Prologue from Ochrid - September 21 [October 4]
1. The Holy Apostle Codratus.
One of the Seventy, he was a disciple of the Great Apostles. He preached the Gospel in Athens, and was at first bishop in Athens after St Publius, and then in the city of Magnesia. He was very learned in the secular disciplines and rich with the grace of the Holy Spirit. His biographer says of him: 'He was as a morning star among clouds', the clouds being the darkness of Hellenic paganism, lacking the light of devotion, and the holy Apostle Codratus shone to them - the Hellenes - as a great light, illumining the darkness, casting down the foul sacrifices and destroying demonic temples by his prayers. But darkness always hates the light, and the pagans hated holy Codratus. They first stoned him, as the Jews had earlier stoned St Stephen, and then imprisoned him, leaving him without bread until his holy soul left his body and entered into the Kingdom of Christ his God. St Codratus wrote a defence of Christianity and gave it to the Emperor Hadrian. This defence acted so strongly upon the pagan Emperor that he decreed that Christians should not be persecuted without especial cause. Holy Codratus suffered in about 130. He was buried in Magnesia, the place of his passion.
2. The Hieromartyr Hypatius, Bishop of Ephesus, and Andrew the Priest.
Two childhood friends, born in Lycia. they both gave themselves with their whole souls to the service of God when they grew up, Hypatius as a strict monk and ascetic, and Andrew as a priest among the people and a preacher of the Word of God. For his great virtues, Hypatius was made Bishop of Ephesus, and Andrew was made priest in the same city. They both suffered in the time of the iconoclast Emperor Leo the Isaurian. After terrible tortures for Orthodoxy, they were beheaded in 730, and both went from this transitory world to eternal life.
3. St Dimitri, Bishop of Rostov.
He is commemorated on October 28th, and on this day is commemorated the finding of his wonderworking relics in 1752.
4. The Assembly of all the Saints of the Kiev Caves.
The blessed work of asceticism begun by Antony, the lover of Tabour and man of God, grew throughout the ages as a fruitful olive tree. The numerous saints, who shone like stars in these caves of Antony's, are each commemorated on his special day. Today, the whole assembly of them is commemorated and invoked by the faithful for aid.
If only we begin with the firm intention to live according to God's law, we need not be afraid of any assaults by unreasonable men. For he who truly begins to live according to God's law finds that all things done to him by men happen for his benefit, and to the glory of God. One especially need not fear being compelled to move from a place that he loves to a place that he doesn't care for. Instead of empty fear and fruitless lamentation, it is better to seek out God's intention for us. What harm did the evil actions of Joseph's brothers do to him? Did not his involuntary departure to Egypt glorify him, save his brothers from famine, and create the necessary conditions for all the wondrous things God worked through Moses in Egypt and in the wilderness? The pagans and heretics often drove Orthodox Christians into barbarian regions. What did they accomplish by that? Did they destroy Orthodoxy? No-rather, they strengthened it even more in the souls of the persecuted, and spread it among the barbarian peoples. The evil heretic Lucius exiled the glorious Macarius, with several Tabennisiot ascetics, from Egypt to a barbarian island, where the entire population worshiped idols. But by the teachings and example of these holy men, the entire populace of the island was soon baptized. That island was later renamed the "Island of Repentance."
Contemplate God's miraculous saving of Jerusalem because of the righteousness of Jehoshaphat (II Chronicles 20):
- How a multitude of Moabites and Ammonites set off against Jerusalem;
- How King Jehoshaphat prayed to God, and it was revealed to him through the prophet that the battle is not yours, but God's (II Chronicles 20:15);
- How the Moabites and the Ammonites fought among themselves, and perished to the last man.
On the divinity of the Son and His unity of Essence with the Father
He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father(John 14:9)
Philip saith unto Him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us (John 14:8). To these words, the Lord Jesus replied: Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father (John 14:9). Thus replied the Lord to His disciple. Philip wanted to see God with his bodily eyes. Yet, for three years he looked upon Christ, and did not recognize Him as God. Why? Because, before the descent of the Holy Spirit, Philip looked with the body at the body. In other words, he perceived with bodily eyes, and saw the Lord Jesus Christ as a man. He still had not seen the divinity in the Son of God Incarnate, and yet he sought to see God the Father! He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. By this the Lord did not want to say that He was God the Father, but that He and the Father are of one Essence. Insofar as God could reveal Himself to men, He revealed Himself through the Son, who appeared to men as a man. God the Father did not become incarnate; God the Holy Spirit did not become incarnate; but God the Son did become incarnate. How then, could He show His Father to the bodily eyes of a mortal man? This is precisely why the Son became incarnate, to reveal Himself to men-Himself, the Father, and the Holy Spirit: consubstantial unity, in three Persons. He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. Here, the Lord speaks of His divine nature. In that, he is completely equal and of one Essence with the Father. So it is that, had Philip perceived the divine nature of Christ, he would not have made the request: Show us the Father. Naturally, he could not have seen the divine nature, as it is spiritual and invisible; but he could see-and see clearly-the great works of Christ as a manifestation of His divine nature. Brethren, even today, some men say: "Show us God and we will believe!" We should say to them: "Behold, we show you the Lord Jesus-believe!" "I have been with you for nineteen centuries, O men, and have you not recognized Me?" Nineteen centuries filled with His glory, miracles, power, grace, mercy, saints and martyrs! And there are still imbeciles who ask: "Where is God?"
O Lord Christ our God, open the spiritual eyes of those who still do not see, that they may see the majesty of Thy glory.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK