32nd SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST — Tone 7. New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. Apostle Timothy of the Seventy (96).
Tone 7 Troparion (Resurrection)
By Your Cross You destroyed death. To the thief You opened Paradise. For the Myrrhbearers You changed weeping into joy. And You commanded Your disciples, O Christ God, to proclaim that You are risen,// granting the world great mercy.
Tone 4 (New Martyrs)
Today the Church of Russia forms a chorus in joy, praising her new martyrs and confessors; hierarchs and priests, royal passion-bearers, right-believing princes and princesses, venerable men and women, and all Orthodox Christians. Having laid down their life for faith in Christ during the days of godless persecution, they preserved the truth by the shedding of blood.// By their protection, O long-suffering Lord, preserve our land in Orthodoxy till the end of the age.
Tone 7 Kontakion (Resurrection)
The dominion of death can no longer hold men captive, for Christ descended, shattering and destroying its powers. Hell is bound, while the Prophets rejoice and cry: “The Savior has come to those in faith;// enter, you faithful, into the Resurrection!”
Tone 4 Troparion (Sts. Paul and John)
O God of our Fathers, always act with kindness towards us; take not Your mercy from us, but guide our lives in peace// through the prayers of the venerable Paul and John!
Tone 3 Kontakion (New Martyrs) (Today the Virgin)
Today the new martyrs of Rus’ stand in white robes before the Lamb of God, and with the angels they sing to God the hymn of victory: “Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and praise, and honor, and power, and strength be to our God// unto the ages of ages. Amen.”
Tone 6 (Steadfast Protectress)
Steadfast Protectress of Christians, Constant Advocate before the Creator; Do not despise the cries of us sinners, but in your goodness come speedily to help us who call on you in faith. Hasten to hear our petition and to intercede for us, O Theotokos, for you always protect those who honor you!
Tone 7 Prokeimenon (Resurrection)
The Lord shall give strength to His people. / The Lord shall bless His people with peace. (Ps. 28:11)
V. Offer to the Lord, O you sons of God! Offer young rams to the Lord! (Ps. 28:1a)
Tone 7 Prokeimenon (New Martyrs)
God is our refuge and strength, / a help in afflictions that severely befall us. (Ps. 45:1)
1 Timothy 1:15-17 (Epistle)
This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Romans 8:28-39 (New Martyrs)
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to Your Name, O Most High. (Ps. 91:1)
V. To declare Your mercy in the morning, and Your truth by night. (Ps. 91:2a)
V. The righteous cried, and the Lord heard them and delivered them out of all their troubles. (Ps. 33:17)
Luke 18:35-43 (Gospel)
Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging. And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant. So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him, saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.” Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.
Luke 21:8-19 (New Martyrs)
And He said: “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He, ’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore, do not go after them. “But when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” Then He said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven. “But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. “But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. “Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; “for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. “You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. “But not a hair of your head shall be lost. “By your patience possess your souls.”
On the Sunday closest to January 25, the Church commemorates the Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, remembering all those Orthodox Christians who suffered for Christ at the hands of the godless Soviets during the years of persecution. These include the royal Passion Bearers Tsar Nicholas II and his family, and the Grand Duchess Elizabeth. Countless thousands of martyrs, both clergy and laity also suffered, some of whose names are known, as well as millions of simple believers whose names have been lost to history.
It is estimated that the number of the New Martyrs of Russia, who were glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church at the Jubilee Council of 2000, far exceeds that of all the martyrs who died for Christ during the first three centuries of Christianity. The Russian Church lost millions of its sons and daughters, not only at the hands of external enemies, but also those of their own country. Among those who were murdered and tortured in the years of persecution were countless Orthodox: laity, monks, priests, and bishops, whose only “crime” was their unshakable faith in God.
In the long history of the world, never have so many new heavenly intercessors been glorified by the Church in such a way (more than one thousand New Martyrs were numbered among the saints).Among those who suffered for their faith were some who labored in America before the Russian Revolution: St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (April 7); St. Alexander Hotovitzky (Dec. 4); St. John Kochurov (Oct. 31).
The Holy Apostle Timothy was from the Lycaonian city of Lystra in Asia Minor. Saint Timothy was converted to Christ in the year 52 by the holy Apostle Paul (June 29). When the Apostles Paul and Barnabas first visited the cities of Lycaonia, Saint Paul healed one crippled from birth. Many of the inhabitants of Lystra then believed in Christ, and among them was the future Saint Timothy, his mother Eunice and grandmother Loida (Lois) (Acts 14:6-12; 2 Tim. 1:5).
The seed of faith, planted in Saint Timothy’s soul by the Apostle Paul, brought forth abundant fruit. He became Saint Paul’s disciple, and later his constant companion and co-worker in the preaching of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul loved Saint Timothy and in his Epistles called him his beloved son, remembering his devotion and fidelity with gratitude.
He wrote to Timothy: “You have followed my teaching, way of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, and patience” (2 Tim. 3:10-11). The Apostle Paul appointed Saint Timothy as Bishop of Ephesus, where the saint remained for fifteen years. Finally, when Saint Paul was in prison and awaiting martyrdom, he summoned his faithful friend, Saint Timothy, for a last farewell (2 Tim. 4:9).
Saint Timothy ended his life as a martyr. The pagans of Ephesus celebrated a festival in honor of their idols, and used to carry them through the city, accompanied by impious ceremonies and songs. Saint Timothy, zealous for the glory of God, attempted to halt the the procession and reason with the spiritually blind idol-worshipping people, by preaching the true faith in Christ.
The pagans angrily fell upon the holy apostle, they beat him, dragged him along the ground, and finally, they stoned him. Saint Timothy’s martyrdom occurred in the year 93. In the fourth century the holy relics of Saint Timothy were transferred to Constantinople and placed in the church of the Holy Apostles near the tombs of Saint Andrew (November 30) and Saint Luke (October 18). The Church honors Saint Timothy as one of the Apostles of the Seventy.
In Russian practice, the back of a priest’s cross is often inscribed with Saint Paul’s words to Saint Timothy: “Be an example to the believers in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).