The holy martyrs Cyricus and Julietta, his mother, were martyred at Caesarea in Cappadocia in the year 304. When they had firmly refused the order of the judge to offer incense to idols, they were cast into the fire.
The holy great martyr Prince Vladimir, equal to the apostles was baptized Basil at Kiev in Rus’. Son of Prince Svyatoslav, grandson of Igor and Olga, he was pagan for the first part of his life. He sent out envoys to find the religion best suited for his people, and he and his court were baptized in the orthodox faith. He bestowed care in spreading the orthodox faith among the peoples subject to him. Reposed in the year 1015 and was buried in the church of the Tithes. A piece of his holy relics was kept in Holy Wisdom Cathedral, established by his son, Great Prince Yaroslav the Wise.
Your martyrs, O Lord our God, in their struggles received incorruptible crowns from You. With Your strength, they brought down the tyrants and broke the cowardly valor of demons. Through their prayers, O Christ our God, save our souls.
You were like a merchant seeking a fine pearl as you sat on the throne of the mother of cities, the God-redeemed Kiev. Sending messengers to the capitol in your search for the faith, you discovered the priceless Pearl which is Christ. He chose you in turn as a second Paul. You submitted to the rites of baptism, and the scales of spiritual blindness fell from your eyes. Now your people have come to celebrate your death. Pray for the authorities in the land of Rus’ to be saved.
Carrying Cyricus in her arms, Julietta, the martyr for Christ, bravely cried aloud with joy in the midst of the arena: “It is You, O Lord, who give strength to Your martyrs!”
You were like the great apostle Paul. Late in life you gave up the foolish philosophy of idols and became a perfect man through the water of baptism. Now you stand with joy in the court of Christ. We ask you to pray for the land of Rus’ and for the salvation of its authorities.
Galatians 1: 11-19
Brothers and sisters: I assure you, the gospel I proclaimed to you is no mere human invention. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I schooled in it. It came by revelation from Jesus Christ. You have heard, I know, the story of my former way of life in Judaism. You know that I went to extremes in persecuting the Church of God and tried to destroy it; I made progress in Jewish observance far beyond most of my contemporaries, in my excess of zeal to live out all the traditions of my ancestors.
But the time came when he who had set me apart before I was born and called me by his favor chose to reveal his Son to me, that I might spread among the Gentiles the good tidings concerning him. Immediately, without seeking human advisers or even going to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me, I went off to Arabia; later I returned to Damascus. Three years after that I went up to Jerusalem to get to know Cephas, with whom I stayed fifteen days. I did not meet any other apostles except James, the brother of the Lord.
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 not preaching the faith he tried to destroy,” and they gave glory to God on my account.
John 10: 1-9
The Lord said, “Truly I assure you: whoever does not enter the sheepfold through the gate but climbs in some other way is a thief and a marauder. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep; the keeper opens the gate for him. The sheep hear his voice as he calls his own by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all those that are his, he walks in front of them, and the sheep follow him because they recognize his voice. They will not follow a stranger; such a one they will flee, because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
Even though Jesus used this figure with them, they did not grasp what he was trying to tell them. He therefore said to them again: “My solemn word is this: I am the sheepgate. All who came before me were thieves and marauders who the sheep did not heed. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be safe. He will go in and out, and find pasture.”
Romans 12: 1-3
Brothers and sisters, I beg you through the mercy of God to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect.
Thus, in virtue of the favor given to me, I warn each of you not to think more highly of himself than he ought. Let him estimate himself soberly, in keeping with the measure of faith that God has apportioned him.
Matthew 10:37 – 11:1
The Lord said: “whoever loves father or mother, son or daughter, more than me is not worthy of me. He who will not take up his cross and come after me is not worthy of me. He who seeks only himself brings himself to ruin, whereas he who brings himself to nought for me discovers who he is.
“He who welcomes you welcomes me, and he who welcomes me welcomes him who sent me. He who welcomes a prophet because he bears the name of prophet receives a prophet’s reward; he who welcomes a holy man because he is known to be holy receives a holy man’s reward. And I promise you that whoever gives a cup of cold water to one of these lowly ones because he is a disciple will not want for his reward.”
When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he left that locality to teach and preach in their towns.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Friday, July 14 –