December 26th (I - 8)
Icon of Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God, Righteous Joseph the Betrothed, Holy Prophet King David, and the Holy Apostle James, Brother of the Lord
Synaxis of the Most Holy Mother of God. Righteous Joseph the Betrothed. Holy Prophet King David. Holy Apostle James, Brother of the Lord. PriestMartyr Euthymios, Bishop of Sardica (+ c. 840). Monk Constantine of Synada (VIII). Monk Euarestes (IX). PriestMartyr Konstantsii the Russian (+ 1743). Icons of the Mother of God: Barlovsk (1392), Baibuzsk (1852), Vilen?Ostrabramsk and named "Three Joys" or "Merciful".
The Sobor-Assemblage of the MostHoly Mother of God: On the day after the Nativity of Christ is celebrated the Sobor-Assemblage of the MostHoly Mother of God, commemorating together with Her also Saint Joseph the Betrothed, King David (an ancestor by flesh of the Lord Jesus Christ), and Saint James the Brother of the Lord, a son of the first marriage of Saint Joseph the Betrothed. Saint James accompanied his father Joseph and the Mother of God and the Divine-Infant Jesus on the Flight into Egypt.
Saint Joseph the Betrothed was descended from the lineage of King David. In his first marriage, he had four sons and two daughters. Having become a widower, Saint Joseph led a life of strict temperance. As an eighty year old elder Saint Joseph was chosen by the high-priests as a protector of the virginity of the MostHoly Mother of God, Who had taken a vow of virginity. An Angel announced to him about the Incarnation through Her of the Son of God. Saint Joseph was present during the worship of the NewBorn Divine-Infant by the shepherds, and also by the Magi. On the orders of the Angel he fled with the Mother of God and the God-Infant Jesus into Egypt, saving them from the wrath of king Herod. In Egypt he lived with the Virgin Mary and the God-Infant, earning his livelihood by work as a carpenter. Saint Joseph died at about one hundred years old (a 2nd Commemoration of Saint Joseph is on the Sunday of the Holy ForeFathers).
The Holy King and Prophet David was a forefather by flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ. The youngest son of Jesse, in his youth David shepherded a flock of sheep that belonged to his father. He was distinguished by his deep faith, and he zealously fulfilled the will of God. Thus, during the time of an invasion of the Philistines he vanquished in single combat the giant Goliath, which decided the outcome of the war in favour of the Israelite people. Having endured many wrongs from king Saul, who saw him as a favorite of the people and his rival also, David displayed his own decency and magnanimity. Twice having had the possibility to kill Saul, he did not. After Saul and his son perished, David was proclaimed king of the southern part of the Israelite realm, and after the killing of the second son of Saul, -- he became king of all Israel. He built a new capital -- Jerusalem ("the City of Peace"), and in it -- a new tabernacle; his great wish to build together with the tabernacle a temple was not realised. It was predicted to him, that his son would build the temple. The life of the Prophet David was darkened by a grievous falling: he took for himself the wife of Uriah, and Uriah himself he sent to his death in battle. But he also gave example of great repentance, humbly and with faith bearing to the uttermost the sorrows, sent in punishment for the sins committed. Saint David gave a model for repentance in Psalm 50 . King David died in extreme old age with steadfast faith of the coming into the world of the promised Divine Redeemer -- the Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ. In Divine-services and personal prayers his Divinely-inspired "Psalter" is widely used. (The Biblical Books of Kings and Chronicles tell about him).
The Holy Apostle James, Brother of the Lord, was the eldest son of Joseph the Betrothed from his first marriage with Solomonia. The Apostle James is remembered in the holy days after the feast of the Nativity of Christ together with his father Joseph and the Prophet King David, since by tradition, he accompanied the Holy Family during the Flight into Egypt and dwelt there together with the God-Infant Jesus, the Mother of God and Joseph, helping them, and he returned with them to Israel. After the Ascension of the Lord, Saint James was the first bishop of Jerusalem, gaining the great esteem not only of Christians, but also among Jews. He accepted a martyr's death for Christ: they threw him off from the roof of the Jerusalem Temple since he had publicly preached to the people about the God-manhood of the Lord Jesus Christ (a 2nd Commemoration of the Apostle James is 23 October).
The PriestMartyr Euthymios, Bishop of Sardica, during the period of the reign of the Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrigenitos (780-797) and the empress Irene (797-802), was chosen bishop of Sardica because of his virtuous life. He was also present at the Seventh OEcumenical Council (787), at which he denounced the Iconoclast heresy. When the Iconoclast emperor Nicephoros I (802-811) came to rule, Saint Euthymios together with other Orthodox hierarchs was banished to the island of Patalareia, where he languished for a long time. Recalled from exile by the emperor Leo V (813-820), the bishop again boldly entered into denunciation of the Iconoclast heresy, and they again sent him into exile to the city of Assia. The next emperor -- Michael II the Stutterer (820-829) again demanded that he renounce icon-veneration, but without success. Then the holy martyr was subjected to flogging and banished for a third time, to the island of Crete. Michael was succeeded on the throne by the Iconoclast emperor Theophilos (829-842), upon whose order Saint Euthymios was subjected to cruel tortures: they stretched him on four poles and beat at him with ox thongs. Saint Euthymios reposed to the Lord several days after the torture.
The Monk Constantine of Synada, a native of the city of Synada and by descent Jewish, from the time of his youth he felt an inclination towards the Christian faith. An attentive attitude to the teachings of Christ set aflame his heart, and in his early youth he left his parents to become a monastic. He was baptised with the name Constantine and took monastic tonsure. When they brought him the holy cross, he kissed it with love and placed it to his head. The image of the holy cross impressed itself upon him throughout all his life. Having spent his God-pleasing life in strict asceticism, Saint Constantine peacefully reposed to God.
The Monk Euarestes, a native of Galatia, was the son of illustrious parents. From his youth he yearned for the monastic life, and in particular he loved to read the books of Saint Ephrem the Syrian. Having settled into the Studite monastery, he pursued asceticism in strict fasting, vigil and prayer, wearing iron chains. He reposed peacefully to God at age 75 in the year 825.
© 1999 by translator Fr S Janos