Prologue of Ohrid

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March 16

1. THE HOLY APOSTLE ARISTOBULUS, ONE OF THE SEVENTY APOSTLES

Born in Cyprus, Aristobulus was the brother of the Apostle Barnabas. He followed the Apostle Paul, who mentions him in his Epistle to the Romans saying, "Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus" (Romans 16:10). When the great apostle appointed many bishops throughout the various parts of the world, he appointed Aristobulus as bishop for the British, that is, England. In Britain the people were savages, heathen and wicked. Aristobulus endured many indescribable tortures, misfortunes and evil among them. They struck and beat him mercilessly, dragged him about the streets, ridiculed and mocked him. Finally this holy man succeeded by the power of the Grace of God. He enlightened the people, baptized them in the name of Christ the Lord, built churches, ordained priests and deacons and, in the end, died there peacefully and entered into the Kingdom of the Lord, Whom he faithfully served.(*)

(*) In the Greek Synaxarion the Venerable Christodulos is also mentioned on this day. He lived a life of asceticism on the island of Patmos, where he build a monastery dedicated to St. John the Theologian. He died in the year 1111 A.D. Many miracles occured over his relics.

2. THE HOLY MARTYR SABINUS

Sabinus was a Syrian from the city of Hermopolis and an official of that city. At the time of a persecution against the Christians, he withdrew to a mountain with a large number of other Christians and closed himself off in a hut, where he spent his time in fasting and prayer. A certain beggar, who brought him food and for whom Sabinus performed a good deed, reported him. As did Judas to Christ, so also, this unfortunate one betrayed his benefactor for two pieces of gold. Sabinus, with six others, were apprehended, bound by the soldiers and brought to stand trial. After great and enormous pains he was cast into the Nile river where he gave up his soul to God in the year 287.A.D.

3. THE PRIEST-MARTYRS TROPHIMUS AND THALLUS

They were born in Syria and were brothers by birth. They openly and freely preached Christ and denounced the folly of the Hellenes [Greeks] and Romans. The enraged pagans decided to have them stoned to death, but when they began hurling stones upon these two holy brothers, the stones reverted and struck the assailants and the brothers remained unharmed. Afterward they were both crucified. From their crosses the brothers taught and encouraged those Christians who stood sorrowfully around. After much agony they presented their souls to the Lord to Whom they remained faithful to the end. They suffered honorably in the year 300 A.D., in the city of Bofor.

HYMN OF PRAISE

SAINTS TROPHIMUS AND THALLUS

Two blood-brothers imbued by the Spirit,

Illumined and regenerated by faith,

These two brothers, on the Cross crucified,

Counseled the masses of right-believing people:

O, brethren, why upon us, from below, do you gaze?

Because of our difficult sufferings, do not, bitterly weep!

Christ our Savior, Doer of heroic deeds,

Because of such sufferings, the Redeemer, He became,

The Redeemer of the entire human race,

Listening to Him, we are being saved.

He obeyed the Father, and to the earth descended,

Suffered and resurrected, into Heaven ascended.

To Him we harken and sufferings endure,

Through sufferings, into His kingdom we walk.

Fear not brethren, neither fire nor sword,

The justice of Christ, than the entire world is stronger.

Fear not brethren, nor for yourself feel sorrow,

For eternal salvation, deny yourself.

All sufferings are small, trivial and bearable,

Compared to the rewards of Paradise, eternal and sublime.

The world, a false mask, is an insane illusion,

Eternity, that is our true homeland.

Give the world to those who love the lie of the world,

And because of lies, they forfeit life and truth,

You, seize the pearl above the mud of the world -

Harken, brethren, to Trophimus and Thallus!

REFLECTION

If we fulfill the law of God in our thoughts, how much easier would it be then for us to fulfill it in our deeds? That is, if we do not transgress the law of God in our thoughts, how much easier would it be not to transgress it in our deeds? Or still, if our hearts, tongues, hands and feet are with God, then our entire body cannot be against God. Heart, heart, prepare your heart for God. Consecrate it to God; worship God; fulfill the law of God in it; unite it with God; and all the rest will follow and will be governed by the heart. It is not he who holds the spoke of the wheel that steers the wheel, but he who holds its axis. The heart is the axis of our being. Speaking about the commandments of God, the Venerable Hesychius says, "If you compel yourself to fulfill them in your thought, then you will rarely have the need to strain yourself to fulfill them in deed." That is, if you set your hearts on God, as on an axis, then the wheels will easily and comfortably follow the axis. In other words all of man will follow after his own heart. "Your law is within my heart" (Psalm 40:9), says the all-wise David.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Lord Jesus how He walks under the cross to Golgotha:

1. How He quietly and patiently carries His cross;

2. How they took the cross from Him and gave it to Simon of Cyrene; how he carried the cross walking after Christ;

3. How He glanced at the women of Jerusalem, who were weeping, and said to them: "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me: weep instead for yourselves and for your children" (St. Luke 23:28), declaring by this His victory and defeat over His murderers.

HOMILY

About the reproach of Christ as wealth

"By faith Moses considered the reproach than the treasures of Egypt, for he was of the Anointed One greater wealth looking to the recompense" (Hebrews 11: 24-26).

Moses did not want to remain in the palace of the pharaoh nor to be called the adopted son of pharaoh. Desiring more, "He chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than enjoy the fleeting pleasure of sin" (Hebrews 11:25). How different was Moses from his descendants [The Jews], who out of pharonic reasons, condemned the King of Glory to death! All of them would have liked to live one more year in the decaying court of the pharaoh rather than to travel with God for forty years in the wilderness. Moses left all honors, all riches and all vanities, which only the wealth of Egypt could provide. At the command of God, Moses started out through the hungry and thirsty wilderness with faith that beyond there lay the Promised Land. All of this also means to hold the "reproach of the Anointed One [Christ]" above all the wealth of Egypt.

The "reproach of the Anointed One [Christ]" is that which the men of this world with a powerful stench of the earth, are ashamed in Christ. That is Christ's poverty on earth, His fasting, His vigil, His prayer, His wandering without a roof over His head, His condemnation, His humiliation, and His shameful death. This "reproach of the Anointed One [Christ]" was valued by the apostles, and after them, by countless saints, who thought this to be of greater wealth than all the riches in the entire world. Following these indignities, the Lord resurrected and opened the gates of heaven and revealed the Promised Land of Paradise, into which He led mankind along the path of His reproach or the wilderness of His suffering.

O Lord, glorified and resurrected, help us that we may hold unwaveringly every drop of Your sweat and Your blood as a treasure greater than all worldly riches.
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