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Prologue from Ochrid - April 28 [May 11]

1. The Holy Aposties Jason and Sosipater, and the Virgin Cercyra.

The first two were among the Seventy Apostles, and the last was the daughter of the king of the island of Corfu. The Apostle Paul mentions Jason and Sosipater (Rom. 16:21), and calls them his kinsmen. Jason was born in Tarsus, as was the Apostle Paul himself, and Sosipater in Achaea. The first was nominated by the apostles as Bishop of Tarsus and the second as Bishop of Iconium. Travelling and preaching the Gospel, these two apostles came to the island of Corfu, where they succeeded in building a church dedicated to St Stephen the Protomartyr and in bringing some unbelievers to the Church. The king of the island threw them into prison, where there were seven robbers already imprisoned: Satorninus, Jakischolus, Faustian, Januarius, Marsalus, Euphrasius and Mamminus. The apostles brought all seven of them to the Christian faith, making wolves into lambs. The king commanded that these seven be put to death in boiling pitch, and they thus received the wreath of martyrdom. When, after this, the king was in process of questioning the apostles, his daughter Cercyra, looking through a window, saw the torture of these men of God and, discovering the reason for it, proclaimed herself a Christian and gave all her jewels away to the poor. The king was filled with wrath against his daughter and shut her up in a separate prison, then, failing to turn her from Christ, ordered that the prison be burned down. The prison burned to the ground, but the maiden remained alive. Seeing this wonder, many of the people were baptised. The furious king ordered that his daughter be bound to a tree and killed with arrows. Those who had come to believe in Christ fled from the terrible king to a nearby island and hid themselves. The king set off in a boat to arrest them, but his boat overturned in the sea and thus the unrighteous perished, as Pharaoh aforetime. The new king accepted the Christian faith and was baptised, receiving the name Sebastian. Jason and Sosipater freely preached the Gospel and strengthened the Church of God in Corfu to great old age, and there finished their earthly course and went to the courts of the Lord.

2. The Holy Martyrs Maximus, Dada and Quintillian.

Suffering in the time of Diocletian, they were condemned and tortured by the commander Tarquinius. After imprisonment and torture, they were beheaded.

3. The Holy Martyr Tibaid.

A Slav from Pannonia, he was terribly tortured for the Faith in the time of Diocletian, and suffered in Tsibal.

Reflection

The mystery of our salvation is concluded with the appearance of God among men in the human body. St. Meliton of Sardis writes: "The works of Christ, following His baptism, manifested and proved to the world that in His body, His divinity was hidden. Being God, He was also perfect man. He revealed to us His two natures. Divinity, by His miracles performed throughout the three years following His baptism and, His humanity, throughout those years when the weakness of the flesh hid the signs of His divinity, even though He was truly the Eternal God." The manner of the union of divinity with humanity is difficult to comprehend but the event of the appearance of God as a man among men is perfectly comprehensible from the concept of the love of God for man. Not even the creation of the world, as an event, is more comprehensible; one can say even less comprehensible--than the event above the events: the Incarnation of God.

Contemplation

To contemplate the Ascension of the Lord Jesus:

  1. How He led His disciples to a hill toward Bethany;
  2. How, with up-lifted hands, He blesses the disciples.

Homily

About seeking the face of the Lord

"Your presence, O Lord, I seek" (Psalms 27:8).

"Let Your face shine upon Your servant" (Psalm 31:16).

King David sought that which the simple fishermen received without seeking. King David was reclining in darkness and was yearning to see the glowing face of the Lord, which was revealed to the simple fishermen in its complete radiance. King David belonged to the period of waiting, but the disciples belonged to the period of fulfillment. There [the period of waiting] it was only the announcement of the coming of the Lord, but here, [the period of fulfillment] the coming of the Lord. There a presentiment and day dreams about the face of the Lord, here radiance and beauty of that same face. The face of the Lord was radiant even before the resurrection and how much more radiant after the resurrection! The inextinguishable flame of Divinity hid behind the icon of His body and shown through that bodily icon. The disciples gazed upon Him fixedly and they rejoiced in their hearts. For forty days they gazed upon His glorified body and they rejoiced in their hearts!

O my brethren, let us also seek the radiant face of the Lord in order to feel the pleasure by which the angels of God become intoxicated. If we are going to seek Him with yearning in this life, then we will see Him, at least, in the other life. If we do not seek Him in this life, then we will not see him either in this life or in the other life. Brethren, let us yearn for the face of Christ! His every word shows us one feature of His face. Each of His apostles shows us some characteristic of His face. His every deed shows us some feature of His face. Each of His saints shows us some ray of His radiant face. With yearning brethren, let us exam the face of the Lord. Let us assemble ray after ray until it reveals the entire sun. Let us enshrine that Sun in the depths of our hearts, that it illuminates our bodily courts from within. Let us plant this inexpressible sweet vineyard in our heart that we may taste of that immortal drink by which the angels become intoxicated.

O Lord, bearer of light, show Your radiant face to us, Your servants.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK