6TH SUNDAY OF LUKE
6th Sunday of Luke, James (Iakovos) the Apostle, brother of Our Lord, Our Righteous Father Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople
ST. PAUL’S LETTER TO THE GALATIANS 1:11-19
Brethren, I would have you know that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it; and I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.
At that time, as Jesus arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, there met him a man from the city who had demons; for a long time he had worn no clothes and he lived not in a house but among the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell down before him, and said with a loud voice, "What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beseech you, do not torment me." For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. (For many a time it had seized him; he was kept under guard, and bound with chains and fetters, but he broke the bonds and was driven by the demon into the desert.) Jesus then asked him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Legion"; for many demons had entered him. And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there on the hillside; and they begged him to let them enter these. So he gave them leave. Then the demons came out of the man and entered the swine, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and were drowned. When the herdsmen saw what happened, they fled, and told it in the city and in the country. Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus, and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how he who had been possessed with demons was healed. Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gadarenes asked him to depart from them; for they were seized with great fear; so he got into the boat and returned. The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but he sent him away, saying, "Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you." And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.
One day, the cave where holy ascetic Makarios lived was found by three monks from the Monastery of Saint Asclepius in Mesopotamia. Sergius, Hyginos and Theophilos had left the monastery in order to wander through the world, seeking a sign from God which would be beneficial for their salvation. Suddenly, as they approached the cave, they noticed a marvelous fragrance issuing forth from it. Then they saw an old man walking toward them, covered only by his hair and a beard which reached his knees. He threw himself to the ground and remained there for several minutes, until he was sure the three strangers were not really demons. When he was satisfied that he was not experiencing some sort of delusion, he invited them into his cave. The oldest monk asked him to relate his story, which he did.
Saint Makarios told them that he was born in Rome and was the son of a wealthy Senator named John. When he was old enough to be married, his parents betrothed him against his will. There was a celebration following the wedding, but instead of entering the bridal chamber, he fled to the home of a pious widow, where he spent seven days secretly weeping and entreating God to help him. When he left her house, Makarios met a well-dressed old man of noble demeanor. This man ordered Makarios to accompany him. Makarios did follow him for three years, until one day they came to a cave, and then the old man vanished. He appeared to Makarios in a dream soon afterward and revealed that he was the Archangel Raphael, who had guided Tobias in his travels. Before he vanished, the Archangel entrusted him to God’s mercy.
Soon after he first moved into the cave, Makarios saw a most beautiful young woman standing before him, who said that she also had fled from an unwanted marriage in Rome. In spite of his caution, Saint Makarios did not have sufficient discernment to escape the devil’s snare, and so he allowed the girl to spend the night in his cave. For the first time in his life, he was assaulted by the fiery darts of carnal desire, and he sinned with the girl. Suddenly she disappeared, and the devil rejoiced because he had tempted the ascetic to sin.
At that moment Saint Makarios realized the seriousness of his fall. Weeping bitterly, he decided to leave the cave and find another place where he might do penance. Along the way, the Archangel Raphael appeared to him once again and urged him to return. He told him that God would hear his prayers if he remained in the cave. So he went back and subjected his flesh to severe fasting, vigils and absolute self-denial for many years, so that he might recover the purity of his soul in order to contemplate God.
After he had edified the three brethren with the story of his struggles, Saint Makarios sent them on their way in peace. His sin was very great, but so was his repentance; therefore, he fell asleep in the Lord in the presence of the angels and the saints.
The precise date of the saint’s repose is not known, but it was probably at the end of the fourth century, or the beginning of the fifth.
Holy Apostle James, the Brother of God (Adelphotheos) was the son of Righteous Joseph the Betrothed of the Most Holy Theotokos (December 26). From his early years James was a Nazarene, a man especially dedicated to God. The Nazarenes vowed to preserve their virginity, to abstain from wine, to refrain from eating meat, and not to cut their hair. The vow of the Nazarenes symbolized a life of holiness and purity, commanded formerly by the Lord for all Israel. When the Savior began to teach the nation about the Kingdom of God, Saint James believed in Christ and became His apostle. He was chosen as the first Bishop of Jerusalem.
Saint James presided over the Council of Jerusalem and his word was decisive (Acts 15). In his thirty years as bishop, Saint James converted many of the Jews to Christianity. Annoyed by this, the Pharisees and the Scribes plotted together to kill Saint James. They led the saint up on the pinnacle of the Jerusalem Temple and asked what he thought of Jesus. The holy Apostle began to bear witness that Christ is the Messiah, which was not the response the Pharisees were expecting. Greatly angered, the Jewish teachers threw him off the roof. The saint did not die immediately, but gathering his final strength, he prayed to the Lord for his enemies while they were stoning him. Saint James’ martyrdom occurred about 63 A.D.
The holy Apostle James composed a Divine Liturgy, which formed the basis of the Liturgies of Saints Basil the Great and John Chrysostom. The Church has preserved an Epistle of Saint James, one of the books of the New Testament.
In 1853, Patriarch Hierotheus of Alexandria sent to Moscow a portion of the relics of Saint James. The Church distinguishes between the holy Apostle James the Brother of God, and Saint James the son of Zebedee (April 30) and Saint James the son of Alphaeus (October 9).
Translation of the relics of Blessed James of Borovichi, Wonderworker of Novgorod Saint James took upon himself the arduous task of foolishness for Christ in his youth. Most of the details of his life are unknown, but the Lord glorified him after death.
In the year 1540, on the third day of Pascha, a large block of ice floated up against the current along the River Msta to the village of Borovichi (in Novgorod district), and on this block of ice stood the coffin (made from an oak log) without cover, in which the body of the youth lay. Shunning the holy relics, peasants with poles pushed the block of ice back into the river, but it returned to the shore. This was repeated three times. That night the youth appeared in a dream to the elders of the village, who had seen him upon the ice-floe, and said, “I am also a Christian just like you. Don’t push me away. My name is James. I am the namesake of Saint James, the Brother of God.”
The relics of the holy youth were first placed in a chapel, then in 1544 were transferred to the Descent of the Holy Spirit church. Then the annual commemoration of the saint every year on October 23 was established. The Lord, having glorified his God-pleasing one, granted the relics of Saint James a curative power. A Feastday with Matins was established in 1572. The Iconographic Manuals describe Saint James: “A youth, bare, girded with a piece of cloth.” In 1657 Patriarch Nikon sent part of the relics to Valdai, to the Ivḗron Monastery.
Saint Ignatius, Patriarch of Constantinople (847-857; 867-877), in the world Nicetas, was of imperial lineage. When his father, the emperor Michael I (811-813), was deposed from the imperial throne by Leo the Armenian (813-820), the fifteen-year-old youth Ignatius was imprisoned in a monastery. Life in the monastery strengthened Saint Ignatius in faith and in piety. Soon he was made igumen of the monastery, and later he was chosen Patriarch of Constantinople.
When Michael III (855-867) ascended the throne he was still a minor, so the country was actually governed by his uncle, Bardas, an impious and unchaste man. Patriarch Ignatius urged Bardas to forsake his sinful life and when he refused, Ignatius boldly denounced him for his iniquity.
Bardas attempted to force Saint Ignatius to tonsure the holy Empress Theodora, mother of the emperor, in order to remove her from governance of the realm. Patriarch Ignatius did not consent to this, and also publicly excommunicated Bardas. Bardas had Ignatius tortured for fifteen days to force him to resign, and then they sent him into exile. When the new emperor came to power, Saint Ignatius was recalled from prison and was Patriarch for another ten years. He died in the year 877 in a monastery.
Archimandrite Nicholas in the "Historical and Statistical Description of the Minsk Diocese" reports that under Novogrudok in the place where the Dormition parish church now stands, a men's monastery was founded by Saint Elisha and dedicated to Saint Laurence around 1225.1 He also says that according to the Saint's Life in the Slavonic language, Elisha was the son of Prince Troinat, and occupied a high position at the court of Prince Mindovg. After he became a Christian, he left the court and retired to the wilderness, where he was discovered by an Orthodox monk (Saint Laurence?) with whom Elisha founded the Lavra. Among the brethren was Prince Voyshelk, who lived in a special place, however.
In those days, princes often killed each other and many died themselves at the hands of their treacherous servants or hired killers. It was during those bloody times that Igoumen Elisha was killed by his disciple, his young servant, on the night of October 23, around 1250.
After his death, the Saint's relics were glorified by miracles. According to an ancient legend, it was said that a demoniac was healed after accidentally touching Saint Elisha's relics.
Around 1505, when the Tatars, who had devastated the outskirts of Novogrudok, approached the monastery, the Lord worked another miracle through His Saint. It appeared to the Tatars that the monastery yard was filled with a squad of cavalry, and so they fled in terror.
This miracle was probably the reason for the canonization of the Saint Elisha by Metropolitan Joseph Soltan at a Council held in Vilna in 1514. The Saint's relics, which previously rested in the church ,were hidden in the ground during one of the wars, and after the monastery was burnt, they could not be found again. It is not known whether Saint Elisha was venerated only locally, or if his Feast Day was a general celebration.
Saint Elisha and Saint Laurence are also commemorated on the third Sunday of Pentecost (Synaxis of the Saints of Belorus).
1 Saint Laurence the Recluse of the Kiev Caves, and Bishop of Turov (+ January 29, 1194).