The holy martyr Athenogenes was the bishop of Sebaste in Cappadocia: Christianity was spreading in Sebaste because of the grace-filled preaching of Bishop Athenogenes. When the governor heard that the citizens of Sebaste refused to participate in a festival for idols, he sent soldiers to arrest St. Athenogenes and his disciples. While in prison, St. Athenogenes encouraged his spiritual children for their impending struggle. Led forth to trial, all the holy martyrs confessed themselves Christians and refused to offer sacrifice to idols. After undergoing fierce tortures, the disciples of the holy bishop were beheaded. After the execution of the disciples, the executioners were ordered to torture the bishop. Strengthened by the Lord, Saint Athenogenes underwent the tortures with dignity. His only request was that he be executed in the monastery. Taken to his own monastery, the saint gave thanks to God, and he rejoiced in the sufferings that he had undergone for Him. St. Athenogenes asked that the Lord would forgive the sins of all those who would remember both him and his disciples. The Lord granted the saint to hear His Voice before death, announcing the promise given to the penitent thief: “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise.” The hieromartyr willingly bent his neck beneath the sword.
The holy Athenogenes offered his ten disciples like a sacrifice to the Lord. The shepherd and his sheep entered the heavenly fold. By their work they vanquished the lies of the pagans. O Christ our God, save your flock from the wolves by the prayer of your martyrs.
You heeded the word of the Master and laid down your life for your sheep like a good shepherd. Therefore we bless you, O priest-martyr Athenogenes, and we praise your ten disciples who were guided by fear of God and by your teachings. The Master has crowned you as a friend and set you at his right side in glory. Now pray to Him for all of us.
Romans 15: 1-7
Brothers and sisters: We who are strong in faith should be patient with the scruples of those whose faith is weak; we must not be selfish. Each should please his neighbor so as to do him good by building up his spirit. Thus, in accord with Scripture, Christ did not please himself: “The reproaches they uttered against you fell on me.” Everything written before our time was written for our instruction, that we might derive hope from the lessons of patience and the words of encouragement in the Scriptures. May God, the source of all patience and encouragement, enable you to live in perfect harmony with one another according to the spirit of Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and voice you may glorify God, the Father of our lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, as Christ accepted you, for the glory of God.
Matthew 9: 27-35
At that time Jesus moved on from there, two blind men came after him crying out, “Son of David, have pity on us!” When he got to the house, the blind men caught up with him. Jesus said to them, “Are you confident I can do this?” “Yes, Lord,” they told him. At that he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith it shall be done to you”; and they recovered their sight. Then Jesus warned them sternly, “See to it that no one knows of this.” But they went off and spread the word of him through the whole area.
As they were leaving, suddenly some people brought him a mute who was possessed by a demon. Once the demon was expelled the mute began to speak, to the great surprise of the crowds. “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!” they exclaimed. But the Pharisees were saying, “He casts out demons through the prince of demons.”
Jesus continued his tour of all the towns and villages. He taught in their synagogues, he proclaimed the good news of God’s reign, and he cured every sickness and disease.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Saturday, July 15 –