Prologue of Ohrid


February 15


Onesimus was one of the Seventy [Lesser Apostles]. He was a slave of Philemon but transgressed against his master and fled to Rome. There he heard the Gospel from the Apostle Paul and was baptized. Since the Apostle Paul had earlier converted Philemon to the true Faith, he reconciled the two of them--Philemon and Onesimus, master and slave--writing a special epistle to Philemon. It is one of the most touching compositions in Holy Scripture. I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds... For perhaps he therefore departed for a season, that thou shouldest receive him for ever. Not now as a servant, but above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me (Philemon 1:10,15,16). Indeed, moved by this letter, Philemon received Onesimus as a brother, freeing him from slavery. Later Onesimus was consecrated a bishop by the apostles themselves, and he accepted the episcopal throne at Ephesus at the death of the Apostle Timothy. This is evident from the Epistle of Ignatius the God-bearer. At the time of Trajan's persecution, Onesimus, already an old man, was arrested and brought to Rome. In Rome Onesimus gave an account of himself before the judge Tertulus, and he was imprisoned and finally beheaded. A wealthy woman removed his body, placed it in a silver coffin and buried it honorably, in the year 109 A.D.


A Syrian hermit, Eusebius first lived an asectic life under the direction of holy men, and later he withdrew and became a recluse. He fed entirely on vegetables; he did not even taste fruit. He spent all of his time in prayer in the open spaces, enduring all conditions of weather. He lived to be ninety-five years of age and died peacefully in the year 440 A.D.



The all-glorious Onesimus, as a slave, his life began

And ended it as Christ's apostle and martyr.

The lawless Tertulus asked him for his name.

"My name is Christian, my surname Onesimus."

"A freeman or someone's slave, are you?"

"A slave of Philemon I was, and a slave of Christ God I am."

"For what price did Philemon sell you to Christ?"

"His blood for me, the Lord Christ gave."

"Tell me: the idols of the state, do you honor?"

"I do not see gods but only statues--

Various animals, all dead statues;

I see an ox being offered as a sacrifice to an ox.

Thus, a ram to rams, birds to owls,

Living animals to dead beasts,

The living to the dead, the stronger to the weaker.

No, to such gods I do not bow down!

Only to the Living Lord, my Master

And Creator--mine and yours, O Tertulus."

The man of God, Tertulus mocked,

And he ordered that by the sword he be beheaded!

He who had power over the body severed his head,

But neither his soul nor his glory did he cut off.

The glorious name of Onesimus remained,

So that heaven and earth would praise it.


Peace of soul is precious for every man. For those who have attained peace of soul, the body can be in constant motion--in work or in pain--but their souls, affixed to God, always remain in unwavering peace. St. Seraphim of Sarov teaches: "It is necessary by all means to preserve peace of soul and not be disturbed by the insults of others. That is why it is necessary, at all costs, to restrain oneself from anger, and through vigilance over oneself to preserve the mind and heart from indecent movements. To preserve peace of soul, it is also necessary to avoid judging others. By not judging and by silence, peace of soul is preserved. When a man is in such a state of mind, he receives divine revelations. In order for a man to be preserved from judging others, he must be vigilant over himself, he must not receive ungodly thoughts from anyone, and he should be dead toward everything worldly. We must tirelessly guard the heart from indecent thoughts and influences. With closest custody, guard your heart, for in it are the sources of life (Proverbs 4:23). From constant vigilance over the heart, purity is born, in which the Lord is seen, in accordance with the words of eternal truth: Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8)."


Contemplate the Lord Jesus as a Traveler:

1. How, in traveling he grew weary, perspired, hungered and thirsted--for my salvation, for your salvation, and for the salvation of all men;

2. How even at night He labored for my salvation, for your salvation, and for the salvation of all men;

3. How, on every journey, He contemplated, desired and cared about my salvation, your salvation, and the salvation of all men.


on the believing people and the unbelieving elders

"When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?" (John 7:31).

The Lord Jesus performed miraculous works before all, and all saw but not all believed. The people witnessed His miracles and believed in Him. Servants heard His words and believed in Him. However, the leaders of the people and the masters of the servants also witnessed His miracles and did not believe in Him. And so in those days the words of the Savior came true: But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first (Matthew 19:30). Those who were first in honor and authority were last in having faith in Him, and those who were last in honor and authority were the first in having faith in Him.

Why did the people and servants believe, and the princes and scribes not believe? Because the people and servants considered themselves insignificant and unimportant and had neither personal pride nor envy toward Christ. The people and servants, without malice and prejudice, looked upon the divine miracles, listened to the divine words, and were amazed and rejoiced. The princes and the scribes considered themselves first among the people and in the world, and so they were filled with pride and envy.  They were unable, even for a moment, to look upon the miraculous works or to listen to the divine words without malice and envy.

Brethren, do you see how a man, without humility and meekness, is unable to recognize truth or to rejoice in the truth? Do you see how the proud and the envious do not allow God to have precedence over them? This is just what Satan once did!

Lord Jesus, Eternal Truth, cleanse our hearts of pride and envy, that we may be able to see Thee and rejoice in Thee.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.
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