WEEKLY DIOCESAN BULLETIN
Sunday, April 23, 2017
SECOND SUNDAY OF PASCHA
THE HOLY APOSTLE THOMAS
PASCHAL TROPARION – TONE ONE:
Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!
THOMAS SUNDAY TROPARION – TONE SEVEN:
From the sealed tomb, You shone forth, O Life! Through closed doors You came to Your disciples, O Christ God! Renew in us, through them, an upright spirit, by the greatness of Your mercy, O Resurrection of all!
THOMAS SUNDAY KONTAKION – TONE EIGHT:
Thomas touched Your life-giving side with an eager hand, O Christ God; for when You came to Your apostles through closed doors, he cried out with them all: “You are my Lord and my God!”
PASCHAL KONTAKION – TONE EIGHT:
Thou didst descend into the tomb, O Immortal; Thou didst destroy the power of death. In victory didst Thou arise, O Christ God, proclaiming ‘Rejoice’ to the myrrh-bearing women, granting peace to Thy apostles, 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)
PROKIMENON IN TONE THREE:
Great is our Lord and abundant in power. His understanding is beyond measure.
SECOND SUNDAY OF PASCHA: ACTS 5: 12-20
In those days, through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly. And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”
THE ALLELUIA VERSES:
Come, let us rejoice in the Lord! Let us make a joyful noise to God our Savior! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all the earth!
SECOND SUNDAY OF PASCHA: JOHN 20: 19-31
At that time, the same day at evening being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” And after eight days His disciples were again inside and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
FROM THE PROLOGUE:
APRIL 10/23, BY SAINT NIKOLAI VELIMIROVIC:
The Holy Martyrs Terence, Africanus, Maximus, Pompeius and thirty-six others with them
They all suffered for Christ and were crowned with wreaths of glory during the reign of Emperor Decius. By order of the emperor, the governor of Africa announced to the people that everyone had to offer sacrifices to the idols. Those who resisted, the governor threatened with cruel tortures. Upon hearing of these threats, many fell away from the Faith and worshiped the idols. However, these forty remained unwavering in their faith and were subjected to torture. St. Terence encouraged his companions, saying: “Brothers, let us be on guard that we do not deny Christ our God, lest He deny us before His Heavenly Father and the holy angels.” The governor divided them into two groups. Thirty-six of them, after being flogged and having their skin scraped and salt poured into their open wounds, were all beheaded. The first four were cast into prison with heavy iron chains around their necks, hands and feet. An angel of God appeared in the prison and touched the chains of the shackled men, and the chains fell off. After that, the angel prepared a bountiful table for them and fed them. Once again, they were brought out and tortured, and again they were imprisoned. Then the governor ordered the soothsayers to gather as many poisonous, loathsome creatures as possible, such as snakes and scorpions, and to lock them up in the same cell with the martyrs. The loathsome creatures did not touch the God-pleasers, but rather lay huddled in the corner, where they remained for three days. On the third day, when the door of the cell was opened, the repulsive creatures rushed out and bit the soothsayers. Finally, the governor pronounced the death penalty upon the four martyrs. When they were brought out to be beheaded, they joyfully chanted psalms and praised God, Who had vouchsafed them a martyr’s death. They suffered honorably in the year 250, and were found worthy of the Kingdom.
The Six Thousand Martyrs in Georgia
In the desert of St. David of Garesja in Georgia, there were twelve monasteries, in which many monks lived the ascetic life for centuries. In 1615 the king of Persia, Shah Abbas I, attacked Georgia, devastated it and beheaded many Christians. Once, while hunting early in the morning on the Feast of the Resurrection, Shah Abbas noticed many lights in the mountains. They were the monks from the twelve monasteries, in procession around the Church of the Resurrection with lighted tapers in hand. When the Shah discovered that they were monks, he asked in amazement: “Has not all of Georgia been given over to the sword?” He then ordered his solders to immediately behead all the monks. At that moment, an angel of God appeared to Abbot Arsenius and informed him of their impending death. Arsenius informed his brethren. They all received the All-pure Mysteries and prepared themselves for death. Suddenly, the assailants arrived and cut to pieces first the abbot, who was the first to come out, and then the rest. They all suffered honorably and were crowned with incorruptible wreaths in the year 1615. Thus ended the history of these famous monasteries, which, for more than a thousand years, had served as the spiritual hearth of enlightenment for the Georgians. Only two of the monasteries exist today: St. David and St. John the Forerunner. The Georgian King Archil gathered the relics of the monks and honorably interred them. Even today, these relics emit a sweet-smelling myrrh and heal the sick.
HYMN OF PRAISE: The Six Thousand Martyrs of Georgia
Six thousand God-pleasers
Rejoicing in the glorious Resurrection;
Six thousand human hearts,
A whole flock of innocent lambs!
With tapers they processed around the church,
Singing sweet hymns to the Resurrection,
Until a terrible wolf, from the midnight darkness,
Attacked together with his hungry pack,
To slaughter the innocent lambs.
Yet these were not lambs, but shepherds
Of the suffering Georgian race:
Saints and enlighteners,
All monks, wonderful ascetics.
Arsenius foresaw death for all,
And spoke thus to the monks:
“Brethren of mine, sons of Georgia,
The hour has come to drink of the cup,
The sweet cup of suffering for Christ.
Behold, the wolves rush through the mountains.
Faster, brethren, let us rush to All-pure Communion,
And then to a baptism of blood!
Repent for yourselves and for the people,
And direct all your thoughts to God.
Forgive those who have done you wrong:
For us the gates of Paradise are opening—
Let every brother forgive his brother.
Christ is Risen—that we may resurrect.
We are faithful to Him unto death!”
When a man detaches his mind from earth and opens it to God with the desire to please Him, then God reveals His will in various ways. St. Peter of Damascus writes: “If a man has a full intention to please God, then God teaches him His will either through thoughts, through some other person, or through Holy Scripture.” Such a man becomes attentive and keen, and awaits God’s promptings from within and from without. For him, chance ceases to exist. The whole world becomes as a ten-stringed harp, which does not give out a single sound without the finger of God.
Contemplate the resurrected Lord Jesus:
1. How He appeared to two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus, and they did not recognize Him;
2. How the hearts of these two disciples burned within them when He spoke to them, and how they recognized Him only when He blessed and broke bread for them;
3. How the Lord suddenly disappeared before their eyes.
HOMILY: on living hope
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (I Peter 1:3).
Brethren, who has dead hope and who has living hope? He who hopes in dead things has a dead hope. He who hopes in the Living God has a living hope.
Further, he who hopes in himself and in other people has a dead hope. He who hopes in the Living God has a living hope.
Further, he who hopes in luck and well-being in this brief earthly existence, and who does not extend his hope beyond the grave has a dead hope. He who hopes in the resurrection and eternal life in the Kingdom of Heaven has a living hope.
Truly, a living hope is better than a dead hope; as life is better than death; as light is better than darkness; as health is better than sickness; as understanding is better than ignorance.
But Who brought and showed man that living hope—Who and how? The Apostle Peter gives an answer to that question: Our Lord Jesus Christ, by His Resurrection from the dead. No one else but the Lord Jesus Christ and by nothing else than by His Resurrection from the dead. By His Resurrection, the Lord gave wings to the pathetic hopes of man and extended those hopes beyond the grave, showing man the goal and purpose and fruit beyond the grave.
All of this is confirmed not by a credulous man, but by an apostle who wavered for a long while in his faith and who denied Christ three times. That is why St. Peter’s testimony of the resurrected Lord and the significance of His Resurrection is inexpressibly priceless for us.
O resurrected Lord, Thou Victor over death, uproot from us dead hope, and plant a living hope in us through the prayers of St. Peter, Thy great apostle.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.