The hieromartyr Pancratius, Bishop of Taormina, was born when our Lord Jesus Christ yet lived upon the earth. The parents of Pancratius were natives of Antioch. Hearing the good news of Jesus Christ, Pancratius’ father took his young son with him to Jerusalem to see the greater Teacher for himself. It was during this period that the young Pancratius got to know the Apostle Peter. After the Ascension of our Lord, one of the apostles came to Antioch and baptized the parents of Pancratius together with all the household. When his parents died, Pancratius left behind his inherited possessions and went to Pontus and began living in a cave. He spent his days in prayer and deep contemplation. The holy Apostle Peter, while passing through those parts, visited Pancratius at Pontus. He took him along to Antioch, and then to Sicily, where the holy Apostle Paul then was. There, Saints Peter and Paul made St. Pancratius the bishop of Taormina in Sicily.
Like an arrow on fire, you were aimed at Taormina to kill the godless and to bring light to the faithful. You strengthened them in the faith by your preaching, and you finished your work by spilling your blood. O martyred priest Pancratius, pray for your flock and for all who cherish your memory.
You appeared to the people of Taormina as a star, and you became a priest-martyr for Christ, O Pancratius. As you stand before Him, pray for us who love you.
Romans 12: 6-14
Brothers and sisters: We have gifts that differ according to the favor bestowed on each of us. One’s gift may be prophecy; its use should be in proportion to his faith. It may be the gift of ministry; it should be used for service. One who is a teacher should use his gift for teaching; one with the power of exhortation should exhort. He who gives alms should do so generously; he who rules should exercise his authority with care; he who performs works of mercy should do so cheerfully.
Your love must be sincere. Detest what is evil, cling to what is good. Love one another with the affection of brothers. Anticipate each other on showing respect. Do not grow slack but be fervent in spirit; he whom you serve is the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient under trial, persevere in prayer. Look on the needs of the saints as your own; be generous in offering hospitality. Bless your persecutors; bless and do not curse them.
Matthew 9: 1-8
At that time Jesus reentered the boat, made the crossing, and came back to his own town. There the people at once brought to him a paralyzed man lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith he said to the paralytic, “Have courage, son, your sins are forgiven.” At that some of the scribes said to themselves, “The man blasphemes.” Jesus was aware of what they were thinking and said: “Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is less trouble to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? To help you realize the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” – he then said to the paralyzed man – “Stand up! Roll up your mat, and go home.” The man stood up and went toward his home. At the sight, a feeling of awe came over the crowd, and they praised God for giving such authority to men.
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Saturday, July 8 –