Saints John, Sergius, Patrick and others slain in the Monastery of St. Sabbas. During the eighth century the area around Jerusalem was subjected to frequent incursions of the Saracens. On March 13, 796 the Saracens broke into the monastery and demanded all the valuables. The monks told them that there was nothing in the monastery but a meager supply of food and old clothing. Then the Saracens began to shoot arrows at the monks. Thirteen men were killed and many were wounded, and monastery cells were set afire. The Saracens intended to torch the monastery church, but seeing a throng of people in the distance, they mistook it for an army sent from Jerusalem. The Saracens managed to get away, carrying off the little they were able to plunder. After the enemy fled, Father Thomas, an experienced physician, began to help those who remained alive.
O God of our ancestors, You always deal with us according to your everlasting compassion, take not your mercy away from us; but through the prayers of our ancestors, guide our lives along the way of peace.
Having truly spurned worldly and passing pleasures, you preferred the desert life, O blessed saints. By turning aside from beauty and comfort, you fashioned heavenly crowns for yourselves. You rejoice in the company of martyrs and ascetics, and we also keep your precious memory as we sing: Deliver us, O fathers, from all afflictions.
Brothers and sisters: Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our profession of faith. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but one who was tempted every way that we are, yet never sinned. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and favor and to find help in time of need.
Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with erring sinners, for he himself is beset by weakness and must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. One does not take this honor on his own initiative, but only when called by God as Aaron was. Even Christ did not glorify himself with the office of high priest; he received it from the One who said to him, “You are my son; today I have begotten you”; just as he says in another place, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Mark 8: 34-9: 1
At that time Jesus summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them: “If a man wishes to come after me, he must deny his very self, take up his cross, and follow in my steps. Whoever would preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s sake will preserve it. What prophet does a man show who gains the whole world and destroys himself in the process? What can a man offer in exchange for his life? If anyone in this faithless and corrupt age is ashamed of me and my doctrine, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes with the holy angels in his Father’s glory.” He also said to them: “I assure you, among those standing here there are some who will not taste death until they see the reign of God established in power.”
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Saturday, March 19 –