WEDNESDAY OF THE 5TH WEEK
ABSTAIN FROM MEAT, FISH, DAIRY, EGGS, WINE, OLIVE OIL
Joel the Prophet, Varys the Martyr, John of Rilas, Felix the Hieromartyr & Eusebius the Deacon, John the Wonderworker of Kronstadt
ACTS OF THE APOSTLES 2:14-21
In those days, Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; yea, and on my menservants and my maid servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit; and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth beneath, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and manifest day. And it shall be that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”
The Lord said to his disciples, “Let these words sink into your ears; for the Son of man is to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, that they should not perceive it; and they were afraid to ask him about this saying. And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side, and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great.” John answered, “Master, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not forbid him; for he that is not against you is for you.”
The Prophet Joel (800 B.C.) predicted the desolation of Jerusalem. He also prophesied that the Holy Spirit would be poured out upon all people, through the Savior of the world (Joel 2:28-32).
The hymnographer Anatolius links Joel’s prophecy to the Nativity of the Lord. In the Praises at Matins on the Sunday following the Nativity, he refers to Joel 2:30, saying that the blood refers to the Incarnation, the fire to the Divinity, and the pillars of smoke to the Holy Spirit.
Martyr Varus lived in Egypt during the period of several persecutions against Christians (late third to early fourth century). Varus (Ouaros) was a military commander and secretly a Christian. He gave assistance to many of the persecuted and imprisoned Christians, and he visited the prisoners at night. He also brought food to the prisoners, dressed their wounds, and gave them encouragement.
Once Varus spent a whole night talking with seven imprisoned monks. These men were Christian teachers who had been beaten and starved. Varus marched with the teachers when they were led to their execution. The judge, seeing Varus’ strong faith, had him fiercely beaten. Varus died during the beating. After his death, the monks were beheaded.
Today we commemorate the transfer of the relics of Saint John, Abbot of Rila in Bulgaria (1238).
The relics of Saint John were transferred from the city of Sredets [Sofia] to Trnovo, the capital of the Bulgarian realm, in the year 1238. See August 18 for his Life.
Saint Cleopatra and her son John came from the village of Edra near Mount Tabor in Palestine. She was a contemporary of the holy Martyr Varus and witnessed his voluntary suffering. After the execution, Saint Cleopatra brought the body of the holy martyr to her own country and buried him with reverence. Cleopatra had one beloved son, John, who had attained the honorable rank of officer. To the great sorrow of his mother, John suddenly died. Cleopatra with tears of grief turned to the relics of the holy Martyr Varus, begging him for the return of her son.
Varus and her son appeared to Cleopatra in a dream, radiant in bright attire with crowns upon their heads. She realized that the Lord had received her son into the heavenly Kingdom, and was comforted. After this vision blessed Cleopatra started to live by a church she built over the relics of the holy martyr Varus and her son John, and performed many good deeds. She distributed her property to the poor and spent her time in prayer and fasting. After seven years she fell asleep in the Lord.
Hieromartyr Sadoc was the hierarch of a Persian district. When the Persian emperor Sapor learned that Sadoc was preaching faith in Christ, he gave orders to arrest and imprison him together with 128 Christian believers. For several months they attempted to persuade the righteous martyrs to repudiate the holy Faith, but unable to accomplish this, they executed them.
No information available at this time.