Our venerable mother Theodora of Alexandria who, as a young woman committed adultery on the advice of a fortune-teller. She was accused by her conscience, and left the world, cutting off her hair and dressing as a man in order to enter the monastery of Octodecatos, assuming the name of Theodore. Falsely accused of having sex with a prostitute, she accepted rebuke as a punishment for her former sin. She ended up in the desert for seven years, until the hegumen took her back. Only at her death in the year 490 did the monks realize that she was a woman.
In you, O mother, the divine image was strictly preserved; taking up your cross, you followed Christ. You taught us by example how to spurn the flesh, for it passes away, and how to care for the soul, which is immortal. Therefore, O venerable Theodora, your soul rejoices with the angels.
In order to obtain complete forgiveness of your sins, you spent all of your bodily strength in fast and your nights in vigils and prayers to God. Through the way of repentance you obtained forgiveness.
Galatians 4:28 – 5:10
Brothers and sisters: You are children of the promise, as Isaac was. But just as in those days the son 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 girl and son together; for the slave girl’s son shall never be 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.
It was for liberty that Christ freed us. So stand firm, and so not take on yourselves the yoke of slavery a second time! Pay close attention to me, Paul, when I tell you that if you have yourselves circumcised, Christ will be of no use to you! I point out once more to all who receive circumcision that they are bound to the law in its entirety. Any of you who seek your justification in the law have severed yourselves from Christ and fallen from God’s favor! It is in the spirit that we eagerly await the justification we hope for, and only faith can yield it. In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor the lack of it counts for anything; only faith, which expresses itself through love.
You were progressing so very well; who diverted you from the path of truth? Such enticement does not come from him who calls you. “A little yeast can affect the entire dough.” I trust that, in the Lord, you will not adopt a different view. May condemnation fall on whoever it is that is unsettling you.
Mark 6:54 – 7:8
At that time as Jesus and the disciples were leaving the boat the people immediately recognized him. The crowds scurried about the adjacent area and began to bring in the sick on bedrolls to the place where they heard he was. Wherever he put in an appearance, in villages, in towns, or at crossroads, they laid the sick in the market places and begged him to let them touch just the tassel of his cloak. All who touched him got well.
The Pharisees and some of the experts in the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus. They had observed a few of his disciples eating meals without having purified–that is to say, washed–their hands. The Pharisees, and in fact all Jews, cling to the custom of their ancestors and never eat without scrupulously washing their hands. Moreover, they never eat anything from the market without first sprinkling it. There are many other traditions they observe–for example, the watching of cups and jugs and kettles. So the Pharisees and the scribes questioned Jesus: “Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of our ancestors, but instead take food without purifying their hands?” He said to them: “How accurately Isaiah prophesied about you hypocrites when he wrote, ‘This people pays me lip service but their heart is far from me. Empty is the reverence they do me because they teach as dogmas mere human precepts.’ You disregard God’s commandment and cling to what is human tradition.”
Icon courtesy of Jack Figel, Eastern Christian Publications – ecpubs.com
Sunday, September 10 –