Thursday May 06, 2021
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Acts 2:38-43 (Epistle)
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
John 3:1-15 (Gospel)
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nikodemos, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nikodemos said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Nikodemos answered and said to Him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We speak what We know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.
Saints and Feasts Celebrated Today
On Bright Thursday the Gospel reading is John 3:1-15, which mentions the Pharisee Nikodemos who came by night to speak to Christ. The Lord told him that a man could not see the Kingdom of God unless he were born again. Nikodemos, taking Him much too literally, could not understand how such a thing was possible. The Savior then clarified His words, saying that one must be born “of water and the Spirit” (John 3:5), referring to Baptism. Nikodemos, however, still found it difficult to understand Him.The Lord said, “If I have told you of earthly things, and you believe not, how shall you believe if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John 3:12).The reading from Acts 2:38-41 also speaks of Baptism. Saint Peter told the crowd, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you… and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).The main focus of today’s readings is on Baptism, but they also point to other things. We are to raise our mind and understanding from earthly to heavenly things, and to seek the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Righteous Job the Long-Suffering
The righteous Job (whose name means “persecuted”), God’s faithful servant, was the perfect image of every virtue. The son of Zarah and Bossorha (Job 42), Job was a fifth-generation descendent of Abraham. He was a truthful, righteous, patient and pious man who abstained from every evil thing. Job was very rich and blessed by God in all things, as was no other son of Ausis (his country, which lay between Idoumea and Arabia). However, divine condescension permitted him to be tested.Job lost his children, his wealth, his glory, and every consolation all at once. His entire body became a terrible wound covered with boils. Yet he remained steadfast and patient in the face of his misfortune for seven years, always giving thanks to God.Later, God restored his former prosperity, and he had twice as much as before. Job lived for 170 years after his misfortune, completing his earthly life in 1350 B.C. at the age of 240. Some authorities say that Job’s afflictions lasted only one year, and that afterwards he lived for 140 years, reaching the age of 210.Job’s explanations are among the most poetic writings in the Old Testament book which bears his name. It is one of the most edifying portions of Holy Scripture. Job teaches us that we must endure life’s adversities patiently and with trust in God. As Saint Anthony the Great (January 17) says, without temptations, it is impossible for the faithful to be saved.The Orthodox Church reads the book of Job, the first of the seven wisdom books of the Old Testament, during Holy Week, drawing a parallel between Job and Christ as righteous men who suffered through no fault of their own. God allowed Satan to afflict Job so that his faithfulness would be proven. Christ, the only sinless one, suffered voluntarily for our sins. The Septuagint text of Job 42:17 says that Job “will rise again with those whom the Lord raises up.” This passage is read on Great and Holy Friday, when the composite Gospel at Vespers speaks of the tombs being opened at the moment the Savior died on the Cross, and the bodies of the saints were raised, and they appeared to many after Christ’s Resurrection (Mt.27:52)
Saint Seraphim of Labodeia
Saint Seraphim, who struggled on Dobou mountain in Lebadeia in central Greece, was born in the village of Zeli in Boeotia in 1527, and his name in the world was Sotiris. He was the son of pious and virtuous parents, who nurtured him with the living water of the Gospel (John 4:10). From the time he was very little, he was inclined toward the study of the Holy Scriptures and toward the ascetic life. At an early age and despite the temporary refusal of his parents to give their blessing, he went to the monastery of the Prophet Elias on Mount Karkaras, where he built a church dedicated to the Savior Christ, and lived a life of asceticism. The Saint’s reputation spread quickly, and there were frequent visits by his parents, his friends, and other pious believers, who sought him out so that he might counsel and help them. Because of these distractions, he was obliged to abandon his beloved cave, and so he went to the monastery of the Holy Unmercenaries. He soon left this monastery as well, and went to the Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior on Mount Sagmation, between Boeotia and Euboia. There he quickly shone forth as a spiritual star of the first magnitude, and the igumen tonsured him as a monk with the name Seraphim. Later, he was ordained as a deacon and then as a priest. Shortly afterward, in order to avoid vanity because of his reputation for virtue, St. Seraphim asked for the Igumen’s blessing to live elsewhere. He left the monastery of his repentance and arrived west of Helicon, at Dobou, where he built a church of the Savior, a few cells, and then he called some monks to dwell near him. He struggled there for ten years, teaching the other monks the saving precepts of the monastic life. Saint Seraphim reposed in a godly manner at the age of 75, on May 6, 1602, on the Feast of Mid-Pentecost, at 6 o’clock in the afternoon, after foreseeing his own death and partaking of the spotless Mysteries. He performed many miracles during his lifetime. The Saint’s head and a portion of his holy relics are found in the Monastery of Boeotia which is named for him. Another portion of the Saint’s holy relics is honored at the Agathonos Monastery at Phthiotis in central Greece.
Venerable Micah, disciple of Venerable Sergius of Radonezh
Saint Micah of Radonezh was one of the first disciples of Saint Sergius of Radonezh, and lived with him in the same cell, and under his guidance he attained a high degree of spiritual perfection. For his meekness of soul and purity of heart, Saint Micah was permitted to witness the appearance of the Mother of God to his great teacher. Once, after Saint Sergius had completed the morning Rule of prayer, he sat down to rest for awhile; but suddenly he said to his disciple, “Be alert, my child, for we shall have a wondrous visitation.” Hardly had he uttered these words when a voice was heard, “The All-Pure One draws near.” Suddenly there shone a light brighter than the sun. Saint Micah fell down upon the ground in fear, and lay there as if he were dead. When Saint Sergius lifted up his disciple, he asked, “Tell me, Father, what is the reason for this wondrous vision? My soul has nearly parted from my body from fright.” Saint Sergius then informed his disciple about the appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos. Saint Micah fell asleep in the Lord in the year 1385. Saint Micah’s relics rest in a crypt at the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra. On December 10, 1734, over Saint Micah’s tomb, a church was consecrated in honor of the Appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos and the Holy Apostles Peter and John the Theologian to Saint Sergius of Radonezh.
Martyr Barbarus the Soldier, and those with him, in Morea
The Holy Martyrs Barbarus the Soldier, Bacchus, Callimachus and Dionysius lived during the fourth century and served in the army of the emperor Julian the Apostate. Saint Barbarus was secretly a Christian, and in a war with the Franks he gained victory in single combat against a mighty enemy soldier. For this he received great honor in the army and the acclamation of the emperor, and was given the title of comitus (imperial bodyguard). After the victory over the Franks, Bacchus wanted to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods, and he deferred to Barbarus as the victor, allowing him to have the honor of making the first sacrificial offering. Saint Barbarus openly confessed himself a Christian and refused to offer the sacrifice. He was subjected to much torture for this, by order of Julian the Apostate. They suspended the saint and tore his body until his insides were falling out. Saint Barbarus called out to the Lord for help, and then an angel of God appeared and healed his wounds, so that not a trace of them remained. Seeing this miracle, the military commander Bacchus and two soldiers, Callimachus and Dionysius, believed in Christ and repudiated the pagan gods. For this, they were immediately beheaded. They continued to torture Saint Barbarus. They tied him to a wheel and lit a fire under it, and they sprinkled the body of the sufferer with oil. But here also the power of God preserved the holy martyr unharmed. The fire burned many of the torturers, however, killing two. After this they continued to torment the holy Martyr Barbarus for another seven days. Through miraculous help from on high, the saint remained unharmed. Seeing in this miracle the manifest power of God, many pagans were converted to the true God. Saint Barbarus finally completed his glorious endeavor by being beheaded by the sword in the year 362. The martyr’s body was buried in the city of Methona in the Peloponnesus by the pious Bishop Philikios.
Martyr Barbarus in Thessaly, who was a robber
The Holy Martyr Barbarus, formerly a robber, lived in Greece and for a long time he committed robberies, extortions and murders. But the Lord, Who does not desire the death of a sinner, turned him to repentance. Once, when Barbarus was sitting in a cave and gazing upon his stolen possessions, the grace of God touched his heart. He thought about the inevitability of death, and about the dread Last Judgment. Pondering over the multitude of his wicked deeds, he was distressed in his heart and he decided to make a beginning of repentance, saying, “The Lord did not despise the prayer of the robber hanging beside Him. May He spare me through His ineffable mercy.”Barbarus left all his treasures behind in the cave and he went to the nearest church. He did not conceal his wicked deeds from the priest, and he asked to be accepted for repentance. The priest gave him a place in his own home, and Saint Barbarus followed him, going about on his hands and knees like a four-legged animal, since he considered himself unworthy to be called a man. In the household of the priest he lived with the cattle, eating with the animals and considering himself more wicked than any creature. Having received absolution from his sins from the priest, Barbarus went into the woods and lived there for twelve years, naked and without clothing, suffering from the cold and heat. His body became dirty and blackened all over. Finally, Saint Barbarus received a sign from on high that his sins were forgiven, and that he would die a martyr’s death. Once, merchants came to the place where Saint Barbarus labored. In the deep grass before them they saw something moving. Thinking that this was an animal, they shot several arrows from their bows. Coming closer, they were terrified to see that they had mortally wounded a man. Saint Barbarus begged them not to grieve. He told them about himself and he asked that they relate what had happened to the priest at whose house he had once lived. After this, Saint Barbarus yielded up his spirit to God. The priest, who had accepted the repentance of the former robber, found his body shining with a heavenly light. The priest buried the body of Saint Barbarus at the place where he was killed. Afterwards, a curative myrrh began to issue forth from the grave of the saint, which healed various maladies. His relics are located at the monastery of Kellios in Thessaly, near the city of Larissa.
Translation of the relics of Saint Savva, first Archbishop of Serbia
Righteous Job the Long-Suffering – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 1
As an indestructible pillar of courage,
you repulsed the attacks of Belial and remained unmoved in temptation.
Therefore, O wise Job,
the Church praises you as a model of endurance and an example of virtue;
and she is made radiant by your great deeds.
Kontakion — Tone 8
You were true and just, pious, blameless and holy, O glorious servant of God.
You enlightened the world by your perseverance, much-afflicted Job.
Therefore, we all honor and praise your divinely-wise memory.
Venerable Micah, disciple of Venerable Sergius of Radonezh – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
Having taken the Lord’s yoke* upon your shoulders,
you followed Christ with your teacher, the venerable Sergius,
with whom you were deemed worthy to behold the Most Holy Theotokos,
and hear her sweet voice promise that she would not depart from that place.
Pray, O venerable Micah, for those who revere your holy memory. * (Matthew 11:29-30)
Kontakion — Tone 8
Come, assemblies of monastics and choirs of those who fast,
joining together let us praise blessed Micah,
the companion in fasting of venerable Sergius,
with whom he stands before the Holy Trinity
and prays that our souls be saved.
Martyr Barbarus the Soldier, and those with him, in Morea – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 4
Your holy martyr Barbarus and his companions, O Lord,
through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.
For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries,
and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through their intercessions, save our souls
Martyr Barbarus in Thessaly, who was a robber – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 3
Your holy martyr Barbarus, O Lord,
through his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God.
For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries,
and shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
Through his intercessions, save our souls!
Kontakion — Tone 2
You appeared as a bright star announcing Christ with your radiance,
which is repulsive to this world, O Martyr Barbarus;
extinguishing the allure of false gods,
you enlighten the faithful,
always interceding for us all.
Translation of the relics of Saint Savva, first Archbishop of Serbia – 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 Savva,
entreat Christ our God
that our souls may be saved.
Saint Seraphim of Labodeia – Troparion & Kontakion
Troparion — Tone 8
By a flood of tears you made the desert fertile,
and your longing for God brought forth fruits in abundance.
By the radiance of miracles you illumined the whole universe!
O our holy father Seraphim, pray to Christ our God to save our souls!
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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