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Orthodox Life Sunday bulletin

Ecumenical Patriarchate

Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia

the Conception of Saint John the Baptist

Sunday, September 23, 2018

1st Sunday of Luke

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Mode: Eighth (Plagal Fourth)

Readings: 1) Luke 24:36-53 2) Galatians 4:22-27 3) John 5:1-11

Saints: On September 23 we remember the conception of the holy and glorious Prophet, Forerunner and Baptist John.

On this day we commemorate the holy martyrs Andrew, John, Peter and Anthony who died in Africa.

On this day we commemorate the holy women Xanthippe and Polyxeni the sisters.

The holy New Martyr Nicholas the Grocer witnessed in Constantinople in 1672 and died by the sword.

By the intercessions of Your Saints, O God, have mercy on us. Amen.

The Hymns of the Day

Resurrectional Apolytikion. (Mode 8)

You descended from on high, O compassionate One, and condescended to be buried for three days, so that from the passions You might set us free. Our life and resurrection, O Lord, glory be to You.

Apolytikion of the Forerunner. (Mode 4)

Sing now, O barren one who did not bear before, for you have indeed conceived the burning lamp of the Sun; and he will illuminate all the world afflicted with spiritual blindness. Dance, O Zacharias, and now openly cry out: "The one who is to be born is a Prophet of the Most High God."

Kontakion. (Mode 2)

O Protection of Christians that never falls, intercession with the Creator that never fails, we sinners beg you, do not ignore the voices of our prayers. O good Lady, we implore you, quickly come unto our aid, when we cry out to you with faith. Hurry to intercession, and hasten to supplication, O Theotokos who protect now and ever those who honor you.

Matins Gospel

Luke 24:36-53

At that time, Jesus went up and stood among His disciples and said to them, "Peace be with you." But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have." And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and ate before them. Then He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in His name in all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." Then He led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up His hands, He blessed them. While He blessed them, He parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the Temple blessing God.

The Epistle

Galatians 4:22-27

Brethren, Abraham had two sons, one by a slave and one by a free woman. But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, the son of the free woman through promise. Now this is an allegory: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in travail; for the children of the desolate one are many more than the children of her that is married."

The Gospel

John 5:1-11

At that time, Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret. And he saw two boats by the lake; but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had ceased speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking, they beckoned 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. But 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 was astonished, and all who were with him, at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; henceforth you will be catching men." And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.

Saint of the Day

The Conception of Saint John the Baptist

This came to pass fifteen months before the birth of Christ, after the vision of the Angel that Zacharias, the father of the Forerunner, saw in the Temple while he executed the priest's office in the order of his course during the feast of the Tabernacles, as tradition bears witness. In this vision, the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias and said to him, "Thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John" (Luke 1:13). Knowing that Elizabeth was barren, and that both he and she were elderly, Zacharias did not believe what the Angel told him, although he had before him the example of Abraham and Sarah, of Hannah, mother of the Prophet Samuel, and of other barren women in Israel who gave birth by the power of God. Hence, he was condemned by the Archangel to remain speechless until the fulfilment of these words in their season, which also came to pass (Luke 1:7-24).

Explanation of the Gospel

by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid

Luke 5:1-11

1-11. And it came to pass, that, as the multitude pressed against Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two boats standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And He entered into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the boat. Now when He had left speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch. And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at Thy word I will let down the net. And when they had done this, they enclosed a great multitude of fishes, and their net broke. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other boat, that they should 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, 0 Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the catch of the fishes which they had taken; and so were also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all, and followed Him.

The Lord flees glory, which all the more pursues Him. When the crowd pressed against Him, He entered the boat, so that from the boat He could teach those standing on the shore, and everyone would be in front of Him, rather than some coming towards Him from behind. And when He had finished teaching the people, He did not leave the owner of the boat without payment, but gave him a two-fold benefit: He bestowed on him an abundance of fish, and He made him His disciple. Marvel at how wisely the Lord arranges our salvation, drawing to Himself each one by means of the things that are his own and with which he is familiar. As He had attracted the Magi with a star, so now He draws the fishermen by means of fish. Behold the gentleness of Christ, how He does not command, but requests, that Peter put out from land. Behold also the obedience of Peter, how he welcomes into his boat a man whom he did not know, and obeys Him in everything. When the Lord tells him to launch out into the deep, Peter does not become exasperated and leave Him, nor does he reply, "I have toiled the whole night and gained nothing, and now I should obey you and do it all again?" Peter said nothing like this, but instead, At Thy word I will let down the net. Such was the warmth of his trust even before he had faith. And he caught so great a number of fish that he was not able to haul them in, and he beckoned to his companions in the other boat. He calls them with a signal, because his astonishment at the catch was so great that he could not even speak. Out of great reverence for Jesus, Peter begs Him not to remain in the boat, and calls himself a sinner who is not worthy to be with Him.

You may also understand these things in a spiritual sense. The boat is the synagogue of the Jews. Peter represents the teachers of the law. For the teachers of the law also toiled the whole night before Christ came (the time before Christ's sojourning on earth was indeed night) and took in nothing. But when Christ came, and it became day, the teachers of the law were replaced by the Apostles who, at His word, that is, at His command, let down the net of the Gospel in which they caught so great a number of men that the Apostles could not haul in the catch by themselves. And so they beckon to their partners and companions and together pull in the net. These are the pastors and teachers of the Church in every generation who teach and interpret the words of the Apostles, laboring with the Apostles to catch mankind. Consider also the words, Let down the net. The net is the Gospel: like the fisherman's net, which is a lowly and commonplace thing, the Gospel is composed of humble, everyday words which reach down and condescend to the simplicity of the people. This is why it is said that the net is let down. If any one should say that letting down the net also indicates the depth of meaning of the Gospel, neither would he be off the mark. Therefore the words of the prophet have also been fulfilled, Behold, I will send many fishermen, saith the Lord, and they shall fish for them; and afterward I will send many hunters, and they shall hunt for them (Jer. 16:16). The fishermen are the holy Apostles, and the hunters are the leaders and teachers of the Church in each generation.

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Blessed Sunday!

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