Scripture Readings (KJV)
Colossians 1.3-6 (Epistle)
3We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
4Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,
5For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
6Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
Luke 14.1-11 (Gospel)
1And it came to pass, as he went into the house of one of the chief Pharisees to eat bread on the sabbath day, that they watched him.
2And, behold, there was a certain man before him which had the dropsy.
3And Jesus answering spake unto the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
4And they held their peace. And he took him, and healed him, and let him go;
5And answered them, saying, Which of you shall have an ass or an ox fallen into a pit, and will not straightway pull him out on the sabbath day?
6And they could not answer him again to these things.
7And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
8When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;
9And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
10But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
11For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Saint Nina, Equal to the Apostles and Enlightener of Georgia (335)
She is called “Nino” in many accounts. This holy maiden was a Cappadocian, the only daughter of Zabullon, a kinsman of the Great Martyr George. She was captured and enslaved by the Iberians (later called the Georgians) and taken away to their homeland. In captivity, she lived a sober and pious life, devoting every free moment day and night to prayer. Her exceptional virtue attracted the attention of many, especially those hungry for Truth, and she simply and boldly proclaimed the Gospel to all who inquired of her.
Once she healed a woman’s sick child by her prayers, and the report of this wonder reached the Queen of Georgia, who was herself suffering from an incurable disease. She asked the slave to come to her, but Nina refused out of humility, so the Queen had her servants take her to Nina’s dwelling. The Saint prayed and the Queen was healed instantly. Returning home in joy, the Queen praised Nina and her faith to the King, whose name was Mirian. The king payed her little heed, but later, while hunting, he was suddenly engulfed by a dark cloud, so that he lost his way and was stricken by fear. Remembering his wife’s report, he prayed “to the god whom Nina worships,” and vowed that if he were delivered he would worship Him alone. Immediately the cloud vanished and the King received the light of faith. Hastening home, he found Nina and, King though he was, cast himself at the feet of the slave and told her that he had resolved that he and his whole nation should be baptized. He sent emissaries to Constantine the Great, who quickly dispatched bishops and priests to the barbarian kingdom.
When the conversion of the country was well under way, Nina, though now freed, determined to stay in Georgia, where she withdrew to the wilderness and prayed fervently that the people would be confirmed in the Faith of Christ. Saint Nina reposed in peace, surrounded by the King, his court and the clergy. Thus did a powerless slave woman, by the power of God, convert an entire nation.
Our Holy Father Sava (Sabbas), Enlightener and first Archbishop of Serbia (1236)
This best-loved Saint of the Serbian people was born in 1169, the son of Stephen Nemanja, Grand Prince of Serbia. He was named Rastko by his parents. At the age of fifteen he was appointed governor of the province of Herzegovina, but worldly power was of no interest to him, and he began to wish to give himself more fully to God. He secretly left home and traveled to Mount Athos, where he became a novice at the Monastery of St Panteleimon. His father learned where he had gone and sent soldiers to bring him back, but before the soldiers could claim him, he was tonsured a monk with the name of Sabbas (Sava), after St Sabbas the Sanctified (December 5).
In time, under the influence of his son, Stephen Nemanja abdicated his kingship, and in 1196 he became a monk under the name of Symeon, traveling to the Holy Mountain to join his son. Symeon was quite old, and unable to endure all the ascetic labors of long-time monks, so his son redoubled his own ascetical struggle, telling his father, “I am your ascesis.” The two monks together founded the Chilander Monastery, which became the center of Serbian piety and culture. Saint Symeon reposed in 1200, and his body soon began to exude a miracle-working myrrh; thus he is commemorated as St Symeon the Myrrh-streaming (February 13).
Saint Sava retired to a hermit’s life in a cell on the Holy Mountain, but was compelled to return to the world: his two brothers were at war with one another, causing much bloodshed in Serbia. The Saint returned home with his father’s holy relics, mediated between his brothers, and persuaded them to make peace with one another over their father’s tomb, restoring peace the Serbian land. At the pleas of the people, St Sava remained in Serbia thereafter. He persuaded the Emperor and the Patriarch of Constantinople to grant autocephaly to the Church in Serbia. Against his will, he was ordained first Archbishop of his land in 1219. He labored tirelessly to establish the Orthodox Faith, for, though his father had been a Christian, many of the people were still pagan. In old age he resigned the episcopal throne and went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. While returning from his pilgrimage, he fell asleep in peace in 1236.
The Holy Fathers slain at Sinai and Raithu (4th – 5th c.)
The Holy Fathers at Mount Sinai lived in the wilderness around the holy mountain before the Emperor Justinian built the famous Monastery there in 527. The brethren were attacked by a band of Saracen barbarians who massacred Doulas, the superior of the community, and most of the other monks. They only stopped when a pillar of fire rose to the sky from the summit of Sinai, causing them to flee in fear.
The Forty-three Holy Fathers at Raithu were massacred on December 22, but are commemorated together with the fathers of Sinai. They lived the monastic life on the shores of the Red Sea. One day about three hundred Ethiopian barbarians raided the area, killing many Christians and enslaving their wives and children. They attacked the church at Raithu, where forty-three fathers had taken shelter. Their abbot Paul enjoined them to persist in prayer to the end, putting no stock in the passing life of this world, which they had renounced when they came to the desert. No sooner had he finished his prayer than the barbarians broke in, slaughtering all the monks but one, who escaped to bring news of the attack to Mt Sinai. When the barbarians returned to their ships they found that the Christians had run their vessels onto the rocks. Enraged, they killed all their prisoners. They themselves were massacred by a band of armed Christians who arrived soon afterward.