The holy myrrh-bearer Mary Magdalene, equal to the apostles, who, freed by the Lord of seven demons and made a disciple, followed him even to Mount Calvary. At the break of dawn on the first Pascha, she was found worthy to see the Savior risen again from the dead and to bear the news of his resurrection to the other disciples.
The holy bishop-martyr Phocas was bishop of Sinope (a city on the Black Sea). His relics were taken from Sinope to Vienne in France in the 13th century, and today is the feast of the translation.
You followed Christ who was born of a virgin for us, keeping his laws and observing his decrees, O Mary. In return we observe your holy memory that our sins might be forgiven through your prayers.
O holy priest-martyr Phocas, you lent yourself to the apostles’ way of life and succeeded them on their throne. Inspired by God, you found the way to contemplation through the practice of virtue. Therefore, you became a perfect teacher of truth, fighting for the faith unto the shedding of your blood. Intercede with Christ our God that He may save our souls.
You stood before the cross with the others, O glorious Mary, and you cried as you suffered there with the Theotokos. You opened your mouth in praise, saying: How strange this is that He who upholds all creation has deigned to suffer. Glory to your power!
As a pastor who offered sacrifice, you bore witness to Christ with justice. Strengthened by angels, you yearned for death. At last you offered yourself as a sacrifice to Him who abides among those who sing to you. Stay with us, O father, and never leave us.
Romans 13: 1-10
Brothers and sisters: Let everyone obey the authorities that are over him, for there is no authority except from God, and all authority that exists is established by God. As a consequence, the man who opposes authority rebels against the ordinance of God; those who resist thus shall draw condemnation down upon themselves. Rulers cause no fear when a man does what is right but only when his conduct is evil. Do you wish to be free from the fear of authority? Do what is right and you will gain its approval, for the ruler is God’s servant to work for your good. Only if you do wrong ought you to be afraid. It is not without purpose that the ruler carries the sword; he is God’s servant, to inflict his avenging wrath upon the wrongdoer. You must obey, then, not only to escape punishment but also for conscience’ sake. You pay taxes for the same reason, magistrates being God’s ministers who devote themselves to his service with unremitting care. Pay each one his due: taxes to whom taxes are due; toll to whom toll is due; respect and honor everyone who deserves them.
Owe no debt to anyone except the debt that binds us to love one another. He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not murder; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and any other commandment there may be are all summed up in this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Lover never wrongs the neighbor, hence love is the fulfillment of the law.
Matthew 12: 30-37
The Lord said: “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. That, I assure you, is why every sin, every blasphemy, will be forgiven men, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Whoever says anything against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever says anything against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. Declare a tree good and its fruit good or declare a tree rotten and its fruit rotten, one or the other, for you can tell a tree by its fruit. How can you utter anything good, you brood of vipers, when you are so evil? The mouth speaks whatever fills the mind. A good man produces good from his store of goodness; an evil man produces evil from his evil store. I assure you, on judgment day people will be held accountable for every unguarded word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Friday, July 21 –