Sunday, August 29: “Who do you suppose that I am?”

THE TENTH EOTHINON GOSPEL

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint John 21:1- 14

At that time, Jesus revealed Himself again to the Disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and He revealed Himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His Disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the Disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any fish?” They answered Him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, for the quantity of fish. That Disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea. But the other Disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the Disciples dared ask Him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the Disciples after He was raised from the dead.

THE EPISTLE

The Reading from the Acts of the Holy Apostles 13:25-33

In those days, as John was fulfilling his course, he said, “Who do you suppose that I am? I am not He. But behold, there comes One after me the shoes of whose feet I am not worthy to unloose.” Men, brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to you is the word of this salvation sent forth. For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they did not know Him, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read on every Sabbath, fulfilled these by condemning Him. And though they found no cause of death in Him, yet they asked Pilate that He should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all the things that were written of Him, they took Him down from the tree, and laid him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead; and for many days He was seen by those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now His witnesses to the people. And we bring you the good news of the promise made to the fathers, that God has fulfilled the same to us their children, in that He raised up Jesus again.

THE GOSPEL

The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. Mark 6:14-30

At that time, Jesus’ Name had become known, and King Herod heard of it. Some said, “John the Baptizer has been raised from the dead; that is why these powers are at work in Him.” But others said, “It is Elijah.” And others said, “It is a prophet, like one of the prophets of old.” But when Herod heard of it he said, “John, whom I beheaded, has been raised.” For Herod had sent and seized John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, because he had married her. For John said to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” And Herodias had a grudge against him, and wanted to kill him. But she could not, for Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he was much perplexed; and yet he heard him gladly. But an opportunity came when Herod on his birthday gave a banquet for his courtiers and officers and the leading men of Galilee. For when Herodias’ daughter came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his guests; and the king said to the girl, “Ask me for whatever you wish, and I will grant it.” And he vowed to her, “Whatever you ask me, I will give you, even half of my kingdom.” And she went out, and said to her mother, “What shall I ask?” And she said, “The head of John the Baptizer.” And she came in immediately with haste to the king, and asked, saying, “I want you to give me at once the head of John the Baptist on a platter.” And the king was exceedingly sorry; but because of his oaths and his guests he did not want to break his word to her. And immediately the king sent a soldier of the guard and gave orders to bring his head. He went and beheaded him in the prison, and brought his head on a platter, and gave it to the girl; and the girl gave it to her mother. When his disciples heard of it, they came and took his body, and laid it in a tomb. The Apostles returned to Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught.

ORTHROS

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

While the stone was sealed by the Jews, and the soldiers were guarding Thy most pure body, Thou didst arise on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. For which cause the heavenly powers cried aloud unto Thee, O giver of life. Glory to Thy Resurrection, O Christ, glory to Thy kingdom, glory to Thy providence, O Thou Who alone art the lover of mankind.

APOLYTIKION OF THE BAPTIST’S BEHEADING

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.

The memory of the righteous is celebrated with songs of praise, but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner. Thou wast shown indeed to be the most honorable of the prophets, for in the waters thou didst baptize Him Whom they had proclaimed. After suffering with joy in behalf of the truth, thou didst proclaim even to those in Hades the God Who appeared in the flesh, Who taketh away the sin of the world, and granteth us Great Mercy.

RESURRECTIONAL THEOTOKION

Both now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.

Exceeding glorious beyond the power of thought are Thy mysteries, O Theotokos. For being sealed in purity and preserved in virginity, thou wast acknowledged to be in very truth the mother who didst bring forth the true God; wherefore entreat Him to save our souls.

DIVINE LITURGY

RESURRECTIONAL APOLYTIKION

While the stone was sealed by the Jews, and the soldiers were guarding Thy most pure body, Thou didst arise on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. For which cause the heavenly powers cried aloud unto Thee, O giver of life. Glory to Thy Resurrection, O Christ, glory to Thy kingdom, glory to Thy providence, O Thou Who alone art the lover of mankind.

APOLYTIKION OF THE BAPTIST’S BEHEADING

The memory of the righteous is celebrated with songs of praise, but the Lord’s testimony is sufficient for thee, O Forerunner. Thou wast shown indeed to be the most honorable of the prophets, for in the waters thou didst baptize Him Whom they had proclaimed. After suffering with joy in behalf of the truth, thou didst proclaim even to those in Hades the God Who appeared in the flesh, Who taketh away the sin of the world, and granteth us Great Mercy.

THE APOLYTIKON OF THE PROTECTION OF THE MOST HOLY THEOTOKOS

Today the Virgin stands in the midst of the Church, and with choirs of Saints she invisibly prays to God for us. Angels and Bishops venerate Her, Apostles and prophets rejoice together, since for our sake she prays to the Eternal God!

KONTAKION OF THE NATIVITY OF THE THEOTOKOS

By thy holy nativity, O pure one, Joachim and Anna were delivered from the reproach of barrenness; and Adam and Eve were delivered from the corruption of death; thy people do celebrate it, having been saved from the stain of iniquity, crying unto thee: The barren doth give birth to the Theotokos, who nourisheth our life.

The Life of St. John the Baptist

From “The Lives of the Saints and Several Lectures and Sermons” compiled and translated by St. Sebastian Dabovich

Saint John the Baptist was the son of the Jewish Priest Zacharia. His mother was Elizabeth, a blood-relation to the Most Blessed Virgin Mary. This righteous couple were childless, for Elizabeth was barren. They prayed much and long; as true Israelites they desired the consolation of being blessed with children, aspiring,—but in this instance with an humble and holy resignation—to the birth of the great Messiah, who was coming to save mankind, and, as they thought, to free and unite Israel. Although Zacharia and Elizabeth sorrowed in their old age to a day which was beyond the natural limit of child-bearing, still they continued hopefully praying. The prayers of faith of this priest and his patient spouse ascended on high, from whence came down an angel with the message telling them that the Creator of nature and the God of wonders had been pleased to fulfill their desire. Accordingly, Elizabeth bore unto her husband Zacharia a male child, who was called John.This John was called by God to be the forerunner of his Divine Son, to usher Him into the world, and to prepare mankind by repentance to receive the Redeemer, whom the prophets had foretold at a distance through every age from the beginning of the world, never ceasing to instill in the people of God faith and hope in Him by whom alone they were to be saved. At first St. John led a most austere life in the wilderness, exercising himself in prayer and meditating on the high mission he was called to perform. In the thirtieth year of his age, John came from out his seclusion. This was also the age at which the priests and Levites were permitted by the Jewish law to begin the exercise of their functions. Clothed in camel’s hair, held to his person by a girdle of raw leather, the man of the desert, who knew not the luxuries of a dwelling-house, nor the taste of cooked food, himself subsisting on locusts and wild honey, comes to the thinly settled banks of the river Jordan, and preaches repentance, baptizing all comers. Make ye the way straight, says he; for cometh He whose sandal-strap I am not worthy to unloose; He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire. John was received by the people as the true herald of the Most High God. All classes of people came and listened to him. Among them were many Pharisees, whose pride and hypocrisy, which rendered them indocile and blinded them in their vices, he sharply reproved. The very soldiers and publicans, or tax-collectors, who were generally persons hardened in habits of immorality, violence, and injustice, flocked to him. He exhorted all to works of charity and to a reformation of their lives, and those who addressed themselves to him in these dispositions, he baptized in the river.The baptism of John differed entirely from the great Christian sacrament of baptism, as the first was an emblem of the effects of living in the fear of the justice of God by abstaining from evil deeds, whilst the latter wholly delivers us from the original sin and the consequences, and makes us the children of God, by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When St. John had already preached and baptized about six months, the Lord Jesus went from Nazareth, and presented Himself, among others, to be baptized by him. The Baptist knew Him by a divine revelation, and, full of awe and respect for his sacred person, at first excused himself, but at length acquiesced out of obedience. The Saviour of sinners was pleased to be baptized among sinners, not to be cleansed Himself, but to sanctify the waters, and to manifest Himself to the world, which was represented in the great mass of people which came to John. And John bear witness of Him. Pointing Him out before the Jews, John said, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world! John the Baptist reproved the vices of all men, no matter who they were, with an impartial freedom and in a fearless spirit. He disclosed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, and uncovered the profaneness of the Sadducees; he denounced the fraud of certain government officials, —i. e. the publicans,—the rapine and licentiousness of the soldiers, and the incest of King Herod himself. Now, Herod had unlawfully taken unto himself Herodias, the wife of his own brother Philip, who was still living. When the saint said to the king, It is not lawful for thee to have her, Herodias set herself against him, and desired to kill John. Herod reverenced John as a holy man; therefore he dared not harm him. Nevertheless he had the saint within his reach, in prison, for he could not bear to have the sore spot of his weak conscience tampered with. St. John faithfully completed his mission, and he understood when his time was up; even before this, he said, Jesus must increase, but I must decrease. While in confinement the righteous preacher was still anxious to bear testimony to the glory of the Saviour; we read furthermore in the Gospel that, on hearing in prison of Christ’s wonderful works and preaching, John sent two of his disciples to Him for their information, not doubting but that Christ would satisfy them that He was the Messiah; and that by His answers they would lay aside their prejudices, and join themselves to Him.

Herod continued to respect John; he would sometimes send for him, and listen to him with pleasure, though he was troubled when he was admonished by him for his faults. In the meantime Herodias sought an opportunity to compass the Baptist’s destruction. An occasion at length fell out favorable to her designs. It was on the birthday anniversary of the king, when he made in his castle a splendid entertainment for the nobility of Galilee. During a sumptuous repast, Salome, a daughter of Herodias by her lawful husband, danced before the guests, and so pleased the king by her dancing, that he promised her, with the sacred bond of an oath, to grant her whatever she asked, though it amounted to half of his dominions. The damsel consulted with her mother, and she dispatched her daughter with haste, to demand that the head of John the Baptist be brought in to her at once on a charger. This strange request startled the drunken tyrant himself. He, however, assented, though with reluctance, but for the sake of his oaths, and of them that sat at meat, he ordered a soldier of his guard to strike off the head of St. John. In this way the bloody head of the holy prophet was brought into the hall, where they ate and drank and made merry with music, and it was given to the young dancer, who took it and carried it to her mother. No doubt Herod had no thought of the oath, while giving it, that it was a sinful one, but he committed a much greater sin by keeping his oath. And thus it was that John the Baptist, the man of the desert, ended his life, one of the chief causes of his death being a sinful supper. But, by God’s mercy, he was not put to death before he had fulfilled his great duty as the forerunner of our Lord Jesus Christ. The many virtues of St. John, those of a martyr, a virgin, a teacher, and a prophet, were exalted in praise by Christ Himself, when he said to the multitudes of the people: Verily, I say unto you, there hath not risen among them that are born of women a greater than John the Baptist. When his disciples hearing that John was executed in prison, they came and took his body and laid it in a tomb.The misfortunes which befell Herod after the death of John the Baptist, the Jews said were punishments from God for the murder of his servant, as their historian, Joseph Flavins, records. Aretas, the King of Arabia, and the father of Herod’s first wife, struck a deadly blow at the army of the Galilean ruler. Soon after this the Roman emperor banished Herod into exile. The holy relics of St. John did not remain for all time in their tomb at Sebastia. When the holy apostle Luke visited this city, he took the right arm of the saint and brought it to Antioch, where the Christians treasured it for a long time. When, in 956, the Mohammedans took possession of Antioch, a deacon by the name of Job carried the relic to Halcedon, from which place it was brought, on the eve of the Epiphany, to Constantinople. The Turkish sultan, Bajazet, desiring to please the Crusaders, presented the Knights of Malta with the arm of the great Baptist. In 1799, this order of knights sent the relic of St. John to the Emperor Paul I of Russia, and the great prophet’s arm may be seen to this day in the royal palace in the “Chapel of the Saviour’s Uncreated Image.” The Holy Church celebrates the birth of St. John the Baptist on the 24th of June. On the 29th of August, she commemorates his beheading. And on the 7th of January, the Church praises the great saint for his whole life, his works, and his mission, as he was selected to be the baptizer of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

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