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Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fifth Sunday of Pascha: The Samaritan Woman at the Well; Burning of the
Relics of Saint Sava on Vrachar

PASCHAL TROPARION – TONE ONE: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE FOUR: When the women disciples of the Lord learned from the angel the joyous message of Your Resurrection, they cast away the ancestral curse and elatedly told the apostles:  Death is overthrown!  Christ God is risen, granting the world great mercy!

MID-PENTECOST TROPARION - TONE EIGHT: In the middle of the Feast, O Savior, fill my thirsting soul with the waters of piety, as You cried to all: ‘If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink!’  O Christ God, Fountain of our life, glory to You!

KONTAKION TO THE SAMARITAN WOMAN  - TONE EIGHT: The Samaritan woman came to the well in faith; she saw You, the Water of Wisdom, and drank abundantly!  She inherited the Kingdom on high, and is ever glorified.

MID-PENTECOST KONTAKION - TONE FOUR: Christ God, the Creator and Master of all, cried to all in the midst of the feast of the law: ‘Come and draw the water of immortality!’  We fall before You and faithfully cry: ‘Grant us Your mercies, for You are the Fountain of our life!’

PASCHAL KONTAKION - TONE EIGHT: You descended into the tomb, O Immortal; You destroyed the power of death. In victory You arose, O Christ God, proclaiming “Rejoice” to the myrrh-bearing women, granting peace to Your disciples, and bestowing resurrection on the fallen.

INSTEAD OF “IT IS TRULY MEET…”: The angel cried to the Lady Full of Grace: Rejoice, O Pure Virgin!  Again I say: Rejoice!  Your Son is risen from His three days in the tomb!  With Himself He has raised all the dead!  Rejoice, all ye people!  Shine!  Shine!  O New Jerusalem!  The glory of the Lord has shone on you!  Exult now and be glad, O Zion!  Be radiant, O Pure Theotokos, in the Resurrection of your Son!

INSTEAD OF “WE HAVE SEEN THE TRUE LIGHT…”: Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! (once)


The Prokimenon in the 3rd Tone: Sing praises to our God, sing praises!  Sing praises to our King, sing praises!

Fifth Sunday of Pascha: Acts 11: 19-26; 29-30  
In those days, those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.  But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus.  And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.  When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.  For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.  And a great many people were added to the Lord.  Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul.  And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch.  So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people.  And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.  Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.  This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

The Alleluia Verses: 
Go forth and prosper and reign, because of truth and meekness and righteousness.  You love righteousness and hate iniquity.


Fifth Sunday of Pascha: John 4: 5-42 
At that time, Jesus came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.  Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well.  It was about the sixth hour.  A woman of Samaria came to draw water.  Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”  For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.  Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?”  For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.  Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink’, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”  The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.  Where then do You get that living water?  Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself as well as his sons and his livestock?”  Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”  The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”  Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”  The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”  Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband’, for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”  The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.  Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”  Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father.  You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.  But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  The woman said to Him, “I know the Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ).  “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”  And at this point His disciples came and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”  The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did.  Could this be the Christ?”  Then they went out of the city and came to Him.  In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”  But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”  Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”  Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.  Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest?’  Behold I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!  And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together.  For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’  I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”  And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all what I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans had come to Him they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days.  And many more believed because of His own word.  Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.”

From The Prologue for April 27/May 10
by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Holy Apostle Simeon
He was the son of Cleopas, who was the brother of Joseph, the betrothed of the All-holy Mother of God. Seeing the miracles of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Simeon believed, and was numbered among the Seventy Apostles. With great zeal and courage he preached the Gospel of Christ throughout Judea. When the iniquitous Jews killed James, the brother of the Lord and the first Bishop of the Church of Jerusalem, by hurling him from the heights of the Temple and beating him over the head with a club, then this Simeon, a cousin of James, was appointed Bishop of Jerusalem. And Simeon, as the second bishop of the Holy City, governed the Church of God with wisdom and strength unto great old age. He was over a hundred years old when he suffered. His suffering was in this manner: During the reign of Emperor Trajan, a twofold persecution began in Palestine—against the descendants of David and against the Christians. Wicked men accused Simeon of being both. St. Simeon endured harsh torture and was finally crucified, as had been the Lord, Whom he had faithfully served on earth.

The Venerable Stephen, Bishop of Vladimir
Stephen was a disciple of St. Theodosius of the Monastery of the Kiev Caves. For a while, Stephen was Abbot of the Monastery of the Caves, and he labored much in the regulation and organization of the monastic life and in the adornment of churches. Then the devil incited malice among the monks against Stephen; not only did they remove him from the abbacy but they banished him from the monastery. But God, Who does not abandon the righteous under the humiliation of the unrighteous for long, directed the life of the Venerable Stephen so that he was elected as Bishop of Vladimir. As a hierarch of God, Stephen governed the Church until old age and reposed peacefully in the Lord in the year 1094.

The Burning of the Relics of Saint Sava, Archbishop of Serbia
The body of St. Sava was buried in Mileševo Monastery. During the time of the Turkish tyranny, the Serbian people gathered around the relics of their saint to seek comfort and healing. Fearing that an insurrection against the Turks might arise from that place, Sinan Pasha of Belgrade ordered that the relics of St. Sava be brought to Belgrade and he burned them there on Vraèar hill, on April 27, 1594. But with the burning of the relics of this saint, the demon-ridden Pasha did not burn the saint, who remains alive before the throne of God in the heavens and in the hearts of his people on earth.

The Venerable John, the Confessor
John was the abbot of the Cathares Monastery. This monastery was established near Nicaea during the reign of Justin in the sixth century. Because of his veneration of icons and his defense of the veneration of icons, John suffered much at the hands of the Emperors Leo and Theophilus and died in exile, in about the year 832.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Holy Apostle Simeon
Simeon, radiant with youth and strength,
When he drew near to the gracious Teacher,
Saw not a relative known to him according to the flesh
But the unknown God in bodily form.

And by this great light the entire world became dark to him.

When he came to himself he parted with the world,
And as a powerful eagle in lofty flight,
He raised his spirit toward heaven and the heavenly world.

Through Christ he recognized the goodness of God,
Immortal Life, immortal beauty.

Through Christ he further recognized true Man.

Thus he scorned the glory and the honor of this age,
And as a honeybee he gave himself to labor,
Not grieving over his youth, not grieving over his body,
But fulfilling the Law of Christ unto the end,
Becoming worthy of Paradise divine.

And, crucified upon a cross, the hundred-year-old elder
Felt not the sting of death,
For long ago he had resurrected in spirit;
Now he waits to resurrect in glory in the body.

The true Faith must be persecuted in this world. The Savior Himself said this clearly and openly to His apostles. St. Apollinarius of Hierapolis, in writing against the Montanist heretics, says: “Let them tell us before God: who, out of all their prophets, beginning with Montanus and his wives, was persecuted by the Jews and killed by the ungodly? No one. Who from among them was taken away for the name of Christ and was crucified on the cross? Again, no one. Have any of the women ever been flogged or stoned in the Jewish synagogues? Never and nowhere.” The Orthodox saint is saying that the true Faith, on the other hand, must be persecuted in this world. Heresies are generally closer to the worldly and demonic spirit, and thus the world and the demons do not persecute their own. To be constantly persecuted—with brief intervals in between—is a characteristic of the Faith and the Orthodox Church. This persecution has existed, either from without or within—externally from unbelievers and internally from heretics—throughout all of history.

Contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:
1. How He commanded that repentance and forgiveness of sins be preached in His name;
2. How He commanded His disciples to await the Father’s promise of the power of the Holy Spirit from on high.

HOMILY on the persecution of the godly
We must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22). Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Timothy 3:12).

The Lord Jesus both prophesied this and proved it true by His own example. The apostles also said this and by their example they proved it. All the God-bearing Fathers of the Church, the confessors and the martyrs also said this and proved it by their example. Therefore, is there any need to doubt that it is through a narrow door that one enters the Kingdom of God? Should we hesitate for a moment as to whether we must through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God? No, there is no basis or justification for doubt. Can sheep live among the wolves and not be attacked by them? Can a candle burn amidst crosswinds and not be bent to and fro? Can a fruitful tree grow alongside the road and not be disturbed by passersby? Thus, the Church of pious souls cannot but be persecuted again and again—by heathens, by idolaters, by heretics, by apostates, by passions and vices, by sin and transgressions, by the world, and by demons. Thus, not one devout soul can remain without persecution, be it external or internal, until it is separated from the body and the world. Someone may take issue with this and try to prove something different, according to his own calculation and logic. But here neither the mind nor the logic of one man is of any avail. Thousands who were crucified speak otherwise, thousands who were burned alive cry out otherwise, thousands who were beheaded prove otherwise, and thousands who were drowned witness otherwise. O my brethren, the Christian Faith is mighty not only when it agrees with sensual reasoning and sensual logic, but when (and especially when) it contradicts sensual reasoning and sensual logic.

Those who want to live a godly life will be persecuted. This the Apostle prophesied at the beginning of the Christian era, and twenty Christian centuries render a many-voiced echo to confirm the truth of the prophecy.

O resurrected Lord, grant us light, that we may be pious to the end, and give us the strength to endure persecution to the end.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.


The Historical and Spiritual Heartland of the Serbian People

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