1. On this day, the church celebrates the commemoration of the circumcision of the Lord Christ, to Whom is the glory. God had ordained the law of circumcision as a sign that His people would become a particular people over all others. This was that every male of the seed of Abraham be circumcised on the eighth day of his birth. God put every soul that did not obey this law under judgement.
As our Lord Jesus was born from the posterity of Abraham, according to the flesh, He willed to be circumcised on the eighth day, to fulfill the law of Moses and to relieve us from the heavy burden of this commandment, as St. Paul says, "Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers." (Romans 15:8)
He also gave us the sign of the new covenant through baptism, as St. Paul says, "In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in Baptism in which you also were raised with Him, through faith in the working of God, Who raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses." (Colossians 2:11-13)
Therefore, He demands from us to keep the spiritual circumcision, that is to say the circumcision of the heart, so that we may live for Him in righteousness and in holiness, for He says, "Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God." (John 3:5)
Glory be to our God forever. Amen.
2. Also, on this day was the departure of the prophet Elijah (Elias), the Tishbite, to heaven, alive. This prophet lived during the time of King Ahab. His heart was filled with sorrow, for he saw the king had turned from the worship of the God of Israel to the worship of idols. He followed Queen Jezebel, who helped the priests of Baalzebub. The worship of idols spread out in his days.
Therefore, Elijah stood before the king and said, "As the Lord God of Israel lives, before Whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word." (I Kings 17: 1) Immediately the brooks dried up, for there had been no rain in the land, and the grass dried up and the drought set in the whole land. God however did not forsake his zealous servant. He commanded him to go to the brook of Cherith, and the ravens came to him everyday and brought him bread and meat in the morning and in the evening.
The Lord ordered the water of the river to dry, but He did not forsake the prophet Elijah. God commanded him to go to Zarephath, which belonged to Sidon, where he found a widow gathering sticks and he asked her for bread to eat. She said to him, "As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks, that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die." Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel, 'The bin of flour shall not be used up; nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.'" So she went away and did according to the words of Elijah, and she, the prophet, and her household ate for many days.
Elijah stayed with the widow until the drought had ended. She had a son who was sick, and his sickness progressed until he died. The prophet saw the grief of the woman. He took her son from her and carried him to the upper room where he was staying and laid him on his own bed. Then he cried out to the Lord and he stretched himself out on the child three times. The Lord heard the voice of Elijah and the soul of the child came back to him, and he was revived. Elijah took the child and brought him down and gave him to his mother alive. (I Kings 17:17-23)
When Jezebel knew that Elijah executed all the priests of Baal by the sword, she threatened to kill him. When he saw that, he arose and ran for his life. He went to Mount Horeb where he hid himself. The Lord talked to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" So he said, "I have been very zealous for the Lord God of Hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they seek to take my life." The Lord said to him, "... Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal... " (I Kings 19:10-18)
When Ahab died and King Ahaziah reigned, he did evil in the sight of the Lord and walked in the way of his father Ahab. Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria and was injured. He sent messengers to inquire from Baalzebub, the god of Ekron, whether he would recover from his injury.
Elijah, the Prophet, met with his messengers and he told them to go and tell the King, "Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baalzebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore, thus says the Lord! You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die."
When they said this to the King, the King knew that it was Elijah the prophet. The King sent to him a captain of fifty, and the prophet was sitting on the top of the hill. He said to Elijah, "Man of God, the King has said, 'Come down.'" So, Elijah answered and said to the captain, "If I am a man of God, then let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men." And the fire came down from heaven and consumed them. Then the King sent another captain of fifty and said to him what the first captain said. And the fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The third captain came to Elijah and fell on his knees before him and pleaded with him. Elijah arose and went down with him to the King whom he rebuked. The King died in his bed. (2 Kings 1:1- 18)
After that, Elijah went to the Jordan River and he took with him Elisha, his disciple. He struck the water with his mantle, and the river was divided and the two of them crossed over on dry ground. While they were talking to each other, suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, separated the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. (2 Kings 2:1-12)
His prayers be with us. Amen
3. Also on this day in 154 A.D., St. Marcianus, 8th Pope of Alexandria, departed. He was born in Alexandria. When Pope Omanius departed, the fathers of the church gathered with the people of Alexandria and discussed whom they should choose for the vacant throne. By consensus, they chose Marcianus for his intellect and righteousness.
He sat on the throne of St. Mark for 9 years, 2 months and 26 days. He was always teaching his flock and protecting the church from all the foreign teachings. When he completed his well pleasing course to God, he departed in peace.
His prayers be with us. Amen.
4. Today also of the year 379 A.D., the great St. Basil, Bishop of Caesarea, departed. His father's name was "Isosorus" (Isidore), who was a priest and a holy man. He begot five children: St. Basil of Caesarea, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Kisarion (Cherion), St. Peter of Sebastia, and St. Machrina. They all lived in holiness all their lives.
He was instructed in the art of rhetoric, at the hands of the philosopher Libianius of Antioch, and he worked as an advocate. In 358 A.D., he abandoned the world and all its vain glories. He travelled through the wilderness of Egypt, where he witnessed the ascetics and was influenced by them. Upon his return, he withdrew to a wild and beautiful spot in Pontus and devoted himself to prayer and study. When the news of his holiness spread around, many came to him and they took him as a guide to lead them in the way of perfection.
In 362 A.D., he was promoted to the priesthood. He continued to teach the believers, to defend the faith, and to save those who had been lost.
In 370 A.D., he was ordained Bishop of Caesarea, Cappadocia. For his boldness in truth and for his rebuke of the emperors who conducted themselves against the doctrine and those who behaved immorally. Emperor Valens wanted to exile St. Basil, but he declined because of the death of his son. Another time, when the Emperor wanted to sign an order for his exile, the pen broke in his hand, he took another pen and that also broke, and the same thing happened to a third pen. Valens tore the paper and left the saint to shepherd his flock and manage his church in peace. St. Basil was filled with the Holy Spirit, and wrote the liturgy that is named after him. God wrought by his hands many signs and miracles. Among them, some heretics gained control over one of the churches and decided to close it unless someone opened it by his prayers. By the prayers of this saint, the church was opened and the believers gained access to it once again. Another sign: Abba Ephraim saw a pillar of light between earth and heaven and heard a voice saying, "This is Basil." St. Ephraim came to the city of Caesarea and witnessed the virtues of St. Basil. St. Basil ordained him a deacon.
Among his miracles was that a woman wrote all her sins on paper and gave it to St. Basil. He prayed for her and her sins were forgiven, except one sin. He told her to go to Abba Ephraim to pray for her. When she went to Abba Ephraim, he sent her back to St. Basil saying, "Hurry, go back to meet him before his death." When she came back, she found that he had passed away. She wept and she put the paper that she had written on his body and the written sins were blotted out. Also among his miracles was a Jewish physician, who was known for his professional accuracy and who told the saint that he would die after three days. The saint prayed to God, Who prolonged his life, and he did not die on the day that the physician expected him to die. The physician believed and was baptized with all his household.
Another example is that of a young man who wrote a covenant with the devil to deny his Christianity and his baptism. Through the prayer of the Saint, the young man was saved from the servitude of the devil.
This saint had many virtues and performed many miracles besides the above mentioned ones. He wrote many articles, homilies, and discourses. He put down canons which the believers follow till now. He also wrote commentaries on some of the Books of the Old and New Testaments.
His prayers be with us, and Glory be to our God forever and ever. Amen.
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