Our venerable father John the Merciful, also called “the almsgiver”, died at Amathus in the island of Cyprus in the year 620. He was famous for his compassion to the poor. Filled with love toward all, he built many churches, hospitals, orphanages, and worked with great care to relieve every misfortune of the city. To this end, he gave away the goods of the Church and diligently urged the rich to help them out with their wealth.
Our venerable father Nilus was a government official in Constantinople. He and his wife, seeing the state of morals there, joined monasteries. She in Egypt, and he on Mt. Sinai. Nilus lived the monastic life for sixty years and died at the age of 80 in 450.
The holy martyr Josaphat, Bishop of Polotsk: Josaphat Kuncewicz, bishop of the Greek Catholic church, and martyr, spurred his flock to Catholic unity by his constant effort and nurtured the Byzantine-Slavic Church by his pious love. At Vitebsk in Belarus (then part of Poland), he was cruelly seized by an angry mob and died for the unity of the Church and in defense of the Catholic truth in 1623.
By your patience, you deserved your reward, O venerable father. You were assiduous in prayer, and you loved and helped the poor. Blessed John the Merciful, intercede with Christ God that He may save our souls.
Your abundant tears made the wilderness sprout and bloom, and your deep sighing made your labor fruitful a hundredfold. You became a star shining over the world with miracles, holy father Nilus. Pray to Christ God that He may save our souls.
You have become a brilliant light, O Priest-Martyr Josaphat. You gave up your life for your sheep like the Good Shepherd. You were slain by the lovers of schism, and you have entered into the Holy of Holies to rest in the company of the angels. O long-suffering saint, we make this petition to you: Beg Christ, the Prince of Shepherds, to save our souls and to number us among the sheep at His right hand.
O John, most wise, by distributing all your possessions to the poor, you now received the wealth of heaven. Therefore, we honor you for the sake of all, celebrating your memory who bears the name merciful because of your charity.
O blessed Nilus, your vigils of prayers cut down the needs of bodily passions like a scythe. Since you have confidence before the Lord, free me from every misfortune so that I may exclaim you: rejoice, universal father.
You were enlightened by a spark from the crucified Christ from the time you were a child. You were like an angel in monastic life, living in it with true holiness. You openly preached unity, and with your martyr’s blood, you calmed the hearts of those who had been tossed about with schism. Christ has crowned you and we sing to you: Rejoice, unshatterable pillar of unity.
Ephesians 2: 14-22
Brothers and sisters: It is [Christ] who is our peace, and who made the two of us one by breaking down the barrier of hostility that kept us apart. In his own flesh he abolished the law with its commands and precepts; to create in himself one new man from us who had been two and to make peace, reconciling both of us to God in one body through his cross, which put that enmity to death. He came and “announced the good news of peace to you who were far off, and to those who were near”; through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
This means that you are strangers and aliens no longer. No, you are fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God. You form a building which rises on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is fitted together and takes shape as a holy temple in the Lord; in him you are being built into this temple, to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.
Luke 10: 25-37
At that time a lawyer stood up to pose this problem to Jesus: “Teacher, what must I do to inherit everlasting life?” Jesus answered him: “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” The lawyer replied: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus said, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you shall live.” But because the lawyer wished to justify himself he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “There was a man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho who fell prey to robbers.
They stripped him, beat him, and then went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road; he saw him but continued on. Likewise there was a Levite who came the same way; he saw him and went on. But a Samaritan who was journeying along came on him and was moved to pity at the sight. He approached him and dressed his wounds, pouring in oil and wine. He then hoisted him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, where he cared for him. The next day he took out two silver pieces and gave them to the innkeeper with the request: ‘Look after him, and if there is any further expense I will repay you on my way back.’
“Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the man who fell in with the robbers?” The answer came, “The one who treated him with compassion.” Jesus said to the lawyer, “Then go and do the same.”
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Saturday, November 11 –