Prologue from Ochrid - January 26 [February 8]
The Venerable Xenophont And Maria And Their Sons John And Arcadius
They were prominent and wealthy citizens of Constantinople. Xenophont and his wife Maria lived a God-pleasing life and dedicated all their attention to the Christian upbringing of their sons. When their sons reached majority, they were sent to study in Beirut; but it so happened that a storm capsized their boat. By the Providence of God, John and Arcadius were somehow saved. They were tossed ashore by the waves but in two different places so that each thought the other was drowned. Out of grief for each other, they both became monks in two different monasteries. After two years, their grieving parents came to Jerusalem on a pilgrimage to pay homage before the holy shrines. There, with the help of the "discernment" of a spiritual father, first the brothers met and, after that, the parents with their children. Out of gratitude to God, Xenophont and Maria distributed their entire estate to the poor and both of them were tonsured. The history of these four souls is touching and it shows how the Lord wonderfully guides the fate of those who believe in Him; how He permits pain and sorrow upon them that they may, later on, be strengthened in faith, in order to lead them into still greater joy. They lived and died in the Lord in the fifth century.
Venerable Simeon The Old One [Vetni]
Simeon was a companion and friend of St. Paladius. From his early youth until his death, Simeon lived a life of asceticism in a cave. He established two monasteries and died in the Lord in the year 390 A.D. He is called the Old One or Vetni to distinguish him from Simeon the Stylite who, lived an ascetical life much later.
Saint David, Emperor Of The Georgians (1089-1130 A.D.)
David renewed and strengthened the State of Georgia. As a great zealot for the Christian Faith, he built many new churches and restored the old ones throughout Georgia. David is considered as the regenerator of the Orthodox Faith in Georgia.
The greatest treasure of any realm is the saintly and good men who live in it. Compared to this wealth, all other wealth is as nothing. Devout Christian emperors considered holy men in their realms as the greatest of God's blessing. The holy Emperor Constantine the Great spoke: "I give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ that in my days there exist three divine lights: Blessed Abba Anthony, Abba Elenius and Abba Euchius." Before the battle of Kulikovo, crucial for the Russians, the devout Prince Dimitri of Don, with his chief assistants and dukes, went to the forest of Radonez to seek out the Venerable Sergius and implored his intercession before God. Even though the prince prepared his army for a liberating war against the Tartars, somehow, he placed greater hope in the prayers of one holy man than in a vast army and many weapons.
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as Prophet:
- As a Prophet Who clearly prophesied to individuals (as to: Peter, John and Judas and the other apostles) that which will happen to them in the future;
- As a Prophet Who clearly prophesied the future of Jerusalem and other cities, the Jewish people and the Church of God;
- As a Prophet Who clearly prophesied the end of the world and His Second Coming.
About the confusion of those darkened by sin
"Who is this Who even forgives sins" (St. Luke 7:49).
Thus asked the unrepentant sinners: "Who is this [Jesus Christ]?" This is He Who mostly feels the sting of human sin; upon Whom all the sins of mankind fall as blows. This is He Who, at one time in Paradise, looked upon man as sinless. This is He Who created man without sin, and This is He Who Himself is without sin from always and forever.
Only He can forgive who can also seek revenge. The strong man seeks revenge by reprisal. The weak man seeks revenge by hatred. If you are able to return the delivered blow and you do not do it, does not mean that you forgave until you uproot the root of anger from your heart. Great is the One Lord Who can also seek revenge and forgive. Great is He in His justice for He will seek revenge on the unrepentant sinner. Great is He in His mercy for He will forgive the penitent sinner.
Oh, if only men would know the power of the forgiveness of sins! Behold, when the sins of the blind man were forgiven, he saw. When the sins of the deaf man were forgiven, he heard. When the sins of the hunchbacked woman were forgiven, she stood erect. When the sins of the woman with the issue of blood were forgiven, she also was healed. When the sins of the man afflicted by insanity were forgiven, he became sane. When the sins of the man possessed with demons were forgiven, he was freed. When the sins of the prostitute were forgiven, she too was cleansed. When the sins of the dead man were forgiven, he also became alive!
Oh, how terrible is the chain of sins! How heavy are the chains of many sins! These chains are not loosened by sinful hands. But when the hands of the All-Pure Lord touches them, they, of their own accord, become loosened and fall apart. When the voice of the Pure One reaches them, they fall apart. And, from the glance of the Pure One, they fall apart. Yes, even from the thoughts of the Pure One, they fall apart - these terrible chains of sins. "Who is this Who even forgives sins?" O sinners, this is the All-Pure Lord and because of purity, Almighty.
O, Lord, All-Pure and Almighty free us from the chains of sins.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK