The holy martyr Polyeuctus: The Armenian city of Melitene was drenched with the blood of Christians, as was the entire country of Armenia. The first blood shed for Christ in this city was that of St. Polyeuctus in the year 259, during the reign of Valerian. In Melitene were two friends: Nearchus and Polyeuctus. Both were officers- Nearchus was baptized and Polyeuctus was unbaptized. When the command of the emperor was sent out concerning the persecution of Christians, Nearchus prepared for death; but he was in great sorrow because he had not succeeded in converting his friend Polyeuctus to the true Faith. When Polyeuctus learned of the reason for Nearchus’s sorrow, he promised to embrace the Faith. The following day Polyeuctus related this dream to Nearchus: the Lord Himself had appeared to him in light, removed Polyeuctus’s old clothes from him and dressed him in radiant new clothes – and sat him in the saddle of a winged horse. After this, Polyeuctus went to town, shredded the emperor’s decree concerning the torturing of Christians, and destroyed many statues of idols. He was tortured and condemned to death. When he was brought to the place of execution, he looked at Nearchus in the throng of people and joyfully cried out to him: “Save yourself, my dear friend! Remember the vow of love confirmed between the two of us!” later, St. Nearchus died by fire as a martyr for Christ.
Your martyr Polyuectus, O Lord our God, in his struggle received an incorruptible crown from You. With Your strength, he brought down the tyrants and broke the cowardly valor of demons. Through his prayers, O Christ our God, save our souls.
When our Savior bowed His head in the Jordan River, the heads of the serpents were crushed, and when Polyeuctus was beheaded, he put demons to shame.
James 2: 14-26
Brothers and sisters, what good is it to profess faith without practicing it? Such faith has no power to save one, has it? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and no food for the day, and you say to them, “Goodbye and good luck! Keep warm and well fed,” but do not meet their bodily needs, what good is that? So it is with the faith that does nothing in practice. It is thoroughly lifeless.
To such a person one might say, “You have faith and I have work– is that it?” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you the faith that underlies my works! Do you believe that God is one? You are quite right. The demons believe that, and shudder. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that without works faith is idle? Was not out father Abraham justified by his works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? There you see proof that faith was both assisting his works and implemented by his works. You also see how the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as justice”: for this he received the title “God’s friend.”
You must perceive that a person is justified by his works and not by faith alone. Rahab the harlot will illustrate the point. Was she not justified by her works when she harbored the messengers and sent them out by a different route? Be assured, then, that faith without works is as dead as a body without breath.
Mark 12: 13-17
At that time the chief priests, the scribes, and elders sent some Pharisees and Herodians after Jesus to catch him in his speech. The two groups came and said to him: “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man, unconcerned about anyone’s opinion. It is evident you do not act out of human respect but teach God’s way of life sincerely. Is it lawful to pay the tax to the emperor or not? Are we to pay or not to pay?” Knowing their hypocrisy Jesus said to them, “Why are you trying to trip me up? Bring me a coin and let me see it.” When they brought one, he said to them, “Whose head is this and whose inscription is it?” “Caesar’s,” they told him. At that Jesus said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s.” Their amazement at him knew no bounds.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Sunday, January 8 –