Tone 4 Troparion (Resurrection)
When the women disciples of the Lord learned from the angel the joyous message of Thy Resurrection, they cast away the ancestral curse and elatedly told the apostles: “Death is overthrown! Christ God is risen,// granting the world great mercy!”
Tone 4 Troparion (Feast)
Your nativity, O Virgin, has proclaimed joy to the whole universe! The Sun of righteousness, Christ our God, has shone from you, O Theotokos. By annulling the curse, He bestowed a blessing.// By destroying death, He has granted us eternal life.
Tone 4 Troparion (St. Nicholas)
The truth of your deeds has revealed you to your flock as a rule of faith, an image of meekness and a teacher of self-control; your humility exalted you; your poverty enriched you.// O Father Bishop Nicholas, pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved.
Tone 8 Troparion (St. Theodora)
The image of God was truly preserved in you, O Mother, for you took up the Cross and follow Christ. By so doing, you taught us to disregard the flesh for it passes away; but to care instead for the soul, for it is immortal.// Therefore your spirit, venerable Theodora, rejoices with the angels.
Tone 4 Kontakion (Resurrection)
My Savior and Redeemer as God rose from the tomb and delivered the earth-born from their chains. He has shattered the gates of hell, and as Master,// He has risen on the third day!
Tone 3 Kontakion (St. Nicholas)
You proved yourself to be be a holy priest, O Nicholas. You served God in Myra and lived the gospel of Christ. You offered your life for people, And rescued the innocent from death. Therefore God has glorified you as a trustworthy guide of things divine.
Tone 2 Kontakion (St. Theodora)
You depleted your bodily strength by fasting, vigil, and prayers, entreating the Creator to grant forgiveness of your sin; having received it, you showed us the way of repentance,//
Tone 4 Kontakion (Feast)
By your nativity, O most pure Virgin, Joachim and Anna are freed from barrenness, Adam and Eve — from the corruption of death. And we, your people, freed from the guilt of sin, celebrate and sing to you:// “The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the nourisher of our Life.”
Tone 6 Prokeimenon (Sunday before)
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 3 Prokeimenon (Song of the Theotokos)
My soul magnifies the Lord, / and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. (Lk. 1:46-47)
1 Corinthians 16:13-24 (Epistle)
Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love. I urge you, brethren – you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the first-fruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints – that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us. I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men. The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. The salutation with my own hand – Paul’s. If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Galatians 6:11-18 (Epistle, Sunday before)
See with what large letters I have written to you with my own hand! As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a new creation. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!
V. I have exalted one chosen out of My people. (Ps. 88:18b)
V. For My hand shall defend him and My arm shall strengthen him. (Ps. 88:20)
V. Hearken, O daughter, and see, and incline your ear! (Ps. 44:9a)
Matthew 21:33-42 (Gospel)
Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. Now when vintage-time drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers, that they might receive its fruit. And the vinedressers took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first, and they did likewise to them. Then last of all he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vinedressers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ So they took him and cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vinedressers?” They said to Him, “He will destroy those wicked men miserably, and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers who will render to him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
John 3:13-17 (Gospel, Sunday Before)
No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Fr. Thomas Hopko
According to the scriptures, one of the main characteristics of God is His absolute faithfulness. This virtue in man is also considered to be one of the “fruits of the Holy Spirit” (Gal 5.22).
To be faithful means to be absolutely true to one’s word, to be totally loyal in one’s devotion, to be completely steadfast and unswerving in one’s own calling and vocation. It also means to remain in humble service, in truth and in love, no matter what the conditions or consequences. To be faithful means to be courageous and to be and to do that which one must be and do by God’s will, regardless of any rejection by others and in spite of any lack of recognition or appreciation. God Himself is perfectly faithful. He has made promises and declared covenants, keeping His word no matter what man does. When men are adulterous and faithless, God remains faithful (cf. Jer 3, Ezek 16); for “the Lord has sworn and will not change His mind” (Ps 110.4, Heb 7.21).
. . . if we deny Him, He will deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful for He cannot deny Himself (2 Tim 2.12–13).
Christ is faithful to His Father and to His creatures until the end. He does not swerve from His mission but accomplishes all that God the Father has given Him to do (cf. Jn 17.4). According to the book of Revelation, the name of Jesus, the Word of God, is “Faithful and True”; He is called “the faithful witness” by John (Rev 19.11, 1.5).
The spiritual person is the one who is faithful to his calling, fulfilling every good resolution, and bearing fruit patiently with the gifts and talents given by God. The spiritual person is faithful in every little thing—every thought, every word, every deed—“according to the measure of faith which God has assigned him” (Rom 12.3), “according to the measure of Christ’s gift” which is “given to each” (Eph 4.7). Such faithfulness is the main teaching in Christ’s parable of the talents. The one who faithfully and without fear develops and grows with that which the Lord has provided is the one who hears the voice of the Master. Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little—faithful in a very little (Lk 19.17); I will set you over much, enter into the joy of your master (Mt 25.23).
The main enemies of faithfulness to God and man are pride, covetousness, cowardice, envy and the refusal to serve humbly where one is, with the conditions and gifts which God has provided. Faithlessness is born when one “thinks of himself more highly than he ought to think” (Rom 12.3), fears that he cannot do with what God has given, covets his neighbors’ talents and gifts, and moves from place to place seeking to be satisfied and filled by the things of this world. Faithfulness is characterized by stability of body and soul; the utter refusal to move or be moved for any unworthy reason; the complete dedication to what God gives one to do, with the faith, grace and strength that God gives to do it. As it is written in the sayings of the fathers of the desert: “As a tree cannot bear fruit if it is often transplanted, no more can a monk (or any person) that is often changing his mind and moving from place to place.” The only way to receive the “crown of life” is to be “faithful until death” in the place where God has put us (Rev 2.10). The only way to find joy, wisdom and peace is to be faithful to one’s own uniqueness, knowing that each person has his own specific life and vocation from God which no one else has; his own specific mission which no one else can perform. The spiritual person develops his own life in faithfulness, without envy or fear, and so accomplishes and becomes that which God has willed for him before the dawn of creation.