Holy Apostle James, the Brother of the Lord and First Bishop of Jerusalem (63)
His Hebrew name is Jacob. He was a close kinsman of Christ, and was therefore called, according to the Jewish usage of the time, his “brother.” Some accounts say that he was a child of Joseph by his first marriage; others accounts say that he was the son of Joseph’s brother Cleopas and his wife Mary, who was first cousin of the Theotokos. He took the Nazirite vows of one completely consecrated to God according to the Law, and from a young age he was called “the Just” by his people. He is called James the Lesser in Scripture (Mark 15:40) to distinguish him from James the son of Zebedee, who is called the Greater. The Apostles appointed him first Bishop of Jerusalem. It was he who presided at the earliest Council of the Church in Jerusalem, where he resolved the problem of how gentile converts should be received into the Church (see Acts 15). He wrote the New Testament Epistle, addressed primarily to Jewish converts to the Faith, that bears his name. About the year 62, he ascended to the peak of the Temple in Jerusalem on Passover, and there bore witness to Christ so effectively that the people cried out “Hosanna to the Son of David.” At this, the Scribes and Pharisees, fearing that all the people would be converted to Christ, cast him down to the ground. By God’s grace, he survived long enough to rise, kneel and pray, like his Master, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” He was then clubbed to death by one of the scribes.
Saint Macarius the Roman of Mesopotamia (?)
“Three holy men who lived in ascesis in the Monastery of St Asclepius in Mesopotamia decided to walk up and down the world in search of a sign from God for their salvation. As they approached a cave, deep in the wilderness, they became aware all at once of a marvellous scent and saw an old man coming towards them covered only by his hair and the beard that fell to his knees. He cast himself to the earth and remained there for a while, until he was sure the three strangers were not demons. Then he brought them into his cave, where he lived with two lions. They asked him to tell them his story, which he did.
“His name was Macarius, the son of a rich senator of Rome. When he reached marriageable age, his parents betrothed him against his will. On his wedding night, at the moment of entering the bridal chamber in the midst of the festivities, he fled to a pious widow’s, where he spent seven days in hiding, weeping and entreating the help of God. As he left her house, an old man of kindly and noble demeanour came by, and told him to follow. And, indeed, Macarius followed him for three years, until the moment of arrival near the cave, when the old man vanished. He appeared to Macarius in a dream soon after, and revealed that he was the Archangel Raphael, who had once been the guide of Tobias in his travels. Before departing, the Archangel entrusted him to the care of God and of two lion cubs that had just lost their mother.
“Some while after, Macarius saw, standing before him, a most beautiful maiden, who told him that she too had fled marriage in Rome. Macarius did not have discernment enough to escape the Devil’s trap, and welcomed her to spend the night in his cave. During the night, he was violently attacked, for the first time in his life, by the fiery darts of carnal desire. The pretended maiden suddenly disappeared, as the Devil triumphed in his success at introducing the thought of sin into the mind of the ascetic. Macarius then realized the gravity of his fall in the sight of God. Weeping bitterly, he made up his mind to leave the cave and find somewhere else to do penance. But, on his way, the Archangel Raphael appeared to him anew and urged him to return, for it was in his cave that God would hear his prayer. So he went back and sorely afflicted his flesh with fasting, vigils and utter abnegation for many years, in order to regain a heart of unsullied purity in which to contemplate the image of God.
“When he had edified the three brethren with the story of his struggles, Macarius sent them away in peace and fell asleep in the Lord, unknown to all, in the presence only of the angels and the saints.” (Synaxarion)
Not even the century of the Saint’s life is given in our sources.