Scripture Readings (KJV)
1 Timothy 6.11-16
(Epistle, Saturday after Nativity)
11But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
12Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.
13I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession;
14That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ:
15Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;
16Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.
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.
(Gospel, Saturday after Nativity)
15But when Jesus knew it, he withdrew himself from thence: and great multitudes followed him, and he healed them all;
16And charged them that they should not make him known:
17That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying,
18Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles.
19He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.
20A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.
21And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
Mark 12.1-12 (Gospel)
1And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
2And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.
3And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.
4And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.
5And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.
6Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.
7But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.
8And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
9What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.
10And have ye not read this scripture; The stone which the builders rejected is become the head of the corner:
11This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
12And they sought to lay hold on him, but feared the people: for they knew that he had spoken the parable against them: and they left him, and went their way.
Our Holy Mother Melania the Younger of Rome (439)
She was born in 383 in Rome, to a very wealthy family with large estates in Italy, Africa, Spain and even Britain. She was the grand- daughter of St Melania the Elder (June 8) and a pious disciple of Christ from a young age. She was married against her will at the age of fourteen, to a relative named Apinianus. They had two children, both of whom died in early childhood. Henceforth Melania and her husband dedicated themselves entirely to God. They had both dreamed of a high wall that they would have to climb before they could pass through the narrow gate that leads to life, and soon began to take measures to dispose of their wealth. This aroused opposition from some of the Senate, who were concerned that the selling off of such huge holdings would disrupt the economy of the State itself.
With the support of the Empress, though, Melania was able to free 8000 of her slaves and give each a gift of three gold pieces to begin life as freedmen. She employed agents to help fund the establishment of churches and monasteries throughout the Empire, donated many estates to the Church, and sold many more, giving the proceeds as alms. When Rome fell to the Goths under Alaric in 410, Melania and Apinianus moved to Sicily, then to Africa, where they completed the sale of their propery, donating the proceeds to monasteries and to aiding victims of the barbarians.
In Africa Melania, now aged about thirty, took up a life of the strictest asceticism: she kept a total fast on weekdays, only eating on Saturday and Sunday; she slept two hours a night, giving the rest of the night to vigil and prayer. Her days were spent in charitable works, using the remainder of her wealth to relieve the poor and benefit the Church. After seven years in Africa, Melania, her mother and her husband left on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There they founded a monastery on the Mount of Olives, which grew to a community of ninety nuns. Melania’s mother died in 431, then her husband and spiritual brother Apinianus ; she buried them side by side.
Save for one visit to Constantinople, Melania continued to live in reclusion in a small cave on the Mount of Olives; she became an advisor to the Empress Eudocia, who sought her expert counsel on her gifts to churches and monasteries.
Melania fell ill keeping the Vigil of Nativity in 439, and fell asleep in the Lord six days later; her last words were ‘As it has pleased the Lord, so it has come to pass.’ Her monastery was destroyed in 614 by the Persians, but her cave hermitage on the Mount of Olives is still a place of pilgrimage and veneration.
Saint Zoticus, Cherisher of the Poor and Servant of Lepers (4th c)
He was born in Rome, and as a young man was chosen by the Emperor Constantine to assist in the foundation of his new capital at Byzantium. An outbreak of leprosy in the new City became so severe that the Emperor ordered that all lepers, whatever their rank, be driven from the city or drowned in the sea. Zoticus, moved by compassion for these people, went to the Emperor and asked him for a large amount of gold to buy gems and pearls to enhance the glory of the city, ‘For, as Your Majesty knows, I am well-qualified in this field.’ The Saint then used the gold to ransom all those being led into exile or to drowning, and to establish for them a camp on the hill of Olivet on the opposite shore of the Bosphorus. There he brought the sick and provided for their care.
In 337 Constantius, an Arian heretic, took the throne upon the death of his father. Some of Zoticus’ enemies at court, seeing an opportunity, denounced Zoticus to the new Emperor, saying that he not only held subversive views, but had misappropriated public money. When he learned of these charges, Zoticus presented himself to the Emperor, finely dressed, and offered to take Constantius to see the gems and pearls that he had bought on his behalf. When they reached the hill of Olivet, Constantius was astonished to see a company of lepers coming to greet him with lighted candles, honoring and praising him and their patron Zoticus. Then the holy Zoticus said to the Emperor, ‘These are the precious stones and brilliant pearls that give luster to the crown of the heavenly Kingdom that you will inherit by their prayers. I bought them for the salvation of your soul.’
Instead of being grateful, the heartless Emperor ordered that Zoticus be tied behind wild mules and dragged until dead. The mules ran down the hill, breaking the Saint’s body upon the rocks and brush. Then, of their own accord, they returned to the top of the hill, still dragging the body, and, like Balaam’s ass (Numbers ch. 22), spoke and proclaimed that the Martyr must be buried on that hill. The astonished and repentant Emperor ordered the Martyr buried with honor, and commanded that a hospital for lepers be built there, staffed by the best physicians and caretakers.
Saint Zoticus is also called Orphanotrophos, ‘Cherisher of Orphans,’ because in later years a large orphanage was added to the leprosarium. The orphanage included a general hospital and a home for the aged. The Saint was honored throughout Byzantine history as the patron of the orphanage.
St Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid (ca. 1126)
He was born on the island of Euripos and, after being educated in Constantinople, became one of the clergy of the Great Church there. He was consecrated a bishop and sent, against his will, to Ochrid, where he shepherded the Church in Bulgaria for twenty-five years. An inspired theologian and orator, he has left many homilies and, most important, a commentary on the whole New Testament, which has been has been treasured by Orthodox Christians ever since. In his last years he moved to Thessalonica, where he reposed in peace.