December 31, 2020 - Kiahk 22, 1737
Commemoration of the Archangel Gabriel
On this day also, St. Barnabas, one of the seventy apostles, was martyred. He was from the tribe of Levi. His ancestors left Judea long before he was born and moved to the island of Cyprus. His name was Joses. Our Lord, to Whom is the glory, gave him the name Barnabas, which means son of encouragement or consolation, when He called him to become an apostle. He received the gift of the Holy Spirit in the upper room with the disciples. He preached the gospel with them and witnessed to the Name of Christ. He had a field which he sold and brought the price and placed it at the feet of the apostles. (Acts 4:36-37) The apostles honored him for his many virtues and for his honesty. When St. Paul believed in the Lord Christ, St. Barnabas presented him to the rest of the disciples in Jerusalem, three years after his conversion. St. Barnabas told the apostles how the Lord appeared to St. Paul near Damascus and attested to his zeal before them. The apostles accepted St. Paul in their fellowship. The Holy Spirit said to the disciples, Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them. (Acts 13:2) St. Paul and St. Barnabas travelled together to many countries preaching the Name of the Lord Christ. When they entered Lystra and St. Paul healed the man who was crippled from his mother's womb (Acts 14:8-18), the people of Lystra thought that they were gods, and they brought oxen and garlands to the gates intending to sacrifice them at the feet of the apostles. St. Paul and St.Barnabas forbade them and rejected the glory of men. They tore their clothes saying that they were men with the same nature as they. After they travelled together to many cities, they were separated from each other. St. Barnabas took with him St. Mark and went to Cyprus. They preached there and converted many people to the faith of the Lord Christ and baptized them. The Jews resented them. So they falsely accused them before the governor. They seized St. Barnabas and brutally beat him, then they stoned him and finally burnt his body with fire. Thus, his strife was completed and he received the crown of martyrdom. After the people had left, St. Mark came and carried the body, wrapped it, and placed it in a cave in Cyprus.St. Mark then went to Alexandria to preach there.May The prayers of these two apostles be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen
Departure of St. Anastasius, the Thirty-Sixth Pope of Alexandria
On this day also of the year 611 A.D., St. Anastasius, 36th Pope of Alexandria, departed. He was one of the great noblemen of Alexandria. Before he became a Pope, he was an overseer of the patriarchal court, then he became a priest for the church of Alexandria. Shortly afterwards, he was chosen to be Pope. He devoted much of his attention to the churches and he ordained bishops and priests to fill the vacant posts. He built several churches and regained from the Melkites (those who were appointed by the Roman Emperor) those that they took over by force. Because he was loved by them for his knowledge, virtues and righteousness, he brought many of them back to the Orthodox faith. When the Emperor of Constantinople died, some wicked people spoke evil of the Pope to his successor, that when the Pope was ordained he anathematized (excommunicated) the Emperor and his belief. The Emperor was enraged and sent to the Governor of Alexandria, commanding him to take the church of St. Cosmas and St. Damian and all its properties by force and to give it to the Roman Patriarch Ologius. St. Anastasius was exceedingly sad, but the Lord comforted him in another matter. Peter, the heretic, Bishop of Antioch, died. A well informed saintly monk called Athanasius of the Orthodox Faith was ordained in his place. As soon as Athanasius became Patriarch, he renewed the union between the Church of Antioch and the Church of Alexandria. He wrote an epistle, stating in it his Orthodox faith, and sent it to St. Anastasius, who rejoiced and gathered the bishops and the priests and read it to them. He wrote back to Abba Athanasius indicating his desire to see him.
Abba Athanasius went to Alexandria with his bishops and priests. When Abba Anastasius learned of his arrival, as he was in Scetis, he departed to Alexandria. He went directly to the sea along with the bishops and priests to receive Abba Athanasius and welcome him to Alexandria with great respect and honor. They held a council in one of the monasteries that was at the sea coast, which lasted one month, to discuss the doctrines of the church. Then, the Antiochian Patriarch went back to his See in peace. St. Anastasius continued to teach his flock in person and through his books. Because of his great knowledge, he was able to write a book every year. He remained on his throne for 12 years, 6 months and 10 days. During this period, he wrote twelve books and gave them the Coptic alphabet as titles. His first book was Alpha (&), his second was Beta (B) and so on, then he departed in peace. May His prayers be with us and glory be to our God forever. Amen