Prologue of Ohrid

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July 20

1. THE HOLY PROPHET ELIJAH

Saint Elijah, one who saw God, a miracle-worker and a zealot for faith in God, was born of the tribe of Aaron from the town Tishba for which he was called the Tishbite. When St. Elijah was born, his father Savah saw an angel of God hovering around the child, wrapping the child in fire and giving him a flame to eat. That was a foreshadowing of Elijah's fiery character and his God-given fiery power. He spent his entire youth in godly thoughts and prayers withdrawing frequently into the wilderness to contemplate and to pray in solitude. At that time the Jewish kingdom was divided into two unequal parts: the kingdom of Judah consisting of only two tribes, the tribes of Judah and Benjamin with their capital in Jerusalem, and the kingdom of Israel consisting of the remaining ten tribes with their capital in Samaria. The first kingdom was governed by the descendants of Solomon and the second kingdom was governed by the descendants of Jeroboam, the servants of Solomon. The greatest confrontation that the prophet Elijah had was with the Israelite King Ahab and his evil wife Jezebel. For they, Ahab and Jezebel, worshipped idols and were turning the people away from serving the One and Living God. Before this, however, Jezebel, a Syrian, persuaded her husband to erect a temple to the Syrian god Baal and ordered many priests to the service of this false god. Through great miracles Elijah displayed the power and authority of God: he closed up the heavens, so that there was not any rain for three years and six months; he lowered a fire from heaven and burned the sacrifice to his God which the pagan priests of Baal were unable to do; he brought down rain from heaven by his prayer; miraculously multiplied flour and oil in the home of the widow in Zerepath, and resurrected her son; he prophesied to Ahab that the dogs will lick up his blood and to Jezebel that the dogs will consume her flesh, all of which happened as well as many other miracles did he perform and prophesy. On Mount Horeb, he spoke with God and heard the voice of God in the calm of a gentle breeze. Before his death he took Elisha and designated him as his successor in the prophetic calling; by his mantle he divided the waters of the Jordan river; finally he was taken up into the heavens in a fiery chariot by flaming horses. He appeared on Mount Tabor to our Lord Jesus Christ together with Moses. Before the end of the world St. Elijah will appear again to put an end to the power of the anti-Christ (Revelation, Chapter 11).

2. SAINT ELIJAH, THE PATRIARCH OF JERUSALEM AND SAINT FLAVIUS, THE PATRIARCH OF ANTIOCH.

Saint Elijah and Saint Flavius were great zealots for the Faith and defenders of Orthodoxy. They were driven into exile by the heretical Emperor Anastasius where they both died. They precisely foresaw the death of Emperor Anastasius as well as their own death. Simultaneously they corresponded with each other from afar: "Anastasius the emperor died today, let us both go before the judgment of God with him." After two days both saints died in the year 518 A.D.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
SAINT ELIJAH THE PROPHET
 
Fiery man, the Prophet Elijah,
 
With heavenly radiance, glowed on earth
 
Pleased the Lord with your prayers
 
You closed the heavens and from heaven brought down fire,
 
All with the help of God's All-powerful right hand;
 
Because of their lukewarm faith, you rebuke men;
 
For the Living God, you diligently labored
 
And, as its prophet, the Church celebrates you.
 
The king did not frighten you and the queen even less,
 
Your king and your possession, the Lord God is.
 
Neither about food nor about drink did he worry.
 
To God's Providence, you were completely devoted
 
Without fear of anyone, you were a fear to everyone.
 
As a powerful lion who is a fear to small mice.
 
For the Living God you diligently labored
 
And as its prophet, the Church celebrates you.
 
As so few, the Lord glorified you
 
For the Living God you glorified:
 
To ignite sacrifices, God sent you a fire;
 
To resurrect the dead, power He gave you.
 
The entire world, your powerful work amazed,
 
All your prophecies were fulfilled,
 
With soul and body, you were alive and whole,
 
That is why death did not have any part in you.
 
Both in soul and body, fiery prophet
 
Glory to you! We exclaim with a joyful soul.
 
REFLECTION

Writing about the life of his sister St. Macrina, St. Gregory of Nyssa hesitates to enumerate her miracles, "that I not be," says he, "responsible for the sin of unbelief among helpless men." He calls helpless, those who do not believe. Truly, there is nothing more helpless than a man without faith. The man without faith believes in the power of dead things and dead elements of nature and does not believe in the power of God or in the strength of the men of God. That is spiritual dullness and that dullness is equated with spiritual death. Thus, the living souls believe and the dead souls do not believe. Living souls believe in the powerful miracles of the Prophet Elijah. These miracles give them courage and joy, for they know that they are a manifestation of the might of God. When God manifests His might through lifeless things and elements of nature, why then would He not manifest it through living and holy men? That which especially gives joy to the faithful is that the Prophet Elijah appeared alive on Mount Tabor at the time of the Transfiguration of the Lord. During his life on earth, this great prophet gave proof of the existence of the One and Living God and, after his death, and even after several hundred years, by his appearance on Mt. Tabor, he gave to mankind visible proof of life after death.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the miraculous help of God to the Israelites in battle (Deuteronomy 2):

1. How Moses defeated the pagan kings, Sihon of the Amorites and Og, king of Basan, for God promised that they would perish;

2. How Moses was unable to take the land of Moab, for God did not want this because of the descendants of the righteous Lot;

3. How victory and defeat in wars generally do not occur without God's permission.

HOMILY

About the personal witness of the apostle

"This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with Him in the holy mount" (2 Peter 2:17-18).

Let us hear the testimony of the true and faithful one who was crucified on a cross because of his testimony. Let us hear the Apostle Peter who, what he was unable to prove by his words, proved by his bloody death on the cross, crucified upside down by the pagans. He testifies that he was on the holy mountain, i.e., Mount Tabor when our Lord was transfigured, when Moses with Elijah appeared and when a voice was heard from heaven saying: "This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased" (2 Peter 1:17). In this text, the apostle does not speak of what he and his companions saw on the holy mountain, which is narrated in the Gospel, but repeats only that which they heard. That which they heard is just as important as that which they saw. Therefore, let the people hear that the apostle saw the Lord Jesus transfigured in a miraculous heavenly light and let them know that He is the Son of God. Let the people also hear that the apostles saw Moses and Elijah alive and let them know that life after death exists as well as the judgment of God. Let them also hear, that the Lord Jesus is called the Son of God, not by man, but rather by God the Father Himself. Those who speak these words to the people and relate to them what their eyes saw and what their ears heard are faithful and true witnesses. He, who does not believe the apostles, believes in Judas, Caiaphas, Herod and Nero, the persecutors of the apostles and traitors of the truth. He who does not believe in the righteous ones has no other alternative left but to believe in the unrighteous ones. He who does not believe in the pure ones, must believe in the impure ones. He who does not believe in those who suffer for the truth, must believe in the torturers and libertines. Day does not dawn for anything else except that men may take sides with one or the other.

O Lord our Savior and Enlightener, enlighten our souls by Your holy words, for which Your apostles suffered.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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