The holy great martyr Christine lived during the 3rd century. She was born into a rich family, and her father was governor of Tyre. By the age of 11 the girl was exceptionally beautiful, and many wanted to marry her. Christina’s father, however, envisioned that his daughter should become a pagan priestess. One time Christina was visited by an angel who instructed her in the true faith in Christ, the Savior of the world. The angel called her a bride of Christ and told her about her future suffering. After many methods of torment, the local governor Julian gave orders to throw her into a red-hot furnace and lock her in it. After five days they opened the furnace and found the martyr alive and unharmed. Seeing the miracle take place, many believed in Christ the Savior, and the torturers executed St. Christina with a sword.
The holy martyrs Boris and Gleb, baptized Roman and David, who were princes of Rus’ and sons of St. Vladimir the Great. They preferred to suffer death at the hands of their brother Svyatopolk than resist him through violence. Boris obtained the palm of martyrdom on the river Alta near Pereslavl and Gleb a short time later near Smolensk in the year 1015.
Righteous martyrs for the gospel and sharers in the passion, you did not oppose the violence of the enemy. Although your brother tried to kill your bodies, he still could not touch your souls. Let the evil lover of power groan unhappily. You are filled with joy among the angels standing before the Holy Trinity. Please pray for your homeland and its conversion and for the salvation of its people.
Today the memory of your suffering gleams, O noble martyrs; it compels us to praise Christ our God. Rushing to gather around your holy relics, we seek gifts of health by your prayers. You are heavenly healers, O holy ones.
Romans 8: 28-39
Brothers and sisters: We know that God makes all things work together for the good of those who have called according to his decree. Those whom he foreknew he predestined to share in the image of his Son, that the Son might be the first-born of many brothers. Those he predestined he likewise called; those he called he also justified; and those he justified he in turn glorified. What shall we say after that? If God is for us, who can be against us? Is it possible that he who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for the sake of us all will not grant us all things besides? Who shall bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? God, who justifies? Who shall condemn them? Christ Jesus, who dies or rather was raised up, who is at the right hand of God and who intercedes for us?
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Trial, or distress, or persecution, or hunger, or nakedness, or danger, or the sword? As Scripture says: “For your sake we are being slain all the day long; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” Yet in all this we are more than conquerors because of him who has loved us. For I am certain that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither present nor the future, nor powers, neither height nor depth nor any other creature, will be able to separate us from the love of God that comes to us in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
John 15:17- 16:2
The Lord said to his disciples: “The command I give you is this, that you love one another. If you find that the world hates you, know that it has hated me before you. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own; the reason it hated you is that you do not belong to the world. But I chose you out of the world. Remember what I told you: no slave is greater than his master. They will harry you as they harried me. They will respect your words as much as they respected mine. All this they will do to you because of my name, for they know nothing of him who sent me. If I had not come to them and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; now, however, their sin cannot be excused.
“To hate me is to hate my Father. Had I not performed such works among them as no one has ever done before, they would not be guilty of sin; bit as it is, they have seen, and they go on hating me and my Father. However, this only fulfills the text in their law: ‘They hated me without cause.’ When the Paraclete comes, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father – and whom I myself will send from the Father – he will bear witness on my behalf. You must bear witness as well, for you have been with me from the beginning.
“I have told all this to keep your faith from being shaken. Not only will they expel you from synagogues; a time will come when anyone who puts you to death will claim to be serving God!”
1 Corinthians 11:31 – 12:6
Brothers and sisters: If we were to examine ourselves, we would not be falling under judgment in this way; but since it is the Lord who judges us, he chastens us to keep us from being condemned with the rest of the world. Therefore, my brothers, when you assemble for the meal, wait for one another. If anyone is hungry let him eat at home, so that your assembly may not deserve condemnation. As for other matters, I shall give instructions when I come.
Now, brothers and sisters, I do not want to leave you in ignorance about spiritual gifts. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, as impulse drove you. That is why I tell you that nobody speaks in the Spirit of God ever says, “Cursed be Jesus.” And no one can say: “Jesus is Lord,” except [it be said] in the Holy Spirit.
There are different gifts but the same Spirit; there are different ministries but the same Lord; there are different works but the same God who accomplishes all of them in everyone.
Matthew 18: 1-10
At that time the disciples came up to Jesus with the question, “Who is of the greatest importance in the kingdom of God?” Jesus called a little child over and stood him in their midst and said: “I assure you, unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of God. Whoever makes himself lowly, becoming like this child, is of greatest importance in that heavenly reign.
“Whoever welcomes one such child for my sake welcomes me. On the other hand, it would be better for anyone who leads astray one of these little ones who believe in me, to be drowned by a millstone around his neck, in the depths of the sea. What terrible things will come on the world through scandal! It is inevitable that scandal should occur. Nonetheless, woe to that man through whom scandal comes! If your hand or foot is your undoing, cut it off and throw it from you! Better to enter life maimed or crippled than be thrown with two hands or two feet into endless fire. If your eye is your downfall, gouge it out and cast it from you! Better to enter life with one than be thrown with both into Gehenna. See that you never despise one of these little ones. I assure you, their angels in heaven constantly behold my heavenly Father’s face.”
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Sunday, July 23 –