Prologue of Ohrid

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August 14

1. THE HOLY PROPHET MICAH [MICHEA]

Micah was of the tribe of Judah and from the village of Morasth for which he is called the "Morasthite." He was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos, Hosea and the Jewish kings Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Micah rebuked the vices of his people and rebuked the false prophets who prophesied "of wine and of strong drink" (Micah 2:11). He foretold the destruction of Samaria. He also foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, which will come because their leaders accept bribes, the priests teach for lucre and its prophets tell fortunes for money. "Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed as a field and Jerusalem shall become as heaps" (Micah 3:12). But, of all his prophecies, the most important prophecy is that of the Messiah, especially the place of His birth. He mentioned Bethlehem as the birthplace of the Messiah, "Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2). It is not known exactly whether this prophet was slain by the Jews or whether he died a peaceful death. "Micah the Morasthite prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah and spoke to all the people of Judah saying, Thus said the Lord of hosts; Zion shall be plowed like a field and Jerusalem shall become heaps and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest. Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him at all to death? Did he not fear the Lord and besought the Lord and the Lord repented him of the evil which he had pronounced against them? Thus might we procure great evil against our souls" (Jeremiah 26:18-19). However, it is known that he was buried in his village and his relics were found, together with the relics of the Prophet Habakkuk, during the reign of Emperor Theodosius the Great according to a mysterious revelation, which Bishop Zevin of Eleutheropolis received.

2. THE PRIESTLY-MARTYR MARCELLUS, THE BISHOP OF APAMAEA

Marcellus was born on Cyprus of wealthy and eminent parents and he was highly- educated. He entered into marriage and had children. When his wife died, Marcellus withdrew to the monastic life in Syria, leaving his children to the Providence of God. He became famous because of his compassion, meekness and spiritual knowledge because of which the Ampamaens elected him as their bishop. As a bishop, Marcellus zealously labored to convert pagans to the Christian Faith. When an idolatrous temple was burned the idolaters seized Marcellus, supposedly as the one who had caused the fire, and burned him in fire about the year 389 A.D. Especially instructive in the life of St. Marcellus is that the blessing of water and the use of blessed water is mentioned there.

HYMN OF PRAISE
 
MICAH
 
Micah, God's prophet, with the Spirit of God burns,
 
Salvation speaks and punishment prophesies:
 
"Hear, you leaders of the house of Jacob" [Micah 3:1],
 
When fire erupts, the chaff is not saved.
 
You hate readily and evil, evil you relish,
 
God's people, you heartlessly fleece,
 
The prophets of old and the law you have abandoned,
 
To God you do not harken, to the fortune-tellers you harken!
 
But misfortune, pain and weeping will come,
 
To cry out to heaven, in vain and too late,
 
For the Assyrians, Samaria will be the threshing floor
 
For the rabid Chaldeans, Jerusalem, the threshing floor.
 
"And you Bethelem Ephratha small" [Micah 5:1],
 
To me, you are the dearest, even though you are the least
 
From you, the Leader whom we need, will come forth
 
His coming, from the depths of heaven,
 
Out of burning love, He will come willingly
 
With His mighty staff, His flock He will tend.
 
"His greatness [authority] shall reach to the ends of the earth" [Micah 5:3].
 
The earth, with the heavens, to Him with mercy shall sing
 
And peace will reign, He, that peace will be,
 
By Himself, He will glorify the human race.
 
REFLECTION

Beware of a parent's curse for a parental curse is a dreadful thing. Appreciate and seek a parental blessing for it will accompany you throughout your entire life. The all-wise Sirach speaks: "For the blessing of the father establisheth the houses of children; but the curse of the mother rooteth out foundations" (Sirach 3:9 [Ecclesiasticus 3:9]). The curse by which Noah cursed the descendants of Ham still follows the unfortunate Hamites today. However, to the sons of Jacob, it was the same as their father blessed them in their life. St. Sergius, as a young man, begged his parents for their blessing in order for him to become a monk. But, the aged parents begged their son to wait awhile and to labor around them until their death and after that to become tonsured a monk. Sergius obeyed his parents and was blessed until his death. Bishop Hermogenes relates an incident how a son mistreated his wife. When his mother, with tears, began to scold him because of this, the son attacked his mother, beat her and smashed her head against a wall. The sorrowful mother cried out: "Lord, may my son be cursed and may he not have my blessing nor Your blessing." That same day, the son began to tremble throughout his entire body and for thirteen years he lived in this state of trembling not even able to raise a spoon to his mouth. After thirteen years, he made his confession and received the Sacrament of Holy Communion which made it somewhat easier for him and soon after that he died.

CONTEMPLATION

To contemplate the wondrous assistance of God to Saul in battle with the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11 [1 Kings 11]):

1. How the powerful Nahash [Naas], the leader of the Ammonites, threatened to pluck out the right eye of all the Israelites;

2. How the people of Israel wept before the Lord;

3. How Saul and Samuel, with God's help, destroyed the Ammonites for the Spirit of God was upon Saul and Samuel.

HOMILY

About the prophesied light in darkness

"The people that walked in the darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined" (Isaiah 9:2).

There where it is the darkest, the prophet fortells there will appear the light-bearing Messiah. The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali were considered as the darkest lands. There, the pagans were intermingled with the Jews; the yoke of external and internal slavery is the most difficult; the darkness of the pagans and the darkness of the Pharisees covered the people with the shadow of death. The Light of Heaven shown first in Bethlehem Christ the Lord was born there. That Light was seen from afar by eastern Magi and, in the vicinity, by the shepherds of Bethlehem. But that Light was driven out of Bethlehem by the bloody sword of Herod and the Light withdrew to Egypt. After that, the Light shown in full radiance in this land of darkness and the shadow of death, in the land of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this land, alongside the lake, there lived fishermen whom our Lord chose for His disciples. In this land is the Mount of the Beatitudes from which the Lord proclaimed His first great sermon about the blessed. There, also, is Cana of Galilee where the Lord worked His first miracle. There, He began His work for the salvation of mankind by His powerful word and by His powerful deeds. Men saw this great Light and were astonished. Many were scandalized at the Lord and many mocked Him. But these men of darkness did not kill Him. There was another darker spot in the land of the Jews, which raised its hand against the Creator and killed Him. That is the same spot from which Herod, thirty-three years earlier, raised his bloody sword, to extinguish this great Light by blood, i.e., Jerusalem. Of all the darkness, the darkness of Jerusalem was the darkest. Perhaps the darkest because she [Jerusalem] named herself as the light.

O Lord, our Great and All-great Light, encompass us by Your light in this short period of time and receive us after death into Your Light, glorious and immortal.

To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.
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