTECT HER, which left

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THE CONCEPTION OF JESUS CHRIST FULFILS THE PROPHECY as recorded in the Septuagint where we are told that A "VIRGIN" (PARTHENOS) WOULD CONCEIVE AND "BEAR A SON."

the Priests in a difficult predicament, for when girls reached puberty, they had to leave the Temple precincts and enter marriage so as to produce as many children as possible.
THE PRIESTS BESOUGHT GOD FOR A SOLUTION AND EVENTUALLY BY A DIVINE MIRACLE HER AGED UNCLE who had been married to her aunt Salome, WAS CHOSEN AS HER LEGAL GUARDIAN AND RIGHTEOUS PROTECTOR. As required by Mosaic Law, ALL SPOUSES HAD TO BE OF THE SAME TRIBE AND THE FACT THAT HE WAS AN ELDERLY RELATIVE WAS BOTH LEGALLY AND SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE. G e n e s i s 2 9 : 2 1 “Then Jacob said to Laban: ‘Give

WHY DO WE QUESTION OR PONDER THIS AMAZING AND ACCEPTABLE DIVINE TRUTH? OUR CREATOR CAN DO THINGS FAR BEYOND ANY HUMAN IMAGINATION OR UNDERSTANDING BECAUSE HE IS ALMIGHTY GOD AND CREATOR OF ALL THINGS VISIBLE AND INVISIBLE - YET SO MANY PEOPLE TRY TO DISPROVE OR REJECT THIS DIVINE TRUTH. THE VIRGIN BIRTH OF THE MESSIAH, AS WELL AS HER CONTINUED VIRGINITY IS A DIVINE MYSTERY – AS ARE ALL GOD’S INFINITE WONDERS - AND ONLY GOD KNOWS!! HER CONTINUED VIRGINITY WOULD HAVE BEEN NOTED AND CONFIRMED BY THE MIDWIVES WHOM ST JOSEPH HAD REQUESTED TO ASSIST THE YOUNG THEOTOKOS – SOMETHING SO UNIQUE WAS NOTED AND REMEMBERED.. TO DOUBT OR TO REJECT THE MIRACULOUS CONCEPTION AND BIRTH OF CHRIST WHO IS THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD THE FATHER, IS TO DOUBT OR REJECT THE UNKNOWN AND INDESCRIBABLE MAJESTY AND MIGHT OF OUR LIVING AND GLORIOUS CREATOR GOD. TO RELEGATE CHRIST AS MERE HUMAN BEING IS BLASPHEMY AGAINST GOD AND REFUTES HIS TWO NATURES – HUMAN AND DIVINE – WHICH WERE NECESSARY FOR HIS DIVINE MISSION AMONGST HIS CREATURES – THE SALVATION OF FALLEN MANKIND AND THE CONQUERING OF SIN AND DEATH.

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me my wife that i may go in to her, for my time is completed.’” Deuteronomy 20:7 “"Has anyone become Betrothed to a woman but not yet married her? He should go back to his house, or he might die in the battle and another will marry her.” Deuteronomy 2 2 : 2 3 - 2 4 “If there is a young woman, a virgin already Betrothed, and a man meets her in the town and lies with her, you shall bring both of them to the gate of that town and stone them to death - the young woman because she did not cry for help in the town and the man because he violated his neighbour’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.” In the Orthodox Church, ST JOSEPH IS REMEMBERED AS
"THE BETROTHED" - HIGHLIGHTING THE ALL PURE, MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS’ EVER-VIRGINITY. ("THE UNWED BRIDE")

HE WHO IS CONCEIVED IN HER IS NOT A NEW PERSON COMING INTO EXISTENCE, BUT THE ETERNAL SON OF ALMIGHTY GOD, USING HER WOMB AS HIS THRONE. THE VIRGINAL CONCEPTION THROUGH THE HOLY SPIRIT AND THE NAME OF THE INCARNATE SON, "IMMANUEL” – I.E: “GOD WITH US," - ARE CLEAR INDICATIONS OF OUR LORD JESUS’ DIVINITY.

I s a i a h 7 : 1 4 “Therefore the Lord Himself wilt give Thee a Sign. Look, the Virgin is with Child and shall bear a Son, and shall name Him Immanuel – God with us.” The words: “... Joseph … took unto him his wife, and did not know her until she had brought forth her Firstborn Son…” does not imply that St Joseph the Betrothed consummated the Betrothal after the Birth of Jesus Christ.

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THEIR BETROTHAL WAS NEVER CONSUMMATED BECAUSE NOT ONLY WAS ST JOSEPH HER LEGAL GUARDIAN AND PROTECTOR BUT HE RESPECTED AND HONOURED HER SACRED VOW OF CHASTITY, HER PURE NATURE AND PIOUS CHARACTER. THE TERM "FIRSTBORN" NOT ONLY MEANS HAVING BEEN BORN FIRST BUT ALSO APPLIED TO THE FIRST BORN SON – no matter how many other female children born

before or after the heir. Furthermore, according to the Old Covenant Tradition, IT
DID NOT NECESSARILY MEAN THAT THERE WERE OTHER SIBLINGS.

“So all this was done that it might be fulfilled“ is the first of St Matthew’s repeated use of the expression: "...that it might be fulfilled which was spoken."

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THE FULFILMENT OF THESE PROPHECIES NOT ONLY UNDERSCORES THE INTERVENTION OF ALMIGHTY GOD IN OUR HISTORY BUT ALSO INDICATES HIS BEGINNING OF THE NEW CREATION – THE NEW ISRAEL.

In the case of our Lord Jesus and the Ever Blessed Theotokos, THOSE WHO WERE REFERRED TO AS BEING
EITHER “BROTHERS” OR “SISTERS” USUALLY MEANT COUSINS, AUNTS OR UNCLES – CLOSE RELATIVES – BUT NOT NECESSARILY BIOLOGICAL SIBLINGS.

Prokeimenon:
lands.

All the

world will worship Thee and glorify Thee.

Glorify the

Lord with triumphal hymns, all you

The E pi stle o f S t P aul to the G al ati a ns 4 : 4 -7
We become Sons Of God Through Christ And The Holy Spirit

Brethren, when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, to Redeem those who were under the Law, so that we might receive the Adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out: "Abba! Father!" Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an Heir of God through Christ. ® THE HOLY CEREMONIES OF “THE EIGHT DAY BLESSING” “His Son" refers to CHRIST AS GOD BY NATURE – the OF THE NEWBORN AND THE “40 DAY CHURCHING OF Son of God.

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THE INCARNATE SON OF GOD, IS "BORN OF A WOMAN," AND SO THE MOST BLESSED MARY IS RIGHTLY CALLED “THEOTOKOS” - MOTHER OF GOD OR BEARER OF GOD. SINCE JESUS CHRIST WAS "BORN UNDER THE LAW" HE COULD REDEEM THOSE WHO WERE ALSO UNDER THE LAW – HIS FELLOW HEBREWS,

® ® ® ®

according to the flesh. ® GOD "REDEEMS THOSE WHO WERE UNDER THE LAW"
IN ORDER TO FULFIL HIS PROMISE TO ABRAHAM

and consequently, god paid the ransom, as it were, to himself, according to his own vow. ® ALMIGHTY GOD DOES NOT OWE ANYONE ANYTHING
AND HE CERTAINLY DOES NOT OWE US SALVATION ! JESUS CHRIST FULFILLED THE LAW as an Infant BY BEING CIRCUMCISED on the eighth day and He was PRESENTED IN THE TEMPLE 40 DAYS AFTER HIS BIRTH.

THE MOTHER” ARE PERFORMED TO THIS DAY IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH. After these special Services, THE HOLY SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM AND CHRISMATION IS CELEBRATED A FEW MONTHS LATER. OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST - THE SON OF GOD IS GOD – DIVINE - BY NATURE. WE BECOME SONS (OR DAUGHTERS) OF GOD BY ADOPTION WHEN WE ARE BAPTISED IN THE NAME OF THE TRIUNE GOD – THE HOLY TRINITY. WE CANNOT BECOME MEMBERS OF THE GODHEAD BY NATURE because WE ARE HUMAN BY NATURE. But we do BECOME MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY BY HIS GRACE.

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® Through our Divine Adoption (Holy Baptism and Chrismation) WE BECOME EVERYTHING GOD IS,
EXCEPT IN NATURE – WE REMAIN HUMAN BEINGS.

However, THIS IS NOT AUTOMATICALLY OUR PERMANENT
I.E. THINGS OF THE FLESH, THE PASSIONS]

Both of these Events are remembered in the Liturgical Cycle of the Orthodox Church.

STATE DUE TO OF OUR DESIRE FOR WORLDLY THINGS [ – and that CONCUPISCENCE PREVENTS US FROM ATTAINING THEOSIS.

28

THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD & SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST - 25 DECEMBER 2010

IT TAKES DEDICATION AND EFFORT ON OUR PART TO ATTAIN SPIRITUAL PERFECTION – THEOSIS!

® We have the possibility through the Grace of God, but IT DEPENDS ON OUR LOVE AND OBEDIENCE TO ALMIGHTY GOD AND HIS COMMANDMENTS. ® Because WE ARE GIVEN "NEW LIFE" our Adoption by God is also referred to as "New Birth" – WE ARE
SPIRITUALLY BORN AGAIN – RENEWED IN CHRIST! ® EVERY TIME WE PARTAKE OF THE HOLY SACRAMENTS OF REPENTANCE CONFESSION AND EUCHARIST, WE ENJOY A REAFFIRMATION OF OUR ADOPTION

AND THEREFORE OUR NEW LIFE IN OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST. ® THE ONGOING GROWTH INTO ADOPTION, BEING "AN HEIR OF GOD," IS CALLED DEIFICATION. This means that WE ARE BECOMING BY THE GRACE OF GOD WHAT HE IS BY NATURE. V EACH DIVINE PERSON OF THE HOLY TRINITY: "SPIRIT, SON AND FATHER" IS INVOLVED IN THIS PROCESS OF TRANSFORMATION. Therefore TO BECOME SONS OF GOD BY GRACE, ONE MUST BELIEVE IN AND KNOW THE FATHER, THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT.

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 2 : 1 - 12
(St Caspar, St Melchior, and St Balthazar) the Gentile Magi Journeyed From Afar To Worship The Christ Child

At that time, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the King, behold, Wise Men from the East came to Jerusalem, enquiring: "Where is He Who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His Star in the East and have come to worship Him." When Herod the King heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the Chief Priests and Scribes of the people together, he questioned them as to where the Christ was to be born. So they told him: "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the Prophet: ‘But you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’" Then Herod, when he had secretly called the Wise Men, determined from them what time the Star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem saying: "Go and search carefully for the young Child, and when you have found Him, bring back word to me, so that I may go and worship Him also." When they had heard the King, they departed. And behold! The Star that they had seen in the East went before them, until it stood over where the young Child was. And when they saw the Star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great Joy. And when they had entered the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His Mother, and fell down and worshipped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Then, being Divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. ST MATTHEW AND ST LUKE PLACED THE NATIVITY OF the Voice of the Lord our God, nor let us see CHRIST IN THE REIGN OF KING HEROD THE GREAT this Great Fire any more, lest we die.’ Then WHO WAS THE KING OF JUDEA 37 – 4 BC. the Lord said to me: ‘What they have spoken Herod was under Roman rule and although he was a is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet great builder, he was a dreadfully cruel ruler. like you from among their Brethren, and I Due to his ignorance of the Messiah - and indeed of will put My Word in His Mouth, and He shall anything concerning God - as well as his obsessive speak to them all I command Him...’” fear of being deposed, Herod summoned the It was first necessary for THE HEBREWS to be tested so as Hebrew leaders to enlighten him, and later to fear the Lord and not to sin, for they WERE TOO instructed the Magi to report back to him. SPIRITUALLY IMPERCEPTIVE TO HEAR ABOUT ANOTHER V An ancient Prophecy of St Jacob indicated that THE PROPHET.
MESSIAH WOULD APPEAR WHEN A GENTILE KING RULED – i.e. not of the Hebrew Tribe of Judah. G e n e s i s 4 9 : 1 0 – “The Sceptre shall not depart

Consequently, THEY FAILED THE TEST AND DIED IN THE
DESERT BECAUSE THEY REFUSED TO OBEY MOSES. FORTY YEARS LATER HE SPOKE TO THEM CONCERNING THE GREAT PROPHET TO COME, USING THE WORDS OF GOD FROM THEIR MEETING ON MOUNT SINAI. THE NEW GENERATION WAS READY TO HEAR THE PROPHECY

from Judah, nor a Lawgiver from his loins, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the Expectation of the Nations...” ® This Prophecy relates to Christ is numerous ways since HE WOULD RISE FROM THE DEAD AND HE
IS THE DIVINE LAWGIVER BECAUSE EVERY LAW OR COMMANDMENT OF GOD THE FATHER WHICH HAS BEEN GIVEN TO US, INCLUDING THE MOSAIC LAW, IS GIVEN IN AND THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. ® As HEROD WAS A GENTILE who called himself “King

and learnt that He would be similar to St Moses,
BECAUSE THE SHORT-TERM PROPHECIES OF MOSES HAD ALL OCCURRED, HIS LONG-TERM PROPHECIES THEREFORE WERE TO BE BELIEVED. ® THIS WAS THE MARK OF A TRUE PROPHET OF GOD and the same would apply to THE GREAT PROPHET WHO WOULD TELL THEM ALL THAT GOD THE FATHER COMMANDED HIM. (BY THE WILL OF THE FATHER, THROUGH THE
SON...)

of Judea,” the Coming of the Messiah – God’s Christ – was certainly at hand. L u k e 1 : 2 0 - The Angel of God told St Zacharias: “Behold! You will be mute and unable to speak until the day these Things take place, because you did not believe my words which shall be fulfilled in their own time.” ® ST ZACHARIAS WAS DISCIPLINED FOR HIS LACK OF FAITH, yet this also served as proof that
ARCHANGEL GABRIEL’S ANNOUNCEMENTS ARE ALWAYS TRUE – GOD’S TRUTH. ® Furthermore THE SILENCING OF THE HIGH PRIEST REVEALED A DEEPER MYSTERY. V THE MESSIAH WAS expected to fulfil three crucial

® That indicated that HE IS THE WORD OF GOD MADE
FLESH – INCARNATE, FOR NO OTHER PROPHET, INCLUDING MOSES, WOULD EVER SPEAK IN SUCH A MANNER.

® While all previous Prophets were ordinary human beings, THE GREAT PROPHET WOULD BE GOD
INCARNATE.

® So it was that St Isaiah foretold how THE PEOPLE
WOULD BE TAUGHT DIRECTLY BY GOD HIMSELF.

§

JESUS CHRIST IS OUR TRUE KING I s a i a h 9 : 6 – “Great shall be His Government, and

roles held by various people of the Old Covenant: PROPHET, PRIEST AND KING. Only our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled all three Holy Offices perfectly:

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CHRIST JESUS IS THE TRUE PROPHET D e u t e r o n o m y 1 8 : 1 5 – 1 8 – “The Lord your God

will raise up for you a Prophet like Me from your Brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you asked from the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the Assembly, saying: ‘Let us not hear again

of His Peace there shall be no end. His Peace shall be upon the Throne of David and over His Kingdom, to order and establish It with Righteousness and Judgement, from that time forward, and unto Ages of Ages. The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall perform this.” M i c a h 5 : 1 “ . . . O Bethlehem, House of Ephrathah, although you are fewest in number among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler of Israel, Whose goings forth were from the beginning, even from Eternity.”

THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD & SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST –25 DECEMBER 2010

29

§

JESUS CHRIST IS OUR TRUE HIGH PRIEST P s a l m 1 0 9 : 4 - “The Lord swore, and will not

repent: Thou art a Priest forever according to the Order of Melchizidek.” ® Seated at the Right Hand of God the Father, OUR
DIVINE AND ETERNAL HIGH PRIEST RULES AND REIGNS OVER ALL THINGS, INCLUDING HIS ENEMIES, AND LEADS HIS HOLY CHURCH IN HEAVENLY WORSHIP OF THE ALMIGHTY HOLY TRINITY. H e b r e w s 4 : 1 4 “Seeing then that we have a Great

High Priest Who has passed through the Heavens – Jesus the Son of God – let us hold fast our Confession.” ® The expression “passed through the Heavens” refers to THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD JESUS
CHRIST, WHICH IS SEEN IN THE CONTEXT OF THE SON OF GOD IS SEATED AT THE HIGHEST PLACE OF HONOUR – EQUALLY DIVINE - AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD THE FATHER. OUR ALMIGHTY LORD AND CREATOR HAS ACCOMPLISHED HIS DIVINE WORK ON EARTH AND HAS ENTERED INTO HIS SABBATH REST.

P s a l m 1 0 9 : 3 – “... with Thee is the beginning in the Day of Thy Power, in the brightness of Thy Saints; I have Begotten Thee from the Womb before the morning star...” ® Psalm 109 is a Prophecy concerning the Melchizedek Priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ, which explains the True Meaning of the Nativity. ® Christ is the “Son of David” according to the flesh, and also the Lord of King David according to His Divinity. P s a l m 1 8 : 2 – “The Heavens declare the Glory of God; the firmament shows the Creation of His Hands...” ® Psalm 18 reveals God the Word – “the End” – becoming Man in the Womb of the Most Holy Mother of God. For on His Nativity, ALL CREATION
BORE WITNESS TO THE GLORY OF GOD REVEALED IN HIS INCARNATION.

® In His Birth from the Womb of the Blessed Virgin,
CHRIST WAS LIKENED TO THE SUN RISING FROM THE EAST, TO A BRIDEGROOM COMING FROM HIS CHAMBER, AND TO A STRONG ATHLETE READY TO RUN A GREAT RACE, BRINGING SALVATION OF THE WORLD.

®

L u k e 8 : 1 5 - God reveals His Truth to those “... who, having heard the Word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear Fruit with Patience.” ® Christ warned us against believing for a short while and then returning to our sinful, ungodly ways. ® HAVING BEEN TAUGHT GOD’S TRUTH, WHICH WE THEN REJECT, WE CONDEMN OURSELVES for we cannot plead “ignorance!”
THE CHIEF PRIESTS OF THE TEMPLE IN JERUSALEM WERE THE POLITICAL AND RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF THE HEBREWS, including the High Priest, who alone could enter the Holiest Place of all YET THEY HAD NO IDEA THAT THE MESSIAH HAD ALREADY BEEN BORN
(HEBREWS 9:7)

P s a l m 1 4 8 : 3 “Praise the Lord from the Heavens; praise Him in the Highest; praise Him, all you His Angels; praise Him, all your His Hosts; Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him all you stars and Light...” ® Psalms 148 – 150 are THE PRAISES – LAUDS – which form the conclusion to the Psalter, and which
EXHORT ALL CREATION TO PRAISE THE MOST BLESSED HOLY TRINITY. ® The climax of the Psalter is when ALL HUMANITY AND CREATION – EVERYWHERE AND IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES – ARE CALLED UPON TO MAKE THIS DOXOLOGY TO GOD THE FATHER, AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT – OUR ONE, TRUE AND LIVING GOD ALMIGHTY. ® THE NATIVITY STAR WAS A SIGN OF THE MESSIAH HIMSELF, signifying THE LIGHT HE WAS TO SHED UPON THE WHOLE WORLD, THROUGHOUT TIME.

THE SCRIBES - important officials - KNEW THAT THE MESSIAH WAS TO BE BORN AND WHERE HE WOULD BE BORN, HOWEVER, THEY HAD NO DIVINE REVELATION THAT HE HAD ALREADY ARRIVED.

St Matthew, who wrote for Jewish Christians, cited the Gentile Magi as the first worshippers of our Lord Jesus Christ. St Luke, who wrote for Gentile Christians, cited the Jewish poor – the Righteous Shepherds from surrounding fields - as the first worshippers. (LUKE 2:817)

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OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST’S DIVINE MISSION TO THE GENTILES WAS ANTICIPATED BY THE "WISE MEN" OR MAGI, who journeyed all the way "from the

2 K i n g s 2 2 – The water of Jericho was unusable until Elisha quoted God Who said: "’... I have healed these waters; from them there shall no longer be death or barrenness...’ So the water was healed by the word Elisha spoke, and so it remains to this day.” Just as our Lord God healed the waters of Jericho, so THE
INCARNATE SON OF GOD BRINGS RENEWAL OR REGENERATION TO ALL DAMAGED CREATION. J e r e m i a h 3 6 : 1 0 “... thus said the Lord: “When 70

East" – outside elsewhere.

Israel,

from

Persia

and

® THEY WERE ERUDITE SCHOLARS of the time and in the Old Testament, BALAAM WAS ONE OF THEIR
GENTILE PREDECESSORS WHO ALSO ANTICIPATED THE MESSIAH. ( READ NUMBERS 23; 24] ® THE WORSHIP OF THE LORD BY THE MAGI IS SYMBOLIC OF THE CHURCH, THE TRUE ISRAEL, whereby MEMBERSHIP IS DETERMINED BY FAITH AND NOT BY ETHNIC LINEAGE. N u m b e r s 2 4 : 1 7 Barlaam prophesied: “I will show

years are about to be fulfilled in Babylon, I will visit you and confirm My Words to you, to return your people to this place.” ® St Jeremiah spoke historically for there was A RETURN OF EXILES under Cyrus after 70 years, and ® Mystically for CHRIST CHOSE 70 MEN AS HERALDS OF HIS HOLY GOSPEL. They lived A GODLY LIFE OF OBEDIENCE TO CHRIST, SUFFERED MARTYRDOM
AND SPREAD THE KINGDOM OF GOD, WHICH IS OUR TRUE RETURN FROM SPIRITUAL EXILE IN THE FALLEN WORLD. J e r e m i a h 3 6 : 1 4 : “I will appear to you...” is a

Him, but not now; I Bless Him, but He is not near. A Star shall rise out of Jacob; And a Man shall rise out of Israel. He shall break in pieces the rulers of Moab and plunder all the sons of Seth.” ® THE
"STAR" SIGNIFIED THE EXTRAORDINARY IMPORTANCE OF THE BIRTH OF THE CHRIST CHILD. In ancient times an unusually bright star

Prophecy of the Incarnation of God the Son when
GOD APPEARED TO US FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HIS FLESH – IN HIS HUMAN, VISIBLE NATURE.

® The Hebrew Shepherds were the first to worship and adore Christ, having done so shortly after His Birth, at the dark cave as OUR SAVIOUR WAS SENT
INITIALLY FOR “OLD COVENANT ISRAEL.”

signified a God or a Deified King. ® CHRIST IS THE STAR AND THE MAN WHO ROSE FROM THE DEAD – “...out of Jacob...” and “... out of Israel.” ® THE MAGI KNEW THIS PROPHESY, and when they saw His Star, they faithfully followed it all the way to Him. ® BEING BORN UNDER THIS WONDROUS STAR fulfilled the prophecy of the Psalms and SHOWS ALL
CREATION PARTICIPATING INCARNATION of the Son of God. IN THE

® The Magi - the “First Fruits of the Gentiles” arrived in Bethlehem much later, after the Holy Family had moved into a house, as GENTILES
WORSHIPPED GOD AS “THE NEW COVENANT ISRAEL.” THE MAGI HONOURED CHRIST OUR GREATEST AND ONLY KING WITH SIGNIFICANT AND COSTLY GIFTS:

“Gold is for the King of Ages. Frankincense is for the God of All. Myrrh is offered to the Immortal One Who shall be three days dead.” (COMPLINE HYMN OF
THE NATIVITY OF CHRIST)

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THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD & SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST - 25 DECEMBER 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

Sunday After Nativity - Tone (6) Plagal 2

24 December 2010

The Second Day of the Nativity - Synaxis of the Ever Blessed, All Pure Virgin Theotokos

Feast of St Joseph the Betrothed. St David the Psalmist & King & St James the Just/Adelphotheos (Brother of our Lord) – St Euthymios, Hieromartyr of Sardis – St Constantine of Synada – St Evarestos of Studion Monastery – St Nikodemos of Tishmana, Macedonia – St Constantine the Russian Hieromartyr of Lavra Monastery, Mount Athos – Holy Icon of the Ever Blessed Theotokos of Vilna – Holy Icon of the Ever Blessed Theotokos of the Three Joys – Holy Icon of the Ever Blessed Theotokos, the Blessed Womb – St Isaac ΙΙ Hieromartyr of Optina
Isodikon Of The Nativity

Ek Gastros pro eosforou Egennisa Se.
ou metamelithisete. taxin Melihisedek.

Omose Kyrios ke Si Ierefs is ton eona, kata tin

Out

of the Womb, before the Morning Star have I Begotten Thee: the Lord has sworn and will not repent: Thou art a Priest forever, after the Order of Melchizidek.

Soson Angelike

imas, Ie Theou, O ek Parthenou tehthis, psallontas Si Allilouia!

Save us, O Son of God, Born of the Virgin, who
sing to Thee: Alleluia!

Resurrection Apolytikion – Tone (6) Plagal 2

Angelic Powers were in Thy Sepulchre, and the guards became as dead men, and Mary stood by the Tomb seeking Thy Most Pure Body. Thou led Hades captive, yet were not tempted thereby: Thou Who art the Bestower of Life came to meet the Woman. Glory to Thee, O Lord, Who Rose again from the dead! K o n t a k i o n O f T h e E v e r B l e s s e d T h e o t o k o s - Of The Nativity Of Christ

Dinamis epi to Mnima Sou ke i filassontes apenekrothisan. Ke istato Maria en to tafo, zitousa to ahranton Sou Soma. Eskilefsas ton Adin, mi pirasthis ip aftou. Ipintisas ti Partheno, Doroumenos tin Zoin. O Anastas ek to nekron, Kyrie, Doxa Si.

The

I

Parthenos simeron, ton Iperousion tikti, ke i gi to spyleon to aprito prosagi. Angeli meta Pimenon doxologousi, Magi de meta asteros odiporousi, di’ imas gar egenniti, Pedion neon, o pro aionon Theos.
O UR RI SE N HI S

Today the

Virgin gives Birth to Him Who is above all being, and the earth offers a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with Shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a Star. For unto us is Born a young Child: the Pre-Eternal God.
HI S A UTHORI T Y TO FO RGI VE SI N S U PON

Resurrection Gospel 9 : John 20 : 19 - 31

LORD

BESTOW S

A POSTLE S

Prokeimenon God is Marvellous in His Saints! Bless the Lord in the Congregation! The Epistle of St Paul to the Galatians 1 : 11 - 19
God’s Calling & Divine Revelation – Christ’s Personal Calling and Enlightenment

Brethren: I make known to you that the Gospel, which was preached by me, is not according to mankind, for I neither received It from man, nor was I taught It, for It came through the Revelation of Jesus Christ. And you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism – how I persecuted the Church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy It. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own Nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my Fathers. But, when it pleased God, Who separated me from my mother’s womb and Called me through His Grace, to reveal His Son in me, so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other Apostles, except James, the Lord’s Brother...

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THE TRUE HOLY GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS TAUGHT BY HIS TRUE HOLY APOSTLES although many others

declare themselves to be Apostles. ® TRUE HOLY APOSTLES OF CHRIST ARE CALLED BY GOD HIMSELF. ® TRUE HOLY APOSTLES LEARN GOD’S HOLY GOSPEL BY DIVINE REVELATION – either directly from our Risen Lord Jesus Christ, just like His original Apostles had been taught – or by the Revelation of Apostolic Tradition. 2 T i m o t h y 2 : 2 “... the Things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to Faithful men who will be able to teach others also...”

> St Paul established A CLEAR CHAIN OF HOLY WITNESSES TO ORAL TRADITION – God’s Absolute Truth, which is verbally and correctly taught to others.

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CHRISTIAN HOLY TRADITION IS JOYFULLY AND COMPLETELY ACCEPTED BY THOSE WHO TRULY BELIEVE since it is a Catholic – Universal – Divine

Truth, which is an exclusive, essential and vital aspect of the whole Church of Christ, and which needs TO BE CORRECTLY TAUGHT TO OTHERS UNHINDERED OR UNCHANGED. This is in complete contrast to the elitism of major religions of the first century Roman world and, sadly, in many cases of the heretical man-made pseudo-

2ND DAY OF NATIVITY FEAST – SYNAX IS OF THE EVER BLESSED ALL HOLY VIRGIN THEOTOKOS – 26 DECEMBER 2010

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Christian churches of these modern, self-centred and self-indulgent days.

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FAITHFUL MINISTRY OF CHRIST’S HOLY GOSPEL REQUIRES HUMBLE DISCIPLINE: OBEDIENCE, SELF-DENIAL AND STRUGGLE. ® TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST ARE CALLED BY DIVINE GRACE, not according to their works or a so-

On IN CHRIST can we begin to know God the Father, for only IN CHRIST is the Way to all Divine Truth and all Life – both earthly and Eternal. The persecution of individual Christians or the Holy Church in general is a persecution of Christ or God Himself because they cannot be separated.
GOADS ARE SPIKES THAT WERE USED TO PROD FARM ANIMALS INTO ACTION SO THE TERM IS USED AS A METAPHOR FOR THE DIVINE WISDOM OR PROMPTINGS (‘POINTED STICKS’) OF GOD. In this context CHRIST USED THE METAPHOR TO EXPRESS THE FUTILITY OF ST PAUL TRYING TO FIGHT AGAINST DIVINE TRUTH. E c c l e s i a s t e s 1 2 : 1 1 – “The words of the wise are

called “proper” background – (and sometimes despite their own plans or priorities!) ® TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST ALWAYS BRING GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO GOD ALONE – not to satisfy their own desires and egos, or for any other purpose. ® TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST FORM ONE CHURCH
GOVERNMENT

® TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST

MAINTAIN THE SAME DOCTRINE (TRUE TEACHING OF CHRIST) ® TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST WORK HARMONIOUSLY AND OBEDIENTLY ACCORDING TO THE AGREEMENTS OF THE HOLY SYNOD – THE COUNCIL OF THE HOLY CHURCH OF CHRIST. (i.e. the Holy Church maintains and obeys the unanimous decisions and confirmation of the Holy Synod, according to Divine Inspiration and Will alone.) ® TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST STAND FIRM – ARE UNCOMPROMISING IN MATTERS CONCERNING CONSCIENCE BUT ARE HUMBLY CORRECTED WHEN MISTAKEN OR DECEIVED.

like pointed sticks (goads), like nails firmly fastened; they are given from the collections and abound from them by one Shepherd.” M a t t h e w 2 5 : 4 0 – Christ warned us that at the Final Judgement “... the King will answer and say to them: ‘Truly, I say to you: inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these – My Brethren – you did it to Me!’” Our Lord’s Teaching TO SEE HIM IN EVERYONE ELSE IS
THE FULFILMENT OF HIS GREAT COMMANDMENT TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBOURS AS MUCH AS WE KLOVE OURSELVES BUT ESPECIALLY AS MUCH AS GOD LOVES US.

By Divine Grace, True Apostles recognise God’s Truth rather than man’s flawed opinion or concept, but might be deceived or misled, and for that reason alone, everyone must have a Spiritual Father for Guidance and correction or redirection. Furthermore, True Apostles accept correction from others if it justified and truthful just as when St Paul rebuked St Peter for his hypocritical ethnic elitism. Apostolic Tradition is grounded in the direct, personal Divine Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God.

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JUST AS CHRIST CALLED HIS TWELVE APOSTLES, HE ALSO LATER CALLED ST PAUL. JUST AS THE ORIGINAL TWELVE APOSTLES RECEIVED THE HOLY GOSPEL DIRECTLY FROM OUR LORD, SO DID ST PAUL.

Acts 9: 3 – 6 – “As (St Paul) journeyed he came near to Damascus when suddenly a Light shone around him from Heaven. And he fell to the ground, hearing a Voice saying to him: ‘Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said: ‘Who art Thou, Lord?’ And the Lord said: ‘I Am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. It is difficult for you to kick against the goads.’ So he, trembling and astonished, said: ‘Lord, what dost Thou want me to do?’ And the Lord said to him: ‘Arise, and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’” Saul had persecuted Christians under the legal structure of Judaism and as such he was charged to arrest Jewish Christians, but HE HAD NO AUTHORITY OVER
GENTILE CHRISTIANS. CHRISTIANITY BECAME KNOWN AS “THE WAY,” ACCORDING TO CHRIST’S REVELATION THAT HE IS THE WAY AND THE FACT THAT BY FOLLOWING OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST we do not commit ourselves to

a momentary, brief decision or the mere observance of outward religious practises but to a whole Way of Life – WE COMMIT TO A LIFE IN CHRIST! J o h n 1 4 : 6 – Our Lord told St Peter: “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.” The Way we reach God the Father is forever established in the Person and Work of God the Son Who is the Truth because He is the unique Revelation of God the Father. Christ our Lord is the Life Who became Man so that we might regain Life, and as He is our Life, not even death can prevent us from going to Him.

E p h e s i a n s 5 : 2 3 – 3 0 – “...the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is Head of the Church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands Love your wives, just as Christ also Loves the Church and gave Himself for Her, so that He might Sanctify and Cleanse Her with the Washing of Water by the Word, that He might present Her to Himself, a Glorious Church, not having spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, but that she should be Holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to Love their own wives as their own bodies; he who Loves his wife Loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the Church, for we are Members of His Body, of His Flesh and of His Bones.” The analogy of Christ as the Bridegroom and His Holy Church as the Pure Bride, and the Divine Mystery of Holy Matrimony, helps us to understand the great Mystery of His Holy Church Christ alone is the Divine Head and Leader of the Church, and, as Man, He is first among equals, but far superior to us humans in Nature. We are the Holy Church of Christ – His Sanctified Bride who must submit to His Sacrificial Leadership. In ancient Israel, the Bride would be bathed, dressed and escorted to the Bridegroom by his friends, in the Church Holy Baptism is that bathing and dressing – we “put on Christ” – and Christ Himself escorts us to the Festal Banquet. In Orthodoxy Baptised Christians are one humanity and one flesh IN CHRIST. Acts 26 : 13 – 18 (also acts 9:1 – 8; 22: 1 – 21) The various accounts of St Paul’s Calling reveals that AS LONG AS WE ONLY SEE THINGS FROM OUR
OWN PERSPECTIVE, WE REMAIN SPIRITUALLY BLIND AND STUBBORNLY IGNORANT.

Thus St Paul was temporarily rendered physically blind until he truly saw Christ in all His Glory and Truth and submitted to Holy Baptism – “put on Christ” and began to LIVE IN CHRIST.

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 2 : 13 – 23
Flight Into Egypt & the Slaughter of the Innocents

At that time, when the Magi had departed, behold! An Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying: “Arise, take the young Child and His Mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child, to destroy Him.”

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2ND DAY OF NATIVITY FEAST – SYNAXIS OF THE EVER BLESSED ALL HOLY VIRGIN THEOTOKOS – 26 DECEMBER 2010

When Joseph arose, he took the young Child and His Mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the Prophet, saying: “Out of Egypt, I called My son.” Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the Wise Men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time that he had determined from what was spoken by Jeremiah the Prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping and great mourning - Rachel weeping for her Children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Now, when Herod was dead, behold! An Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying: “Arise, take the young Child and His Mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s Life are dead.” Then he arose, took the young Child and His Mother, and went into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father, Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the Prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” Egypt is where the Nation of Israel had once taken The Holy Innocents are regarded as dear little Saints and refuge and just like the Old Covenant St Joseph had Holy Martyrs of the Church of Christ. saved God’s people by sheltering them in Egypt, so J e r e m i a h 3 8 : 1 6 - 1 7 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let your did St Joseph the Betrothed save the Christ Child voice cease from its bitter weeping and and His Mother from harm. your eyes from tears, for there is a Reward It is probable that some of the valuable gifts bestowed for your Works, and they shall return from on our Lord’s family financed the long journey and the land of their enemies. There shall be an kept them going until their return to the land of abiding Home for your Children.’” Israel. Just as St Rachel had been told that her Children would St James, (the eldest son of St Joseph the Betrothed and return from exile in Babylon, so our Lord Jesus his late wife, Salome,) accompanied his elderly would return from His temporary exile in Egypt. father and young cousins to Egypt and he would According to historical records, Herod “the Great,” died have sought employment to assist with their daily in 4 BC. Therefore THE DATE OF OUR LORD’S NATIVITY ON WHICH THE CURRENT CALENDAR IS expenses. BASED IS SHORT OF FOUR YEARS. Several Holy Icons depict St James carrying the Christ Augustus Caesar banished Herod’s son, Archelaus, for Child upon his shoulders or leading a donkey upon his abominable cruelty in the 6th Year of our Lord, which the Ever Blessed Theotokos and Her Son rode, which was revealed to St Joseph the Betrothed by while St Joseph the Betrothed walked alongside. the Angel of God so that the Holy Family went to “Out of Egypt I Called My Son...” is a reference to the Nazareth, a small town in Galilee, governed by Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. another son of Herod the Great – Herod Antipas. H o s e a 1 : 1 “The Word of the Lord that came to L u k e 3 : 1 “... in the fifteenth year of the reign of Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being Governor Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezehiak, Kings of Judea, Herod being Tetrarch of Galilee, his of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, son brother, Philip, Tetrarch of Iturea and the of Joash, King of Israel.” reagion of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the St Theophan explained: “The Word came to Hosea as a Tetrarch of Abilene...” Teacher of God, softly speaking to the disobedient Herod ruled Judea from 37 – 4 BC and although he was and making them return through what he said and a great builder, he was a cruel and paranoid ruler. did.” St Luke mentioned Herod to pinpoint the historical date In the Old Testament the term “son” often referred to of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. the entire Nation of Israel – God’s Chosen. An ancient Prophecy of St Jacob the Patriarch indicated In this particular context, it is a reference to the Christ that the Messiah would come when a King ruled who Child and His Holy Family, thereby fulfilling this was not from the Tribe of Judah and as Herod was Divine Calling as the True Son of God Who went indeed a Gentile who called himself “King of Judea,” from Egypt – the land of exile – to the land of Israel – the Coming of Christ – the Messiah – was definitely at the Promised Land. hand. NOW,ACCORDING TO OUR NEW COVENANT WITH GOD, CHRISTIANS ARE THE NEW ISRAEL WHO HAVE LEFT The Prophecy “He shall be called a Nazarene...” has SPIRITUAL EXILE (EGYPT) – AND HAVE ENTERED THE not been exactly identified but it has been taken as a NEW PROMISED LAND OF THE ETERNAL KINGDOM OF reference to “the Rod,” (“Neser”) mentioned in GOD. I s a i a h 1 1 : 1 – “There shall come forth a Rod from The cruelty of Herod was prefigured by Pharaoh who, in the Root of Jesse, and a Flower shall grow an attempt to destroy the power and strength of out of his Root.” Israel, demanded the indiscriminate and merciless And to “the Nazarite” (“Nazir”) mentioned in murder of all new born sons of the Hebrew nation. J u d g e s 1 3 : 5 – “... Behold! Thou art pregnant and E x o d u s 1 : 1 6 & 2 2 : “... he said: ‘When you do the shall bear a Son, and no razor shall come duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women ... if upon His Head, for the Child shall be a it is a male, then you shall kill him; but if a Nazirite to God from the Womb; and He female, let her live...’ So Pharaoh commanded shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand all his people, saying: ‘Every male born to the of the Philistines.” Hebrews you shall cast into the river, but every Samson had been “...a Nazirite unto God from the female you shall save alive.’” womb...” as had been St Samuel, the Holy Prophet When the people of Jerusalem were led away to exile, of God and St John the Baptist. they passed through Ramah, nearby Bethlehem, 1 K i n g d o m s / 1 S a m u e l 1 : 1 1 – St Hannah “... prayed where St Rachel, wife of St Jacob, was buried. a Vow to the Lord God and said: ‘O Lord, In his Prophecy, St Jeremiah saw St Rachel, even from my God of Sabaoth, if Thou art looking, the grave, moved with deep compassion for the look with favour upon the lowly state of terrible fate of her descendents. Thy handmaiden and remember me. I pray Once again, at the Slaughter of the Holy Innocents, St Thee, grant Thy handmaiden a seed of men, Rachel wept for her Children, which shows that all a son, and I will dedicate him before Thee the Saints reposing in Paradise are aware of and as a Gift until the day of his death. He will have compassion for those still alive. They continue not drink wine, nor intoxicating drink, and to pray for us and intercede on our behalf with God. no razor shall come upon his head.’” For that reason, we beseech their intercessory The expression “lowly state” is the same phrase that our Prayers and Spiritual Guidance. Ever Blessed Lady, the All Pure Virgin Mary prayed.

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L u k e 1 : 4 8 : “... He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant...” The Ever Blessed Virgin Mary shows her deep and sincere Humility and Knowledge that God is the Source of all Divine Grace, and through the Incarnation, God reigns over all Creation. St Hannah’s Sacred Vow to God was that her child would fulfil the Nazirite Vow, which was a type of ancient Ascetic Vow found initially in the Book of Numbers, chapter 6. In each case, as recorded in Holy Scripture, this Sacred Vow is prescribed before the birth of a unique child such as St Samson, St Samuel and probably St John the Baptist. L u k e 1 : 1 3 – 1 5 – “... the Angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your Prayer is heard; and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear Today we hear of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt and their return to Nazareth. There are two Prophecies that parallel this Holy Gospel. The first is recalled by St Matthew who quoted St Hosea, the Holy Prophet of God: “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.” (HOSEA 11:1) The second is a Prophesy of St Isaiah: “Behold, the Lord rides upon a Light Cloud, and shall come into Egypt; and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His Presence.” (ISAIAH 19:1) There were numerous reasons for that flight into Egypt, the most obvious of which was to preserve the Life of the very young Jesus Christ, Who was almost two years of age by then. The wicked Tetrarch Ruler, “King” Herod was motivated by jealousy and his own obsessive fear of losing his position and power over Judea, especially when hearing from the Magi of such a great King being born. Not understanding anything regarding the Coming of the Messiah, Herod was determined to prevent this new King from gaining any power, so he ordered the murder of all male children who were two years of age and younger in Bethlehem and the surrounding the region. In the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt, we are reminded of another flight into Egypt when the Old Testament Joseph’s brothers resolved to kill him, also motivated by jealousy and a fear of their birth right being usurped due to their father, Jacob’s great love for his young son, Joseph. When a caravan of traders arrived at the oasis where they had all rested, the jealous brothers were persuaded to sell Joseph as a slave. As a result, Egypt became a refuge for Joseph and later the whole house of Israel (Jacob). St Nikolaj Velimirovic pointed out that this journey into Egypt is demonstrative of Christ coming for the Salvation of all mankind. He explained that the Magi initially sought Christ due to their astrological idol worship since they searched for Him as a source of Immortality and Truth. However, Christ reveals to them that the Path of Salvation, for the Immortal soul and the Truth, is through suffering. As a result of the cruel decree of Pharaoh so many centuries before, the baby Moses was saved by being drawn out of the reeds where his sister had hidden him and adopted by the Egyptian Princess. The Slaughter of the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem is another reminder of the ancient Israelites being led off into exile in Babylon as recounted in the Book of Jeremiah and as they passed the tomb of Rachel, she wept for them. That terrible slaughter of the Holy Innocents by Herod is very significant for us today since so many innocent babies are mercilessly murdered by abortion! We must be aware and speak openly about this appalling sin because this does not concern politics but it concerns the Teaching of Christ and His Holy Church and our immortal souls.

you a son, and you shall call his name, John. And you will have Joy and Gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the Sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.’” St Matthew may also have been alluding to certain passages in which the Messiah was despised, since the town of Nazareth did not have a good reputation at all. J o h n 1 : 4 6 – “... Nathanael said to (St Philip): ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Sunday After the Nativity of Christ – Flight into Exile & Return to Nazareth
Abortion is the most barbaric and hideous murder of tiny, blameless, unborn souls who feel everything inflicted upon them regardless of the lies used to justify such evil. As Disciples of our Loving God we must reject and hate this devastating merciless torture of the Holy Innocents of our day! We must love all sinners and embrace them with love and compassion especially those who have undergone abortion - and even those who have performed abortion, for once they realize the gravity and consequences of their sin, they are able to repent and regain Divine Grace. We must be extremely sensitive to such people for we never know the full extent of their desperation or what motivated them to kill the little ones. We must help them to realize that no matter how grave our sins, God always loves us just as He Loved the repentant murderers - St Moses and St David. Our Lord patiently and expectantly waits for us to “regain our senses” by seeking His Forgiveness through our sincere repentance. We must continue to Love those who are not ready to repent although it certainly does not mean that we approve of or overlook their behaviour. On this point we must forever remain perfectly clear. We all have a most Sacred Duty to provide a healthy, compassionate and supportive environment that encourages the nurturing and welfare of all conceptions, regardless of circumstances. Here again, we must always be extremely sensitive. No child has ever been conceived without the Will of God and each baby has a specific purpose in this life of ours that only God fully understands. God’s Love of repentant sinners is completely beyond our limited human perception and Christ has warned us so many times NEVER to judge any of our fellow sinners because our own sins might outweigh those to whom we point such accusing fingers! By providing an environment that supports unwed mothers or unwanted pregnancies, we must be ready and willing to assist in various ways, such as locating suitable adoption or foster care services if necessary. Support is essential for mothers who chooses to keep their babies and no Christian should be scandalised or have a negative attitude towards these mothers. As Disciples of Christ we must deal with such situations in the same manner as our Loving Lord and Saviour – with kindness, compassion and unconditional Love! This is a very complex topic for each situation is unique and every circumstance needs to be dealt with a prayerful and God-sensitive heart. If any of us should face such a situation, we must consult our Priests – our Spiritual Fathers - for advice and assistance, no matter how embarrassed we might be. The most essential aspect concerning a troubled pregnancy is to always keep in mind – NEVER FORGET - that WE MUST DO THOSE ALL THINGS THAT
DEMONSTRATE GOD’S LOVE AND WHICH ARE SUPPORTIVE OF SACRED, GOD-GIVEN LIFE!
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: BY FR. MILAN MEDAKOVIC – 2009 http://www.saintgregorypalamas.com/2010/02/sunday-after-nativity.html

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2ND DAY OF NATIVITY FEAST – SYNAXIS OF THE EVER BLESSED ALL HOLY VIRGIN THEOTOKOS – 26 DECEMBER 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

24 December 2010
2nd Day of the Nativity - Sunday Before Theophany Tone (6) Plagal 2 Second Day of the Nativity – Flight to Egypt & the Slaughter of the Holy Innocents Synaxis of the Ever Blessed, All Pure Virgin Theotokos

Feast of St Joseph the Betrothed. St David the Psalmist & King & St James the Just/Adelphotheos (Brother of our Lord) – St Euthymios, Hieromartyr of Sardis – St Constantine of Synada – St Evarestos of Studion Monastery – St Nikodemos of Tishmana, Macedonia – St Constantine the Russian Hieromartyr of Lavra Monastery, Mount Athos – Holy Icon of the Ever Blessed Theotokos of Vilna – Holy Icon of the Ever Blessed Theotokos of the Three Joys – Holy Icon of the Ever Blessed Theotokos, the Blessed Womb – St Isaac ΙΙ Hieromartyr of Optina
Isodikon Of The Nativity

Ek Gastros pro eosforou Egennisa Se.
ou metamelithisete. taxin Melihisedek.

Omose Kyrios ke Si Ierefs is ton eona, kata tin

Out

of the Womb, before the Morning Star have I Begotten Thee: the Lord has sworn and will not repent: Thou art a Priest forever, after the Order of Melchizidek.

Soson

imas, Ie Theou, O ek Parthenou tehthis, psallontas Si Allilouia!

Save The

us, O Son of God, Born of the Virgin, who sing to Thee: Alleluia!

Resurrection Apolytikion – Tone (6) Plagal 2

Angelic Powers were in Thy Sepulchre, and the guards became as dead men, and Mary stood by the Tomb seeking Thy Most Pure Body. Thou led Hades captive, yet were not tempted thereby: Thou Who art the Bestower of Life came to meet the Woman. Glory to Thee, O Lord, Who Rose again from the dead! K o n t a k i o n O f T h e E v e r B l e s s e d T h e o t o k o s - Of The Nativity Of Christ

Angelike

Dinamis epi to Mnima Sou ke i filassontes apenekrothisan. Ke istato Maria en to tafo, zitousa to ahranton Sou Soma. Eskilefsas ton Adin, mi pirasthis ip aftou. Ipintisas ti Partheno, Doroumenos tin Zoin. O Anastas ek to nekron, Kyrie, Doxa Si.

I

Parthenos simeron, ton Iperousion tikti, ke i gi to spyleon to aprito prosagi. Angeli meta Pimenon doxologousi, Magi de meta asteros odiporousi, di’ imas gar egenniti, Pedion neon, o pro aionon Theos.
O UR RI SE N HI S

Today the Virgin gives Birth to Him Who is above all
being, and the earth offers a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with Shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a Star. For unto us is Born a young Child: the Pre-Eternal God.
BESTOW S HI S A UTHORI T Y TO FO RGI VE SI N S U PON

Resurrection Gospel 9 : John 20 : 19 - 31

LORD

A POSTLE S

Prokeimenon God is Marvellous in His Saints! Bless the Lord in the Congregation! The Epistle of St Paul to the Galatians 1 : 11 - 19
God’s Calling & Divine Revelation – Christ’s Personal Calling and Enlightenment

Brethren: I make known to you that the Gospel, which was preached by me, is not according to mankind, for I neither received It from man, nor was I taught It, for It came through the Revelation of Jesus Christ. And you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism – how I persecuted the Church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy It. And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own Nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my Fathers. But, when it pleased God, Who separated me from my mother’s womb and Called me through His Grace, to reveal His Son in me, so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were Apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then, after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other Apostles, except James, the Lord’s Brother... V THE TRUE HOLY GOSPEL OF CHRIST IS TAUGHT BY Apostles had been taught – or by the Revelation HIS TRUE HOLY APOSTLES although many others of Apostolic Tradition. declare themselves to be Apostles. 2 T i m o t h y 2 : 2 “... the Things that you have ® TRUE HOLY APOSTLES OF CHRIST ARE CALLED BY heard from me among many witnesses, GOD HIMSELF. commit these to Faithful men who will be ® TRUE HOLY APOSTLES LEARN GOD’S HOLY GOSPEL able to teach others also...” BY DIVINE REVELATION – either directly from our > St Paul established A CLEAR CHAIN OF HOLY Risen Lord Jesus Christ, just like His original WITNESSES TO ORAL TRADITION – God’s

2ND DAY OF NATIVITY FEAST – SYNAX IS OF THE EVER BLESSED ALL HOLY VIRGIN THEOTOKOS – 26 DECEMBER 2010

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Absolute Truth, which is correctly taught to others.

verbally

and

V

CHRISTIAN HOLY TRADITION IS JOYFULLY AND COMPLETELY ACCEPTED BY THOSE WHO TRULY BELIEVE since it is a Catholic – Universal –

Divine Truth, which is an exclusive, essential and vital aspect of the whole Church of Christ, and which needs TO BE CORRECTLY TAUGHT TO OTHERS UNHINDERED OR UNCHANGED. This is in complete contrast to the elitism of major religions of the first century Roman world and, sadly, in many cases of the heretical man-made pseudo-Christian churches of these modern, selfcentred and self-indulgent days.

The Way we reach God the Father is forever established in the Person and Work of God the Son Who is the Truth because He is the unique Revelation of God the Father. Christ our Lord is the Life Who became Man so that we might regain Life, and as He is our Life, not even death can prevent us from going to Him. On IN CHRIST can we begin to know God the Father, for only IN CHRIST is the Way to all Divine Truth and all Life – both earthly and Eternal. The persecution of individual Christians or the Holy Church in general is a persecution of Christ or God Himself because they cannot be separated.
GOADS ARE SPIKES THAT WERE USED TO PROD FARM ANIMALS INTO ACTION SO THE TERM IS USED AS A METAPHOR FOR THE DIVINE WISDOM OR PROMPTINGS (‘POINTED STICKS’) OF GOD. In this context CHRIST USED THE METAPHOR TO EXPRESS THE FUTILITY OF ST PAUL TRYING TO FIGHT AGAINST DIVINE TRUTH. E c c l e s i a s t e s 1 2 : 1 1 – “The words of the wise are

V

FAITHFUL MINISTRY OF CHRIST’S HOLY GOSPEL REQUIRES HUMBLE DISCIPLINE: OBEDIENCE, SELF-DENIAL AND STRUGGLE. ® TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST ARE CALLED BY DIVINE GRACE, not according to their works or a so-

called “proper” background – (and sometimes despite their own plans or priorities!) ® TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST ALWAYS BRING GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO GOD ALONE – not to satisfy their own desires and egos, or for any other purpose. ® TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST FORM ONE CHURCH
GOVERNMENT

® TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST

MAINTAIN THE SAME DOCTRINE (TRUE TEACHING OF CHRIST) ® TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST WORK HARMONIOUSLY AND OBEDIENTLY ACCORDING TO THE AGREEMENTS OF THE HOLY SYNOD – THE COUNCIL OF THE HOLY CHURCH OF CHRIST. (i.e. the Holy Church maintains and obeys the unanimous decisions and confirmation of the Holy Synod, according to Divine Inspiration and Will alone.) ® TRUE APOSTLES OF CHRIST STAND FIRM – ARE UNCOMPROMISING IN MATTERS CONCERNING CONSCIENCE BUT ARE HUMBLY CORRECTED WHEN MISTAKEN OR DECEIVED.

like pointed sticks (goads), like nails firmly fastened; they are given from the collections and abound from them by one Shepherd.” M a t t h e w 2 5 : 4 0 – Christ warned us that at the Final Judgement “... the King will answer and say to them: ‘Truly, I say to you: inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these – My Brethren – you did it to Me!’” Our Lord’s Teaching TO SEE HIM IN EVERYONE ELSE IS
THE FULFILMENT OF HIS GREAT COMMANDMENT TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBOURS AS MUCH AS WE KLOVE OURSELVES BUT ESPECIALLY AS MUCH AS GOD LOVES US.

By Divine Grace, True Apostles recognise God’s Truth rather than man’s flawed opinion or concept, but might be deceived or misled, and for that reason alone, everyone must have a Spiritual Father for Guidance and correction or redirection. Furthermore, True Apostles accept correction from others if it justified and truthful just as when St Paul rebuked St Peter for his hypocritical ethnic elitism. Apostolic Tradition is grounded in the direct, personal Divine Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Son of God.

V V

JUST AS CHRIST CALLED HIS TWELVE APOSTLES, HE ALSO LATER CALLED ST PAUL. JUST AS THE ORIGINAL TWELVE APOSTLES RECEIVED THE HOLY GOSPEL DIRECTLY FROM OUR LORD, SO DID ST PAUL.

Acts 9: 3 – 6 – “As (St Paul) journeyed he came near to Damascus when suddenly a Light shone around him from Heaven. And he fell to the ground, hearing a Voice saying to him: ‘Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting Me?’ And he said: ‘Who art Thou, Lord?’ And the Lord said: ‘I Am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting. It is difficult for you to kick against the goads.’ So he, trembling and astonished, said: ‘Lord, what dost Thou want me to do?’ And the Lord said to him: ‘Arise, and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’” Saul had persecuted Christians under the legal structure of Judaism and as such he was charged to arrest Jewish Christians, but HE HAD NO AUTHORITY
OVER GENTILE CHRISTIANS. CHRISTIANITY BECAME KNOWN AS “THE WAY,” ACCORDING TO CHRIST’S REVELATION THAT HE IS THE WAY AND THE FACT THAT BY FOLLOWING OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST we do not commit ourselves to

E p h e s i a n s 5 : 2 3 – 3 0 – “...the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is Head of the Church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the Church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands Love your wives, just as Christ also Loves the Church and gave Himself for Her, so that He might Sanctify and Cleanse Her with the Washing of Water by the Word, that He might present Her to Himself, a Glorious Church, not having spot nor wrinkle, nor any such thing, but that she should be Holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to Love their own wives as their own bodies; he who Loves his wife Loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the Church, for we are Members of His Body, of His Flesh and of His Bones.” The analogy of Christ as the Bridegroom and His Holy Church as the Pure Bride, and the Divine Mystery of Holy Matrimony, helps us to understand the great Mystery of His Holy Church Christ alone is the Divine Head and Leader of the Church, and, as Man, He is first among equals, but far superior to us humans in Nature. We are the Holy Church of Christ – His Sanctified Bride who must submit to His Sacrificial Leadership. In ancient Israel, the Bride would be bathed, dressed and escorted to the Bridegroom by his friends, in the Church Holy Baptism is that bathing and dressing – we “put on Christ” – and Christ Himself escorts us to the Festal Banquet. In Orthodoxy Baptised Christians are one humanity and one flesh IN CHRIST. Acts 26 : 13 – 18 (also acts 9:1 – 8; 22: 1 – 21) The various accounts of St Paul’s Calling reveals that AS LONG AS WE ONLY SEE THINGS FROM
OUR OWN SPIRITUALLY IGNORANT. PERSPECTIVE, BLIND AND WE REMAIN STUBBORNLY

a momentary, brief decision or the mere observance of outward religious practises but to a whole Way of Life – WE COMMIT TO A LIFE IN
CHRIST!

J o h n 1 4 : 6 – Our Lord told St Peter: “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except through Me.”

Thus St Paul was temporarily rendered physically blind until he truly saw Christ in all His Glory and Truth and submitted to Holy Baptism – “put on Christ” and began to LIVE IN CHRIST.

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2ND DAY OF NATIVITY FEAST – SYNAXIS OF THE EVER BLESSED ALL HOLY VIRGIN THEOTOKOS – 26 DECEMBER 2010

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 2 : 13 – 23
Flight Into Egypt & the Slaughter of the Innocents

At that time, when the Magi had departed, behold! An Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying: “Arise, take the young Child and His Mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child, to destroy Him.” When Joseph arose, he took the young Child and His Mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the Prophet, saying: “Out of Egypt, I called My son.” Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the Wise Men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time that he had determined from what was spoken by Jeremiah the Prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping and great mourning - Rachel weeping for her Children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” Now, when Herod was dead, behold! An Angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying: “Arise, take the young Child and His Mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s Life are dead.” Then he arose, took the young Child and His Mother, and went into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father, Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled, which was spoken by the Prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.” Egypt is where the Nation of Israel had once taken have compassion for those still alive. They continue refuge and just like the Old Covenant St Joseph had to pray for us and intercede on our behalf with God. saved God’s people by sheltering them in Egypt, so For that reason, we beseech their intercessory did St Joseph the Betrothed save the Christ Child Prayers and Spiritual Guidance. and His Mother from harm. The Holy Innocents are regarded as dear little Saints and It is probable that some of the valuable gifts bestowed Holy Martyrs of the Church of Christ. on our Lord’s family financed the long journey and J e r e m i a h 3 8 : 1 6 - 1 7 “Thus says the Lord: ‘Let your kept them going until their return to the land of voice cease from its bitter weeping and Israel. your eyes from tears, for there is a Reward St James, (the eldest son of St Joseph the Betrothed and for your Works, and they shall return from his late wife, Salome,) accompanied his elderly the land of their enemies. There shall be an father and young cousins to Egypt and he would abiding Home for your Children.’” have sought employment to assist with their daily Just as St Rachel had been told that her Children would expenses. return from exile in Babylon, so our Lord Jesus Several Holy Icons depict St James carrying the Christ would return from His temporary exile in Egypt. Child upon his shoulders or leading a donkey upon According to historical records, Herod “the Great,” died which the Ever Blessed Theotokos and Her Son rode, in 4 BC. Therefore THE DATE OF OUR LORD’S NATIVITY ON WHICH THE CURRENT CALENDAR IS while St Joseph the Betrothed walked alongside. BASED IS SHORT OF FOUR YEARS. “Out of Egypt I Called My Son...” is a reference to the Augustus Caesar banished Herod’s son, Archelaus, for Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. his abominable cruelty in the 6th Year of our Lord, H o s e a 1 : 1 “The Word of the Lord that came to which was revealed to St Joseph the Betrothed by Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of the Angel of God so that the Holy Family went to Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, Kings Nazareth, a small town in Galilee, governed by of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam, son another son of Herod the Great – Herod Antipas. of Joash, King of Israel.” L u k e 3 : 1 “... in the fifteenth year of the reign of St Theophan explained: “The Word came to Hosea as a Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being Governor Teacher of God, softly speaking to the disobedient of Judea, Herod being Tetrarch of Galilee, his and making them return through what he said and brother, Philip, Tetrarch of Ituraea and the did.” region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the Tetrarch In the Old Testament the term “son” often referred to of Abilene...” the entire Nation of Israel – God’s Chosen. Herod ruled Judea from 37 – 4 BC and although he was In this particular context, it is a reference to the Christ a great builder, he was a cruel and paranoid ruler. Child and His Holy Family, thereby fulfilling this St Luke mentioned Herod to pinpoint the historical date Divine Calling as the True Son of God Who went of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ. from Egypt – the land of exile – to the land of Israel – An ancient Prophecy of St Jacob the Patriarch indicated the Promised Land. that the Messiah would come when a King ruled who NOW,ACCORDING TO OUR NEW COVENANT WITH GOD, was not from the Tribe of Judah and as Herod was CHRISTIANS ARE THE NEW ISRAEL WHO HAVE LEFT SPIRITUAL EXILE (EGYPT) – AND HAVE ENTERED THE indeed a Gentile who called himself “King of Judea,” NEW PROMISED LAND OF THE ETERNAL KINGDOM OF the Coming of Christ – the Messiah – was definitely at GOD. hand. The cruelty of Herod was prefigured by Pharaoh who, in The Prophecy “He shall be called a Nazarene...” has an attempt to destroy the power and strength of not been exactly identified but it has been taken as a Israel, demanded the indiscriminate and merciless reference to “the Rod,” (“Neser”) mentioned in murder of all new born sons of the Hebrew nation. I s a i a h 1 1 : 1 – “There shall come forth a Rod from E x o d u s 1 : 1 6 & 2 2 : “... he said: ‘When you do the the Root of Jesse, and a Flower shall grow duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women ... if out of his Root.” it is a male, then you shall kill him; but if a And to “the Nazirite” (“Nazir”) mentioned in female, let her live...’ So Pharaoh commanded J u d g e s 1 3 : 5 – “... Behold! Thou art pregnant and all his people, saying: ‘Every male born to the shall bear a Son, and no razor shall come Hebrews you shall cast into the river, but every upon His Head, for the Child shall be a female you shall save alive.’” Nazirite to God from the Womb; and He When the people of Jerusalem were led away to exile, shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand they passed through Ramah, nearby Bethlehem, of the Philistines.” where St Rachel, wife of St Jacob, was buried. Samson had been “...a Nazirite unto God from the In his Prophecy, St Jeremiah saw St Rachel, even from womb...” as had been St Samuel, the Holy Prophet the grave, moved with deep compassion for the of God and St John the Baptist. terrible fate of her descendents. 1 K i n g d o m s / 1 S a m u e l 1 : 1 1 – St Hannah “... prayed Once again, at the Slaughter of the Holy Innocents, St a Vow to the Lord God and said: ‘O Lord, Rachel wept for her Children, which shows that all my God of Sabbaoth, if Thou art looking, the Saints reposing in Paradise are aware of and

2ND DAY OF NATIVITY FEAST – SYNAX IS OF THE EVER BLESSED ALL HOLY VIRGIN THEOTOKOS – 26 DECEMBER 2010

37.

look with favour upon the lowly state of Thy handmaiden and remember me. I pray Thee, grant Thy handmaiden a seed of men, a son, and I will dedicate him before Thee as a Gift until the day of his death. He will not drink wine, nor intoxicating drink, and no razor shall come upon his head.’” The expression “lowly state” is the same phrase that our Ever Blessed Lady, the All Pure Virgin Mary prayed. L u k e 1 : 4 8 : “... He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant...” The Ever Blessed Virgin Mary shows her deep and sincere Humility and Knowledge that God is the Source of all Divine Grace, and through the Incarnation, God reigns over all Creation. St Hannah’s Sacred Vow to God was that her child would fulfil the Nazirite Vow, which was a type of ancient Ascetic Vow found initially in the Book of Numbers, chapter 6. In each case, as recorded in Holy Scripture, this Sacred Vow is prescribed before the birth of a unique child Two Prophecies parallel today’s Sacred Lesson. The first is recalled by St Matthew who quoted St Hosea, the Holy Prophet of God: “Out of Egypt have I called My Son.” (HOSEA 11:1) The second is a Prophesy of St Isaiah: “Behold, the Lord rides upon a Light Cloud, and shall come into Egypt; and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at His Presence.” (ISAIAH 19:1) There were numerous reasons for that flight into Egypt, the most obvious of which was to preserve the Life of the very young Jesus Christ, Who was almost two years of age by the time the Magi arrived. The wicked Tetrarch Ruler, “King” Herod was motivated by jealousy and an obsessive fear of losing his power over Judea, especially when hearing from the Magi of such a great King. Not understanding anything regarding the Coming of the Messiah, Herod was determined to prevent this new King from gaining any control, so he ordered the murder of all male children who were two years of age and younger in Bethlehem and the surrounding the region. The Holy Family’s flight to Egypt is a reminder of another departure to Egypt when the Old Testament Joseph’s brothers resolved to kill him, also motivated by jealousy and a fear of their birth right being usurped due to the love of Jacob, their father, for his youngest son, Joseph. But when a caravan of traders arrived at the oasis where they had all rested, the jealous brothers were persuaded to sell Joseph as a slave. As a result, Egypt became a refuge for Joseph and later the whole house of Israel (Jacob). St Nikolai Velimirovic pointed out that THIS JOURNEY INTO He
EGYPT IS DEMONSTRATIVE OF CHRIST COMING FOR THE SALVATION OF ALL MANKIND. explained that THE MAGI INITIALLY SOUGHT CHRIST DUE TO THEIR ASTROLOGICAL IDOL WORSHIP since they

such as St Samson, St Samuel and probably St John the Baptist. L u k e 1 : 1 3 – 1 5 – “... the Angel said to him: ‘Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your Prayer is heard; and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son, and you shall call his name, John. And you will have Joy and Gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the Sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink. He will also be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.’” St Matthew may also have been alluding to certain passages in which the Messiah was despised, since the town of Nazareth did not have a good reputation at all. J o h n 1 : 4 6 – “... Nathanael said to (St Philip): ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

Sunday After the Nativity of Christ – Flight into Exile & Return to Nazareth
AS DISCIPLES OF OUR LOVING GOD WE MUST REJECT AND HATE THIS DEVASTATING MERCILESS TORTURE OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS OF OUR DAY!

We must love all sinners and embrace them with love and compassion especially those who have undergone abortion - and even those who have performed abortion, for once they realize the gravity and consequences of their sin, they are able to repent and regain Divine Grace. We must be extremely sensitive to such people for WE
NEVER KNOW THE FULL EXTENT OF THEIR DESPERATION OR WHAT MOTIVATED THEM TO KILL THE LITTLE ONES.

We must help them to realize that no matter how grave our sins, GOD ALWAYS LOVES US just as He Loved the repentant murderers - St Moses and St David. HE
PATIENTLY WAITS FOR US TO “REGAIN OUR SENSES” BY SEEKING HIS FORGIVENESS THROUGH OUR SINCERE REPENTANCE. must CONTINUE TO LOVE THOSE WHO ARE NOT READY TO REPENT ALTHOUGH IT CERTAINLY DOES NOT MEAN THAT WE APPROVE OF OR OVERLOOK THEIR BEHAVIOUR. On this

We

WE ALL HAVE A MOST SACRED DUTY

point we must forever remain perfectly clear. to provide a healthy, compassionate and supportive environment that nurtures THE WELFARE OF ALL BABIES AND MOTHERS REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES, but always with extreme sensitivity, compassion and Love!

EVERY INFANT IS CONCEIVED BY THE WILL AND GRACE OF GOD FOR EACH IMMORTAL SOUL HAS A SPECIFIC PURPOSE THAT ONLY GOD KNOWS. GOD’S LOVE OF REPENTANT SINNERS IS COMPLETELY BEYOND OUR LIMITED HUMAN PERCEPTION and Christ has

warned us so many times NEVER to judge any of our fellow sinners because OUR OWN SINS MIGHT
OUTWEIGH THOSE TO WHOM WE POINT SUCH ACCUSING FINGERS!

searched for Him as a source of Immortality and Truth.
HOWEVER, CHRIST REVEALS TO THEM THAT THE PATH OF SALVATION, FOR THE IMMORTAL SOUL AND THE TRUTH, IS THROUGH SUFFERING.

By providing an environment that supports unwed mothers or unwanted pregnancies, we must be ready and willing to assist with every necessity and aspect, without comment or criticism!
SUPPORT IS ESSENTIAL FOR MOTHERS WHO CHOOSE TO KEEP THEIR BABIES AND NO CHRISTIAN SHOULD BE SCANDALISED OR HAVE A NEGATIVE ATTITUDE TOWARDS THESE MOTHERS AND CHILDREN. As Disciples of Christ we must TREAT EVERYONE AS CHRIST WOULD – WITH UNCONDITIONAL LOVE! This is a very complex topic for EACH SITUATION IS UNIQUE AND EVERY CIRCUMSTANCE NEEDS TO BE DEALT WITH A PRAYERFUL AND GOD-SENSITIVE HEART. If any of us should face such a situation, WE MUST CONSULT OUR PRIESTS – OUR SPIRITUAL FATHERS - FOR ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE, NO MATTER HOW EMBARRASSED OR ASHAMED WE MIGHT FEEL.

After the cruel decree of Pharaoh so many centuries before, baby Moses was saved by being drawn out of the reeds where his sister had hidden him and adopted by the Egyptian Princess. The Slaughter of the Holy Innocents is reminder of St Jeremiah’s account of the Israelites being led to exile in Babylon and as they passed the tomb of St Rachel, she wept bitterly from her grave for them.
THAT TERRIBLE SLAUGHTER OF THE HOLY INNOCENTS BY HEROD IS VERY SIGNIFICANT FOR US TODAY SINCE SO MANY INNOCENT BABIES ARE MERCILESSLY MURDERED BY ABORTION!

The

We must deal openly with this appalling sin because this
CONCERNS THE TEACHING OF CHRIST AND HIS HOLY CHURCH AND OUR IMMORTAL SOULS.

most essential aspect concerning a troubled pregnancy is to always keep in mind – NEVER FORGET THAT WE MUST DO EVERYTHING THAT DEMONSTRATEA GOD’S LOVE AND WHICH ARE SUPPORTIVE OF SACRED, GODGIVEN LIFE!
ADAPTED & EDITED BY MP: BY FR. MILAN MEDAKOVIC – 2009 http://www.saintgregorypalamas.com/2010/02/sunday-after-nativity.html

ABORTION IS THE MOST BARBARIC AND HIDEOUS MURDER OF TINY, BLAMELESS, L I V I N G SOULS WHO FEEL EVERYTHING INFLICTED UPON THEM REGARDLESS OF THE LIES USED TO JUSTIFY SUCH EVIL PRACTISES!!

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2ND DAY OF NATIVITY FEAST – SYNAXIS OF THE EVER BLESSED ALL HOLY VIRGIN THEOTOKOS – 26 DECEMBER 2010

Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Alexandria & All Africa Archdiocese of Good Hope
ALL GLORY, HONOUR AND WORSHIP TO THE FATHER, AND TO THE SON, AND TO THE HOLY SPIRIT, NOW AND EVER, AND UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN. REMEMBERING ALSO OUR MOST HOLY, MOST PURE, MOST BLESSED AND GLORIOUS LADY, MARIA, BIRTH GIVER OF GOD, YET EVER VIRGIN, TOGETHER WITH ALL THE SAINTS. AND LET US COMMIT OURSELVES AND ONE ANOTHER AND OUR WHOLE LIFE TO CHRIST OUR GOD. AMEN.

4th Day of the Nativity

27 December 2010

St Stephen the Archdeacon & Protomartyr Also the Feast of St Theodore Graptos (the Scribe) (& “the Branded) Confessor – St Theodore of Constantinople - The Wonder-working, All Merciful Kykko Icon of the Ever Blessed Virgin Theotokos
Isodikon Of The Nativity

Soson

imas, Ie Theou, O ek Parthenou tehthis, psallontas Si Allilouia!

Save us, O Son of God, Born of the Virgin, who sing
to Thee: Alleluia!

Apolytikion Of The Nativity Of Christ Our Saviour

I gennisis Sou Hriste O Theos imon, anetele to kosmo,
to Fos to tis gnoseos. En afti gar i tis astris latrevontes, ipo asteros edi daskonto, se proskinin, ton Ilion tis dikeosinis, ke se ginoskin ex ipsous anatolin. Kyrie Doxa Si!
Apolytikion Of St Stephen The Protomartyr – Tone 4

Thy Nativity, O Christ our God,

has given rise to the Light of Knowledge in the world; for they who worshipped the Star learnt therefrom to worship Thee, O Sun of Justice, and to know that from the East of the Highest Thou came. O Lord: Glory to Thee!

Vasilion

diadima, estefthi si korifi, ex athlon on ipeminas, iper Hristou tou Theou, martiron Protoathle Stefane. Si gar tin Ioudeon, apelegxas manian, ides Sou ton Sotira, tou Patros dexiothen. Afton oun ekdisopi ai, iper ton psihon imon.

With a Royal Diadem, thy sacred head was crowned,
for the struggles thou endured because of Christ our God, O Stephen, among Martyrs the First Champion; for refuting the madness of the angry Judean, thou saw thy Saviour at the right of the Father. Him thou constantly beseech for the souls of all of us.

Kontakion Of The Nativity Of Christ

I

Parthenos simeron, ton Iperousion tikti, ke i gi to spyleon to aprito prosagi. Angeli meta Pimenon doxologousi, Magi de meta asteros odiporousi, di’ imas gar egenniti, Pedion neon, o pro aionon Theos.

Today the Virgin gives Birth to Him Who is above all
being, and the earth offers a cave to Him Whom no man can approach. Angels with Shepherds give glory, and Magi journey with a Star. For unto us is Born a young Child: the Pre-Eternal God.

Trisagion Hymn – Instead Of The “Agios O Theos...”

Osi

is Hriston Allelouia

evaptisthite,

Hriston

enedisasthe.

As

many of you as were Baptised into Christ, have put on Christ: Alleluia!

The Acts of the Apostles According to St Luke 6 : 8 – 7 : 5 & 47 – 60
Evangelism and Martyrdom Of St Stephen

In those days, Stephen, full of Faith and Power, did great Wonders and Signs among the people. Then there arose some from what is called “the Synagogue of the Freedmen” (Cyrenians, Alexandrians, and those from Cilicia and Asia), disputing with Stephen. But they were not able to resist the Wisdom and Spirit by which he spoke. So they secretly induced men to say: “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” And they stirred up the people, the Elders, and the Scribes; and they went to him, seized him and took him to the Council. They also set up false witnesses who said: “This man does not cease speaking blasphemous words against this Holy Place and the Law; for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs, which Moses delivered to us.” And all who sat in the Council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an Angel. Then the High Priest said: “Are these things so?” And Stephen said: “Brethren and Fathers, listen: the God of Glory appeared to our Father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him: ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and go to a land that I will show you.’ Then he went out of the land of the Chaldeans and dwelt in Haran. And from there, when his father was dead, He moved him to this land in which you now dwell. And God gave him no inheritance in it, not even enough to set his foot on. But even when Abraham had no child, God promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him... “... but Solomon built God a House. However, the Most High does not dwell in Temples made by hands, as the Prophet says: ‘Heaven is My Throne and earth is My Footstool. What House will you build for Me? says the Lord, Or what is the Place of My Rest? Has My Hand not made all these things?’ “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit! As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the Prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the Coming of the Just One, of Whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the Law by the Direction of Angels, and have not kept it.” When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into Heaven and saw the Glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right Hand of God, and said: “Behold! I see the Heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right Hand of God!” Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran to him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he called on God, saying: “O Lord Jesus: receive my soul!” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice: “O Lord, do not charge them with this sin!” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

3RD DAY OF THE NATIVITY -

S T S T E P H E N , A R C H D E A C O N , H O L Y A P O S T L E & P R O T O M A R T Y R - 27 DECEMBER 2010

39.

After the Glorious Day of PENTECOST WHEN THE HOLY
SPIRIT HAD DESCENDED UPON AND GRANTED THE FAITHFUL APOSTLES AND DISCIPLES OF CHRIST HIS DIVINE GIFTS, THEY WERE EMPOWERED TO DO AMAZING AND MIRACULOUS DEEDS ACCORDING TO DIVINE WILL FOR THE RAPID SPREAD OF HIS HOLY GOSPEL THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.

will share in the Age to come: Eternal Life in God’s Kingdom. That is why the Councillors “...saw his face as the face of an Angel.”
ST STEPHEN WAS ILLUMINATED AND GLORIFIED BY HIS DEEP FAITH AND SPIRITUAL POWER. 2 C o r i n t h i a n s 3 : 1 8 “... we all, with unveiled face,

They were “...

full of Faith and Power” which

CHANGES LIVES RADICALLY and which COMPELS THOSE WHO ARE CALLED TO HOLY SERVICE TO FULFIL THEIR SACRED TASKS WITHOUT QUESTION OR HESITATION, WITH COMPLETE CONFIDENCE THAT WHATEVER GOD WILLS IS ACHIEVED BY HIS DIVINE GRACE AND POWER.

beholding as in a mirror the Glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same Image from glory to Glory, just as by the (Holy) Spirit of the Lord.”
THE WORD OF THE HOLY SPIRIT BRINGS TRUE LIBERTY OR FREEDOM, ENABLING US TO BEHOLD GOD - TO EXPERIENCE HIS INDESCRIBABLE DIVINE PRESENCE, JOY, PEACE AND LOVE. Created as the Image of God, WE THEN SEE HIS UNCREATED IMAGE, THE SON OF GOD, THE GLORY OF THE LORD THROUGH CHRIST’S DEIFIED HUMANITY AND IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. As we behold Him, WE BECOME WHAT WE WERE CREATED BY GOD TO BE. God is infinite so GROWING IN HIS IMAGE AND GLORY HAS NO LIMITS. WE SHALL FOREVER SEE GOD MORE CLEARLY AND BE TRANSFORMED INTO HIS LIKENESS (which we are

“Freedmen” were Hebrews who had formerly been held captive under the Roman conquerors, and often due to rebellion against Roman authority. The charges of blasphemy were brought against St Stephen because, ACCORDING TO DIVINE WILL, THE
LITURGY AND LAW OF THE OLD COVENANT WERE FULFILLED BY CHRIST AND WERE THEREFORE OBVIOUSLY CHANGED AND TRANSFORMED.

Hebrews 7:12 – “... the Priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the Law.”
NOT ONLY IS JESUS CHRIST, THE FOUNDER OF THE NEW COVENANT PRIESTHOOD, SUPERIOR TO THAT OF THE OLD COVENANT, THE RULES OF THE NEW COVENANT’S PRIESTLY ORDER ARE ALSO SUPERIOR and SINCE THE HOLY PRIESTHOOD IS SO INTERTWINED WITH THE COVENANT, IF THE PRIESTHOOD IS CHANGED, SO IS THE COVENANT.

trying to regain since our Fall from Divine Grace in Paradise.)
E x o d u s 3 4 : 2 9 – 3 5 – AFTER COMMUNICATING WITH GOD ON MOUNT SINAI, ST MOSES’ FACE SHONE WITH A DIVINE LIGHT to such an overwhelming extent that

To those who refused to accept Christ as the True Messiah, such changes were regarded as sacrilegious or profane. At His unjust and illegal Trial the charge or accusation of false witnesses that our Lord Jesus Christ had threatened to destroy the Temple of Jerusalem were misinterpretations of His words: “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up” –
REFERRING TO HIS OWN BODY AND HIS PROPHECY OF THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE, WHICH WAS FULFILLED IN 70 WHEN THE ROMANS DESTROYED IT AS RETRIBUTION AGAINST A HEBREW REBELLION.
(MATTHEW 26:61; JOHN 2:19; LUKE 21: 6 & 20)

he had to cover his face with a veil since the amazing Light frightened the Israelites.
ST STEPHEN DID NOT ANSWER THE HIGH PRIEST DIRECTLY but used the charges as the context for his

Preaching, whereby, similar to St Peter’s Sermon on Pentecost, ST STEPHEN DELIVERED CHRIST’S HOLY
GOSPEL BASED ON THE OLD TESTAMENT, SHOWING HOW THE HEBREWS CONSISTENTLY MISSED THE PURPOSE OF GOD’S HOLY COVENANT WITH THEM DUE TO THEIR HARDNESS AND STUBBORNNESS OF HEART.

THOSE WHO BECOME ONE WITH CHRIST RECEIVE DIVINE RADIANCE, which is a preview of the Glory all Faithful

The Holy Gospel According to St Matthew 21 : 33 – 42
The Mistreatment Of God’s Holy Messengers

At that time, our Lord Jesus said: “Hear another Parable: There was a certain Landowner Who planted a Vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And He leased it to Vinedressers and went into a Far Country. Now when vintage time drew near, He sent His Servants to the Vinedressers, so that they might receive its Fruit. But the Vinedressers took His Servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again, He sent other Servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then, last of all, He sent His Son to them, saying: ‘They will respect My Son.’ But when the Vinedressers saw the Son, they said amongst themselves: ‘This is the Heir. Come, let us kill Him and seize His Inheritance.’ So they took Him and cast Him out of the Vineyard and killed Him. “Therefore, when the Owner of the Vineyard comes, what will He do to those Vinedressers?” They said to Him: “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease His Vineyard to other Vinedressers who will render to Him the Fruits in their seasons.” And Jesus said to them: “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The Stone that the Builders rejected has become the chief Cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes’? Therefore, I say to you: the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a Nation bearing the Fruits of it.” The Landowner is God the Father. The New Covenant Servants are all our Holy Church The Vineyard is His Holy Church – i.e. all the Faithful Fathers and Mothers, Spiritual Fathers and Teachers Christians who are struggling Disciples of Christ. who labour ceaselessly to preserve God’s Truth by The Vinedressers were initially the Old Covenant enlightening, guiding and teaching us. Hebrew Leaders who had been entrusted with the The Son and Heir, is, of course, our Lord and Saviour, care of God’s Chosen Nation. Jesus Christ. Later, these were the New Covenant Apostles and The casting out and killing of the Son is understood on Disciples of Christ who fulfilled their Sacred Mission two levels: our Lord Jesus was crucified outside the of spreading the Holy Gospel throughout the world, city gates of Jerusalem and He was tortured and and their descendents, all our Bishops and Priests executed by foreigners – Roman soldiers. throughout the centuries. The “other Vinedressers” are the Gentiles who joyfully The Old Covenant Servants were the Holy Prophets who accept Christianity and who strive to fulfil all their guided, exhorted and returned the Hebrew Nation to commitments and Sacred Duties to God and their God. fellow mankind.

Father Stephen – On Good and Evil
I think evil is always small, and that good is infinite. Evil closes itself to God and thus becomes even smaller; Good opens itself to God and thus becomes infinite. Evil cannot become so large as to fill even the universe. God became so small that He could fill Hades and then burst it asunder because it could not contain Him. Every good deed will have eternal remembrance, but even the largest deeds of the evil will be forgotten.

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3RD DAY OF THE NATIVITY -

S T S T E P H E N , A R C H D E A C O N , H O L Y A P O S T L E & P R O T O M A R T Y R - 27 DECEMBER 2010