- The Holy Apostles Jason And Sosipater, And The Virgin Cercyra
The first two were of the Seventy Apostles and the latter was the daughter of a king from the island of Corfu. Jason and Sosipater are mentioned by St. Paul and he calls them his kinsmen (Romans 16:21). Jason was born in Tarsus, as was the Apostle Paul, and Sosipater was born in Achaea. The first was appointed bishop of Tarsus by the apostle and the other was appointed Bishop of Iconium. Traveling about and preaching the Gospel, these two apostles arrived on the island of Corfu, where they succeeded in building a church to the honor of St. Stephen the Protomartyr and in winning over some heathens to the Church. The king of the island threw them both into prison, where seven thieves were also imprisoned. Their names were Saturnius, Jakischolus, Faustianus, Januarius, Marsalius, Euphrasius and Mammius. The apostles converted these seven to the Christian Faith, turning these wolves into lambs. Upon hearing this, the king ordered that these seven be put to death in boiling pitch. Thus they received wreaths of martyrdom. Later, while the king was torturing the apostles, his daughter, the virgin Cercyra, watched the suffering of these men of God from the window. Learning for what reason they were being tortured, she declared herself a Christian and distributed all of her jewels to the poor. The king became enraged at his daughter and shut her in a special prison. Since he was unable to dissuade her from Christ by this imprisonment, he ordered that the prison be burned. The prison burned, but the virgin remained alive. Upon seeing this miracle, many people were baptized. The infuriated king then ordered his daughter to be tied to a tree and slain with arrows. Those who believed in Christ fled from the terrible king to the nearest island and hid themselves. The king pursued them by boat in order to apprehend them, but the boat sank into the sea, and thus the unrighteous one perished as once did pharaoh. The new king embraced the Christian Faith and was baptized, receiving the name Sebastian. Jason and Sosipater freely preached the Gospel and strengthened the Church of God in Corfu unto deep old age. There they ended their earthly lives and took up their habitation in the mansions of the Lord.
The Holy Martyrs Maximus, Dada And Quintilian Maximus, Dada and Quintilian suffered during the reign of Diocletian. They were tried and tortured by the commander Tarquinius. After imprisonment and torture they were all beheaded.
The Holy Martyr Tibald Tibald was a Slav from Pannonia. During the reign of Diocletian he was brutally tortured for the Christian Faith, suffering in a place called Tsibal.
Hymn Of Praise The Holy Virgin Cercyra The virgin Cercyra, tender and pure, Heard from the imperial court about the name of Christ. That holy name overpowered her heart, And she was ready to suffer for Him. A father instructs his daughter–but how? And in what? “God is One, Father. Bow down to Him! Through Christ is His love manifested; With that love am I now seized. I do not mourn for myself, nor am I afraid of torture. Do what you wish: I stand before God.” Cercyra the virgin stood in the flame, Quiet, meek, radiant like a dove. The crimson flame raged, the whole dungeon cracked. Cercyra’s heart beat unafraid; Prayer and hope nested in her heart. With these she overcame the fire, and not the fire, her. The virgin, pierced with arrows, easily separated herself From the vanity of the world by divine love. Her body was shattered by deadly arrows, But the Lord received the soul of the virgin intact.
Reflection The mystery of our salvation is concluded with the appearance of God among men in a human body. St. Meliton of Sardis writes: “The works of Christ following His baptism manifested and proved to the world that His divinity was hidden in His body. Being God, He was also perfect man. He revealed to us His two natures: His divinity, by His miracles performed throughout the three years following His baptism; and His humanity, throughout those years when the weakness of the flesh hid the signs of His divinity, even though He was truly the Pre-eternal God.” The manner of the union of divinity with humanity is difficult to comprehend, but the event of the appearance of God as a man among men is perfectly comprehensible from the viewpoint of the love of God for man. Even the creation of the world, as an event, is not more comprehensible–one can even say it is less comprehensible–than the event above all events: the Incarnation of God.
Contemplation Contemplate the Ascension of the Lord Jesus:
- How He led His disciples to a hill near Bethany;
- How, with uplifted hands, He blessed the disciples.
Homily on seeking the face of the Lord “Thy face, O Lord, will I seek” (Psalms 27:8). “Let Thy face shine upon Thy servant” (Psalm 31:16). King David sought that which the simple fishermen received without seeking. King David was in a state of darkness and yearned to see the radiant face of the Lord, which was revealed to the simple fishermen in its complete refulgence (radiance). King David belonged to the period of waiting, but the disciples belonged to the period of fulfillment. There, it was only the announcement of the coming of the Lord, but here, it is the coming. There, a presentiment and reverie about the face of the Lord; here, the radiance and beauty of that same face. The face of the Lord was radiant even before the Resurrection, and how much more radiant after the Resurrection! The inextinguishable flame of divinity hid behind the icon of His body and shone through that bodily icon. The disciples gazed upon Him fixedly and they rejoiced in their hearts. For forty days they gazed upon His glorified body and they rejoiced in their hearts! O my brethren, let us also seek the radiant face of the Lord that we might feel the delight with which the angels of God are elated. If we seek Him with yearning in this life, then we will see Him at least in the other life. But if we do not seek Him in this life, then we will not see Him either in this life or in the other life. Brethren, let us yearn for the face of Christ! His every word shows us one feature of His face. Each of His apostles shows us some characteristic of His face. His every deed shows us some feature of His face. Each of His saints shows us some ray of His radiant face. With yearning, brethren, let us examine the face of the Lord. Let us assemble ray after ray, until the entire sun is revealed. Let us enshrine that Sun in the depths of our hearts, that He may illumine our bodily courts from within. Let us plant this inexpressibly sweet vineyard in our hearts, that we may taste of that immortal drink with which the angels are filled. O Lord, Bearer of light, make Thy face to shine upon us, Thy servants. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.