Our venerable father Joseph the Hymnographer, priest, who, was a monk, when the destroyers of holy icons were raging in the later part of the 9th century, was sent to Rome to seek the protection of the Apostolic See, and, after he had been afflicted with many trials, finally took custody of the holy vessels of the Church of Holy Wisdom.
Our venerable father George of Maleon lived during the 9th century. His parents arranged a marriage for him, but he refused to marry the woman they had chosen. Instead, he entered the monastery on Maleon in the Peloponnesus, and many disciples gathered around him. He was able to see the future and predicted his death three years before it occurred. In service to him, St. George is called an earthly angel and a wonderworker.
O God of our ancestors, You always deal with us according to your everlasting compassion, take not your mercy away from us; but through the prayers of our ancestors, guide our lives along the ways of peace.
You are a never-ending fountain of lasting penance, an unending river of comfort, and a depth of goodness, O Joseph. Give us tears of celestial repentance by which we might cry in seeking your help and find comfort from God through you, O holy one.
You sought to be a friend of Christ, and so you turned from worldly distraction. You lived like an angel on earth, O George. Therefore, we are in awe of your holy passing. Beg Christ our God to have mercy on us.
Exodus 2: 5-10
The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him. “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, because, she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
Job 1: 13-22
One day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in the eldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell on them and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another came and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three columns, made a raid on the camels and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you.” While he was still speaking, another came and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind came across the desert, struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; I alone have escaped to tell you.”
Then Job arose, tore his robe, shaved his head, and fell on the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, naked shall I return there; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrongdoing.
Matthew 24:36 – 26:2
The Lord said to his disciples: “As for the exact day or hour, no one knows it, neither angels in heaven nor the Son, but the Father only. The coming of the Son of Man will repeat what happened in Noah’s time. In the days before the flood people were eating and drinking, marrying and being married, right up to the day Noah entered the ark. They were totally unconcerned until the flood came and destroyed them. So will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal; one will be taken and one will be left. Stay awake, therefore! You cannot know the day your Lord is coming.
“Be sure of this: if the owner of the house knew when the thief was coming he would keep a watchful eye and not allow his house to be broken into. You must be prepared in the same way. The Son of Man is coming at the time you least expect. Who is the faithful, farsighted servant whom the master has put in charge of his household to dispense food at need? Happy that servant whom his master discovers at work on his return! I assure you, he will put him in charge of all his property. But if the servant is worthless and tells himself, ‘My master is a long time in coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, to eat and drink with drunkards, that man’s master will return when he is not ready and least expect him. He will punish him severely and settle with him as he is done with hypocrites. There will be wailing then and grinding of teeth.
“The reign of God can be likened to 10 bridesmaids who took their torches and went out to welcome the groom. Five of them were foolish, while the other five were sensible. The foolish ones, in taking their torches, brought no oil along, but the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their torches. The groom delayed his arrival, so they all began to nod, then to fall asleep. At midnight someone shouted, ‘The groom is here! Come out and greet him!’ At the outcry all the virgins woke up and got their torches ready. The foolish ones said to the sensible, ‘Give us some of your oil. Our torches are going out.’ But the sensible ones replied, ‘No, there may not be enough for you and us. You had better go to the dealers and buy yourselves some.’ While they went off to buy it the groom arrived, and the ones who were ready went into the wedding with him. Then the door was barred. Later the other bridesmaids came back. ‘Master, master!’ they cried. ‘Open the door for us.’ But he answered, ‘I tell you, I do not know you.’ The moral is: keep your eyes open, for you know not the day or the hour.
“The case of a man who is going on a journey is similar. He called in his servants and handed his funds over to them according to each man’s ability. To one he dispersed five thousand silver pieces, to a second two thousand, and to a third one thousand. Then he went away. Immediately the man who received the five thousand went to invest it and made another five. In the same way, the man who received two thousand doubled his figure. The man who received the thousand went off instead and dug a hole in the ground, where he buried his master’s money. After a long absence, the master of those servants came home and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five thousand came forward bringing the additional five. ‘My Lord,’ he said, ‘you let me have five thousand. See, I have made five thousand more.’ His master said to him ‘Well done! You are an industrious and reliable servant. Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs. Come, share your master’s joy!’ The man who had received the two thousand then stepped forward, ‘My Lord,’ he said, ‘you and trusted me with two thousand and I have made two thousand more.’ His master said to him, ‘Cleverly done! You too are an industrious and reliable servant. Since you were dependable in a small matter I will put you in charge of larger affairs. Come, share your master’s joy!’
“Finally the man who had received the thousand stepped forward. ‘My Lord,’ he said, ‘I knew you were a hard man. You reap where you did not sew and gather where you did not scatter, so out of fear I went off and buried your thousand silver pieces in the ground. Here is your money back. His master exclaimed: ‘You worthless, lazy lout! You know I reap where I did not sew and gather where I did not scatter. All the more reason to deposit my money with the bankers, so that on my return I could have it back with interest. You, there! Take the thousand away from him and give it to the man with the ten thousand. Those who have will get more until they grow rich, while those who have not will lose even the little they have. Throw this worthless servant into the darkness outside, where he can wail and gnash his teeth.’
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, escorted by all the angels of heaven, he will set upon his royal throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. Then he will separate them into two groups, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep he will place on his right hand, the goats on his left. The king will say to those on his right: ‘Come. You have my father‘s blessing! Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me. I was ill and you comforted me, in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the just will ask him: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you a drink? When did we welcome you away from home or clothe you in your nakedness? When did we visit you when you were ill or in prison?’ The king will answer them: ‘I assure you, as often as you did it for one of my least brothers, you did it for me.’
“Then he will say to those on his left: ‘Out of my sight, you condemned, into that everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels! I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink. I was away from home and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing. I was ill and in prison and you did not come to comfort me.’ Then they in turn will ask: ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or away from home or naked or ill or in prison and not attend you in your needs?’ He will answer them: ‘I assure you, as often as you neglected to do it to one of these least ones, you neglected to do it to me.’ These will go off to eternal punishment and the just to eternal life.”
Now when Jesus had finished all these discourses, he declared to his disciples, “You know that in two days’ time it will be Passover, and that the Son of Man is to be handed over to be crucified.”
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Monday, April 3 –