14th Sunday after Pentecost
Sunday before the Elevation of the Cross, Afterfeast of the Nativity of the All-Holy Theotokos Commemoration 0f Our Venerable Mother Theodora of Alexandria
The Reading from the Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Galatians (6:11-18)
Brethren: See how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand. As many as desire to make a fair showing in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised, only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but they desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus. Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen
Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Corinthians (II Corinthians 6:1-10)
Brethren: We as workers together with Him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For He saith, ‘I have heard thee at an accepted time, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee.’ Behold, now is the accepted time! Behold, now is the day of salvation!) Give no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed; but in all things commending ourselves as the ministers of God in much patience: in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in sleeplessness, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left; through honour and dishonour, through evil report and good report; though counted as deceivers and yet true, as unknown and yet well known, as dying and yet behold we live, as chastened and not killed, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing and yet possessing all things.
Epistle of the Holy Apostle Paul to the Galatians (3:23-29)
Brethren: Before faith came, we were kept under the law, being shut apart from the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Therefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.
The Reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (3:13-17)
The Lord said, ‘No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of Man Who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.’
Holy Gospel according to Matthew (25: 14-30)
The Lord said this parable: ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to every man according to his several ability, and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them another five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained another two. But he that had received one went and dug in the earth and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and reckoned with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought the other five talents, saying, ‘Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents. Behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.’ His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’ He also that had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents; behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.’ His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things; I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’ Then he that had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew thee, that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed. And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth. Lo, there thou hast what is thine.’ His lord answered and said unto him, ‘Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed. Thou ought therefore to have placed my money with the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with interest. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath ten talents. For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him that hath not, shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.’
Holy Gospel according to John (8:3-11)
At that time, the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said unto Him, ‘Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us that such should be stoned but what sayest thou?’ This they said testing Him, that they might have cause to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not. So when they continued asking Him, He lifted Himself up and said unto them, ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.’ And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. And they who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the eldest even unto the last, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted Himself up and saw none but the woman, He said unto her, ‘Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?’ She said, ‘No man, Lord.’ And Jesus said unto her, ‘Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more.’
Troparion of the Resurrection (Tone 7)
Thou didst destroy death by Thy Cross, Thou didst open paradise to the thief. Thou didst change the lamentation of the Myrrh-bearers, and Thou didst command Thine Apostles to proclaim that Thou didst arise, O Christ God, and grantest to the world great mercy.
Troparion of the Nativity of the Theotokos (Tone 4)
Thy nativity, O Theotokos Virgin, hath proclaimed joy to all the world; for from thee hath dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, annulling the curse, and bestowing the blessing, abolishing death and granting us life eternal.
Troparion of St Theodora of Alexandria (Tone 8)
In thee, O mother, that which is fashioned according to the image of God was preserved; for, having taken up thy cross, thou didst follow Christ; and by thine example didst teach that the flesh is to be disdained as transitory, but that the soul must be cared for as a thing immortal. Wherefore, thy spirit doth rejoice with angels, O venerable Theodora.
Kontakion of the Resurrection (Tone 7)
No longer will the dominion of death be able to keep men captive, for Christ hath descended, demolishing and destroying the powers thereof. Hades is bound; the prophets rejoice with one voice, saying: A Saviour hath come for them that have faith. Come forth, ye faithful, for the Resurrection.
Kontakion of St Theodora of Alexandria (Tone 2)
Laying waste thy body through fasting, thou didst entreat the Creator with vigils of prayer because of thy sin, that, receiving full forgiveness, thou mightest also receive remission, having come to know the path of repentance.
Kontakion of the Nativity of the Theotokos (Tone 4)
Joachim and Anna were freed from the reproach of childlessness and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death, by thy holy nativity, O immaculate one, which thy people, redeemed from the guilt of offenses, celebrate, by crying to thee: The barren woman giveth birth to the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life.
THE VENERABLE THEODORA
Theodora was from Alexandria and the wife of a young man. Persuaded by a fortune-teller, she committed adultery with another man and immediately felt the bitter pangs of conscience. She cut her hair, dressed in men’s clothing and entered the Monastery of Octodecatos, under the male name of Theodore. Her labor, fasting, vigilance, humbleness and tearful repentance amazed the entire brotherhood. When a promiscuous young woman slandered her, saying that Theodore had made her pregnant, Theodora did not want to justify herself, but considered this slander as a punishment from God for her earlier sin. Banished from the monastery, she spent seven years living in the forest and wilderness and, in addition, caring for the child of that promiscuous girl. She overcame all diabolical temptations: she refused to worship Satan, refused to accept food from the hands of a soldier, and refused to heed the pleas of her husband to return to him–for all of this was only a diabolical illusion, and as soon as Theodora made the sign of the Cross everything vanished as smoke. After seven years, the abbot received her back into the monastery, where she lived for two more years, and reposed in the Lord. Only then did the monks learn that she was a woman; an angel appeared to the abbot and explained everything to him. Her husband came to the burial, and then remained in the cell of his former wife until his repose. St. Theodora possessed much grace from God: she tamed wild beasts, healed infirmities, and brought forth water from a dry well. Thus, God glorified a true penitent, who with heroic patience repented nine years for just one sin. She reposed in the year 490 A.D.