Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, December 25, 2016

Twenty-seventh Sunday after Pentecost; Second Sunday before Nativity: Holy Forefathers of the Old Covenant; Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus; Serbian Mother’s Day

When Thou didst descend to death, O Life Immortal, Thou didst slay hell with the splendor of Thy Godhead!  And when from the depths Thou didst raise the dead, all the powers of heaven cried out: O Giver of Life! Christ our God! Glory to Thee!
Through faith You justified the Forefathers, betrothing through them the Church of the gentiles.  These saints exult in glory, for from their seed came forth a glorious fruit: she who bore You without seed.  So by their prayers, O Christ God, have mercy on us!

You were revealed as a champion of the First Council and a wonderworker, our God-bearing father Spyridon.  You spoke to one dead in the grave and transformed a serpent into gold.  While chanting your holy prayers you had angels serving with you!  Glory to Him Who gave you strength!  Glory to Him Who granted you a crown!  Glory to Him Who through you grants healing to all! 

Hell became afraid, O Almighty Savior, seeing the miracle of Thy Resurrection from the tomb!  The dead arose! Creation, with Adam, beheld this and rejoiced with Thee! And the world, O my Savior, praises Thee forever.

Wounded by the love of Christ, all-holy one, your mind was given wings through the light of the Spirit, you found work in active contemplation, God-pleasing Spyridon, becoming a divine sacrifice, and imploring divine illumination for all.

You did not worship the graven image, O thrice-blessed ones, but armed with the immaterial essence of God, you were glorified in a trial by fire.  From the midst of unbearable flames you called on God, crying out: ‘Hasten, O compassionate One!  Speedily come to our aid for You are merciful and able to do as You will!’


The Prokimenon in the 4th Tone:       
Blessed are You, O Lord, God of our fathers; and praised and glorified is Your name forever.

Second Sunday before Nativity: Colossians 3: 4-11
Brethren, when Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.  Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.  But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.  Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

The Alleluia Verses:
Moses and Aaron are among His priests, and Samuel is among those who call upon His name. They called upon the Lord, and He hearkened unto them.


Second Sunday before Nativity: Luke 14: 16-24   
The Lord spoke this parable: “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’  But they all with one accord began to make excuses.  The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go and see it; I ask you to have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them; I ask you to have me excused.’  Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’  So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’  And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded and still there is room.’  Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.  For I say to you, that none of these men who were invited shall taste my supper.’”

From The Prologue
December 12/25 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus
The island of Cyprus was both the birthplace and the place where this glorious saint served the Church. Spyridon was born of simple parents, farmers, and he remained simple and humble until his death. He married in his youth and had children, but when his wife died he devoted himself completely to the service of God. Because of his exceptional piety, he was chosen as bishop of the city of Tremithus. Yet even as a bishop he did not change his simple way of living, handling his livestock and cultivating his land himself. He used very little of the fruits of his labor for himself; instead, he distributed a greater share to the needy. He manifested great miracles by God’s power: he brought down rain in time of drought, stopped the flow of a river, raised several people from the dead, healed Emperor Constantius of a grave illness, saw and heard angels of God, foresaw future events, discerned the secrets of men’s hearts, converted many to the true Faith, and did much else. He took part in the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea [325], and he brought many heretics back to Orthodoxy by his simple and clear expositions of the Faith as well as by his mighty miracles. He was so simply dressed that once, when he wanted to enter the imperial court at the invitation of the emperor, a soldier, thinking that he was a beggar, struck him on the face. Meek and guileless, Spyridon turned the other cheek to him. He glorified God through many miracles, and was of benefit, not only to many individuals but also to the whole Church of God. He entered into rest in the Lord in the year 348. His miracle-working relics rest on the island of Corfu, and even today they glorify God with many miracles.

The Holy Hieromartyr Alexander, Patriarch of Jerusalem
At first Alexander was the Bishop of Cappadocia, but during the persecution under Severus in the year 203 he was cast into prison and then exiled. Afterward he accepted the patriarchal throne of Jerusalem. He founded the famous Jerusalem Library, which Eusebius used when he wrote his Ecclesiastical History. He was tortured in various ways during the reign of Decius and thrown to wild beasts. Remaining alive and untouched by the beasts, he was cast into prison, where he ended his earthly life and went to the Lord in the year 251.

The Holy Martyr Synesius
As a young reader in Rome, he boldly preached the truth of Christ and denounced idolaters. For this, he was tortured and beheaded during the reign of Emperor Aurelian.

HYMN OF PRAISE: Saint Spyridon the Wonderworker, Bishop of Tremithus

Star of Cyprus and luminary of the Church,
Holy Spyridon, defender of the Faith,
Simple as a child, innocent as a child—
By his simplicity, he shines on the world.

What need is there for many words when speaking the truth?

Utterly simple is God’s truth:
The Creator is One, in the Holy Trinity,
In the Trinity, Father, Son and Spirit.

The Son descended to the sinful earth
And received flesh from the Pure Virgin
In order to save men, because He is the Lover of Mankind.
He performed many miracles
By divine power, for He is Almighty.

To mankind He gave a new rule,
The rule of love and the rule of faith.

Glorified, He now sits in heaven,
And gathers the fruit of His labor.

The sweet fruits of His labor
Are holy men and holy women.

He is the Rock of mankind’s salvation;
Outside this Rock there is no salvation.

O Spyridon, O illuminator,
O soldier of Christ, pray for us.

Absolutely nothing will help us if we are not lenient toward the weaknesses of men and forgive them. For how can we hope that God will forgive us if we do not forgive others? St. Spyridon once sold a hundred goats to a merchant at an agreed price, and the saint told the buyer to lay down the money. The buyer, knowing that Spyridon himself never counted money, handed over enough money for ninety-nine goats and hid the money for one. Spyridon then counted out a hundred goats for him. But when the merchant and his servants drove off the goats, one of them returned bleating. He drove it off, but it returned again. And so the goat continually returned to the enclosure, not wanting to go with the other goats. The saint then whispered into the merchant’s ear: “Observe, my son: this animal is not doing this in vain. Did you perhaps withhold her price?” The merchant became ashamed and acknowledged his sin. As soon as he paid the amount he had concealed, the goat immediately joined the other goats.

On another occasion, some thieves entered Spyridon’s sheepfold. When they had seized as many sheep as they wanted, they tried to leave the sheepfold, but an invisible force nailed them to the ground, and they were unable to move. At dawn, the bishop came to his sheepfold. Seeing the thieves, he reproached them mildly and instructed them to strive in the future to live by their own labors and not by thievery. He then took a sheep and gave it to them, saying, “Take this for your trouble, so that your all-night vigil not be in vain,” and he dismissed them in peace.


Contemplate Noah’s blessing upon two of his children [Japheth and Shem] and a curse upon the third [Ham] (Genesis 9):

1. How Ham disclosed his father’s nakedness, but Shem and Japheth covered it;

2. How Noah pronounced a blessing upon Shem and Japheth, but a curse upon the descendants of Ham.

HOMILY on Melchisedek

Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedek (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews 7:17, 21).

Oh, how many hidden and faithful servants does the Lord have who serve Him day and night! Oh, how many shining comets are seen by men to cross the starry heavens, which appear unexpectedly, glistening, and then are lost in the vastness of the universe, leaving only tales about them! The righteous Abraham, with his descendants, is known to us like the starry heavens over our heads, but Melchisedek is known to us like a shining comet, which suddenly appeared, was bowed down to us by the starry heavens, and was again hidden in the unknown. Who is this Melchisedek? The King of Salem … the priest of the Most-high God (Genesis 14:18). He brought bread and wine to Abraham; he blessed Abraham, and Abraham gave him one-tenth of all that was his. When Abraham was so greatly blessed by God, how much more blessed was he who blessed Abraham? Oh, how unfathomable are the depths of God’s providence! A man’s thought extends from today until tomorrow, but the thought of God extends to the very end of time. According to the words of the Holy Apostle Paul, Melchisedek prefigures the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Hebrews 7:10). For while the forefather Abraham was a wonderful and God-pleasing peasant, this Melchisedek was both a king and priest, as our Lord is King and Priest. Melchisedek offered Abraham bread and wine, and our Lord offered His Body and Blood to the entire human race. Abraham bowed down to Melchisedek and gave him a willing tribute. Abraham’s true descendants, the Christians, bow down to the Lord Jesus and offer Him their willing sacrifice, a gift in return for a gift, the gift of His Body and Blood on the Cross. And who shall declare His generation? (Isaiah 53:8). This refers to both Christ and Melchisedek. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it and was glad (John 8:56). Thus spoke the Lord to the Jews. How did Abraham see it? He saw it in the spirit. God revealed it to him, and he also saw the prefiguration of Christ in this glorious and wonderful Melchisedek, king, priest and servant of the Most-high God.

O Lord Jesus, bless us also as Thou didst bless Thy faithful servants, Melchisedek and Abraham.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.

Source: Western American Diocese of the SOC