Afterfeast of the Theophany. Synaxis of the Holy Glorious Prophet, Forerunner, and Baptist John.
New Hieromartyrs Paphnutius (Kostin), hieromonk of Optina Monastery (1938) and Nicholas (Parfenov), bishop of Atkarsk (1939).
St. Brannock (Brynach) of Braunton, England (6th c.). St. Cedd, bishop of Lastingham (664). New Martyr Athanasius of Attalia and Smyrna (1700).
Thursday (Synaxis of the Forerunner). [Acts 19:1–8;
Saint John bore witness of Christ Jesus, that He is in
truth the Lamb of God, Which taketh away the sin
of the world (John 1:29), that He is the
promised Deliverer, awaited by all. Those who were near
him heard this and believed. From them this witness passed
on to the people, and everyone began to think that he of
whom John bore witness was not an ordinary man. The
Saviour pointed this out when in the last days in the
temple, he proposed to the heads of the temple a question:
whence was the baptism of John, from heaven or of men (cf.
Mark 11:29)? They refrained from answering, because it was
impossible for them not to see that John came baptizing
with water not of himself. But if they were to say this,
they would immediately have to acknowledge John’s
testimony that the Promised One was before them, and
therefore be compelled to submit to His teaching. But they
did not want to submit, not for any well-founded reasons,
but solely because of their prejudice. But their obstinacy
does not in the least lessen the power of the witness of
St. John. To this day, it is as certain as it was when it
came forth from his mouth. We hearken unto John who shows
us the true Deliverer; and through this we enliven our
faith, as a faith which has tangible proof behind it.
Saturday after Theophany. [Eph. 6:10–17; Matt.
The Apostle clothes Christians in the whole armour of God.
It is appropriate that this follows the previous lesson.
For, if someone, heeding the call of God, has taken on the
beginning of a new life through God’s grace,
providing for his own part all
diligence (II Pet. 1:5), then he must not
expect to rest on his laurels, but rather to struggle. He
has left the world—for that the world will begin to
press him. He was saved from the power of the
devil—the devil will chase after him and set snares
before him, to throw him off the path of good and drag him
back to his domain. He has denied himself, denied
selfishness together with a whole horde of passions. But
this sin living in us will not suddenly relinquish its
free and untrammelled existence as we live in
self-pleasure, and every minute it will attempt under
various pretexts to establish once more the same life
routine that so richly filled and fed it earlier. These
are three enemies, each with innumerable hordes; but the
commander-in-chief is the devil, whilst his closest
helpers are the demons. They run the show in a sinful
life—the opponents of a spiritual life. That is why
the Apostle arms the Christian against them as if there
were no other enemies at all. He says: we wrestle not
against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this
world, against spiritual wickedness in high places
(Eph. 6:12). If they did not exist, perhaps battles would
not exist either. Likewise, as soon as they are repelled
and struck down, it takes nothing to repel and defeat the
others. So each of you look to see where you need to
direct your arrows, or at least look to see from which
side you particularly need to defend yourself. Then,
defend yourself! The Apostle prescribed several weapons;
but all of them have power only through the Lord. That is
why experienced spiritual fighters have passed on to us
this instruction: “Strike the enemy with the name of
the Lord Jesus!”