The holy martyrs: the presbyter Pamphilius, Porphyry, and their companions, who received the crowns of martyrdom: Pamphilus the priest; Valentine, a deacon of Jerusalem; Paul, born in the city of Jamnia, who passed two years in prison; Porphyry, a servant of Pamphilus; Seleucus the Cappadocian, who was of high military rank; Theodulus, an old man from the family of the governor Firmilian; and finally, Julian the Cappadocian, who, coming from abroad that very same hour, when he kissed the martyrs’ bodies, was accused of being a Christian and ordered by the governor to be burned over a slow fire.
Your martyrs, O Lord our God, in their struggles received incorruptible crowns from you. With Your strengths, they brought down the tyrants and broke the cowardly valor of demons. Through their prayer, O Christ our God, save our souls.
The courageous martyrs of Christ went with joy and unbending determination to the frightful tortures prepared for them from which they obtained eternal glory. They are constantly interceding for us who praise their struggle.
1 John 3:21-4:6
Dearly beloved, if our consciences have nothing to charge us with, we can be sure that God is with us and that we will receive at his hands whatever we ask. Why? Because we are keeping his commandments and doing what is pleasing in his Sight. His commandment is this: we are to believe in the name of the Son, Jesus Christ, and are to love one another as he commanded us. Those who keep his commandments remain in him and he in them. And this is how we know that he remains in us: from the Spirit that he gave us.
Beloved, do not trust every spirit, but put the spirits to a test to see if they belong to God, because many false prophets have appeared in the world. This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, while every spirit that fails to acknowledge him does not belong to God. Such is the spirit of the antichrist which, as you have heard, is to come; in fact, it is in the world already.
You are of God, you little ones, and thus you have conquered the false prophets. For there is One greater in you than there is in the world. Those others belong to the world; that is why theirs is the language of the world and why the world listens to them. We belong to God and anyone who has knowledge of God gives us a hearing, while anyone who is not of God refuses to hear us. Thus do we distinguish the spirit of truth from the spirit of deception.
Mark 14:43- 15:1
At that time while Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, made his appearance accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs; these people had been sent by the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. The betrayer had arranged a signal for them, saying, “The man I shall embrace is the one; arrest him and lead him away, taking every precaution.” Judith then went directly over to Jesus and said, “Rabbi!” and embraced him. At this, they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. One of the bystanders drew his sword and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his ear. Addressing himself to them, Jesus said: “You have come out to arrest me armed with swords and clubs as if against a brigand. I was within your reach daily, teaching in the temple precincts, yet you never arrested me. But now, so that the Scriptures may be fulfilled…” with that, all deserted Jesus and fled. There was a young man following Jesus who was covered by nothing but a linen cloth. As they seized him he left the cloth behind and ran off naked.
Then they led Jesus off to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the scribes came together. Peter followed him at a distance right into the high priest’s courtyard, where he found seat with the temple guard and began to warm himself at the fire. The chief priests with the whole Sanhedrin were busy soliciting testimony against Jesus that would lead to his death, but they could not find any. Many spoke against him falsely under oath but their testimony did not agree. Some, for instance, on taking the stand, testified falsely by alleging, “We heard him declare, ‘I will destroy this temple made by human hands’, and ‘In three days I will construct another not made by humans hands.’” Even so, their testimony did not agree.
The high priest rose to his feet before the court and began to interrogate Jesus: “Have you no answer to what these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent; he made no reply. Once again the high priest interrogated him: “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” Then Jesus answered: “I am; and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” At that the high priest tore his robes and said: “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy. What is your verdict?” They all concurred in the verdict “guilty“, with a sentence of death. Some of them began to spit on Jesus. They blindfolded him and hit him, saying, “Play the Prophet!“ While the officers manhandled him.
While Peter was down in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came along. When she noticed Peter warming himself, she looked at him more closely and said, “You too were with Jesus of Nazareth.“ But he denied it: “I do not know what you are talking about! What are you getting at?” Then he went out into the gateway. [At that moment a cock crowed.] The servant girl, keeping an eye on him, started again to tell the bystanders, “This man is one of them.” Once again he denied it. A little later the bystanders said to Peter once more, “You are certainly one of them! You are a Galilean, are you not?” He began to curse, and to swear, “I do not even know the man you are talking about!” Just then a second cockcrow was heard and Peter recalled the prediction Jesus had made to him, “Before the cock crows twice you will deny me three times.” Peter broke down and began to cry.
As soon as it was daybreak the chief priest, with the elders and scribes (that is, the whole Sanhedrin), reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away, and handed him over to Pilate.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Tuesday, February 15 –