The Holy Anna was the daughter of the priest Matthan and his wife Mary. She was of the tribe of Levi and the lineage of Aaron. According to Tradition, she died peacefully in Jerusalem at age 79, before the Annunciation to the Most Holy Theotokos. During the reign of Saint Justinian the Emperor (527-565), a church was built in her honor at Deutera. Emperor Justinian II (685-695; 705-711) restored her church, since St. Anna had appeared to his pregnant wife. It was at this time that her body and maphorion (veil) were transferred to Constantinople.
Memory of the Holy Women Olympiada and Euphraxia at Nicomedia in Bithynia: Olympiada was a widow who, bereft of her husband while still young, passed the remainder of her life most piously in Constantinople among women devoted to God. She was a deaconess, first in the time of Patriarch Nectraius, and then under John Chrysostom. She assisted the poor and was also very faithful to St. John Chrysostom in his exile. Euphraxia went with her mother to Egypt, traveling around the monasteries and giving alms. She received a monastic habit and entered into deep ascetic discipline.
The Fifth Ecumenical Council was held in Constantinople in the time of the Emperor Justinian the Great in the year 553. All the Monophysite heresies were condemned at this council, as were the works of Origen (against the resurrection of the dead).
O holy Anna, you are filled with the wisdom of God, and you gave birth to the most pure Mother, the one who gave birth to Life. Therefore, you have been carried up in glory on this day to the blessedness of heaven, to the abode of those who exalt with joy. And now you pray, O ever-blessed one, for the forgiveness of sins for all those who honor you with all their heart.
Let us celebrate the memory of Christ’s ancestors, and fervently ask for their help so that, delivered from all affliction, we may cry out: O God, who glorified them according to your good will, remain always with us.
Galatians 4: 22-31
Brothers and sisters: Abraham had two sons, one by the slave girl, the other by his freeborn wife. The son of the slave girl had been begotten in the course of nature, but the son of the free woman was the fruit of the promise. All this is an allegory: the two women stand for the two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, and brought forth children to slavery: this is Hagar. The mountain Sinai [Hagar] is in Arabia and corresponds to the Jerusalem of our time, which is likewise in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem on high is freeborn, and it is she who is our mother. That is why Scripture says: “Rejoice, you barren one who bear no children; break into song, you stranger to the pains of childbirth! For many are the children of the wife deserted-far more that of her who has a husband!” You, my brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, as Issac was. But just as in those days sons born in nature’s course persecuted the one whose birth was in the realm of the spirit, so do we find it now. What does Scripture say on the point? “Cast out slave girls and son together; for the slave girl’s son shall never be an heir on equal terms with the son” of the one born free. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, we are not children of a slave girl but of a mother who is free.
Luke 8: 16-21
The Lord said to his disciples: “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you. For whoever asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds’ whoever knocks, is admitted. What father among you will give his son a snake if he asks for a fish, or hand him a scorpion if he asks for an egg? If you, with all your sins, know how to give your children good things, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who seek him.”
1 Corinthians 12: 12-26
Brothers and sisters: The body is one and has many members, but all the members, many though they are, are one body; and so it is with Christ. It was in one Spirit that all of us, whether Jew or Greek, slave or free, were baptized into one body. All of us have been given to drink of the one Spirit. Now the body is not one member, it is many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not the hand I do not belong to the body,” would it then no longer belong to the body? If the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” would it no longer belong to the body? If the body were all eye, what would happen to our hearing? If it were all ear, what would happen to our smelling? As it is, God has set each member of the body in the place he wanted it to be. If all the members were alike, where would the body be? There are, indeed, many different members, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” any more than the head can say to the feet, “I do not need you.” Even those members of the body which seem less important are in fact indispensable. We honor the members we consider less honorable by clothing them with greater care, thus bestowing on the less presentable a propriety which the more presentable already have. God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to the lowly members, that there be no dissension in the body, but that all the members may be concerned for one another. If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members share its joy.
Matthew 18: 18-22; 19:1-2, 13-15
The Lord said to his disciples: “I assure you, whatever you declare bound on earth shall be held bound in heaven, and whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be held loose in heaven. Again I tell you, if two of you join your voices on earth to pray for anything whatever, it shall be granted you by my Father in heaven. Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst.”
Then Peter came up and asked him, “Lord, when my brother wrongs me, how often must I forgive him? Seven times?” “No,” Jesus replied, “not seven times; I say, seventy times seven times.”
When Jesus had finished this discourse, he left Galilee and came to the district of Judea across the Jordan. Great crowds followed him and he cured them there.
At one point, children were brought to him so that he could place his hands on them in prayer. The disciples began to scold them, but Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Do not hinder them. The kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” And he laid his hands on their heads before he left that place.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Monday, July 24 –