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Scripture Readings

Friday, December 30, 2022

Today’s commemorated feasts and saints

Afterfeast of the Nativity of Christ. Virgin Martyr Anysia at Thessalonica (285-305). Martyr Zoticus, Keeper of Orphans (4th c.). Apostle of the Seventy, Timon the Deacon (1st c.). Martyr Philoterus of Nicomedia (311). Ven. Theodora of Cæsarea in Cappadocia (8th c.). Ven. Theodora of Constantinople (10th c.). Monastic Martyr Gideon of Karakallou (Mt. Athos—1818). St. Makáry, Metropolitan of Moscow and All Russia (1563).

Before Reading the Holy Scripture

Illumine our hearts, O Master Who lovest mankind, with the pure light of Thy divine knowledge. Open the eyes of our mind to the understanding of Thy gospel teachings. Implant also in us the fear of Thy blessed commandments, that trampling down all carnal desires, we may enter upon a spiritual manner of living, both thinking and doing such things as are well-pleasing unto Thee. For Thou art the illumination of our souls and bodies, O Christ our God, and unto Thee we ascribe glory, together with Thy Father, Who is from everlasting, and Thine all-holy, good, and life-creating Spirit, now and ever and unto ages of ages. Amen.


Hebrews 7:18-25

     18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. 20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: 21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) 22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. 23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. 25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Mark 12:1-12

     1 And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. 2 And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. 3 And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. 4 And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. 5 And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. 6 Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. 7 But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be our’s. 8 And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. 9 What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others. 10 And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner: 11 This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 12 And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way. ADAM, WHERE ARE YOU? By Geronta Symeon Kragiopoulos (+2015)
Homily 2: “Make Straight His Paths  [Mark 1:3][Part 7 of 8] “It is true that such things may not happen consciously, such that one might say: ‘I do not accept Christ.’  No 

one says such lies consciously.  Rather, this  is exactlywhat we must do at this specific hour: not hesitate to enter deeply within our souls, to uncover our own  desolate spiritual condition in its entirety.  The Lord is ready and able to help us.  Let us decimate, in the good sense of the word,  everything inside of us.  Specifically, let us cast out our falsehood, hypocrisy and self-justification, so that our false feelings of comfort and security can vanish.  These things must depart: so that the path can be opened; so that  the Lord, Who is truth and love, can enter into us; so  that we can be genuine and true; so  that true love can enter within not the selfish love that people, nowadays, have among themselves.Orthodox Agape by papademetrios

Mary the Mother of God

Abbot Tryphon

The Place of the Holy Virgin in the Life of a Christian

The Holy Virgin is a stumbling block for many protestants looking into Orthodoxy. The idea that this woman described in the Gospels in such humble terms could be called Mother of God seems unbiblical to them. She was never called Mother of God in the Bible, they say, so why would she be given such an exalted title? She was, they think, simply the mother of Jesus.

From the earliest of times the Church has seen fit to call her exalted among women, even more exalted then the heavenly hosts. Her role in the history of salvation has been seen as pivotal from the time of the very first century for her humility and obedience before God made her the New Eve. Whereby death entered the world through the disobedience of the first mother, Eve, the Holy Virgin became the New Eve the moment she answered, “be it done according to Thy word”, agreeing to be the Mother of Christ.

The very first icon was painted depicting Mary holding the child Jesus by none other than the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke. The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God was painted on a board from the table at which the Savior ate together with His All-Pure Mother and Righteous Joseph. The Mother of God, upon seeing this image, exclaimed, “Henceforth, all generations shall call Me blessed. The grace of both My Son and Me shall be with this icon.” She was thus recognized by the Church for her pivotal role with the title Theotokos, which means God-bearer.

The Council of Ephesus  decreed in 431 that Mary is Theotokos because her son Jesus is one person who is both God and man, divine and human. To call her only the mother of Jesus was seen as heretical because to do so would be to suggest that Jesus was simply a man, apart from being God at the same time. The balance of being both God and Man was thus preserved by the Church from the earliest of times.

The angel Gabriel was sent by God to announce to the Virgin the birth of the Saviour:  “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou among women.”  (Luke 1:28)  This angelic salutation forms a part of the hymn of the Church most frequently sung in her honor, in imitation of the words of this angelic messenger of God.  Elizabeth, the Virgin’s cousin, considered it an honor for the Mother of her Lord to visit her.  “And whence is this to me that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?”  (Luke 1:43)  There is no difference between saying “Mother of God” and “Mother of the Lord”.  Surely, God is the Lord! (Psalm 118:27)  During her visit to Elizabeth, the Blessed Virgin spoke the words that form the principal hymn sung in her honor at the Matins service.

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.  For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden, for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.”  (Luke 1: 47-48)

Elizabeth, having been “filled with the Holy Spirit”, cried out:  “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”  (Luke 1:41, 42)  This honor given the Theotokos by her cousin is exactly what all generations of the Church do when they call her blessed.  When Jesus beheld His mother and His disciple John standing by the cross, He entrusted him with her care, but He also established a new spiritual relationship between them in saying to the disciple:  “Behold thy Mother!” (John 19:27)  In making this declaration our Lord made His Mother the Mother of all Christians!

With love in Christ,
Abbot Tryphon

Photo: The Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, painted by Saint Luke the Apostle.


In Christ,
Sdn. Daniel Rudder

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