The holy martyrs Agape, Irene, and Chiona were sisters who lived at the end of the third century to the beginning of the fourth century, near the Italian city of Aquilea. They were orphaned at an early age. St. Chiona (“snow” in Greek) preserved the purity of her baptism according to the words of the Prophet-King David, “You will wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” (Ps 50/51: 7). St. Irene (“peace” in Greek) preserved the peace of Christ within herself and manifested it to others, according to the Savior’s word, “My peace I give you” (John 14:27). St. Agape (“love” in Greek) loved God with all her heart, and her neighbor as herself (Mt. 22: 37-39).
As lambs you were led through martyrdom to Christ, the Shepherd and Lamb. You ran the race and kept the faith. Therefore, with joyful hearts we celebrate your holy memory, O most worthy martyrs, and we glorify Christ.
Having pledged yourselves to the Lord so gracefully, you made an offering of your blood at your martyrdom. O holy martyrs, you have been admitted to heaven’s banquet hall and to the splendid brilliance of the Light himself. As we celebrate your memory, we bless the Savior and we cry out to you: Pray to the Lord for all of us.
Acts 5: 12-20
In those days, through the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders occurred among the people. By mutual agreement, they used to meet in Solomon’s Portico. No one else dared to join them, despite the fact that the people held them in great esteem. Nevertheless more and more be;ievers, men and women in great numbers, were continually added to the Lord. The people carried the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mattresses, so that when Peter passed by at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. Crowds from the towns around Jerusalem would gather, too, bringing their sick and those who were troubled by unclean spirits, all of whom were cursed.
The high priest and all his supporters (that is, the party of Sadducees), filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and threw them into the public jail. During the night, however, an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the jail, led them forth, and said, “Go out now and take your place in the temple precincts and preach to the people all about this new life.”
John 20: 19-31
On the evening of that first day of the week, even though the disciples had locked the doors of the place where they were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood before them. “Peace be with you,” he said. When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. At the sight of the Lord the disciples rejoiced. “Peace be with you,” he said again.
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound.”
It happened that one of the Twelve, Thomas (the name means, “Twin”), was absent when Jesus came. The other disciples kept telling him: “We have seen the Lord!” His answer was, “I will never believe it without probing the nailprints in his hands, without putting my finger in the nailmarks and my hand into his side.”
A week later, the disciples were once more in the room, and this time Thomas was with them. Despite the locked doors, Jesus came and stood before them. “Peace be with you,” he said to them; then, to Thomas: “Take your finger and examine my hands. Put your hand into my side. Do not persist in your unbelief, but believe!” Thomas said in response, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus then said to him: “You became a believer because you saw me. Blest are they who have not seen and have believed.”
Jesus performed many other signs as well – signs not recorded here – in the presence of his disciples. But these have been recorded to help you believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through his faith you may have life in his name.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Sunday, April 16 –