The third discovery of the Venerable Head of the Holy Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John happened around the year 850. The head of St. John the Forerunner was first found on the Mount of Olives where it had been hidden by Joanna, wife of Chusa, after the saint’s beheading; and found the second time in the city of Emesia during a time of unrest at Constantinople connected with the exile of St. John Chrysostom. It was transferred to Komana during the Saracen raids (about 820) and was hidden in the ground during a period of iconoclast persecution. When the veneration of icons was restored, Patriarch Ignatius (847-857) saw in a vision the place where the head of St. John the Forerunner was hidden. The patriarch communicated this to the emperor, who sent a delegation to Komana. There the head was found a third time. Afterwards, the head was again transferred to Constantinople, and here on May 25 it was placed in a church at the court. Part of the head is on Mt. Athos.
Like a heavenly treasure hidden in a field, Christ revealed your head to us, O prophet. Having gathered together at its discovery, we sing hymns to the Savior who delivers us by your prayers.
O heavenly light and divine pillar in the world, O lampstand of the sun, the lightbearer and divine head of the Forerunner was discovered and revealed to the whole world. It sanctifies those who in faith venerate it and who cry out: O most wise Baptizer of Christ, save all of us.
2nd Corinthians 4: 6-15
Brothers and sisters: God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts, that we in turn might make known the glory of God shining on the face of Christ. This treasure we possess in earthen vessels to make it clear that its surpassing power comes from God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way possible, but we are not crushed; full of doubts, we never despair. We are persecuted but never abandoned; we are struck down but never destroyed. Continually we carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus, so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may also be revealed. While we live we are constantly being delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be revealed in our mortal flesh. Death is at work in us, but life in you. We have the spirit of faith of which the scripture says, “Because I believed, I spoke out.” We believe and so we speak, knowing that he who raised up the Lord Jesus will raise us up along with Jesus and place both us and you in his presence. Indeed, everything is ordered to your benefit, so that the grace bestowed in abundance may bring greater glory to God because they who give thanks are many.
Matthew 11: 2-15
At that time when John, in prison, heard about the works Christ was performing, he sent a message by his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you ‘He who is to come’ or do we look for another?” And reply, Jesus said to them: “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind recover their site, cripples walk, lepers are cured, the deaths here, dead men are raised to life, and the poor have the good news preached to them. Blest is the man who finds no stumbling block in me.”
As the messengers set off, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out to the wasteland to see — a reed swaying in the wind? Tell me, what did you go out to see – someone luxuriously dressed? Remember, those who dress luxuriously are to be found in royal palaces. Why then did you go out — to see a prophet? A prophet indeed, and something more! It is about this man that the Scripture says, ‘I send my messenger ahead of you to prepare your way before you.’
I solemnly assure you, history has not known a man born of woman greater than John the baptizer. Yet the least born into the kingdom of God is greater than he. From John the baptizer‘s time until now the kingdom of God has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. All the prophets as well as the law spoke prophetically until John. If you are prepared to accept it, he is Elijah, the one who was certain to come. Heed carefully what you hear!”
Acts 25: 13-19
In those days, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived in Caesarea and paid Festus a courtesy call. Since they were to spend several days there, Festus referred Paul’s case to the king. “There is a prisoner here,” he said, “whom Felix left behind in custody. While I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews presented their case against this man and demanded his condemnation. I replied that it was not the Roman practice to hand an accused man over before he had been confronted with his accusers and given a chance to defend himself against their charges. When they came here with me, I did not delay the matter. The very next day I took my seat on the bench and ordered the man brought in. His accusers surrounded him but they did not charge him with any of the crimes I expected. Instead they differed with him over issues in their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed is alive.”
John 16: 23-33
The Lord said to his disciples: “I give you my assurance, whatever you ask the Father, he will give you in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you shall receive, that your joy may be full. I have spoken these things to you in veiled language. A time will come when I shall no longer do so, but shall tell you about the Father in plain speech. On that day you will ask in my name and I do not say that I will petition the Father for you. The Father already loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I did indeed come from the Father; I came into the world. Now I am leaving the world to go to the Father.”
His disciples exclaimed: “At last you are speaking plainly without talking in veiled language! We are convinced that you know everything. There is no need for anyone to ask you questions. We do indeed believe you came from God.”
Jesus answered them: “Do you really believe? An hour is coming–has indeed already come–when you will be scattered and each will go his way, leaving me quite alone. Yet I can never be alone; the Father is with me. I tell you all this that in me you may find peace.”
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Wednesday, May 24 –