New Calendar Orthodox Daily Digest for 12/27/2020

Fasting Guidelines

Sunday December 27, 2020
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Scripture Readings


John 20:1-10 (7th Matins Gospel)

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.


Acts 6:8-15; 7:1-5, 47-60 (Epistle, Saint)

And 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. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Then 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 came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak 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 he 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 come to a land that I will show you.’ Then he came 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, He promised to give it to him for a possession, and to his descendants after him. But Solomon built Him a house. However, the Most High does not dwell in temples made with 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, “Look! 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 at 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 was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.


Matthew 21:33-42 (Gospel, Saint)

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, that they might receive its fruit. And 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 among 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.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?


Galatians 1:11-19 (Epistle, Sunday After)

But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ. For 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, 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.


Matthew 2:13-23 (Gospel, Sunday After)

Now when they 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 he 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 which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled 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 came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”

Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today

Sunday after the Nativity: Commemoration of the Holy Righteous David the King, Joseph the Betrothed, and James the Brother of the Lord
Sunday after the Nativity: Commemoration of the Holy Righteous David the King, Joseph the Betrothed, and James the Brother of the Lord The Holy Prophet-King David, Saint Joseph the Betrothed, and Saint James the Brother of the Lord are commemorated on the Sunday after the Nativity. If there is no Sunday between December 25 and January 1, their commemoration is moved to December 26.At an early date, some churches in the East began to commemorate certain important figures of the New Testament at the time of Theophany, and later during the Nativity season. In Syria, for example, Saint Stephen (December 27), Saints James (April 30) and John (September 26), and Saints Peter and Paul (June 29) were commemorated near the end of December.In Jerusalem, the saints mentioned above were combined with a feast that the Jews of Hebron celebrated on December 25 or 26 in honor of the Old Testament Patriarch Jacob. Later on, the Christians substituted Saint James (October 23) for Jacob, and then the commemoration of the Brother of the Lord became associated with his ancestor King David. In time, Saint Joseph was linked with Saints David and James. Saint Joseph had four sons from his previous marriage: James, Judah and Simon (or Symeon), and three daughters: Esther, Martha, and Salome, who was the mother of Saint John the Theologian.
Holy Righteous Joseph the Betrothed
Holy Righteous Joseph the Betrothed Saint Joseph the Betrothed was of the lineage of King David. He had four sons from his previous marriage: James, Judah and Simon (or Symeon), and three daughters: Esther, Martha, and Salome, who was the mother of Saint John the Theologian. After he became a widower, Saint Joseph led a life of strict temperance. He was chosen to be the husband and guardian of the Most Holy Theotokos, who had taken a vow of virginity. An angel told him of the Incarnation of the Son of God through her. Saint Joseph was present when the shepherds and the Magi worshiped the new-born divine Infant. On the orders of the angel, he fled into Egypt with the Mother of God and the Infant Jesus, saving them from the wrath of King Herod. He lived in Egypt with the Virgin Mary and the divine Child, working as a carpenter. Saint Joseph reputedly died at the age of one hundred.Saint Joseph is commemorated on the Sunday after the Nativity. If there is no Sunday between December 25 and January 1, his Feast is moved to December 26. The Righteous Joseph is also commemorated on the Sunday of the Holy Forefathers.
Holy Righteous David the King
Holy Righteous David the King The Holy Prophet-King David was a forefather of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh. The youngest son of Jesse, David shepherded a flock of sheep belonging to his father. He was distinguished by his deep faith, and he zealously fulfilled the will of God.During a battle with the Philistines, he vanquished the giant Goliath in single combat, which decided the outcome of the war in favor of the Israelites. He endured many things from King Saul, who saw him as a favorite of the people and his rival. David, however, showed his own decency and magnanimity. Twice, when he had the possibility of killing Saul, he did not do so. After Saul and his son perished, David was proclaimed king of the southern part of Israel, and after Saul’s second son was killed, he became king of all Israel. He built a new capital, Jerusalem (“the City of Peace”), and a new tabernacle. His great wish to build a Temple was not realized. It was foretold to him that his son would build the Temple. The life of the Prophet David was darkened by a grievous falling: he took Uriah’s wife for himself, and sent Uriah to his death in battle. He was also an example of great repentance, humbly and with faith bearing the sorrows sent in punishment for his sins. Saint David gave a model for repentance in Psalm 50/51. King David died in great old age with steadfast faith in the coming of the promised Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. His divinely-inspired Psalter is widely used in the divine services and in personal prayers. (See the Books of Kings and Chronicles).The holy Prophet-King David is invoked by those facing a difficult situation, such as an interview, etc.
Righteous James the Brother of the Lord
Righteous James the Brother of the Lord The Holy Apostle James, Brother of the Lord, was the eldest son of Joseph the Betrothed from his first marriage with Solomonia. The Apostle James is remembered after the Feast of the Nativity of Christ together with his father Joseph and the Prophet-King David, since he accompanied his family on the Flight into Egypt and lived there with the Infant Jesus, the Mother of God and Joseph. Later, he returned to Israel with them.After the Ascension of the Lord, Saint James was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, gaining the great esteem not only of Christians, but also of Jews. He was thrown from the roof of the Jerusalem Temple because he had publicly preached to the people about the God-Manhood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Apostle James is also commemorated on October 23.
Third Day of the Nativity of our Lord
Third Day of the Nativity of our Lord The third day of the Nativity is dedicated to the Protomartyr Saint Stephen. This is the third day of the three day Winter Pascha.
Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen
Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen The Holy Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen was the eldest of the seven deacons, appointed by the Apostles themselves, and therefore he is called “archdeacon.” He was the first Christian martyr, and he suffered for Christ when he was about thirty. In the words of Asterias, he was “the starting point of the martyrs, the instructor of suffering for Christ, the foundation of righteous confession, since Stephen was the first to shed his blood for the Gospel.” Filled with the Holy Spirit, Saint Stephen preached Christianity and defeated Jewish teachers of the Law in debate. The Jews maligned Saint Stephen, saying that he had uttered blasphemy against God and against Moses. Saint Stephen came before the Sanhedrin and the High Priest to answer these charges. He gave a fiery speech, in which he recounted the history of the Jewish nation, and denounced the Jews for persecuting the prophets, and also for executing the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ (Acts ch. 7). During his speech, Saint Stephen suddenly saw the heavens opened and Jesus Christ standing at the right hand of God. The Jews shouted and covered their ears, and rushed at him. They dragged him out of the city and stoned him, but the holy martyr prayed for his murderers. Far off on the heights stood the Mother of God with the holy Apostle John the Theologian, and She prayed fervently for the martyr. Before his death Saint Stephen said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. O Lord, lay not this sin to their charge.” Then he joyfully gave up his pure soul to Christ. The body of the holy Protomartyr Stephen, left to be eaten by beasts, was secretly taken up by the Jewish teacher Gamaliel and his son Habib, who buried Stephen on his estate. They both believed in Christ, and later received holy Baptism.Saint Stephen is also commemorated on August 2 (Translation of his relics) and on September 15 (Uncovering of his relics in the year 415).
“All-Merciful Kykko” Icon of the Mother of God
“All-Merciful Kykko” Icon of the Mother of God The All-Merciful Kykko Icon of the Mother of God: This icon was painted, according to Tradition, by the holy Evangelist Luke. It received its name “Kykkiotisa” from Mount Kykkos, on the island of Cyprus. Here it was placed in an imperial monastery (so designated because it was built with donations from the Emperor), in a church named for it. Before coming to the island of Cyprus, the wonderworking icon of the Mother of God was brought throughout the region by the will of God. At first, it was in one the earliest Christian communities in Egypt, and then it was taken to Constantinople in 980, where it remained in the time of Emperor Alexius Comnenos (end of the eleventh to early twelfth century). During these years it was revealed to the Elder Isaiah through a miraculous sign, that by his efforts the wonderworking image painted by the Evangelist Luke would be transferred to Cyprus. The Elder exerted much effort to fulfill the divine revelation. When the icon of the Mother of God arrived on the island, many miracles were performed. The Elder Isaiah was instrumental in building a church dedicated to the Theotokos, and placing the Kykko Icon in it. From ancient times up to the present day, those afflicted by every sort of infirmity flock to the monastery of the Mother of God the Merciful, and they receive healing according to their faith. The Orthodox are not the only ones who believe in the miraculous power of the holy icon, but those of other faiths also pray before it in misfortune and illness. Inexhaustible is the mercy of the Most Holy Theotokos, Mediatrix for all the suffering, and Her icon fittingly bears the name, the “Merciful.” The wonderworking “Kykkiotisa” Icon of the Mother of God possesses a remarkable peculiarity: from what time period is unknown, but it is covered by a half shroud from the upper left corner to the lower right, so that no one is able to see the faces of the Mother of God and the Divine Infant. The depiction of the Mother of God appears to be of the Hodēgḗtria (“Directress”) type, as is also the Smolensk Icon of the Mother of God. The head of the Mother of God is adorned with a crown. A copy of this icon is particularly venerated at the women’s Nikolsk monastery in the city of Mukachev.
Venerable Theodore Graptus, “the branded,” Confessor
Saint Theodore the Confessor, and his brother Theophanes (October 11) were born in Jerusalem of Christian parents. From early childhood Theodore shunned childish amusements and loved to attend church services. With his younger brother Theophanes (October 11), he was sent to the Lavra of Saint Sava to be educated by a pious priest. Both brothers became monks, and Saint Theodore was ordained to the holy priesthood. The iconoclast emperor Leo V the Armenian (813-820) expelled and replaced the pious ruler Michael I Rhangabe (811-813). In the beginning, Leo concealed his heretical views, but later declared himself an iconoclast. The Patriarch of Jerusalem sent the two brothers to Constantinople to defend the holy icons. Theodore refuted Leo’s arguments, proving the falseness of his beliefs. Leo ordered that both brothers be beaten mercilessly, and then had them sent into exile, forbidding anyone to help them in any way. Under the subsequent emperors, Michael II (820-829), and particularly under the iconoclast Theophilus (829-842), both brothers returned from exile. Again they were urged to accept iconoclasm, but they bravely endured all the tortures. They were sent into exile once more, but later returned. This time they were subjected to fierce torture, and finally, their faces were branded with the verses of a poem which mocked the holy confessors. Therefore, the brothers were called “the Branded.” The city prefect asked Saint Theodore to take communion with the iconoclasts just once, promising him freedom if he did. But the holy martyr replied, “Your proposal is the same as saying: ‘Let me cut off your head once, and then you may go wherever you wish.’” After torture the holy brothers were banished to Apamea in Bithynia, where Saint Theodore died around the year 840. Saint Theophanes survived until the end of the iconoclast heresy, and died as Bishop of Nicea. Saint Theophanes was author of many writings in defense of Orthodoxy. The relics of Saint Theodore were transferred to Chalcedon, where they worked many healings.
Saint Theodore, Archbishop of Constantinople
Saint Theodore, Archbishop of Constantinople, was a native of Constantinople, led a pious life, was ordained as a priest and served in the cathedral of Hagia Sophia, where he was also the keeper of the sacred vessels. In the year 676 he was chosen to be Patriarch of Constantinople, although after two years he was deposed because of slander. But truth triumphed, and Saint Theodore was restored to the Patriarchal throne in 683. He then guided the Church of Constantinople to the very end of his life. He died around the year 686.

Today’s Hymns

Sunday after the Nativity: Commemoration of the Holy Righteous David the King, Joseph the Betrothed, and James the Brother of the Lord – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 2
Proclaim the miracles, O Joseph,
to David, the ancestor of God:
you have seen a Virgin great with child,
you gave glory with the shepherds,
you worshipped with the Magi,
you heard the news from the Angel.
Pray to Christ God to save our souls!
Kontakion — Tone 3
Today the godly David is filled with joy;
and Joseph offers praise with James.
The glorious crown of their kinship with Christ fills them with great joy.
They sing praises to the One inexpressibly born on earth,
and cry out: ‘O Compassionate One, save those who honor You!’

Holy Righteous Joseph the Betrothed – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 2
Proclaim the wonder, O Joseph,
to David, the ancestor of God:
you saw a Virgin great with Child,
you gave glory with the shepherds,
you worshipped with the Magi,
you received the news from the angel.
Pray to Christ God to save our souls!
Kontakion — Tone 3
Today godly David is filled with joy;
Joseph and James offer praise.
The glorious crown of their kinship with Christ fills them with great joy.
They sing praises to the One ineffably born on earth,
and they cry out: ‘O Compassionate One, save those who honor You!’

Holy Righteous David the King – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 2
Proclaim the wonder, O Joseph,
to David, the ancestor of God:
you saw a Virgin great with Child,
you gave glory with the shepherds,
you worshipped with the Magi,
you received the news from the angel.
Pray to Christ God to save our souls!
Kontakion — Tone 3
Today godly David is filled with joy;
Joseph and James offer praise.
The glorious crown of their kinship with Christ fills them with great joy.
They sing praises to the One ineffably born on earth,
and they cry out: ‘O Compassionate One, save those who honor You!’

Righteous James the Brother of the Lord – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 2
Proclaim the wonder, O Joseph,
to David, the ancestor of God:
you saw a Virgin great with Child,
you gave glory with the shepherds,
you worshipped with the Magi,
you received the news from the angel.
Pray to Christ God to save our souls!
Kontakion — Tone 3
Today godly David is filled with joy;
Joseph and James offer praise.
The glorious crown of their kinship with Christ fills them with great joy.
They sing praises to the One ineffably born on earth,
and they cry out: ‘O Compassionate One, save those who honor You!’

Third Day of the Nativity of our Lord – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
Your Nativity, O Christ our God,
has shone to the world the Light of wisdom!
For by it, those who worshipped the stars,
were taught by a Star to adore You,
the Sun of Righteousness,
and to know You, the Orient from on High.
O Lord, glory to You!
Kontakion — Tone 3
Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One,
and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One!
Angels with shepherds glorify Him!
The wise men journey with a star!
Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!

Protomartyr and Archdeacon Stephen – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
Your head is crowned with a royal diadem,
because of the struggles you endured for Christ God, O first of the Martyrs to suffer;
for when you rebuked the fury1 of the Jews,
you saw your Savior at the Father’s right hand.
Always pray to Him for our souls.
Kontakion — Tone 3
Yesterday the Master came to us in the flesh,
today His servant departs from the flesh;
yesterday the King was born in the flesh,
and today His servant is stoned;
for His sake, the Protomartyr and divine Stephen is perfected. 1 Acts 7:54

Venerable Theodore Graptus, “the branded,” Confessor – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
Champion of Orthodoxy, teacher of purity and of true worship,
the enlightener of the universe and the adornment of hierarchs:
all-wise father Theodore, your teachings have gleamed with light upon all things.
Intercede before Christ God to save our souls.

Saint Theodore, Archbishop of Constantinople – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
In truth you were revealed to your flock as a rule of faith,
an image of humility and a teacher of abstinence;
your humility exalted you;
your poverty enriched you.
Hierarch Father Theodore,
entreat Christ our God
that our souls may be saved.


Readings and Feast Day Information provided by The Orthodox Church in America (OCA).

Fasting guidelines provided by The Greek American Orthodox Archdiocese (GOARCH).

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