Prologue from Ochrid - June 19 [July 2]
1. The Holy Apostle Jude.
One of the Twelve Apostles, he was the son of Joseph and Salome (not the Salome from Bethlehem, but another), and brother to James the Lord's Brother. Joseph the Carpenter had four sons by Salome: James, Hosea, Simon and Jude. Jude is often called 'Jude the brother of James', to note his relationship with his brother (Lk. 6:16; Acts 1:13). St Jude begins his Epistle: 'Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James'. Although he could call himself the Lord's brother, just as James did, he did not do so. This was out of humility and out of shame, because he did not believe in Christ the Lord at the very beginning. When the aged Joseph desired to give Jesus His portion of the property before his death, just as he was doing for his other children, all of them were against it, including Jude, and only James voluntarily shared out his portion and laid some aside for Jesus. Jude is also called Levi and Thaddeus. There is another Thaddeus, or Jude, one of the Seventy (see August 21st), but this Thaddeus or Jude was one of the Great Apostles. He preached the Gospel in Judea, Samaria, Galilee, Idumea, Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia and Armenia. At Edessa, the city of Abgar, he continued and developed the preaching of the other Thaddeus. While he was preaching in the region around Ararat, he was seized by the pagans, crucified and shot through with arrows, that he might reign forever in the Kingdom of Christ.
2. Our Holy Father Paisius the Great.
He was an Fgyptian by birth and by language. After a vision in a dream, his mother dedicated him to the service of God, and he went to St Pambo while still a youth. Pambo accepted him as a disciple, and he was a fellow disciple there of St John the Dwarf, who wrote Paisiu's life. To the joy of his spiritual father, Paisius piled labour upon labour one ascetic feat upon another. The Prophet Jeremiah, whom he especially revered and read frequently, appeared to him often, and also the Lord Christ. 'Peace be to thee, My beloved in whom I am well-pleased!, the Lord said to him. By God's great grace, Paisius had the particular gift of being able to abstain completely from food. He would often not eat bread for a fortnight, even more often for a week, and once, according to the testimony of John the Dwarf, he went for seventy days without tasting a thing. He waged a tremendous war against evil spirits, that sometimes appeared to him in their own form and sometimes as angels of light. But God's servant, filled with grace, never once let himself be deceived and led astray. He was a seer and a wonderworker famed throughout the whole of Egypt. He went to the Lord in the year 400. Isidore of Pelusium took his relics to his own monastery and buried them there.
3. The Holy Martyr Zossima.
A Roman soldier at the time of the Emperor Trajan, he courageously confessed his faith in Christ the Lord and endured many bitter torments. In the midst of his torture. a voice was heard from heaven: 'Be of good cheer, Zossima, and sign yourself with the Cross. I am with you.' Angels of God appeared to him in the prison. After manifold sufferings, he was beheaded with an axe in the year 116.
4. Our Holy Father John the Solitary.
He lived the ascetic life near Jerusalem in the sixth century. His asceticism brought him to a high degree of purity and spiritual power, so that the wild beasts were obedient to him. He entered into rest in the Lord in 586, at a great age.
The monks once inquired of Paisius the Great: "Father, speak to us a word of salvation and how, according to God, we should live?" The elder replied to them: "Go and keep the commandments of God and preserve the traditions of the Fathers." The tradition of the Fathers is the experience of the saints in the spiritual field, the enormous experience of nearly two-thousand years, the experience of many hundreds and thousands of holy men and women. What a very rich depository of wisdom! What kind of an immense mass of proofs of every truth of Holy Scripture! All of that wealth, all of that wisdom, all of those proofs, all of this experience the Protestants have rejected! O madness inexpressible! O, the poverty of beggars!
To contemplate the miraculous healing of the two blind men:"
"And behold, two blind men sitting by the wayside, heard that Jesus was passing by, and cried out, saying: 'Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!' " (St. Matthew 20:30):
- How the two blind men cried out to the Lord: "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!";
- How the merciful Lord touched their eyes and they saw;
- How I also am blinded by sin; and how even I can see if I cry out to the Lord to touch me.
About revenge and the Avenger
"Say not, I will repay evil! Trust in the Lord and He will help you" (Proverbs 20:22).
Do not be vengeful; do not return evil for evil. The evil from your neighbor is sufficient. If you return evil for evil to him, you will double the evil in the world. If you do not return evil for evil to him, he can still burn out his evil through repentance. Thus, you will reduce evil in the world through patience and forgiveness.
Do not be vengeful; do not return evil for evil. "But wait on the Lord," He sees and remembers and, in your time, even you and your evil doer will know that God sees and remembers. You ask yourself: What have I done in that I have not returned evil for evil? You have done the wisest deed that you could do in the given situation, i.e.; you have relinquished your struggle to the One Stronger than yourself and the Stronger will victoriously fight for you. If you enter into battle with the evil doer you might be defeated. But God cannot be defeated. Therefore, relinquish your struggle to the Victorious and Undefeated One and patiently wait.
Learn from a small child. If someone attacks a child in the presence of his parents, the child does not return the attack by attacking but rather looks at his parents and cries. The child knows that his parents will protect him. How is it that you do not know what a little child knows? Your heavenly Parent is constantly beside you. That is why, do not be vengeful; do not return evil for evil rather look at your Parent and cry. Only in this way will you guarantee victory for yourself in conflict with evil men.
O Almighty Lord Who said: "Vengeance is Mine" (Romans 12:19 Hebrews 10:30), protect us from the unrighteous ones by Your almighty hand and restrain us from vengeance. Counsel us by Your Holy Spirit that the greater heroism is to endure rather than to avenge.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
From The Prologue From Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich
© 1985 Lazarica Press, Birmingham UK