Our Holy Mother Syncletica (January 5)
Our Holy Mother Apollinaria (January 5)
The Holy Prophet Micah the First (or Micaiah) (January 5)
The Hieromartyr Theopemptus and the Holy Martyr Theonas (January 5)
It is fruit, fruit and fruit alone that the Lord seeks from man, that living tree. Good fruit is a God-loving heart, but bad fruit is a heart filled with self-love. All other things that a man has and enjoys status, power, honour, health, wealth, learning - these are no more than the leaves of the tree. "Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire" (Matt. 3:10). Even non-Christian peoples rate good works above fine words. So much the more must it be the rule among the followers of Christ. AL a certain gathering of Athenians, at which envoys from Sparta were present, one old man was going from bench to bench, trying to find somewhere to sit down. The Athenians mocked at him, and no-one gave him his seat. When the old man drew near to the Spartans, they all leapt to their feet and offered him their places. Seeing this, the Athenians expressed their gratitude to the Spartans in well-rounded phrases. To this the Spartans replied: `The Athenians know what is good, but do not do it.' He who does good is like a tree that bears good fruit for its owner. And the well-spring of goodness in man is a good, God-loving heart.
Let me ponder on the perfection of the first man, Adam, on: I . His closeness to God. 2. His God-given strength, wisdom and beauty. 3. The voluntary submission of all natural powers to the sin-less Adam.
- on our helplessness without Christ the Lord.
"Without Me ye can do nothing" (Jn. 15:5).
Our Lord is not in the habit of exaggerating in His speech. There are no words in this world that are more carefully weighed than His. So when He says that we can, without Him, do nothing, He quite liter-ally means just that. He speaks here of good, not of evil; we can do no sort of good without Christ, dissociated from Christ or contrary to Christ. He is the owner, giver and inspirer of each and every thing that is good. There is no sort of good that remains outside Him, and there is no sort of evil that dwells within Him. `I am the Vine, ye are the branches', He said. What can the branches do without the vine? Can they grow and bear fruit? They are good for nothing but firewood. Man may apply himself endlessly to thought, but he can never imagine one single, real good that is not in Christ and which does not spring from Christ. If anyone claims to perform good and humane works outside Christ, know that these works of his are corrupt at the core, fragmented either by vanity or a concealed self-centredness. A man without Christ is exactly like a branch without a vine. He Himself has said this to us. The vine is hidden, unseen, but the branches are seen. The grapes, then, depend on the branches and the branches themselves on the vine. The vine of every sort of good grows from the heart of our God and Father and is watered with the sweetness of the Holy Spirit.
O Triune Lord God, have mercy upon us and save us. To Thee be glory and praise for ever. Amen.
* From "The Prologue from Ochrid", by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovic - Lazarica Press - Birmingham 1985
Four Book Edition - Translated by Mother Maria - Dates based on old church calendar.
Please see our calendar for conversion between old and new calendar dates.