1. Our father Abraham
On this day, the church celebrates the holy Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Who can describe the virtues of he who became father to many nations? He believed in God, obeyed Him, and did not doubt His promises. The Lord appeared to him in a vision at night and told him, “Get out of your country, away from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:1-2) Then the Lord appeared to Abraham in the form of three men. He welcomed them, for they were strangers, and God promised him the birth of Isaac. Abraham was then one hundred years old; Sarah, his wife, was advanced in age, and they believed the promise of God.
When Isaac was born, Abraham, his father, circumcised him on the eighth day of his birth. Although he was sure that through his procreation all the nations of the earth would be blessed, God told him, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and offer him there as a burnt offering.” He did not doubt the promise of God. He began to offer his son as a sacrifice, confident that God would raise him, and raise offspring through him. When he fulfilled the sacrifice of Isaac by intention, God revealed his virtues to the generations to come by saying, “By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven.” (Genesis 22:1-18) That was fulfilled and he was called the father of Christ in flesh. (Luke 3:34) He departed in peace when he was one hundred seventy-five years old.
May his prayers be with us. Amen.
2. Our father Isaac
He was born by a divine promise, and he was perfect in piety and obedience to God and to his father. He was willing to be sacrificed by his father as an offering to God, although he was the son of the promise, and his father begot him when he was one hundred years old. Isaac was not a child then, for the Bible said, “So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son, and went to the place which was afar off.” Some historians say that Isaac’s age then was about thirty-seven years old. He obeyed his father, and laid down his neck for slaying, but the angel of the Lord ordered his father not to lay his hand on the lad. As it was considered that Abraham had fulfilled the sacrifice of his son by intention, it was also considered that Isaac was sacrificed by intention.
He suffered many tribulations and sorrows. God gave him two sons, Esau and Jacob. Isaac loved Esau for his bravery. When Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, he called Esau, his older son, and said to him, “My son … behold now, I am old. I do not know the day of my death. Now therefore, please … go out to the field and hunt game for me. And make me savory food … that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.” Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to Esau his son. She spoke to Jacob her son, saying, “… Go now to the flock and bring me from there two choice kids of the goats, and I will make savory food from them for your father, such as he loves … that he may bless you before his death.” Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Look, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth-skinned man. Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” But his mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son.” (Genesis 27:1-29) She did that by a divine inspiration. Jacob did as his mother ordered him, and his father ate and blessed him. Isaac departed in peace when he was one hundred eighty years old.
May his prayers be with us. Amen.
3. The father of the Tribes Jacob
Esau, his brother, hated him for he took the blessing of their father from him. Jacob feared Esau, and fled to Laban, his uncle. He shepherded Laban’s sheep for seven years and Laban gave Jacob his daughter, Leah, in marriage. Then Jacob served another seven years, and Laban gave him his second daughter, Rachel, in marriage. (Genesis 29:15-30) Then Laban, his uncle, told him, “The sheep that are streaked shall be your wages, then all the flocks bore streaked.” (Genesis 31:4-8)
God made him exceedingly wealthy. He returned with his two wives, Leah and Rachel, and God blessed him with twelve sons. He saw God face to face and wrestled with him until the breaking of day, and God called him Israel.
He suffered many sorrows and tribulations, such as the selling of Joseph his son as a servant to the Egyptians, the loss of his sight, the severe famine, and others as mentioned in the Holy Bible. His son Joseph then rose to power and became the second man in Egypt after the Pharaoh, and he tried until he was able to bring his father Jacob to Egypt, where he stayed for seventeen years. When his departure drew near he called his twelve sons and blessed them. When he blessed Judah, he said, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” That was a prophesy about the coming of the Lord Christ from his seed. When he was one hundred forty-seven years, he departed in peace, after commanding that he be buried in the tomb of his fathers. Joseph carried him in the chariot of Pharaoh, brought him to the land of Canaan, where he was buried with his fathers.
May his prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.
1. The Martyrdom of Sts. Benjamin and his Sister Eudexia.
On this day, St. Benjamin and his sister St. Eudexia, were martyred. Their parents were pious Christians who loved sojourners. They brought them up in a Christian manner.
When Benjamin grew up, he longed to be martyred for the sake of the Name of Christ. He went to “Shatanouf” and confessed the Lord Christ before the governor. The governor tortured him much then cast him in prison. When his parents and sister knew about this, they came to him weeping, but he comforted them, and told them about the vanity of the world and the life of the coming age which has no end. When his sister heard that, she told him, “God lives, I shall not separate from you until we die together.”
The governor cast them in a dark place for twenty days. Then he took them out and hung heavy stones on their necks and threw them in the river. The Angel of the Lord came and loosened the stones. They swam until they arrived at the town of Petra. A virgin found them and rescued them. They then returned to the governor and again they confessed The Lord Christ before him. The governor ordered to cut off their heads and they received the crown of martyrdom. The faithful built a church in their names in their town “Shanshour.”
May their prayers be with us. Amen.
2. The Martyrdom of St. Mary, the Armenian.
On this day also, St. Mary the Armenian, was martyred. She was captured by the Moslems, who asked her to deny her faith in the Lord Christ. She refused, so they tortured her severely, but she remained steadfast in her faith. They threatened to burn her alive in a blazing pit, by the gate of Zoweila in Cairo. Many gathered there, and the crowd tried to frighten her from the suffering and to persuade her to change her counsel, but she answered saying, “It is good that I deliver up my soul in the hands of my Master, Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ.” Then she quickly threw herself in the fiery pit. Thus she received the crown of martyrdom.
May her prayers be with us, and Glory be to God forever, Amen.