Stephen was a kinsman of the Apostle Paul and one of those Jews who lived in the Hellenic provinces. Stephen was the first of the seven deacons whom the holy apostles ordained and appointed to the service of assisting the poor in Jerusalem. For this, he is called the archdeacon. By the power of his faith, Stephen worked great miracles among the people. The wicked Jews disputed with him, but they were always defeated by his wisdom and the power of the Spirit, Who acted through him. Then the shameful Jews, accustomed to calumnies and slander, incited the people and the elders of the people against the innocent Stephen, slandering him as though he had blasphemed against God and against Moses. False witnesses were quickly found who confirmed this. Stephen then stood before the people, and all saw his face as it had been the face of an angel (Acts 6:15), that is, his face was illumined with the light of grace as was once the face of Moses when he spoke with God. Stephen opened his mouth and enumerated the many good works and miracles that God had performed in the past for the people of Israel, as well as the many crimes and opposition to God on the part of this people. He especially rebuked them for the killing of Christ the Lord, calling them betrayers and murderers (Acts 7:52). And while they gnashed their teeth, Stephen beheld and saw the heavens open and the glory of God. That which he saw, he declared to the Jews: Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God! (Acts 7:56). Then the malicious men took him outside the city and stoned him to death. Among his persecutors was his kinsman Saul, later the Apostle Paul. At that time, the Most-holy Theotokos, standing on a rock at a distance with St. John the Theologian, witnessed the martyrdom of this first martyr for the truth of her Son and God, and she prayed to God for Stephen. This occurred one year after the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. Gamaliel, a prince of the Jews and a secret Christian, clandestinely took St. Stephen's body and buried it on his own estate. Thus, this first among the Christian martyrs gloriously reposed and took up his habitation in the Kingdom of Christ God.
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family,28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
New International Version (NIV)
ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM’S SECOND DISCOURSE ON LUKE 16:19-31 THE PARABLE OF THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS
CONCERNING LAZARUS —- AND THAT THE SOULS OF THOSE THAT DIE A VIOLENT DEATH DO NOT BECOME WANDERING SPIRITS—-CONCERNING ALSO FUTURE JUDGMENT, AND CHARITY.
1. I was pleased yesterday to see your right feeling when I entered upon the subject of Lazarus, inasmuch as you approved of the patience of the poor man, and shrank from the cruelty and inhumanity of the rich man. These are no small tokens of a noble mind. For if, though not possessing virtue, we yet praise it, then we may be at all events more able to attain it. In like manner if, though we do not flee from sin, we still blame sin, then we may at all events be able to escape from it. Since, therefore, you received that address with great favour, let me deliver to you those things which still remain.
A woman hurried to the pharmacy to get medication, got back to her car and found that she had locked her keys inside.
The woman found an old rusty coat hanger left on the ground. She looked at it and said, "I don't know how to use this."
She bowed her head and asked God to send her some help.
Within 5 minutes a beat-up old motorcycle pulled up, driven by a bearded man who was wearing an old biker skull cap. He got off of his cycle and asked if he could help.
She said: "Yes, my daughter is sick. I've locked the keys in my car. I must get home. Please, can you use this hanger to unlock my car?"
He said, "Sure." He walked over to the car, and in less than a minute, the car door was open.
She hugged the man and through tears, softly said, "Thank you, God, for sending me such a very nice man."
The man heard her little prayer and replied, "Lady, I am not a nice man. I just got out of prison yesterday; I was in prison for car theft."
The woman hugged the man again, sobbing, "Oh, thank you, God! You even sent me a professional."
St Evouli (the mother of ) St. Panteleimon – St Hermolaos (his teachers)
During the end of the 3rd century AD St. Panteleimon, the Great Doctor and Martyr, was born. His father, Eustrogios, was not only very rich but was well known for his zeal in idol worship; whereas his mother St. Euboule was a faithful Orthodox Christian full of Holy Spirit, love and kindness. Her only interest was to guide her only begotten son in the true faith and virtuous life.
St. Panteleimon's first name was Pantoleon. When he was very young his mother, St. Euboule, passed away and his father taught him to worship the false gods of their ancestors. He studied under the guidance of the wise doctor Euphrosynos, and shortly differentiated from all his other classmates in wisdom and all virtues. Even the Roman Emperor Maximianus admired his kind character, that he ordered Euphrosynos to teach him all the secrets of medicine, so that Pantoleon become his own personal imperial doctor.
At that period of time, in the Greek city of
there was an old man named Ermolaos, who was the Orthodox Priest of the
city. He foresaw, that the young
Pantoleon will become a vessel of Christ's Grace and will glorify Him through
his life. One day, as Pantoleon was
passing by, he called the young doctor to his house and asked him about his
family and religious beliefs. Pantoleon,
as noble as he was, answered with politeness to all his questions. St. Ermolaos said to him, that the medicine
which Asclepius, Hippocrates and Galenus taught is of no value, nor the gods of
the Empire are true gods, but false and work of man. He taught Pantoleon about
the Orthodox Christian Faith and that Christ is the only True God, Who created
heaven and earth, and reminded him that his mother believed in Jesus
Christ. He also emphasied that Christ is
the True Physician of both soul and body and
assured him, that if he believed in Christ, he shall cure all illnesses
through God's Healing Grace. Nicomedia