Scripture Readings (KJV)
James 2.1-13 (Epistle)
1My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
2For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
3And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
4Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
5Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
6But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
7Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
8If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
9But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
10For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
11For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
12So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
13For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.
7And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
8And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
9And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
10For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
11If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
12For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
13For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
14For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.
15And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,
16Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
17For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
Mark 10.23-32 (Gospel)
23And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!
24And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!
25It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
26And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?
27And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.
28Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.
29And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,
30But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
31But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.
32And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem; and Jesus went before them: and they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid. And he took again the twelve, and began to tell them what things should happen unto him,
22And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23(As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
24And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
25And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
27And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
33And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
34And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
35(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
36And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
37And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
38And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
39And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.
40And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
Holy Martyr Nicephorus (ca. 257)
Sapricius the priest and the layman Nicephorus lived in Antioch of Syria. Though they were the closest of friends, a disagreement between them led to estrangement and then to outright enmity. In time, Nicephorus came to himself and realized that reconciliation and love among brethren are precious in the sight of the Lord, and he sent to Sapricius to ask his forgiveness for Christ’s sake. But his messengers were turned away, and Sapricius coldly refused any reconciliation. At the same time he violated the Lord’s commandment by continuing to serve at the altar without seeking to make peace. Nicephorus finally went in person and threw himself at Sapricius’ feet, but even this had no effect.
Soon, persecution of Christians broke out, and Sapricius was arrested. When he confessed Christ without fear or hesitation, and refused to make sacrifice to the idols even under torture, he was condemned to be beheaded. Nicephorus was distressed that Sapricius might give his life in Christ’s name while still at enmity with a brother; and that he himself would lose his chance to make peace. As Sapricius was being led to the place of execution, Nicephorus went on his knees before him and cried ‘Martyr of Christ, forgive me the offences for which you are angry with me!’ Still, Sapricius coldly spurned his former friend’s pleas. For this reason, as the executioner was raising his sword, and the crown of martyrdom was only seconds away, God withdrew his grace from the priest, who turned to the executioner and declared his readiness to adore the idols. Nicephorus, who was among the witnesses, begged him not to apostatise, but his words were of no effect. Nicephorus then turned to the executioner and shouted ‘I am a Christian! I believe in our Lord Jesus Christ whom he has just denied. Let him go and put me to death in his place!’
The Governor agreed, and ordered the release of Sapricius and the execution of Nicephorus. The Martyr laid his neck on the block joyfully and claimed the crown that Sapricius had thrown away. The Synaxarion concludes:
‘When he departed for heaven to receive the crown of glory, Saint Nicephorus left to us Christians a vivid illustration of these words uttered by the Holy Spirit: If I deliver my body to be burned but have no love, I gain nothing (1 Cor. 13:3). If you do not forgive men their trespasses neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses… For the measure you give will be the measure you get (Matt. 6:15; 7:2).’
Hieromartyr Peter of Damascus, bishop of Damascus (ca. 776)
“Saint Peter was Bishop of Damascus during the reign of Constantine Copronymus (c. 776) and a contemporary of Saint John of Damascus. He was arrested on the orders of the Caliph Walid for castigating the heretical doctrines of the Muslims and the Manichaeans. His tongue was cut out and he was exiled to South Arabia (Arabia Felix), where he continued to teach the true Faith and to serve the holy Mysteries until he entered into the reward of his labours in heaven.’ (Synaxarion)
Peter of Damascus, Hesychast (12th c.)
Little is known of him except by his writings in the Philokalia . Saint Nikodemos, compiler of the Philokalia, writes that his work is ‘a recapitulation of holy watchfulness… a circle within a circle, a concentrated Philokalia within the more extendedPhilokalia.’