20140213_publican_sqIn the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. Dear beloved, let us remember the Holy Unmercenary Cyrus. Saint Cyrus, pray for us!

The Church is a hospital, where all of us who are ill with sin flock to for our healing, in partaking in the holy mysteries. In our participation in Church, we lay bare our sins and pray singularly unto our Lord, anticipating with faith in our God’s everlasting love and illumination. We pray for His Mercy, for strength in prayers, that we do not turn our backs from Him.

The Holy Unmercenary Cyrus was a skilled physician who healed the bodily ills of many, and preached the Truth of Christ to many as well, turning many pagans towards Christ. When Christians were persecuted by Diocletian, the saint went into the wilderness and became a monastic, and prayed for others, gifted by God as a wonderworker of healing. A Christian solder John sought St Cyrus and became his disciple. Saints Cyrus and John came to know of the arrest of a Christian mother Athanasia and her three young daughters. The two saints were concerned that under torture the mother and her children might renounce Christ, and they visited them in prison to encourage them. The governor arrested Saints Cyrus and John, and tortured them in front of Athanasia and her children. Athanasia and her children, and the saints Cyrus and John, were all martyred for their resolute faith in Christ.

Saints of Orthodoxy have endured martyrdom in life and in death, from the time of Christ till today. Even today, we hear of humble saints who gave their lives to protect others in defense of our faith in Christ, in the face of cruel torture and certain death by the hands of those who have lost their senses. To these saints, we are encouraged by 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

Life is unpredictable, and we are to carry our crosses, and follow bravely and resolutely on the ragged and narrow journey towards God. Our Lord and Christ did not promise us an easy path, but that we are to steel ourselves against all odds, to see of nothing except the seeking of an eternal future in the illuminating presence of God. We should seek no alternative, and there is no compromise. We cannot imagine to have it easy and to receive salvation, as we are reminded in St Mark 13:31-14:2.

When we come before and partake in the holy mysteries, we acknowledge with sadness of our failings, and know that we have failed in many things, as we reflect upon 1 John 1:8-2:6, of the glaring lamp that uncovers all the darkness in us (Psalm 18:27-32 LXX 17, Isaiah 60:1-4). The mysteries of our God can be both fearsome and heartwarming. It all depends on what our minds and hearts are, and whether we are facing and embracing Him with our fullness of being seeking Him, or turning our backs to Him and deepening our own wounds in our own created darkness.

In the week of the Publican and the Pharisee, just as the Publican prayed with humility, repentance and simple prayers, and as many elders have taught, pray the Holy Name of Christ our Lord often, remembering God in all things, “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.

Fr Raphael+

Readings
Isaiah 60:1-4
Psalm 18:27-32 (LXX 17)
St Mark 13:31-14:2
1 John 1:8-2:6