The placing of the Venerable Belt of the Most Holy Theotokos in a church of Constantinople’s Chalcoprateia district took place during the reign of the emperor Theosodius the Younger. Before this the holy relic, entrusted to the Apostle Thomas by Mary herself, was kept by pious Christians at Jerusalem after her Dormition. During the reign of the Emperor Leo the Wise (886-911), his wife Zoe was afflicted with an unclean spirit, and he prayed that God would heal her. The empress had a vision that she would be healed of her infirmity if the Belt of the Theotokos was placed upon her. The emperor then asked the Patriarch to open the coffer. The Patriarch removed the seal and opened the coffer in which the relic was kept, and the Belt of the Mother of God appeared completely whole and undamaged by time. The Patriarch placed the Belt on the sick empress, and immediately she was freed from her infirmity. They sang hymns of thanksgiving to the Most Holy Theotokos, then they placed the venerable Belt back into the coffer and resealed it. In commemoration of the miraculous occurrence and the twofold placing of the venerable Belt, the Feast of the Placing of the Venerable Belt of the Most Holy Theotokos was established in 942.
Ever-Virgin Theotokos and protection of the human race, you gave the robe and cincture of your most pure body to your city as a powerful protection. These garments remained incorrupt because of your virginal childbirth. For in you, both time and nature have been renewed. Therefore, we pray that you grant peace to the universe and great mercy to our souls.
As a mantle of immortality you have given to the faithful the garment that covered your most pure body, O Virgin whom God himself has blessed and divine protection of the human race. With love we celebrate the feast of the deposition of your mantle, and we sing with faith: Rejoice, O Virgin, for you are the pride of Christians.
Hebrews 9: 1-7
Brothers and sisters: The first covenant had regulations and an earthly sanctuary. For a tabernacle was constructed, the outer one, in which were the lampstand, the table, and the showbread; this was called the holy place. Behind the second veil was the tabernacle called the holy of holies, in which were the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant entirely covered with gold. In the ark were the golden jars containing manna, the rod of Aaron which had blossomed, and the tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the place of expiation. We cannot speak now of each of these in detail. These were the arrangements for worship. In performing their service the priests used to go into the inner one, and that but once a year, with the blood which he offered for himself and for the sins of the people.
Luke 10: 38-42, 11: 27-28
At that time Jesus entered a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him to her home. She had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and listened to his words. Martha, who was busy with all the details of hospitality, came to Jesus and said, “Lord, are you not concerned that my sister has left me to do the household tasks all alone? Tell her to help me.”
The Lord in reply said to her: “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and upset about many things; one thing only is required. Mary has chosen the better portion and she shall not be deprived of it.”
While he was saying this a woman from the crowd called out, “Blest is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” Jesus replied, “Rather, blest are they who hear the word of God and keep it.”
Galatians 1: 1-10, 20-21; 2: 1-5
Paul, an apostle sent not by men or by any man, but by Jesus Christ and God his Father who raised him from the dead. I and my brothers who are with me send greetings to the churches in Galatia. We wish you the favor and peace of God our Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, to rescue us from the present evil age, as our God and Father willed – to him be glory for endless ages. Amen.
I am amazed that you are so soon deserting him who called you in accord with his gracious design in Christ, and are going over to another gospel. But there is no other. Some who wish to alter the gospel of Christ must have confused you. For even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel not in accord with the one we delivered to you, let a curse be upon him! I repeat what I have just said: if anyone preaches a gospel to you other than the one you received, let a curse be upon him!
Whom would you say I am trying to please at this point – men or God? Is this how I seek to ingratiate myself with men? If i were trying to win man’s approval, I would surely not be serving Christ!
I declare before God that what I have just written is true. Thereafter I entered the regions of Syria and Cilicia. The communities of Christ in Judea had no idea what I looked like; they had only heard that “he who was formerly persecuting us is now preaching the faith he tried to destroy,” and they gave glory to God on my account.
Then, after fourteen years, I went up to Jerusalem again with Barnabas, this time taking Titus with me. I went prompted by a revelation, and I laid out for their scrutiny the gospel as I present it to the Gentiles – all this in private conference with the leaders, to make sure the course I was pursuing, or had pursued, was not useless. Not even Titus, who was with me, was order to undergo circumcision, despite his being a Greek. Certain false claimants to the title of brother were smuggled in; they wormed their way into the group to spy on the freedom we enjoy in Christ Jesus and thereby to make slaves of us, but we did not submit to them for a moment. We resisted so that the truth of the gospel might survive intact for your benefit.
Mark 5: 1-20
At that time Jesus and his disciples came to Gerasene territory on the other side of the lake. As Jesus got out of the boat, he was immediately met by a man from the tombs who had an unclean spirit. The man had taken refuge among the tombs; he could no longer be restrained even with a chain. In fact, he has frequently been secured with handcuffs and chains, but had pulled the chains apart and smashed the fetters. No one had proved strong enough to tame him. Uninterruptedly night and day, amid the tombs and on the hillsides, he screamed and gashed himself with stones. Catching sight of Jesus at a distance, he ran up and did him homage, shrieking in a loud voice, “Why meddle with me, Jesus, Son of God Most High? I implore you in God’s name, do not torture me!” (Jesus had been saying to him, “Unclean spirit, come out of the man!”) “What is your name?” Jesus asked him. “Legion is my name,” he answered. “There are hundreds of us.” He pleaded hard with Jesus not to drive them away from that neighborhood.
It happened that a large herd of swine was feeding there on the slope of the mountain. “Send us into the swine,” they begged Jesus. “Let us enter them.” Jesus gave the word, and with it the unclean spirits came out and entered the swine. The herd of about two thousand went rushing down the bluff into the lake, where they began to drown. The swineherds ran off and brought the news to field and village, and the people came to see what had happened. As they approached Jesus, they caught sight of the man who had been possessed by Legion sitting fully clothed and perfectly sane, and they were seized with fear. The spectators explained what had happened to the possessed man, and told them about the swine. Before long they were begging Jesus to go away from their district.
As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed was pressing to accompany him. Jesus did not grant his request, but told him instead: “Go home to your family and make it clear to them how much the Lord in his mercy has done for you.” At that the man went off and began to proclaim throughout the Ten Cities what Jesus had done for him. They were all amazed at what they heard.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Wednesday, August 30 –