Scripture Readings (KJV)
Composite 8 - Isaiah 40, 41, 45, 48, 54 (Vespers)
1Thus says the Lord: Comfort, comfort my people, says God. Priests, speak to the heart of Jerusalem. Comfort her, because her humiliation has been completed; for her has sin has been abolished, because she has received from the Lord’s hand double for her sins. A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. Every valley will be filled and every mountain and hill made low; what is crooked will become straight, and the rough ways will be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Go up onto a high mountain, you who bring good tidings to Sion; lift up your voice with strength, you who bring good tidings to Jerusalem. Lift it up, do not be afraid. I the Lord God, I, the God of Israel, will hearken and will not forsake them; but I will open rivers from the mountains and springs in the middle of plains. I will turn the wilderness into water meadows and the thirsty earth with water courses. Let the heavens rejoice from on high and let the clouds rain justice. Let the earth sprout and blossom with mercy and justice. Announce a voice of gladness to the end of the earth and let this be heard: Say that the Lord has delivered his servant Jacob. And if they thirst through deserts, he will bring water for them from a rock. Rejoice you barren who have never given birth, break out and shout, you who have never known birth pangs, for the children of the deserted are more than those of her who has a husband.
Composite 9 - Malachi 3, 4 (Vespers)
1Thus says the Lord Almighty: See, I am sending my Angel, my messenger, before your face, who will prepare your way before you. And the Lord whom you seek will come to his temple. And who will endure the day of his entrance? And who will withstand at his appearing? Because he will enter like fire in a smelting furnace and like the lye of launderers. And he will come to you in judgement; and he will be a swift witness against the wicked and against adulteresses and against those swear falsely in his name and those who do not fear him, says the Lord Almighty. Because I am the Lord your God, and I have not changed and you, children of Jacob, have perverted the laws and not kept them. Therefore turn back to me and I will turn back to you, says the Lord Almighty. And all the nations will call you blessed and you will know that I am the Lord who discern between just and lawless on the day on which I make a peculiar possession of those who love me. Know then and remember the law of Moses my servant, as I gave him commandment on Horeb, to all Israel ordinances and judgements. And see, I will send you Elias the Thesbite, before the great and manifest day of the Lord comes; he will turn again the heart of father to son and of a man to his neighbour, lest when I come I smite the earth grievously, says the Lord Almighty, God the Holy One of Israel.
Composite 3 - Wisdom of Solomon 4, 5 (Vespers)
1A just man if he comes to his end will be at rest. A just man who dies will condemn the ungodly who are alive; for they will see the end of a just man and will not understand what they counselled concerning him. For the Lord will break the ungodly, render them voiceless and cast them headlong, and he will shake them from the foundations and they will be utterly worsted in sorrow, and their memory shall perish. They shall come with fear at the accounting of their sins, and their iniquities will convict them to their face. Then the just will stand with much boldness in the face of those who afflicted him and made his toils of no account. When they see this they will be troubled with great fear and will be amazed at the wonder of his salvation. For they will say as they repent and with anguish they will groan and say: Is this he whom we fools once made a laughing stock and a byword of reproach? We reckoned his life folly and his end dishonour. How has he been numbered among the children of God and his lot with the Saints? Therefore we have erred from the way of truth and the light of righteousness has not shone on us and the sun has not dawned on us. We have been filled with paths of lawlessness and destruction and journeyed through trackless paths, but have not known the way of the Lord.
17And this rumour of him went forth throughout all Judæa, and throughout all the region round about.
18And the disciples of John shewed him of all these things.
19And John calling unto him two of his disciples sent them to Jesus, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
20When the men were come unto him, they said, John Baptist hath sent us unto thee, saying, Art thou he that should come? or look we for another?
21And in that same hour he cured many of their infirmities and plagues, and of evil spirits; and unto many that were blind he gave sight.
22Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.
23And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
24And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
25But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously apparelled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts.
26But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet.
27This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
28For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.
29And all the people that heard him, and the publicans, justified God, being baptized with the baptism of John.
30But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him.
Romans 1.18-27 (Epistle)
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
21Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.
24Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
26For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.
2 Corinthians 4.6-15
6For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
7But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
8We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
11For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
12So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
13We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak;
14Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
15For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
Matthew 5.20-26 (Gospel)
20For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
21Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
25Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
2Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples,
3And said unto him, Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?
4Jesus answered and said unto them, Go and shew John again those things which ye do hear and see:
5The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
6And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.
7And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
8But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses.
9But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet.
10For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
11Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
12And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.
13For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
14And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.
15He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Third Finding of the Precious Head of St John the Baptist (ca. 850)
In the eighth century, during the iconoclast persecutions, the head of St John the Baptist was taken to Comana (the place of St John Chrysostom’s exile) for safekeeping, and was lost. (The iconoclasts attacked not only the holy icons, but the veneration of relics of the Saints, sometimes destroying the relics themselves.) When the persecutions ended, the location of the head was revealed to a priest, and it was found in a silver vessel, “in a sacred place.” It was returned to Constantinople with great solemnity and celebration. See the First and Second Findings, commemorated February 24.
Where is it now? After several inquiries, we have not been able to learn whether the Head of St John the Baptist is lost again, or whether it rests in some known place. Information welcomed at email@example.com.
Holy Hieromartyr Therapon, Bishop of Cyprus (4th c.)
Little is recorded of his earthly life, except that he was a monk and ascetic on Cyprus who rose to episcopal rank, and that he was martyred during a persecution of Christians. His body rested for centuries in a church in Cyprus. Then in 806, during the reign of the Emperor Nikephoros, the Saint appeared to the church’s caretaker, warned him that infidels were about to attack Cyprus, and ordered that his relics be transferred to Constantinople. Without hesitation the caretaker had the casket containing St Therapon’s relics put in a ship bound for the Capital. During the journey a great storm arose, but the waters around the ship remained calm, and a sweet scent filled the ship. The caretaker opened the casket and found that it was full to overflowing of a fragrant myrrh which exuded from the holy martyr’s relics. In Constantinople, a church was built over the Saint’s relics, which became known as a powerful source of healing for those who approached in faith.
Holy Martyrs Pasicrates, Valentian, Julius and those with them (302)
“They were Roman soldiers, and suffered for Christ in about 302 in Macedonian Dorostol. When Pasicrates’ brother, Papianus (who had apostatised from Christ through fear), came to his brother and tried to persuade him to renounce Christ and stay alive, St Pasicrates replied: ‘Get away from me; you are no brother of mine!’ Pasicrates and Valentian were beheaded together. At his trial, Julius said: ‘I am a war veteran, and have served the Emperor faithfully for twenty-six years. And, having been faithful till now in lesser things, how can I not be faithful, in the things that are greater, to the heavenly Kingdom and its King?’ Then Nicanor was brought before the prefect, Maximus. Nicanor’s wife encouraged her husband to die for the sake of Christ. ‘You stupid old woman,’ Maximus hurled at her, ‘Are you after a better husband?’ She replied: ‘If you think that of me, give the order to have me killed now, before my husband!’ Marcian also perished with Nicanor. His wife came to the place of execution, carrying their son in her arms. Marcian kissed his son and prayed: ‘O almighty God, do Thou take care of him!’ And they were all then slain and entered into the Kingdom of Christ.” (Prologue)