He was born in Paphlagonia of renowned Christian parents, Theodotus and Rufina. His parents were cast into prison for Christ's name. His father died first in prison, and as soon as Rufina bore Mamas, she also died. Thus the newborn child was left alone between the dead bodies of his parents. However, God the Provider sent an angel to a noble widow, Ammia. Ammia saw the angel in a dream: he told her to go to the prison and take the child in. The local eparch granted Ammia permission to bury the dead and to take the child to her home. When Mamas reached his fifth year, he began to talk and his first word was ``Mama!''-for which he received the name ``Mamas.'' In school, Mamas displayed unusual intelligence, and as he had been reared in a Christian spirit, he did not hide his faith, but confessed it to the other children and laughed at the idols. During the reign of Aurelian there was a bitter persecution of Christians. The pagans did not even spare the Christian children. Mamas was fifteen years old when he was brought before the emperor. The emperor told him that he needed only to deny Christ verbally. Mamas replied: ``Neither in my heart nor with my lips will I renounce my God and King, Jesus Christ.'' The emperor ordered him to be beaten, burned with torches, and finally thrown into the sea. But an angel of God saved him, and took him to a high mountain near Caesarea. There he lived in solitude and prayer. Even the wild beasts were tamed by his sanctity. He was finally discovered by his persecutors and subjected to torture again. When he had overcome torture both by fire and by wild beasts, St. Mamas was run through with a trident by a pagan priest. Thus he gave his holy soul to God, to Whom he had been faithful during all of his tortures. From his relics many healings of the sick have taken place.
He is also celebrated on August 30. He was at first a goldsmith, but because of his great and many acts of mercy-and by God's providence-he was ordained a priest. Once, when he was a young man, John was walking with Eusebius, an old monk from Palestine. Suddenly, a bodiless voice spoke to Eusebius: ``Abba, do not walk to the right of the great John.'' It was the voice of God, foretelling the great service to which John would shortly be called. After the Blessed Eutychius, John was chosen to be Patriarch of Constantinople. He did not want to accept this but, having been frightened by a certain heavenly vision, he accepted. He was a great faster, intercessor and miracle-worker right up to his death. He reposed in the year 595. After his death, his only personal possessions were found to be a wooden spoon, a linen shirt and an old garment. His writings on repentance and confession are well known.
Eleazar was the son of Aaron, and second in order of the high priests of Israel. He assisted Moses during the census of the people of Israel, and assisted Joshua the son of Nun in apportioning the Promised Land among the Twelve Tribes. He faithfully guarded the Ark of the Covenant in Shiloh and reposed peacefully.
[See the ``Reflection'' below.]
The Holy Martyr Mamas
Mamas the pious was born in prison,
And was kindred with Christ from his first day;
His father and mother, martyrs for God,
Birthed their only child in prison darkness.
For fifteen years, orphaned Mamas
Was alone in the prison of the world.
His only comfort and his only light
Shone upon him from the countenance of the Son of God:
This was his fulfillment and his wealth.
Mamas glorified Christ his God,
He glorified Him in word and in deed
By his prayerful soul and innocent body.
His friendship with God was more dear to him
Than the devious world that torments and lies.
He loved God and His pure Christ
And he became a friend to pure nature-
To the wilderness and forest and wild beasts,
To wild goats and fierce lions.
And God endowed his friend
With wondrous gifts of the Holy Spirit.
And Mamas shamed his persecutors,
And turned many torturers to Christ.
The emperor and the empire were against this boy,
But the right hand of God sustained him-
And, enduring torments, Mamas glorified the Savior.
The emperor and the empire collapsed to nothing,
While Mamas reigns, even now, with Christ,
And rejoices with the angels of God in heaven.
The life of the Orthodox Church provides us with numerous examples of how Almighty God manifests His power through small and lifeless things-especially those things that serve as signs of the Incarnation, life and suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ. Such things include the Cross, icons of the Theotokos and the saints, holy water, oil, myrrh, and so forth. For example, a miracle was wrought through an icon of the Holy Mother of God in the year 1748, in the home of a boyar named Khitrov, near the Russian city of Kaluga. Two of the boyar's servants, rummaging in Khitrov's attic one day, came upon a rolled-up piece of cloth that depicted the beautiful image of a woman's face. The image emanated holiness and piety. One of the servants was humble and modest, while the other was vain and talkative. The former, looking at the image on the cloth, called it ``The Abbess.'' Evdokia-the vain and talkative one, whose name we know-did not honor this name, but coarsely mocked her humble companion. To give even more force to her vulgarity, she spat on the painting. At that instant Evdokia fell to the ground, writhing with her whole body, blind and dumb, and began foaming at the mouth. That night the Theotokos appeared to the parents of the unfortunate girl, and told them what had happened to their daughter. She told them to get a priest and have him pray before the image that had been found and sprinkle the girl with holy water, and then she would be healed. When this was done, Evdokia was healed, and from then on she amended her disposition and was more modest. Thus was a miracle-working icon of the Holy Theotokos discovered. This icon was taken to a church in Kaluga, where it can be found today, still working miracles.
Contemplate God's punishment of David for his adultery and murder (II Samuel 12):
1. How God, speaking through the prophet Nathan, told David that because he took another's wife, his own wives would be taken by other men;
2. That his son would die;
3. That the sword would not depart from his house-all of which came to pass.
on the Word of God, the Creator of the world
It [the Word] was in the beginning in God. Everything came into existence by Him (John 1:2-3).
Brethren, the Evangelist is speaking of the wondrous Logos of God, of the rational, intelligent Word, of the eternal Wisdom of God, of the co-eternal Son of God. This wondrous Word is of one Essence with the Father and the Holy Spirit, yet hypostatically different from the Father and the Spirit, for He was begotten of the Unbegotten Father. He always was, is, and shall be. When was the Word in God? The Evangelist says: In the beginning. What does In the beginning mean? It means the same as ``first'' or ``first of all.'' So, first of all, the Word of God was in God, and has always been of one being with the Father, and has always been the Son, in hypostasis, but not yet incarnate. Later, the Word of God became incarnate, and appeared in a body for the sake of mankind. When He was still the unincarnate Word in God, everything came into existence by Him. Heaven and earth, and the whole inhabited heavenly and earthly worlds-everything came into existence by Him, by the Word of God, when He was in God, and not yet incarnate. Without the Word of God, no created thing came into existence. He was Life and Light, and the Light shone in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not (John 1:5). First of all, death and sin represent darkness. That darkness did not overcome the Son of God. The whole created world itself is darkness before God, yet in this darkness shines the Word of God, the Wisdom of God, rational, intelligent and majestic. All of creation would be in utter darkness if the mystical light of the Son of God-by Whom all things were created-did not illuminate it.
It [the Word] was in the beginning in God-then what happened? And the Word was made flesh (John 1:14). The history of the creation of the world leads up to this point, and from this point the history of man's salvation begins. In taking on flesh, the Word of God did not estrange Himself from God the Father and God the Holy Spirit-for the Divine Trinity is undivided-but, rather, He clothed Himself in the body and soul of man, so that, in the shadow of the body, He, the Sun of suns, could draw near to men and save men.
O my brethren, how sweet and inexpressibly wonderful is the mystery of the Incarnation of God. If we embrace this mystery with our heart, it will be easier to approach it with our mind.
O Lord, gentle Savior, the glory of the Father and the joy of the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us and save us.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.