The Nativity of Saint John, the Forerunner and Baptist of Christ

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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 ΕΣΤΙ.

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ON JUNE 24TH OUR HOLY ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN CHURCH COMMEMORATES THE NATIVITY OF SAINT JOHN, THE FORERUNNER AND BAPTIST OF CHRIST

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Six months before his appearing to the Most Holy Ever-Virgin Mary in Nazareth, the Great Gabriel, Archangel of the Lord, appeared to Zacharias the High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem. Before he revealed the miraculous conception by a virgin who had not known a man, the Archangel revealed the wondrous conceiving by an old and barren woman. Zacharias was unable at once to believe the words of God's Herald, and for this, his tongue was bound in dumbness and remained thus until the eighth day after John's birth. The kinsfolk of Zacharias and Elizabeth gathered together on that day for the infant's circumcision and naming. When they enquired of the father how he wished the child to be called, he, being still dumb, wrote on a slate: 'John'. At that moment his tongue was loosed and he began to speak. Zacharias's house was on the heights between Bethlehem and Hebron. The news of the Angel's appearing to Zacharias, of his dumbness and of the loosening of his tongue at the exact moment that he wrote 'John', was carried throughout all Israel, coming to Herod's ears. So, when he sent men to kill all the infants around Bethlehem, he sent men off to Zacharias's family house in the hills, to slay John also. But Elizabeth hid the child in good time. The king was enraged at this and sent an executioner to the Temple to kill Zacharias (for it was then his turn to serve in the Temple again). Zacharias was killed between the court and the Temple, and his blood clotted and solidified on the paving slabs, and remained as an enduring witness against Herod. Elizabeth hid herself and the child in a cave, where she soon died. The young John remained in the wilderness alone, in the care of God and His Angels.

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For Consideration

One of the differences between the eloquent philosophy of the Greeks and the faith of Christians is that the Greeks' philosophy can be clearly expressed in words and comprehended through reading, whereas the Christian faith cannot be fully expressed in words, and still less comprehended by reading alone. For the exposition of the Christian faith, the example of its expounder is indispensable; and for its comprehension and assimilation, both reading and the practice of what is read are necessary for the reader. When Patriarch Photius read the writings of Saint Mark the Ascetic on the spiritual life, he noticed a lack of clarity in the writer, about which he very sagely remarked: 'This does not proceed from any obscurity of expression but comes about because the truths here expressed are better understood by practice (rather than through words), and I cannot comprehend them through words alone...and this', he added, 'is not the case with these homilies alone or this writer alone, but is so in all the works that seek to expound the laws of asceticism, which are better understood in action.'

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Homily

--against malicious rejoicing.

'Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth' (Proverbs 24:17).

He is a man like you; do not rejoice at his fall. He is your brother; do not your heart skip for joy when he falls. God created him for life, and He does not rejoice at his destruction. So, do not rejoice over that at which God grieves. When a man falls, it is God's loss; do you rejoice at your Creator's, your Parent's loss? When the Angels weep, do you rejoice?

When your enemy falls, pray to God for him, that He will save him, and thank God that you have not fallen likewise. Both you and he are of the same matter, like two pots from the hand of the Potter. If one pot breaks, does the other laugh and rejoice? Behold, a tiny pebble can break a pot; it needs only a man's hand to take up the pebble and break it. Both pots are of the same substance, and a tiny pebble can break a hundred of them.

When a sheep loses it way, does the rest of the flock rejoice? No, it does not. For behold, the shepherd leaves his flock and, filled with concern, goes to look for the lost sheep. The shepherd's loss is the flock's loss also. Therefore, do not rejoice when your enemy falls, because you have the same Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, and He does not rejoice at your enemy's fall.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Thou Good Shepherd, take from our hearts all spiteful rejoicing, and in its place plant compassion and brotherly love. To Thee be Glory and praise forever. Amen. (The Prologue from Ochrid)

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FROM THE HOLY BIBLE: (2 Peter 2:1-3)
The Deception of False Teachers

"But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit your with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber."

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"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom

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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry)

The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George