Prologue of Ohrid

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May 6

1. THE HOLY RIGHTEOUS AND LONG-SUFFERING JOB

Job was a descendant of Esau the grandson of Abraham and lived in Arabia about 2,000 years before Christ. His father's name was Zareth and his mother's name was Bosora. However, his full name was Jobab. Job was an honorable, God-fearing man and very wealthy. In the seventy-ninth year of his life, God permitted difficult temptations to befall him through Satan as it is written in detail in the Book of Job. In one day, Job lost all his enormous estates, his sons and his daughters. After that a terrible disease befell him and his entire body was covered with sores from his head to his feet and Job lay on the rubbish heap outside the town and with a piece of potsherd scrapped away the pus from his wounds. Job did not murmur against God, but patiently endured all sufferings to the end. That is why God restored his health, gave him much greater riches than that which he had before and seven sons and three daughters were born to him, as many as he previously had. Job lived for a total of two-hundred forty-eight years always glorifying and praising God. Job is considered to be the model of patient endurance of every suffering which God sends upon us and Job is a proto-type of the suffering of the Lord Jesus.

2. THE HOLY MARTYR BARBARUS

Barbarus was a soldier during the reign of Julian the Apostate. When the emperor's commander Bacchus led the Roman army against the Franks, Barbarus, who was secretly a Christian, was serving in the army. In battle there appeared a certain hero on the side of the Franks, similar to Goliath of old and he challenged the Romans to send one of their men to come out to do battle. Commander Bacchus advised Barbarus to go. Barbarus prayed in his heart to the Living Lord, went out and defeated that giant. As a result, the Frankish army became confused and fled. Then the commander prepared a great celebration and ordered that sacrifices be offered to the idols. During the sacrificial offerings, the commander learned that Barbarus kept himself apart. When he was asked about that, Barbarus declared that he is a Christian. The commander informed the emperor and the emperor ordered that Barbarus be subjected to the most severe tortures. But Barbarus endured all with rare courage and composure. During his tortures, many miracles were manifested and many soldiers, witnessing this, accepted the Faith of Christ. Among them was the Commander Bacchus along with Callimachus and Dionysius. All three were beheaded for the Name of Christ and, after them, Barbarus was also beheaded in the year 362 A.D. Their souls took up habitation in the kingdom of Christ the Immortal King.

3. SAINT BARBARUS THE ROBBER

After having committed many crimes, Barbarus repented and at first condemned himself to crawl on all fours for three years and to eat with dogs and, second, to live twelve years in the forest without clothes, without a roof and without food except grass and leaves. He received news from the angels that his sins are forgiven. Some merchants traveling through the forest and seeing Barbarus from afar thought that it was an animal and not a man, aimed their arrows at him and pierced him. Dying, Barbarus begged them to inform the nearest priest about him. The priest arrived and buried him honorably. From his body flowed healing myrrh (oil) which cured various diseases and pains of men.

HYMN OF PRAISE

JOB, THE SUFFERING SERVANT

Tell me brother, what you are able to endure,

And how much of a man you are, I will tell you.

Job the righteous rich man and all glorious

By Satan, on a dunghill was thrown,

And with pus and sores covered,

To dogs and to men, a horrifying sight!

Whatever he had, in a day perished

Except faith and except patience.

But with the weapon of faith and patience

Job, the horrible Satan overcame.

The uneven struggle, God looked on,

To the righteous one, victory He imparted.

With victory, all other riches,

And the envious devil shamed.

REFLECTION

Abba Isaiah said of himself: "I see myself resembling a horse wandering around without a rider. Whoever finds him, sits on him and rides him to his content. When one rider dismounts the horse, another saddles him and does the same, and so with the third and so forth." This great ascetic, about whom everyone spoke with amazement that he had attained perfection, said this of himself either out of humility or from remembrance of his time of imperfection. The main thing is that these words are true in relation to every Christian who walks spiritually unbridled and unrestrained. Just as soon as one passion dismounted from him, another mounted him. Just as soon as one wearied him and left him in despair, another mounted him with deluded hope that it will make him happy. Such a man does not have a rider who would direct him to the true path without digressing to the left or to the right. The only friendly rider which should be greeted with a welcome is the holy and powerful Christian spirit.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the Ascension of the Lord Jesus:

1. How He first resurrected bodily and then ascended bodily;

2. How the souls of righteous men after death first ascend into heaven while the body awaits the general resurrection, general transfiguration and general ascension.

HOMILY

About the power that God gave to the words of the prophets

"Behold, I made My words in your mouth, a fire. And this people is the wood that it shall devour!" (Jeremiah 5:14).

You see brethren, that the effect of the word of God is different according to different people. The word of God is like fire, in whom the righteous one rejoices, as one frozen in the cold of this world; and the word of God is like fire which burns the unrighteous one whom this material world has overly warmed. The experienced spiritual fathers have left us proof that only the Name of Jesus brings power, joy and refreshment to the faithful - and this Name consumes evil spirits as a living fire. That is the way with every word of God. With some it creates comfort, with others irritation, with some it quiets anger, with others it increases anger, with some it provokes respect with fear and with others scorn. To the healthy it is honey; to the unhealthy it is the honey of wormwood.

But, why should the people be as wood which will be consumed? For, are the people to be blamed if the godless elders and false prophets lead them astray? The people are not to blame to such a degree as their elders and false prophets but nevertheless they are to blame to a certain extent. For God also gave the people to know the right path through conscience and through the preaching of God's word and the people should not blindly follow their blind leaders when they lead them on the false paths and distance them from God and God's law. Brethren, God is Just and He knows the measure of everyone's faults, and He will not permit the illiterate and the least to suffer as much as the literate and the greatest.

O All-seeing God, save us that we neither be blind leaders nor blind followers. Strengthen our hearts that, as leaders and as followers, we will always be Your servants and only Your servants.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.

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