SUNDAY OF THE PUBLICAN AND PHARISEE: TRIODION BEGINS TODAY
Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee: Triodion Begins Today, Martinian of Palestine, Apostles Aquila and Priscilla, Eulogios, Patriarch of Alexandria, Symeon the Myrrhbearer of Serbia
ST. PAUL’S SECOND LETTER TO TIMOTHY 3:10-15
TIMOTHY, my son, you have observed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions, my sufferings, what befell me at Antioch, at lconion, and at Lystra, what persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
The Lord said this parable, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee Beginning of the Lenten Triodion
The Sunday after the Sunday of Zacchaeus is devoted to the Publican and the Pharisee. At Vespers the night before, the Triodion (the liturgical book used in the services of Great Lent) begins.
Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee who scrupulously observed the requirements of religion: he prayed, fasted, and contributed money to the Temple. These are very good things, and should be imitated by anyone who loves God. We who may not fulfill these requirements as well as the Pharisee did should not feel entitled to criticize him for being faithful. His sin was in looking down on the Publican and feeling justified because of his external religious observances.
The second man was a Publican, a tax-collector who was despised by the people. He, however, displayed humility, and this humility justified him before God (Luke 18:14).
The lesson to be learned is that we possess neither the Pharisee’s religious piety, nor the Publican’s repentance, through which we can be saved. We are called to see ourselves as we really are in the light of Christ’s teaching, asking Him to be merciful to us, deliver us from sin, and to lead us on the path of salvation.
Two weeks before the beginning of the Fast, as part of our preparation for Great Lent, Holy Week, and Pascha, the Church prescribes the reading of Saint Mark's Gospel. From Monday to Friday the focus is on the end times, and the Savior's death and burial.
Saints Martinian, Zoe, and Photina of Caesarea in Palestine
Saint Martinian went to live in the wilderness at the age of eighteen, not far from the city of Caesarea in Palestine. For twenty-five years, he devoted himself to ascetic deeds and silence, and he was granted the gift of healing illnesses and casting out demons. However, the Enemy of the human race would not stop troubling the holy ascetic with various temptations.
One day a prostitute overheard some citizens of Caesarea speaking of Saint Martinian's virtuous life, so she asked them why they were amazed by it. She said that he went to live in the desert because he could not endure the temptations of the flesh in the city. Furthermore, she made a wager with them that she could topple this pillar of virtue with her beauty and seduce him.
She came to him one night, dressed in shabby clothes, pretending that she had lost her way in the storm, and asking for shelter. Reluctantly, the saint allowed her to enter his cell, because he did not wish to be the cause of her death. He went into the inner room of his cell, telling her she would have to leave in the morning. After chanting Psalms according to his Rule, he went to sleep on the floor, but he was disturbed by carnal thoughts. Meanwhile, the wicked guest opened the bag she had been carrying and changed into her beautiful clothes and adorned herself with jewels.
When morning came, Saint Martinian came out to send the woman away. Though he was tempted by the woman’s beauty, he was determined not to fall into sin. Lighting a fire, he stepped into it, saying, “You want me to burn with temptation, but I will not give in to it.. Instead, I choose to burn in this fire in order to preserve my purity and to escape the unquenchable fires of Hell."
The woman was astonished at the lengths Saint Martinian was willing to go, and she realized how evil she was. She repented and asked the saint to guide her onto the way of salvation. He told her to go to Bethlehem, and enter the convent founded by Saint Paula (January 26). There she lived as a nun for twelve years in strict asceticism until her blessed repose. The woman’s name was Zoe.
After his burns healed, Saint Martinian went to an uninhabited rocky island, and lived on it under the open sky for several years, nourished by the provisions brought by a certain sailor from time to time. In return the monk wove baskets for him.
One day a ship was wrecked by a powerful storm, and a woman named Photina floated to the island on pieces of the wreckage Saint Martinian helped her to survive on the island. “Remain here,” he told her, “for I am leaving you bread and water, and in two months a boat will come and return you to the mainland."
Saint Martinian refused to stay on the island with the woman, believing that it would be better to drown than to burn with lust. He jumped into the sea and swam away, and a pair of dolphins carried him to dry land. Thereafter, Saint Martinian led the life of a wanderer. Later, he came to Athens and fell ill. Sensing the approach of death, he went into a church and lay upon the floor. God revealed to the Bishop of Athens who Saint Martinian was, and the hierarch buried his body with honor. This occurred around the year 422.
As for Saint Photina, she did not board the ship when it came to the island, electing to stay there by herself. She asked the captain of the ship to have his wife bring her men's clothing and some wool, promising to make clothes for his family. She also asked the woman to bring her bread and water in addition to the other supplies.
Saint Photina lived on the island for six years, and then she went to the Lord. Two months after her repose, the captain and his wife found her incorrupt relics and brought them to Caesarea in Palestine. He had a vision which revealed many details of Saint Photina's life, which he shared with the bishop. Then they buried her with great honor and reverence.
Venerable Stephen (in monasticism Simeon), the Myrrhgusher and Prince of Serbia
Saint Simeon the Myrrh-Gusher, King of Serbia Stephen Nemanya was the Great Zhupan of Serbia, and lived during the twelfth century. The saint toiled much for his fatherland: he united a large portion of the Serbian lands, and strove for the political independence of his country from the Byzantine Empire. In his zeal for the Orthodox Church, he defended his nation against heresy and false teaching.
At the age of eighty, Stephen went to Mt. Athos, where his son Saint Savva (January 12), was glorified by the holiness of his life. Together they restored the desolate Hilandar monastery, to which monks from various lands began to gather.
Saint Simeon was a great ascetic and wise guide for the monks. He died on February 13, 1200, and his relics began to exude myrrh. Saint Savva transported his father’s relics back to Serbia, and placed them in a church of the Most Holy Theotokos at the River Studenitsa. Saint Simeon had richly adorned this church while he was still ruler of Serbia.
Saint Eulogius, Archbishop of Alexandria
Saint Eulogius, Patriarch of Alexandria, was one of the enlightened hierarchs of the sixth century. At first he was igumen of the monastery of the Mother of God in Antioch, and then in 579 he was chosen as Patriarch of Alexandria, where he served for twenty-seven years. Throughout his life, the saint struggled vigorously against heresies. He was also a friend of Saint Gregory Dialogus (March 12), and some of their correspondence has been preserved.
Saint Eulogius died in 607 or 608. Saint Photius quotes from his writings, which reveal an Orthodox theology of the two natures of our Lord Jesus Christ. Only one of his sermons, for Palm Sunday, has survived in complete form.
Appearance of Christ to Saint Martin of
On February 13, the Russian Orthodox Church commemorates the appearance of Christ to Saint Martin of Tours (October 12 and November 11).
From childhood, Saint Martin was known for his compassionate heart and great pity for the poor. When he was twenty-two years old, even before he was baptized, he began to give away all his possessions to those in need, and soon he was left with just one set of clothes and a knife.
Saint Martin, like many young men, had to serve in the army for several years. One day, when the weather was very harsh and unusually cold, he met a man at the city gates of Amiens, almost naked, and begging for alms. Martin saw that people just walked past the man without taking any notice. Since Martin had already given away everything he owned, he had only his cloak and his uniform. No one else would help the beggar, so Martin felt that it was his responsibility to do something for him.
Recalling the Savior's words: "If anyone wishes to judge you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak as well" (Matthew 5:40), Martin drew his sword and cut his cloak in two. Giving half to the beggar, he wrapped himself in the other half. Seeing him in the torn cloak, those standing by began to laugh at his strange appearance. Others, who had more sense, regretted the fact that they had done nothing for the man, although they could have clothed the beggar without uncovering themselves as Saint Martin did.
That night, in his sleep, Martin saw Christ wearing half of his cloak, which he had given the beggar. The Lord told him to look at Him and to notice that it was the same garment. Then the Savior said to the Angels who surrounded Him, "Martin is still just a catechumen, but he has clothed me in this garment."
Saint Martin did not become puffed up with pride because of this vision. Instead, he saw this as a sign of God's goodness, which confirmed Christ's words: "Truly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40).
Because Saint Martin gave alms throughout his life, he was rewarded with the gift of working miracles. Let us follow his example so that we might be granted a small corner of Paradise.
Saint Seraphima (Euthymia Euthymova Morgacheva, in the world), was born on September 14, 1806 in the village of Ningvo-Lomov in the diocese of Ryazan and lived an ascetical life at a monastery in Sezhenovo, Russia. She departed to the Lord in the year 1877.
Saint George, Archbishop of Mogilev, Belarus
Saint George (in the world Gregory Iosifovich Konissky) was born into a prominent family on November 20, 1717 in the town of Nezin. He studied at the Kiev Theological Academy and became a monk in the Kiev Caves Lavra.
Later he served as Archbishop of Mogilev, Belarus and reposed peacefully in the year 1795.