Orthodox Calendar

Dec. 26, 2023
Tuesday of the 30th week after Pentecost

No Fast


  • Synaxis of the Most-Holy Theotokos


  • Hieromartyr Euthymius of Sardis
  • The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family
  • Our Holy Father Constantine of Synnada (7th c.)

Scripture Readings (KJV)

Hebrews 2.11-18 (Epistle, Theotokos)

11For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

Matthew 2.13-23 (Gospel, Theotokos)

13And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. 14When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: 15And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

16Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. 17Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, 18In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

19But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, 20Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life. 21And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: 23And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.


Synaxis of the Most Holy Theotokos.

“Yesterday, together with the Angels, the Magi and the Shepherds, we offered our worship to God made man, and born a little child for our Salvation; and today we rightly pay homage to His Mother, the All Holy Virgin Mary. The Church sets her before us in the cave beside her Son as the new Eve, the first and pre-eminent representative of the renewed human race, chosen and prepared by God throughout all generations, for the fulfilment of the Great Mystery of His Incarnation.” (Synaxarion)

Here we follow the pattern of most major Feasts: on the day following feast , we honor those who also played a part in the accomplishment of God’s plan.

The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family

See Matthew ch. 2. Though St Matthew’s account may leave the impression that the flight into Egypt was almost immediate, it would have been at least forty days after Christ’s birth, following His Presentation in the Temple (Luke ch. 2). Christ, his holy Mother and his adoptive father St Joseph probably remained in Egypt for several years, until the death of Herod the Great.

St Nikolai Velimirovic (in the Prologue) relates the following tale: the holy family, fleeing into Egypt, were accosted by robbers, one of whom, seeing the Christ Child, was amazed at his supernatural beauty and said ‘If God were to take human flesh Himself, He would not be more beautiful than this child!’. The robber told his companions to take nothing from the family. In gratitude the Mother of God told him ‘This Child will reward you richly for having spared Him today.’ Thirty years later it was this robber who was crucified at Christ’s right hand, and was granted to hear the words ‘Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise.’

Our Holy Father Euthymius the Confessor, Bishop of Sardis (840)

Bishop Euthymius was one of those assembled at the Seventh Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 787; it was he who formulated the Council’s official declaration on veneration of the holy icons. During the reign of Nicephorus I (802-811),Euthymius’ enemies made false accusations against him that led to his being deposed and exiled for several years. He was called back to Constantinople by the iconoclast Emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820), who sought his support in attacking the icons; but Euthymius refused, and was exiled once more. On Leo’s death, he was summoned before another iconoclast Emperor, Michael II (820-829), who in turn asked the Saint’s support in his blasphemous campaign against the icons. The holy bishop not only refused, but cried out ‘Let anyone who does not worship Our Lord Jesus Christ represented in image according to His humanity, be anathema!’ The enraged Emperor exiled him again (his third exile), imprisoning him in a foul dungeon at the far east of the Black Sea for three years. He was then summoned to appear before his third Emperor in succession, the iconoclast Theophilus (829-42). For holding firm in the Faith once delivered to the saints, the holy bishop was mercilessly flogged with rods, then with the sinews of oxen until his body swelled up ‘like a wineskin.’ He was then thrown into a dungeon where, after eight days in terrible pain, he gave up his soul to God.

The Saint’s precious relics worked many miracles, and were venerated in Constantinople until the City’s fall in 1453, when they were taken to Cherson in the Crimea, then to Chilea near Chalcedon. When most of the Greeks were expelled from Asia Minor in 1922, the people of Chilea brought the Saint’s skull to Greece, where a church was built in his honor in Pireus; the holy relic may be venerated there today.

Our Holy Father Constantine of Synnada (7th c.)

His parents were Jews living at Synnada in Phrygia. One day when he was nine years old, he saw a Christian merchant make the sign of the Cross in the marketplace; and in imitation, without understanding its meaning, he began to make the sign. This became a habit with him, and he began to imitate other practices of the Christians around him, still without any understanding of the Christian faith. But by the power of the Cross, the grace of Christ began to grow in him secretly. He began to hear a voice within him revealing some of the mysteries of Christianity, and he began to be filled with a fervent love for the Savior.

After the death of his mother, he fled his home town to escape an arranged marriage, and came in time to a monastery in Nicaea. He told his story to the abbot, who baptized him, giving him the name of Constantine. When the sign of the Cross was made on his head at baptism, a cross appeared visibly on his forehead, where it remained for the rest of his life.

The holy Constantine devoted the rest of his days to the ascetical life, excelling in every virtue. It is said that a delighful scent would fill any place that he went, and that church doors would open spontaneously at his approach. He comforted many by healing their ailments through his prayers, and was granted the gift of discerning the secrets of hearts. After living for some time in Nicaea, he travelled to Mt Olympus in Bithynia where he lived as a hermit. Seeing that there were many Jews living in that area, he strove for a time to preach the Gospel to them, but was unable to win many of his former brethren to faith in Christ. He foretold the date of his death eight years beforehand. His final words to his disciples were ‘The Lord is coming to invite me to the feast of Joy.’ He then died, and a fragrant scent filled his cell. His relics gave off a healing myrrh for many years.