3rd SUNDAY OF PASCHA — Tone 2. Holy Apostle James (Jacob), the brother of St. John the Theologian (44 A.D.). Myrrhbearing Women.
Tone 2 Troparion (Resurrection)
When You descended to death, O Life Immortal, You slew hell with the splendor of Your Godhead. And when from the depths You raised the dead, all the powers of heaven cried out:// “O Giver of life, Christ our God, glory to You!”
Tone 2 Troparion (Pentecostarion)
The noble Joseph, when he had taken down Your most pure Body from the Tree, wrapped it in fine linen and anointed it with spices, and placed it in a new tomb. But You rose on the third day, O Lord,// granting the world great mercy.
Tone 8 Troparion (St. James)
You were called to be a disciple and warrior of Christ, one of the exalted choir of Apostles. With your brother John, you abandoned all to follow the Master, O James; you were filled with the Holy Spirit and proclaimed Him to all. You bowed your head to the sword, the first of the twelve to shed your blood!// We celebrate your memory, O blessed one!
Tone 2 Kontakion (St. James)
O James, when you heard the voice of the Word calling you, you abandoned your father’s love and ran to Christ, together with your brother John. With him you were accounted worthy// to behold the divine Transfiguration of Christ.
Tone 2 Kontakion (Pentecostarion)
You commanded the Myrrhbearers to rejoice, O Christ God. By Your Resurrection, You stopped the lamentation of Eve, the first mother. You commanded them to preach to Your Apostles:// “The Savior is risen from the tomb!”
Tone 6 Prokeimenon
O Lord, save Your people, / and bless Your inheritance! (Ps. 27:9a)
V. To You, O Lord, will I call. O my God, be not silent to me! (Ps. 27:1a)
Tone 8 Prokeimenon
Their proclamation has gone out into all the earth, / and their words to the ends of the universe. (Ps. 18:4)
Acts 6:1-7 (Epistle)
Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
Acts 12:1-11 (Epistle, Saint)
Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. And when Herod was about to bring him out, that night Peter was sleeping, bound with two chains between two soldiers; and the guards before the door were keeping the prison. Now behold, an angel of the Lord stood by him, and a light shone in the prison; and he struck Peter on the side and raised him up, saying, “Arise quickly!” And his chains fell off his hands. Then the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and tie on your sandals”; and so he did. And he said to him, “Put on your garment and follow me.” So he went out and followed him, and did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they were past the first and the second guard posts, they came to the iron gate that leads to the city, which opened to them of its own accord; and they went out and went down one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. And when Peter had come to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent His angel, and has delivered me from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people.”
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. O Lord, You have been gracious to Your land; You have turned back the captivity of Jacob. (Ps. 84:1)
V. Mercy and truth are met together, righteousness and peace have kissed each other. (Ps. 84:10)
V. The heavens will praise Your wonders, O Lord; and Your truth in the congregation of the saints. (Ps. 88:5)
Mark 15:43-16:8 (Gospel)
Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Pilate marveled that He was already dead; and summoning the centurion, he asked him if He had been dead for some time. So when he found out from the centurion, he granted the body to Joseph. Then he bought fine linen, took Him down, and wrapped Him in the linen. And he laid Him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock, and rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses observed where He was laid. Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away – for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Luke 5:1-11 (Gospel, Saint)
So it was, as the multitude pressed about Him to hear the word of God, that He stood by the Lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake; but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets. Then He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the multitudes from the boat. When He had stopped speaking, He said to Simon, “Launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” But Simon answered and said to Him, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing; nevertheless at Your word I will let down the net.” And when they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, and their net was breaking. So they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” So when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him.
In the person of Christ, then, there coexists concurrently, without confusion or division, the created and the uncreated; the divine grace of the Holy Spirit within the temple of the body of Christ, who is both God and human, and, as a gift, by grace in the temple of the body of us mere humans. In the natural world, the main, the swiftest, the most highly conducive element in its workings is light, which came into being at the word of God the Creator. In the spiritual world, that of the relationship and mutual communion between God and us, light is again the direct means. The light of the sun illumines nature, the true light of God ‘illumines every person who comes into the world’, so that, ‘in the light of the person of Christ’ we’re able to see the inaccessible, the immaterial light. Over the centuries, this light has sealed every divine manifestation revealed in the events and persons of the people of God. The light which Christ’s tomb, ‘more brilliant than any bridal chamber’, emitted at the hour of the Resurrection is the light of Christ’s person, it’s his own identity, it’s his wonder-working energy, it’s his grace, which stamps the life of all the saints, without exception, ancient and modern. In private conversation, the newly-canonized Saint Efraim Katounakiotis related that, in spiritual rapture, he saw Christ ‘in all his glory’. He went up to the top of the hill next to his kelli and shouted all around, even to the angels, to get out of the way and not to impede this vision of the divine light. And he wasn’t alone in this. Saint Païsios tells us that ordinary monks with pure hearts, who had lost their physical sight, could see the true light and that the whole of their surroundings- their kelli, the brooks and the dells- were full of the light of Christ. His Resurrection has bestowed upon us the unwaning, never-dimming light of Christ.
Our natural and, particularly, our spiritual senses are attuned to the divine light. Our nous and spirit are illumined; they understand and feel; they’re united and gain in power; and they begin the great task of approaching and knowing God. As another great saint, Nikolaj of Ochrid, says, people who are focused and at one with themselves have much power in this world; they’re resurrected. And Elder Aimilianos adds that this experience of receiving the light of the Resurrection is something ‘we feel as a reflection in the depths of our existence… but in essence we see the depth of the divinity of Christ… These are things bestowed by God not on the wise or the clever and so on, but on those who simplify their existence… and fix their internal eye on God. These are the people to whom God grants vision’.
Keeping the gifts of the Resurrection of the Lord as precious treasures, let us offer him, dear readers, a few words of prayer borrowed from the great poet, philosopher and saint, Nikolaj of Ochrid: ‘My faith sees you, Lord; this is the light and insight of my eyes…My hope is expecting you, Lord. Expectation of you is the sole content and only meaning for my tomorrow and the days thereafter… (I know that) heaven doesn’t fulfil hopes but Hope. Love makes me God and you, God, human! The Lord is and becomes the Risen Lord, he’s my Risen Lord who raises the dead “from the morning until nightfall and from dusk to dawn”. What is more befitting to the living God than to raise the dead to life? Let others believe in a God who summons people and condemns them. I shall cleave to the God who raises the dead’. The light has emanated from the tomb; come and take it. Now faintly, more intensely in the eternal day of the kingdom of God. Let us unite our voice with that of our holy Father, Saint John Chrysostom: ‘For Christ has risen from the dead, and has become the first-fruit of the departed. To him be glory unto the ages of ages. Amen’.
— Archimandrite Elisaios, Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Simonos Petras