Weekly Diocesan Bulletin - Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sunday of the Prodigal Son; The Three Holy Hierarchs: Saints Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom

RESURRECTIONAL TROPARION - TONE ONE: When the stone had been sealed by the Jews; while the soldiers were guarding Thy most pure Body; Thou didst arise on the third day, O Savior, granting life to the world. The powers of heaven therefore cried to Thee, O Giver of Life: Glory to Thy Resurrection, O Christ! Glory to Thy Kingdom! Glory to Thy dispensation, O Thou who lovest mankind.
TROPARION TO THE THREE HOLY HIERARCHS - TONE ONE: Let us who love their words gather together and honor with hymns the three great torch-bearers of the triune Godhead: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and John Chrysostom.  These men have enlightened the world with the rays of their divine doctrines.  They are flowing rivers of wisdom, filling all creation with springs of heavenly knowledge.  Ceaselessly they intercede for us before the Holy Trinity.

RESURRECTIONAL KONTAKION - TONE ONE: As God, Thou didst arise from the tomb in glory, raising the world with Thyself. Human nature praises Thee as God, for death has vanished.  Adam exults, O Master!  Eve rejoices, for she is freed from bondage, and cries to Thee: Thou art the giver of resurrection to all, O Christ!

KONTAKION TO THE THREE HOLY HIERARCHS - TONE TWO: O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest and to the enjoyment of Your blessings the divinely inspired heralds, the greatest of Your teachers, for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice, for You alone are glorified in Your saints.

SUNDAY OF THE PRODIGAL SON KONTAKION - TONE THREE: I have foolishly fled from Your Fatherly glory, and wasted in wickedness the riches which You had given me.  Therefore I cry to You like the Prodigal: ‘I have sinned before You, O compassionate Father; receive me in repentance and make me as one of Your hired servants.’


The Prokimenon in the 1st Tone:
Let Your mercy, O Lord, be upon us as we have set our hope on You.

Sunday of the Prodigal Son: 1 Corinthians 6: 12-20
Brethren, all things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.  Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them.  Now the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.  Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?  Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a harlot? Certainly not!  Or do you not know that he who is joined to a harlot is one body with her?  For “the two,” He says, “shall become one flesh.”  But he who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.  Flee sexual immorality.  Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.  Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?  For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

The Three holy Hierarchs: Hebrews 13: 7-16
Brethren, remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines.  For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.  We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.  For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.  Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate.  Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.  For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.  Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.  But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

The Alleluia Verses:
God gives vengeance to me and subdues people under me; He magnifies the salvation of the king, and deals mercifully with His Christ, with David and his seed forever.


Sunday of the Prodigal Son: Luke 15: 11-32
Jesus told this parable: “A certain man had two sons.  And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’  So he divided to them his livelihood.  And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living.  But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.  Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.  And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.  But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!  I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son.  Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’  And he arose and came to his father.  But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet.  And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’  And they began to be merry.  Now his older son was in the field.  And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.  So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.  And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’  But he was angry and would not go in.  Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.  So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.  But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’  And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.  It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’ ”

The Three Holy Hierarchs: Matthew 5: 14-19
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.  Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

From The Prologue
January 30/February 12 by St. Nikolai Velimirovic:

The Three Hierarchs: Saint Basil the Great, Saint Gregory the Theologian, and Saint John Chrysostom
Each of these saints has his own feast day: St. Basil the Great, January 1; St. Gregory the Theologian, January 25; and St. John Chrysostom, January 27. This combined feast day, January 30, was instituted in the eleventh century during the reign of Emperor Alexius Comnenus. Once, a debate arose among the people concerning who among the three was the greatest. Some extolled Basil because of his purity and courage; others extolled Gregory for his unequaled depth and lofty mind in theology; still others extolled Chrysostom because of his eloquence and clarity in expounding the Faith. Thus some were called Basilians, others Gregorians, and the third were called Johannites. This debate was settled by divine providence, to the benefit of the Church and to the even greater glory of the three saints. Bishop John of Euchaita (June 14) had a vision in a dream: At first all three of these saints appeared to him separately in great glory and indescribable beauty, and after that, all three appeared together. They said to him: “As you see, we are one in God and there is nothing contradictory in us; neither is there a first or a second among us.” The saints also advised Bishop John to write a common service for them and to order a common feast day of celebration. Following this wonderful vision, the debate was settled in this manner: January 30 would be designated as the common feast of these three hierarchs. The Greeks consider this feast not only an ecclesiastical feast, but also their greatest national and school holiday.

The Hieromartyr Hippolytus, Bishop of Rome
Hippolytus suffered for the Faith during the reign of Claudius. When the virgin Chrysa was mercilessly tortured for Christ in Rome, St. Hippolytus interceded on her behalf before the torturers and denounced them. Because of this protest, Hippolytus also was brought to court and condemned and, after prolonged tortures, was sentenced to death. They bound his hands and feet and drowned him in the sea. Along with Hippolytus and Chrysa, twenty other martyrs also suffered. St. Hippolytus suffered in the year 269. 

The Holy Martyr Theophilus the New
As a commander under the Emperor Constantine and the Empress Irene, Theophilus was enslaved by the Hagarenes and was kept in prison for four years. When he refused all pressures from the Moslems to abandon the Christian Faith, Theophilus was beheaded with the sword, taking up his abode with the Lord in the year 784.

Saint Peter, King of Bulgaria
Peter, the son of Simeon, was a great admirer of St. John of Rila. He gained independence from Constantinople for the Bulgarian Church, and preserved Orthodoxy in Bulgaria from the Bogomils. After an unsuccessful war with the Hungarians and Russians, Peter reposed in 967, in the fifty-sixth year of his life.

HYMN OF PRAISE: The Three Hierarchs: Saint Basil, Saint Gregory the Theologian, and Saint John Chrysostom

Fasting and faith—Basil,
Acts of charity—Chrysostom,
Golden mouths, mouths of honey!

All laborers of one work:
Three separately—three angels,
The three together, as God is one,
No one is chief, no one is secondary.

In eternity they all agree,
You invoke one, all three help;
You hymn one, all three hear;
You glorify one, all three rejoice.

Three men, one whole;
Three hierarchs, one work;
Three names, one glory;
To all three of them, Christ is the Head.

Here is an example of how emperors seek counsel from the saints, how the saints avoid vanity and riches, and how they counsel emperors. The Orthodox King Peter of Bulgaria set off with his retinue for Rila Mountain, driven by the insatiable desire to see St. John of Rila and to benefit from his instruction. The king sent men ahead to inform the saint of his arrival, but the saint did not agree to meet with the king. The saddened king again sent some men with foodstuffs and an ample amount of gold, as well as a petition requesting the saint to write some counsel for him. John accepted the food but returned the gold, not even wanting to touch it; and he replied to the king: “If you desire the Heavenly Kingdom, be merciful like the Heavenly Father. Do not trust in injustice and do not be covetous; be meek, quiet and accessible to everyone. Do not accept praises from your noblemen. Let your purple robe radiate with virtues. May the remembrance of death never depart from your soul. Humble yourself before the feet of our Mother Church; bow your head before her chief hierarchs so that the King of kings, seeing your sincerity, may reward you with goodness such as never entered into the heart of man.” Receiving that letter, the king kissed it, and he later read it frequently.

Contemplate the Lord Jesus as the Friend of children:
1. As the Friend of the angels in heaven, who, like children, are innocent, obedient and without passions;
2. As the Friend of little children on earth, who easily and simply believe in God;
3. As the Friend of the saints, who by labor and grace are purified from sin and become innocent as children.

HOMILY on how men must become like children in order to be sons of God

Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:3).

Thus speaks the Lord, and His word is holy and true. What advantage do children have over adults? They have three advantages: in faith, in obedience, and in forgiveness. The child asks his parent about everything, and no matter what his parent replies, the child believes his parent. The child is obedient to his parent and easily subordinates his will to the will of his parent. The child is forgiving, and even though he provokes easily, he forgives quickly. Our Lord requires these three from all men, that is, faith, obedience and forgiveness. He desires that men believe in Him unconditionally, as a child believes in his parent; that they be unconditionally obedient to Him, as a child is to his parent; and that they be forgiving in relation to one another, not remembering evil and not rendering evil for evil. 

Faith, obedience and forgiveness are the three main characteristics of a child’s soul. Purity and joy are in addition to these. A child is not greedy, a child is not lustful, and a child is not vainglorious. The child’s eye is unspoiled by vices, and his joy is unspoiled by worries. 

O brethren, who can make us over again into children? No one, except the one Christ. He can make us over into children and help us to be born again by His example, by His teaching and by the power of His Holy Spirit.

O Lord Jesus, perfect in obedience and meekness, Eternal Child of the Heavenly Father, help us to become as infants by faith in Thee, by obedience toward Thee, and by forgiveness toward one another.

To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.