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.
Acts 15.5-34 (Epistle)
5But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
6And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
7And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
8And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us;
9And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
10Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
11But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
12Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
13And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
14Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
15And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:
17That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
18Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.
19Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
21For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.
22Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
23And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
24Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
25It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
26Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
27We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth.
28For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things;
29That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
30So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle:
31Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation.
32And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
33And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles.
34Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.
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.
John 10.17-28 (Gospel)
17Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
19There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings.
20And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him?
21Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?
22And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter.
23And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.
24Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly.
25Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.
26But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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)