Get behind me, Satan!

Listen to the Daily Reading for December 14, 2016,

St. Paul’s First Letter to Timothy 1:18-20; 2:8-15

TIMOTHY, my son, this charge I commit to you in accordance with the prophetic utterances which pointed to you, that inspired by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaios and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion. Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.

The Gospel according to Mark 8:30-34

At that time, Jesus charged his disciples to tell no one that he is the Christ. And he began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter, and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men.” And he called to him the multitude with his disciples, and said to them, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”

The Holy Martyrs Thyrsus, Leucius, and Callinicus of Asia Minor, and Philemon, Apollonius, and Arian of Alexandria

Of these, the Martyrs who were from Asia Minor contested for piety’s sake during the reign of Decius, in 250. Saint Leucius, seeing the slaughter of the Christians, reproached the Governor Cumbricius, for which he was hung up, harrowed mercilessly on his sides, then beheaded. For boldly professing himself a Christian and rebuking the Governor for worshipping stocks and stones as gods, Saint Thyrsus, after many horrible tortures, was sentenced to be sawn asunder, but the saw would not cut, and became so heavy in the executioners’ hands that they could not move it; Saint Thyrsus then gave up his spirit, at Apollonia in the Hellespont. Saint Callinicus a priest of the idols, was converted through the martyrdom and miracles of Saint Thyrsus, and was beheaded.

During the reign of Diocletian (284-305), the Governor of Antinoe in the Thebaid of Upper Egypt was Arian, a fierce persecutor who had sent many Christians to a violent death, among them Saints Timothy and Maura (see May 3) and Saint Sabine (Mar. 16). When he had imprisoned Christians for their confession of faith, one of them, named Apollonius, a reader of the Church, lost his courage at the sight of the instruments of torture, and thought how he might escape torments without denying Christ. He gave money to Philemon a flute-player and a pagan, that he might put on Apollonius’ clothes and offer sacrifice before Arian, so that all would think Apollonius to have done the Governor’s will, and he might be released. Philemon agreed to this, but when the time came to offer sacrifice, enlightened by divine grace, he declared himself a Christian instead. He and Apollonius, who also confessed Christ when the fraud was exposed, were both beheaded. Before beheading them, Arian had commanded that they be shot with arrows, but while they remained unharmed, Arian himself was wounded by one of the arrows; Saint Philemon foretold that after his martyrdom, Arian would be healed at his tomb. When this came to pass, Arian, the persecutor who had slain so many servants of Christ, himself believed in Christ and was baptized with four of his bodyguards. Diocletian heard of this and had Arian and his body-guards brought to him. For their confession of Christ, they were cast into the sea, and received the crown of life everlasting.

Apolytikion of Martyrs Thyrsus & companions

Thy Martyrs, O Lord, in their courageous contest for Thee received as the prize the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God. For since they possessed Thy strength, they cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption. O Christ God, by their prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion of Martyrs Thyrsus & companions

As we gather on this day, let us all honour with divine and sacred songs the luminaries of the Church as we extol them with hymns of praise as trophy-bearers and Martyrs of Christ our God.

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