My beloved spiritual children In Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
THE LENTEN PRAYER OF SAINT EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN
Lord and Master of my life, cast away from me the spirit of laziness, idle curiosity, love of power and vain talk. (Prostration)
But grant me, Your servant, the spirit of moderation, humility, patience and love. (Prostration)
Yes, Lord and King, grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brothers and sisters. (Prostration)
For You are Blessed forever. Amen.
By Saint John of Climacus (of the Ladder)
"Among beginners, discernment is real self-knowledge; among those midway along the road to perfection, it is a spiritual capacity to distinguishing unfailingly between what is truly good and what in nature is opposed to the good; among the perfect, it is a knowledge resulting from Divine illumination, which with its lamp can light up what is dark in others. To put the matter generally, discernment is--and is recognized to be--a solid understanding of the will of god in all times, in all places, in all things; and is found only among those who are pure of heart, in body, and in speech." (Source: John Climacus: The Ladder of Divine Ascent)
TODAY'S SYNAXARION (THE COMMEMORATION OF TODAY'S SAINTS):
On March 6th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers of every righteous
soul made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: The uncovering of the Precious and Holy Cross and Precious Nails by Empress St. Helen; Holy 42 Martyrs of Ammoria; Saint Hesychius of Galatia; Saint Conon and his son St. Conon of Iconium; St. Fridolin of the Upper Rhine; St. Arcadius of Cyprus, with Saints Julian and Bulius; St. Abraham of Bulgaria; St. Job (Joshua) of Solovki; Holy Martyrs Maximus and Euphrosynus; Holy Martyrs Julian and Eubulus; "Chemstokhovskaya" Holy Icon of the Mother of God.
+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Empresses, Holy Mothers, Holy Ascetics, Holy Fathers, Holy Evangelists, Holy Preachers, Holy Bishops, Holy Archbishops, Holy Prophets, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
THE FORTY-TWO HOLY MARTYRS OF AMMORIA. These were all generals under the Byzantine Emperor Theophilos. When the Emperor lost the struggle against the Saracens around the town of Ammoria, the Saracens took the town and enslaved many Christians, with these general among them. The remaining Christians they either killed or sold into slavery, but threw these generals into prison, where they remained for seven years. Muslim leaders came many times, urging them to accept the Mohammedan faith, but the generals refused to do so. When the Saracens told the generals that Mohamed was a true prophet and Christ was not, the generals asked them: "If two men were to quarrel about a field, with one saying: "It's mine!", and the other saying: "No, it's mine!, and one had many witnesses that it was his field and the other had not a single witness but himself, what would you say--whose field was it?" The Saracens replied: "His, of course, who had the many witnesses." "You have judged right", the generals answered them. "So it is with Christ and Mohamed. Christ has many witnesses: the ancient prophets, whom you also recognize, from Moses to John the Baptist, witnessed to Him, but Mohamed only witnesses to himself that he is a prophet, and has not other witness." The Saracens were confounded, but attempted then to defend their faith thus: "That our faith is better than Christianity is seen in this: that God has given us victory over you, that He gives us the best lands on earth and an empire much greater than the Christian." To this the generals replied: "If that were so, then the idol-worship of Egypt and Babylon, and of Greece and Rome, and the fire-worship of Persia, would have been true faiths, for at some time each of these peoples has conquered others and governed them. It is obvious that your victory and power and wealth do not prove the truth of your faith. We know that God sometimes gives victory to Christians, and sometimes leaves them in torture and suffering to correct them and bring them to repentance and cleansing from sin." After seven years they were beheaded (as Christians are beheaded, crucified, and tortured today), in 845 AD. Their bodies were cast into the Euphrates, but they floated to the other bank where Christians collected them and gave them burial. (Source: The Prologue from Ochrid).
TODAY'S SACRED SCRIPTURAL READINGS ARE THE FOLLOWING:
Isaiah 7: 1-14
Proverbs 6: 20-7:1
INSPIRING SAYINGS FROM THE HOLY ASCETICS, HOLY MOTHERS AND HOLY FATHERS OF THE CHURCH:
"The beginning of salvation is for a man to reproach himself" (+Evagrios the Solitary)
ARREST AND TRIALS OF JESUS
By Veselin Kesich
(Source: The Church in History, Vol. 1, Part 1: Formation and Struggles: The Birth of the Church AD 33-200)
After the meal was over (the Mystical Supper), Jesus and His companions went to Gethsemane ["the place of the olive press"]. Mark presents Jesus as distraught and troubled, in agony (Mark 14:32-34). His Gospel appears to be the source for Matthew 26:36-46 and Luke 22:39-46. Since Caiaphas had pronounced his policy of political accommodation "that one man should die for the people and the whole nation should not parish" (John 11:50), Jesus was under threat, and in Gethsemane was aware that His death was imminent. He was praying "that if it is possible the hour might pass from Him" (Mark 14:35). Seeing death as an enemy, He prays for deliverance. Then, as to mirror of His character and his teaching, He commends Himself to His Abba, Father, and accepts His destiny "not what I will but what You will" (Mark 14:36). Gethsemane manifests His full humanity, for He was "as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15), and His complete trust and commitment to God, as He had taught: "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3).
The night of agony was also the night of Jesus' arrest. Judas, one of the Twelve, who had been present at the Last (Mystical) Supper, betrayed Jesus' whereabouts and brought an armed group from Caiaphas to take Him captive. While historians accept Judas' betrayal as historical fact, they see as a major concern in two accounts of his death the fulfillment of Scripture (Matthew 27:3-10; Acts 1:16-20). Peeling away transmitted popular traditions on which these accounts are based on, the interpreters who shun a "forced harmonization" and "frozen contradiction," point to a tradition based on very early memories that Judas' violent death followed his betrayal.
Jesus underwent two trials: before the Sanhedrin, at which He was mocked as a prophet (Mark 14:65), and the Roman trial before Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea, at which He was mocked as a king (Mark 15:1-5). There have been divisions among historians over whether the "Jewish trial" preceded the Roman trial...According to Mark, followed by Matthew, after His arrest Jesus was led "to the high priest, and all the chief priests and elders and scribes were assembled." That night there was a formal trial of the captive before the Sanhedrin (Mark 14:53ff; Matt 26:57ff). Luke refers to an informal morning hearing (Luke 22:54f, 66ff). In John, there is neither a formal trial nor an informal hearing. Jesus was led to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who had been high priest for nine years. The next morning Annas sent Him to his son-in-law the high priest, and from the house of Caiaphas He was taken to the Praetorium (John 18:12ff, 24ff). Thus, there is neither a formal setting for a trial nor an informal hearing...Out of fear that many would follow Jesus and that the Romans would come to "destroy both our holy place and our nation," Caiaphas expressed the view that one man should die and prevent the destruction of the whole nation." And "from that day on they took counsel how to put Him to death" (John 11:53). But the Jewish authorities at the time of Jesus, John points out, did not have the right to "put any man to death" (John 18:31). It appears that the Sanhedrin could condemn Jesus but could not carry out capital punishment. The Romans alone had the right to carry out executions.
RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CRUCIFIXION
To improve Jewish-Christian relations and to prevent anti-Jewish hostilities, some have suggest a need for rewriting, "improving," or removing the offensive Gospel passages, particularly Matthew 27 and John's polemic against "the Jews." Others warn, however, that manipulating historical documents would not contribute to dialogue. The Passion Gospels must be examined in the context of the larger historical and religious events to which they belong. Without this examination, they may "lead to simplistic accusations about guilt for the death of Jesus," warns Raymond E. Brown, among others.
The Gospels are unanimous in their testimony that Pontius Pilate condemned Jesus to death on the Cross, and that the Romans carried out the sentence. They are also in agreement that Jesus was held captive by the Temple authorities before the trial and was presented by them to the Romans as a dangerous rebel. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote that "Pilate at the suggestion of the principal men among us" condemned Jesus (Ant. 18:63f). Later, around AD 115, the Roman historian Tacitus wrote that "Christ was executed by sentence of the Procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberlus" (Ann. 15-44).
The moment of the death of Jesus is described with slight variations in all four Gospels. Whatever words are used, they conveyed that His death was not a defeat but rather a moment of victory. The death of Jesus in the early Christian tradition was seen to be more than a moral act of love and obedience. They counted it an offering to God, a sacrifice (John 17:19).
All Jesus' "acquaintances and the women who followed Him from Galilee" watched His Crucifixion and Burial, which underlines the reality of His death. The burial of Christ is included in the early Christina creedal statement (1 Cor. 15:4). It also belongs to the Apostolic sermon on the day of Pentecost attributed to Peter (Acts 2:27-31).
The very moment of Jesus' Resurrection was not observable event and could not be captured in categories of time and space. Therefore, the Gospels do not narrate it. They do present evidence for the Resurrection, however. The post-Resurrection appearances of the Risen Jesus led the disciples to understand why the tomb was found empty and made them witnesses of the Resurrection and leaders of the earliest Christian community in Jerusalem. The post-Resurrection appearances do not belong to the category of ecstatic experience, such as Paul described in 2 Corinthians 12:1ff, nor to any recognizable category of spiritual experience. Without them, there would have been no church or New Testament Scripture.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter, the leader of the Twelve, proclaimed to those who were dwelling in Jerusalem: "Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven," that God raised up Jesus of Nazareth Who had been crucified by "lawless men," "and of that we are all witnesses." God "has made Him both Lord and Christ" (Acts 2:22ff). Those who received Peter's word were baptized, and, united with the eyewitnesses of Jesus' words and deeds, formed the nucleus of the earliest Christian community. The door to this Messianic Community was opened to everyone who would be baptized "in the name of Jesus Christ" (Acts 2:38).
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God