Scripture Readings (KJV)
Galatians 4.8-21 (Epistle)
8Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
9But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
12Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.
13Ye know how through infirmity of the flesh I preached the gospel unto you at the first.
14And my temptation which was in my flesh ye despised not, nor rejected; but received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.
15Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.
16Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?
17They zealously affect you, but not well; yea, they would exclude you, that ye might affect them.
18But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.
19My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
20I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
21Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
22For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.
23But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.
24Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.
25For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.
26But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.
27For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.
28Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise.
29But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.
30Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.
31So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.
Luke 4.22-30 (Gospel)
22And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?
23And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
24And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
25But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
26But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.
27And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian.
28And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
29And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.
30But he passing through the midst of them went his way,
5There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judæa, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.
6And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.
7And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
8And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course,
9According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord.
10And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense.
11And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense.
12And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him.
13But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.
14And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth.
15For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.
16And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.
17And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.
18And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years.
19And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings.
20And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season.
21And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple.
22And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless.
23And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.
24And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying,
25Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.
The Conception of John the Baptist
“On this day are celebrated God’s mercy, His wondrous act and His wisdom: His mercy towards the devout and righteous parents of St John, the aged Zacharias and Elisabeth, who had all their lives begged a child of God; the wonder of the conception of John in Elisabeth’s more-than-aged womb; and the wisdom of the dispensation of man’s salvation.” (Prologue) The story of the Baptist’s conception is told in the first chapter of St Luke’s Gospel.
Holy Martyr Iraida (Rais) of Alexandria (308)
She was an Egyptian maiden, variously called Iraida, Rais and Raida. One day, while drawing water from a well near the sea, she saw a ship laden with Christians being taken by their pagan persecutors to torture and death. By God’s grace, Iraida was touched by a desire to suffer for the Lord. She went to the ship, confessed herself to be a Christian, and was immediately taken prisoner with the other servants of Christ. They were all taken to the Egyptian town of Antinopolis, where Iraida was the first of the company to be beheaded.
New Martyr John of Epirus (1814)
He was born to Muslim parents in Konitsa of Albania — the ancient region of Epirus. His father was a prominent ruler among the Muslims and a member of the Sufi order, sometimes called dervishes, a mystical Islamic sect. John himself became a prominent Sufi and settled in Joannina. Though not a Christian, he attended to his conscience and lived a sober and prayerful life.
Over time, he became increasingly attracted to the Christian faith and, in time, asked for holy Baptism. No Christian in his region dared to baptize him, knowing the reprisals that would follow. So John migrated to Ithaka, was baptized, and settled there in a village called Xiromeron, where he married and lived as a simple countryman. In 1813, John’s father somehow learned where he was, and that he had become a Christian. He sent two Sufis to bring him back and restore him to the Muslim faith. Because of this, the Ottoman authorities on Ithaka learned who he was and brought him before a judge. To each of the judge’s questions John would only reply ‘I am a Christian and I am called John.’
Realizing that no amount of persuasion or coercion would move him, the authorities determined to behead him. At his execution, since they would not loose his hands so that he could make the sign of the Cross, John cried out ‘Lord, Remember me when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom!’ With these words he submitted himself to a Martyr’s end. The Turks intended to leave his body for the dogs, but pious Christians retrieved it and secretly gave it honorable burial.