Hymns of the Day
Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad; for the Lord hath done a mighty act with his own arm. He hath trampled down death and become the First-born from the dead. He hath delivered us from the depth of hades, granting the world the Great Mercy.
O Thou Who lookest on the earth and makest it tremble, deliver us from the fearful menace of earthquake, O Christ our God, and by the intercessions of the Theotokos, send down upon us Thy mercies in abundance and save us.
Verily, the inhabited world found thee a great succor in tribulations and a vanquisher of nations, O fight-bearing one. Wherefore, as thou didst demolish the arrogance of Lahosh, and on the battle-field didst hearten Nestor, beseech O Saint, Christ God to grant us the Great Mercy.
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.
O protection of Christians that cannot be put to shame, mediation unto the Creator most constant: O despise not the suppliant voices of those who have sinned, but be thou quick, o good one, to come unto our aid, who in faith cry unto thee. Hasten to intercession, and speed thou to make supplications, thou who dost ever protect, O Theotokos, them that honor thee.
Gospel and Epistle Readings
The Reading is from St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy 2:1-10
TIMOTHY, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier on service gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to satisfy the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will grant you understanding in everything.
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David, as preached in my gospel, the gospel for which I am suffering and wearing fetters like a criminal. But the word of God is not fettered. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain salvation in Christ Jesus with its eternal glory.
6th Sunday of Luke
The Reading is from Luke 8:26-39
At that time, as Jesus arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, there met him a man from the city who had demons; for a long time he had worn no clothes and he lived not in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and said with a loud voice, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech you, do not torment me.” For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him; he was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters, but he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Legion”; for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them leave. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. When the herdsmen saw what happened, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how he who had been possessed with demons was healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gadarenes asked him to depart from them; for they were seized with great fear; so he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but he sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
Saints and Feasts
This Saint was born at Tabatha, near Gaza in Palestine, of pagan parents. Sent as a young man to Alexandria to be educated, he learned the Christian Faith and was baptized. While in Egypt he heard the fame of Saint Anthony the Great, and upon meeting that truly great man, the Father of monks, Saint Hilarion determined to devote himself also to the ascetical life. He returned to Gaza, when, he gave himself over to extreme fasting and unceasing prayer. Because of the miracles which he soon began to work, he found himself compelled by his growing renown to leave Gaza, to escape from the throngs of people coming to ask his prayers. In his journeys he visited Egypt, and came again with longing to the place where Saint Anthony had lived; but he was not able to remain in any one place for long, since despite all his attempts to conceal himself, the light of the grace that was in him could not be hid. After passing through Egypt and Libya, and sailing to Sicily, he came at last to Cyprus, where he ended the course of his life at the age of eighty, in the year 372.
The Seven Youths hid themselves in a certain cave near Ephesus in the year 250, to escape the persecution of Decius. By divine grace, a sleep came upon them and they slept for 184 years, until the reign of Saint Theodosius the Younger, when the doctrine of the resurrection was being assailed by heretics. They then awoke, that is, were resurrected, confirming in the sight of all the bodily resurrection; and again after a short time, by divine command, they reposed in the Lord in the year 434.
According to some, this Saint was a son of Joseph the Betrothed, born of the wife that the latter had before he was betrothed to the Ever-virgin. Hence he was the brother of the Lord, Who was also thought to be the son of Joseph (Matt. 13: 55). But some say that he was a nephew of Joseph, and the son of his brother Cleopas, who was also called Alphaeus and Mary his wife, who was the first cousin of the Theotokos. But even according to this genealogy, he was still called, according to the idiom of the Scriptures, the Lord’s brother because of their kinship.
This Iakovos is called the Less (Mark 15:4) by the Evangelists to distinguish him from Iakovos, the son of Zebedee, who was called the Great. He became the first Bishop of Jerusalem, elevated to this episcopal rank by the Apostles, according to Eusebius (Eccl. Hist., Book II: 23), and was called Obliah, that is, the Just, because of his great holiness and righteousness. Having ascended the crest of the Temple on the day of the Passover at the prompting of all, he bore testimony from there concerning his belief in Jesus, and he proclaimed with a great voice that Jesus sits at the right hand of the great power of God and shall come again upon the clouds of heaven. On hearing this testimony, many of those present cried, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” But the Scribes and Pharisees cried, “So, even the just one hath been led astray,” and at the command of Ananias the high priest, the Apostle was cast down headlong from thence, then was stoned, and while he prayed for his slayers, his head was crushed by the wooden club wielded by a certain scribe. The first of the Catholic (General) Epistles written to the Jews in the Diaspora who believed in Christ was written by this Iakovos.
These Martyrs contested for piety’s sake in the year 524 in Najran, a city of Arabia Felix (present-day Yemen). When Dhu Nuwas, ruler of the Himyarite tribe in south Arabia, and a Judaizer, took power, he sought to blot out Christianity, especially at Najran, a Christian city. Against the counsels of Arethas, chief man of Najran, the city surrendered to Dhu Nuwas, who immediately broke the word he had given and sought to compel the city to renounce Christ. Led by Saint Arethas, hundreds of martyrs, including women, children, and babes, valiantly withstood his threats, and were beheaded and burned. After the men had been slain, all the free-born Christian women of Najran were brought before the tyrant and commanded to abjure Christ or die; yet they rebuked the persecutor with such boldness that he said even the men had not insulted him so contemptuously. So great was their faith that not one woman was found to deny Christ in all Najran, although some of them suffered torments more bitter than most of the men. In alliance with Byzantium, the Ethiopian King Elesbaan liberated Najran from Dhu Nuwas soon after and raised up churches in honour of the Martyrs. Najran became a place of pilgrimage until the rise of Islam a century later. At the end of his life King Elesbaan, who was also called Caleb, retired into solitude as a hermit; he sent his crown to Jerusalem as an offering to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. He also is commemorated on this day as a saint. Saint Arethas’ name in Arabic, Harith, means “plowman, tiller,” much the same as “George” does in Greek.
The great earthquake commemorated here took place in 740, during the reign of Leo the Isaurian, the first of the Iconoclast emperors.
Wisdom of the Fathers
Faith is the beginning of our union with God: the true believers are the stone of the church of God, prepared for the edifice of God the Father, which is raised up to the heights by the power of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Cross and help of the grace of the Holy Spirit. “Faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). The works of faith are love, peace, longsuffering, mercy, humility, bearing one’s cross and life by the Spirit. True faith cannot remain without works. One who truly believes will also surely perform good works.