St Peter of Alexandria – On Humility

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, we commemorate the holy Hieromartyr and Archbishop Peter of Alexandria, who was a scholar, teacher and archbishop of the Alexandrian Church during the times of persecution of the Church during the 4th century. The father among the saints gave us illuminating writings such as “On the Divinity (of Jesus Christ)” and the “Penitential Canons”.

He was a tireless hierarch who encouraged persecuted Christians in prison, helped widows and orphans of executed Christians, preached the Gospels, and celebrated Divine Liturgy often. The holy hierarch, guided by the Holy Spirit, spoke out against the heretical teachings of Arius. As a bishop, Saint Peter would not sit on the Cathedra or Bishop’s Throne in the Church, out of humility upon seeing Divine Light surrounding the throne. Instead, he celebrated the Divine Liturgy beneath the throne.

Eventually, Saint Peter was arrested and sentenced to death by the orders of the emperor Maximian. The people were outraged by the sentence and threatened to riot. The saint did not want more bloodshed, so he told the authorities to execute him secretly. The saint was led away from the back of the building, and was beheaded in 311 AD, where Saint Mark the Holy Apostle was executed before.

The next morning, the people discovered the execution of their beloved hierarch, and took his body and head, and brought him to Church. They dressed him in his vestments, and placed him on the high place of the Church during the funeral service. Saint Peter, holy hierarch of Alexandria, pray for us.

Saint Peter of Alexandria showed us humility, even when he was anointed to lead God’s people, just as we reflect on 1 Timothy 3:1-13. The saint understood what it meant to be a Christian, especially when we reflect upon Isaiah 57:15-20, where God has encouraged us by telling us that He will take care of us even for the worst of sinners among us. Our God told us that for the meek and broken hearted, He would heal us.

Psalm 131 (LXX 130) reminded us that as the people of Christ, the virtue that stands out and leads us close to God, is humility.

Material offerings pale in comparison when we lift up our hearts in utmost humility unto God, because our humility, becomes the greatest offering to God. The Psalm shows us that all the material attainments and achievements, whereas some might boast, become useless before the Throne of God. As Saint Peter of Alexandria and King David showed us, the higher the attainment the person has, the lower his posture should be, before God, and before man.

In the journey towards the Nativity, let us pray His Holy Name often. “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”.

Let us close by praying the thanksgiving prayer:

It is truly meet to call thee blest, the Theotokos, ever blessed and most pure, and the Mother of our God. More honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious than the Seraphim, without corruption thou gavest birth to God the Word: True Theotokos, we magnify thee.

O virgin Theotokos, rejoice; O Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, for thou hast borne the Savior of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Isaiah 57:15-20
Psalm 131 (LXX 130)
St Luke 18:31-34
1 Timothy 3:1-13