Dec. 29 The Holy Innocents; Our Venerable Father Marcellus, Hegumen of the Akimetes

Bulletin as of December 28 2023

The holy innocents killed for Christ by Herod in Bethlehem of Judea: the impious king did this in the expectation that, with them, the infant Jesus would perish. They have been honored as martyrs from the first ages of the Church, the first-fruits of all who would pour out their blood for God and the Lamb.

Our venerable father Marcellus, hegumen of the Akimetes (the “non-sleeping ones”) fell asleep in the Lord on the Bosporus in Constantinople in 486. Day and night, without any interruption ever, he carried out the singing of psalms.



O Lord who loves mankind, accept the sufferings which Your saints endured for You. As we pray, heal all our pains.


Troparion – Marcellus

In you, O father, the divine image was strictly preserved; taking up your cross, you followed Christ. You taught us by example how to spurn the flesh, for it passes away, and how to care for the soul, which is immortal. Therefore, O venerable Marcellus, your soul rejoices with the angels. 


Kontakion – Holy Innocents

When the King was born in Bethlehem, wise men from Persia came bringing gifts. They were led by the brilliant star. But Herod became exceedingly agitated, and had the infants harvested like lamenting wheat, for he sees his power suddenly coming to an end.


Kontakion – Marcellus

You rose in the East shining like a radiant star, O all-blessed Marcellus, and you edified with good deeds. You were a teacher to many monks, O venerable one. Therefore, you were a light to the imperial city. For this we sing to you: rejoice, O all-blessed father.



James 2: 1-13

Brothers and sisters, your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not allow of favoritism. Suppose there should come into your assembly a man fashionably dressed, with gold rings on his fingers, and at the same time a poor man in shabby clothes. Suppose further that you were to take notice of the well-dressed man and say, “Sit right here, please,” whereas you were to say to the poor man, “You can stand!” or “Sit over there by my footrest.” Have you not in a case like this discriminated in your hearts? Have you not set yourself up as judges handing down corrupt decisions? 

Listen, dear brothers and sisters. Did not God choose those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom he promised to those who love him? Yet you treated the poor man shamefully. Are not the rich exploiting you? They are the ones who hale you into the courts and who blaspheme that noble name which has made you God’s own.

You are acting rightly, however, if you fulfill the law of the kingdom. Scripture has it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you show favoritism, you commit sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. Whoever falls into sin on one point of the law, even though he keeps the entire remainder, has become guilty on all counts. For he who said, “You shall nor commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not kill.” If therefore you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.

Always speak and act as men destined for judgment under the law of freedom. Merciless is the judgment on the man who has not shown mercy; but mercy triumphs over judgment. 



Mark 12: 1-12

At that time Jesus began to address the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders once more in parables: “A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a vat, and erected a tower. Then he leased it to tenant farmers and went on a journey. In due time he dispatched a man in his service to the tenants to obtain from them his share of produce from the vineyard. But the tenants seized the servant, beat him, and sent him off empty-handed. The second time he sent them another servant; him too they beat over the head and treated shamefully. He sent yet another and they killed him. So too with many others: some they beat; some they killed. He still had one to send – the son whom he loved. He sent him to the tenants as a last resort, thinking, ‘They will have to respect my son.’ But those tenants said to one another, ‘Here is the one who will inherit everything. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ Then they seized and killed him and dragged him outside the vineyard. What do you suppose the owner of the vineyard will do? He will come and destroy those tenants and turn his vineyard over to others. Are you not familiar with the passage of Scripture: ‘The stone rejected by the builder has become the keystone of the structure. It was the Lord who did it and we find it marvelous to behold’?”

They wanted to arrest him at this, yet they had reason to fear the crowd. (They knew well enough that he meant the parable for them.) Finally they left him and went off.

Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications –

Thursday, December 28 –

  • 5:00 PM