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Daily Devotional

Saturday, December 16, 2017 (NS)
December 3, 2017 (OS)


Commemorations

Movable Calendar (Pascalion):

Saturday of the Twenty-Eighth Week

Fixed Calendar:

The commemoration of the Prophet Sophonios (Zephaniah).


Fasting Information

Fast day, but Fish, Wine and Oil Allowed.


Scripture Readings

Movable Calendar (Pascalion):

Saturday of the Twenty-Eighth Week

Epistle:

The Reading is from the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Ephesians [§ 218]. Brethren:

1 16I cease not giving thanks on behalf of you, making mention of you at the time of my prayers, 17in order that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of the glory, may give to you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the full knowledge of Him, 18having the eyes of your heart enlightened that ye may know what is the hope of His calling, and what is the wealth of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe according to the energy of the might of His strength, 20which He energized in the Christ, after He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right in the heavenlies, 21above every principality and authority and power and lordship, and every name which is named, not only in this age, but also in the coming one. 22And He put in subjection all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the Church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him Who filleth all things in all.

Gospel:

The Reading is from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke [§ 67]. The Lord said:

12 32"Cease being afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom. 33"Sell your possessions and give alms. Make for yourselves purses which do not become old, an unfailing treasure in the heavens, where no thief draweth near nor moth destroyeth; 34"for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 35"Let your loins be girded about and the lamps be kept burning; 36"and be ye like to men waiting for their own lord-whenever he should depart from the wedding festivities-that when he cometh and knocketh, straightway, they might open to him. 37"Happy are those slaves whom the lord, after he cometh, shall find watching. Verily I say to you that he shall gird himself about and shall have them recline at table, and will come forth and minister to them. 38"And if he should come in the second watch, and in the third watch should he come, and find them thus, happy are those slaves. 39"But know ye this, that if the master of the house had known in what hour the thief was coming, he would have watched and not let his house be broken into. 40"Ye therefore also keep on becoming ready, for in the hour ye think not, the Son of Man cometh."

Fixed Calendar:

The commemoration of the Prophet Sophonios (Zephaniah).

Epistle:

The Reading is from the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Romans [§ 104]. Brethren:

10 11The Scripture saith, "Everyone who believeth on Him shall not be ashamed [cf. Is. 28:16]." 12For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord of all is rich to all those who call upon Him. 13For, "Everyone, whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved [Joel 2:32]." 14How then shall they call on One in Whom they believed not? And how shall they believe in One of Whom they heard not? And how shall they hear without one preaching? 15And how shall they preach, unless they are sent forth? Even as it hath been written: "How beautiful are the feet of those preaching the glad tidings of peace, of those preaching the glad tidings of good things [cf. Is. 52:7]!" 16But not all obeyed the Gospel. For Esaias saith, "Lord, who hath believed our report [Is. 53:1]?" 17So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by that which is said of God. 18But I say, they heard, did they not? Yea rather, "Their sound went forth into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the inhabited world [Ps. 18(19):4]." 19But I say, Israel did not know, did it? First Moses saith, "I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no nation, by a nation without understanding will I anger you [Deut. 32:21]." 20But Esaias is very bold, and saith, "I was found by those not seeking Me; I became manifest to those not asking after Me [Is. 65:1]." 21But to Israel He saith, "The whole day I stretched forth My hands to a disobedient and contradicting people [Is. 65:2]."

11 1I say then, God did not thrust away His people, did He? May it not be! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God did not thrust away His people whom He foreknew.

Gospel:

No reading given.


Lives of the Saints
(Prologue)

December 16th - Civil Calendar
December 3rd - Church Calendar

1. The Holy Prophet Zephaniah.

Born on the mountain of Savarat and of the tribe of Simeon, he lived and prophesied in the seventh century before Christ, in the time of Josiah the pious King of Judah, and was a contemporary of the Prophet Jeremiah. With his great humility, pure mind and constant striving after God, he was found worthy of seeing into the future. He foretold the day of the wrath of God and the punishment of Gaza, Ashkalon, Ashdod, Ekron, Nineveh, Jerusalem and Egypt. He looked upon Jerusalem as 'a filthy, polluted and oppressing city ... her princes within her are like roaring lions; her judges are evening wolves ... her prophets are light and treacherous persons; her priests have polluted the sanctuary, they have done violence to the Law' (Zeph. 3:1-4). Foreseeing the coming of the Messiah, he cried out with rapture: 'Sing, O daughter of Sion; shout, O Israel; be glad and rejoice with all thy heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!' (3:14). This clairvoyant of secrets and mysteries went to his rest in the place where he was born, there to await the general Resurrection and his reward from God.

2. St John the Silent (the Hesychast).

Born in Nicopolis in Armenia, he was the son of Encratius and Euphemia. He became a monk at the age of eighteen and gave himself to asceticism, thoroughly cleansing his heart with tears, prayer and fasting. After ten years, he was made Bishop of Colonia. The example of his life drew his brother, Pergamius, and his uncle, Theodore, both noted members of the court of the Emperors Zeno and Justinian, to lead lives pleasing to God. Seeing the evil and intrigues of the world and his inability to put matters right, he abandoned the episcopal throne and went to the monastery of St Sava near Jerusalem, disguised as a simple monk. He remained there a number of years quite unknown, conscientiously and capably performing whatever service the abbot gave him. Thereupon St Sava suggested to the Patriarch that he be ordained priest. When the Patriarch came to do this, John confessed that he already bore the rank of bishop. Then St John shut himself into his cell and spent year after year in silence and prayer. Afterwards, he spent nine years in the desert, sustaining himself with wild herbs, and then he returned to the monastery. He wrested the faithful away from the heresy of Origen, and made a great contribution to the struggle against that heresy and its condemnation. He was able to perceive the spiritual realm with clarity, and heal the sick. He could easily subdue demons, having already conquered himself. He entered peacefully into rest in 558 at the age of a hundred and four, being great in humility, power and godly wisdom.

3. The Hieromartyr Theodore, Archbishop of Alexandria.

After serving as Patriarch for two years, he was tortured by the pagans. They put a crown of thorns on his head, and finally beheaded him for the Faith in 606.

4. Our Holy Father Theodulus.

A noted patrician at the court of Theodosius the Great, he abandoned the vanity of this world after the death of his wife, and left Constantinople for a pillar near Ephesus, on which he spent a good thirty years in asceticism.

5. Our Holy Father Sava of Storozhev.

He was a disciple of St Sergius of Radonezh and a great wonderworker. After his death, he appeared to many people, sometimes to instruct, sometimes to warn and sometimes to heal. He went from this life to the better one in 1406.

FOR CONSIDERATION

God hearkens to the prayers of the just and answers them sometimes at once and in full, and at other times only later, at the proper time and according to the needs of the Church. In other words, in answering the prayer of a righteous man, God has in mind either that man's salvation or the well-being of the whole Church. St John the Silent prayed to God to reveal to him how the soul takes leave of the body, and, while still at prayer, he was taken out of himself and had the following vision: A good man died in front of the church in Bethlehem, and angels took his soul from his body and bore it up to heaven with sweet singing. Coming out of his ecstasy, St John set out at once on the road from St Sava's to Bethlehem. When he reached Bethlehem, he saw the dead body in front of the church, just as it had been in his vision.

When the great Sava the Sanctified died, John was in great grief and anguish. St Sava appeared to him in a vision and said: 'Do not grieve, Father John, because, although I am separated from you in the body, I am still with you in the spirit.' Then John begged him. 'Father, pray to the Lord to take me with you!', and Sava replied: 'That is impossible for now, for a great tribulation has yet to come on the monastery. God desires you to remain to comfort and strengthen the faithful against the heretics.' John did not realize at once the sort of heretic to which the holy father was referring, but he found out later, when the Origenists began to shake the Church of God.


Daily Scripture Readings taken from The Orthodox New Testament, translated and published by Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Colorado, copyright © 2000, used with permission, all rights reserved.

Daily Prologue Readings taken from The Prologue of Ochrid, by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic, translated by Mother Maria, published by Lazarica Press, Birmingham, England, copyright © 1985, all rights reserved.


Archbishop Gregory
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