Jeremiah 32-35; Psalm 117:17·29; Proverbs 25:12·16; James 3
1 Thessalonians 2:14-19 Luke 19:12-28
Philemon is addressed in the Epistle of the holy Apostle Paul that bears his name. He was a nobleman from Colossae; Apphia was his wife. Archippus was Bishop of Colossae. All three were disciples of the Apostle Paul. Onesimus was a pagan slave of Philemon, who stole from his master and fled to Rome. There St Paul led him to faith in Christ, and wrote the Epistle to Philemon, urging Onesimus' master to forgive him and take him back as a brother in Christ. This Philemon did, and Onesimus later became a bishop. In Greece he is venerated as the patron Saint of the imprisoned. All of these holy followers of Christ died as martyrs, stoned to death by pagans.
Jeremiah 29-31; Psalm 117:1·16; Proverbs 25:6·11; James 2
1 Thessalonians 2:9-14 Luke 18:31-34
When the holy and most pure child Mary (Mariam or Miriam in Hebrew) reached the age of three, her parents, the righteous Joachim and Anna, fulfilled the vow they had made to dedicate her to God. Going in procession with a company of maidens carrying torches, they presented their child at the Temple in Jerusalem, where Zecharias the High Priest took her under his care, blessing her with these words: "The Lord has glorified thy name in every generation; it is in thee that He will reveal the Redemption that he has prepared for his people in the last days." He then brought the child into the Holy of Holies — something completely unheard-of, for under the Law only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy Place, and he only once a year on the Day of Atonement. (In the icon of the feast, the maidens who accompany the Theotokos are shown bare-headed, as was customary for unmarried girls; but the Theotokos herself, though only three years old, wears the head-covering of a married woman to show her consecration to God.) The holy Virgin lived in the Temple for the next nine years, devoting herself entirely to prayer. In this time she attained the utter purity of heart befitting the destined Bearer of the Most High; she became in her own person the fulfilment and condensation of all of Israel's faithfulness. Saint Gregory Palamas says that, when the Theotokos entered the Holy of Holies, the time of preparation and testing of the Old Covenant came to an end for Israel, which was now ready, in the blessed Virgin, to bring forth the Savior. When Mary approached marriageable age, she was entrusted to the chaste widower Joseph to guard her. (The Prologue says that a life of intentional virginity was unknown among the Hebrews, so the righteous Joseph undertook the forms of marriage so as not to cause scandal among the people.) "Wherefore the Church rejoices and exhorts all the friends of God for their part to enter into the temple of their heart, there to make ready for the coming of the Lord by silence and prayer, withdrawing from the pleasures and cares of this world." (Synaxarion)