FIRST AND SECOND FINDING OF THE VENERABLE HEAD OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST AND FORERUNNER
Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone
The Forerunner's sacred head, having dawned forth from the earth, doth send incorruption's rays unto the faithful, whereby they find healings of their ills. From on high he gathered the choirs of the Angels and on earth he summoneth the whole race of mankind, that they with one voice might send up glory to Christ our God.
Kontakion Hymn. Second Tone
Since we have obtained thy head as a most sacred rose from out of the earth, O Forerunner of grace divine, we receive sure healings in every hour, O Prophet of God the Lord; for again, now as formerly, thou preached repentance unto all the world.
THE FINDING OF THE HEAD OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST. The great and glorious Forerunner was beheaded at the wish and request of the wicked Herodias, wife of Herod. When Saint John had been beheaded, Herodias ordered that his head should not be buried with his body, for she feared that the terrible Prophet would somehow rise from the dead. So she took his head and buried it in some hidden and unworthy place, deep in the earth. Her lady-in-waiting was Joanna the wife of Chuza, a courtier of Herod's. This good and God-fearing Joanna could not bear that the head of the godly man should remain in an unworthy place, so she disinterred it secretly, took it to Jerusalem and buried it on the Mount of Olives. Not knowing about all this, king Herod, when he heard about Christ and His great miracles, was afraid and said: 'It is John, whom I beheaded; he is risen from the dead!' (St. Mark 6:16). After a considerable time, an eminent government official came to believe in Christ, left his position in the world and became a monk. Under the name Innocent, he settled on the Mount of Olives, in precisely the place where the Baptist's head had been buried. Deciding to build himself a cell, he dug deep and found an earthen pot containing a head which, it was revealed to him secretly, was that of the Saint John the Baptist. He venerated it and re-buried it in the same place. By God's providence, that wonder-working head went from hand to hand, disappearing into the darkness of forgetfulness and then being once more revealed, until it was finally taken to Constantinople in the middle of the 9th century, in the time of Patriarch Ignatius and the God-fearing Empress Theodora, mother of Michael and wife of Theophilos. Many miracles were performed by the head (Kara) of the Forerunner. It is important and interesting to note that, while he was alive, Saint John did not work a single miracle (St. John 10:41), but to his holy relics was given the blessed power of working miracles.
Those who let us do as we like are neither good teachers nor good friends. Blessed John Moschos writes about one eminent woman of senatorial family, who visited the Holy Land: 'Arriving at Caesarea, she planned to remain there, and applied to the bishop with this request: 'Find me a young woman to teach me the fear of God'. The bishop introduced her to a humble girl. After some time, he met this woman and asked her: 'How is the girl that I introduced to you?' 'She is all right', replied the woman, 'but she has been of little help to my soul, because she lets me have my own way. It is because she is humble, but I need her to grumble at me and not let me do as I please'. The bishop found her someone else, a girl with a fairly rough character, who grumbled at her, called her an ignorant rich woman and so forth. After some time, the bishop again asked the woman: 'And how does this young woman get on with you?' 'She is truly helpful to my soul', replied the woman of senatorial family -- and she thus became very humble' ('The Spiritual Meadow').
--On repentance and the forgiveness of sins.
"And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name" (St. Luke 24:47)
This is the final message of the Savior to the Holy Apostles. In these words, as in a nutshell, is contained the Gospel of God's reconciliation with man. What does God seek of men, and what does He give them? He seeks repentance and gives forgiveness of sin. He seeks little and gives all. Men have only to repent of the committing of sin and stop sinning, and they receive all from God, all indeed! Not only that which their hearts are able to desire, but more, much more. All is promised to the sinless. The sinless will be the inheritors of the Kingdom of God, sons of God, children of Light, children of immortality, companions of the Angels, brothers of Christ. The sinless will have abundant life, abundant peace, wisdom, power and joy. The sinless will have all, for all is promised them.
Man must only repent, and he will receive all. The beggar must only cleanse himself and bathe and clothe himself in clean clothes before the gates of the heavenly court and be met and greeted by the King, seated at the King's table, and he will have all, in abundance and flowing over.
Oh, my brethren, these are not only words, but are living and holy truth, for we know that many repentant sinners have received all that has been promised. Many have appeared from the other world and confirmed the truth of these words, witnessing how they now live as sons and daughters of the King. They repented in good time, but we have yet to repent if we want to be together with them as heirs of the Kingdom.
O Merciful Lord, help us to repent before the hour of death, that we may live in eternity. To Thee be glory and praise for ever. Amen.
Let me ponder on the Lord Jesus as the stone of stumbling:
- For sinful-opinion; that is, for the fallen mind of man that thinks sensually and physically, and is opposed to the Mind of Christ.
- For sinful self-love; that is, for the fallen heart of man that does not have in itself love for either God or man.
- For sinful self-will; that is, for the fallen will of man that as such is opposed to the Will of God.
[Source: The Prologue from Ochrid ]
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.
Glory Be To GOD For All Things!
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God