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.
1 Timothy 3.14-4.5
(Epistle, Saturday before Theophany)
14These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
15But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
16And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
1Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
4For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
5For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5.14-23 (Epistle)
14Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.
15See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.
17Pray without ceasing.
18In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
19Quench not the Spirit.
20Despise not prophesyings.
21Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22Abstain from all appearance of evil.
23And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
(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.
(Gospel, Saturday before Theophany)
1In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea,
2And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
3For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
4And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
5Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan,
6And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.
7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
8Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:
9And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
11I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:
Luke 17.3-10 (Gospel)
3Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
4And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.
5And the apostles said unto the Lord, Increase our faith.
6And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.
7But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
8And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
9Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not.
10So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.
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 (~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.