Gospel and Epistle Readings
The Reading is from St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 4:7-13
BRETHREN, grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (in saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is he who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And his gifts were that some should be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Sunday after Epiphany
The Reading is from Matthew 4:12-17
At that time, Jesus heard that John had been arrested, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth He went and dwelt in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, toward the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Hymns of the Day
When Mary stood at thy grave looking for thy sacred body, angelic powers shone above thy revered tomb, and the soldiers who were to keep guard became as dead men. Thou led hades captive and wast not tempted thereby. Thou didst meet the Virgin and didst give life to the world. Thou who art risen from the dead, O Lord, glory to Thee.
By thy baptism, O Lord, in the River Jordan, worship to the Trinity hath made its appearance; for the voice of the Lord did come forth to thee with the testimony, naming thee beloved Son; and the Spirit in the likeness of a dove, confirming the truth of the word. Wherefore, O thou who didst appear and lighted the world, O Christ, glory to thee.
The barren wilderness thou didst make fertile with the streams of thy tears and by thy deep sighing thou hast given fruit through thy struggles a hundred-fold. Accordingly, thou hast become a star for the universe, sparkling with miracles. Therefore, O righteous Father Theodosios , intercede with Christ God to save our souls.
O foremost in the ranks of Apostles,and teachers of the world, Peter and Paul, intercede with the Master of all to grant safety to the world,and to our souls the Great Mercy.
Today thou hast appeared to the universe, O Lord, and thy light hath been shed upon us, who praise thee with knowledge, saying, Thou hast come and appeared, O unapproachable Light.
Saints and Feasts of the Week
Saint Syncletike was from Alexandria in Egypt. She lived eighty-three years in virginity and asceticism, and became the leader and teacher of many nuns. What Saint Anthony the Great was to men, she became to women: a model of mortification of the flesh, of patience in afflictions, and of wise instruction; for this, she is known a “Amma,” a title corresponding to “Abba.” Towards the end of her long life, she was stricken with an exceedingly painful disease, which she endured with faith and magnanimity. She reposed in the middle of the fourth century. It is said of Saint Syncletike that she was the virgin who hid Saint Athanasius from the Arians for more than a year in the environs of Alexandria, and it is to Saint Athanasius that her life is ascribed (PG 18:1488-1557).
About the beginning of our Lord’s thirtieth year, John the Forerunner, who was some six months older than Our Saviour according to the flesh, and had lived in the wilderness since his childhood, received a command from God and came into the parts of the Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance unto the remission of sins. Then our Saviour also came from Galilee to the Jordan, and sought and received baptism though He was the Master and John was but a servant. Whereupon, there came to pass those marvellous deeds, great and beyond nature: the Heavens were opened, the Spirit descended in the form of a dove upon Him that was being baptized and the voice was heard from the Heavens hearing witness that this was the beloved Son of God, now baptized as a man (Matt. 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:1-22). From these events the Divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and the great mystery of the Trinity were demonstrated. It is also from this that the present feast is called “Theophany,” that is, the divine manifestation, God’s appearance among men. On this venerable day the sacred mystery of Christian baptism was inaugurated; henceforth also began the saving preaching of the Kingdom of the Heavens.
Today we celebrate the Synaxis in honour of the most sacred Forerunner, since he ministered at the Mystery of the Divine Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Saint Domnica was from Carthage. During the reign of the Emperor Theodosius the Great, she came with four other virgins to Constantinople, where she was baptized by Nectarius, the Patriarch of Constantinople. She remained in Constantinople and became known for her extreme asceticism, the miracles that she worked, and the grace of prophecy that adorned her. She lived until the days of the Emperors Leo and Zeno, reposing in peace about the year 474.
Saint Polyeuctus, a soldier in rank, contested during the reign of Valerian, in the year 255. He was from Melitene, a city in Armenia.
Saint Gregory, the younger brother of Basil the Great, illustrious in speech and a zealot for the Orthodox Faith, was born in 331. His brother Basil was encouraged by their elder sister Macrina to prefer the service of God to a secular career (see July 19); Saint Gregory was moved in a similar way by his godly mother Emily, who, when Gregory was still a young man, implored him to attend a service in honor of the holy Forty Martyrs at her retreat at Annesi on the River Iris. Saint Gregory came at his mother’s bidding, but being wearied with the journey, and feeling little zeal, he fell asleep during the service. The Forty Martyrs then appeared to him in a dream, threatening him and reproaching him for his slothfulness. After this he repented and became very diligent in the service of God.
Gregory became bishop in 372, and because of his Orthodoxy he was exiled in 374 by Valens, who was of one mind with the Arians. After the death of Valens in 378, Gregory was recalled to his throne by the Emperor Gratian. He attended the Local Council of Antioch, which sent him to visit the churches of Arabia and Palestine, which had been defiled and ravaged by Arianism. He attended the Second Ecumenical Council, which was assembled in Constantinople in 381. Having lived some sixty years and left behind many remarkable writings, he reposed about the year 395. The acts of the Seventh Ecumenical Council call him ‘Father of Fathers.”