Scripture Readings (KJV)
2 Corinthians 12.10-19 (Epistle)
10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
11I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.
12Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds.
13For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.
14Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children.
15And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.
16But be it so, I did not burden you: nevertheless, being crafty, I caught you with guile.
17Did I make a gain of you by any of them whom I sent unto you?
18I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?
19Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
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 4.37-44 (Gospel)
37And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.
38And he arose out of the synagogue, and entered into Simon’s house. And Simon’s wife’s mother was taken with a great fever; and they besought him for her.
39And he stood over her, and rebuked the fever; and it left her: and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.
40Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.
41And devils also came out of many, crying out, and saying, Thou art Christ the Son of God. And he rebuking them suffered them not to speak: for they knew that he was Christ.
42And when it was day, he departed and went into a desert place: and the people sought him, and came unto him, and stayed him, that he should not depart from them.
43And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent.
44And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.
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.