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Jesus and Saul at the Gates of Damascus

Thus occurs a meeting, unexpected as a thunderbolt, at the gates of Damascus: a light from heaven inundates Saul and he falls prostrate to the ground. Thus begins the first conversation between two lovers. Saul hears an unknown voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” to which Saul replies, “Who art thou, Lord?” The voice replies (its sound can be heard though nothing is seen), “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” (Acts 9:4, 5)  This is the first “thou and I” between Jesus and Saul. How often will such conversations be renewed between them!

We all know the details of this marvellous story: Saul is led by his companions into Damascus. A meeting takes place with Ananias in the home of one of the first Christians in one of the quarters surrounding the Via Recta of Damascus. The Apostle Ananias, first Bishop of Damascus, baptizes Saul in the river Barada and so Saul is transformed from a hateful figure to a “chosen vessel, who will bear (the) name (of Jesus Christ) before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel… and be filled with the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 9:15, 17)

Teachings of Christ

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (Matthew 6:33 ESV)

Theophany

At Your baptism in the Jordan, O Lord, * worship of the Trinity was revealed, * for the Father's voice bore witness to You, calling You His “beloved Son”, * and the Spirit in the form of a dove confirmed the truth of these words. * O Christ God, * Who appeared and enlightened the world, glory to You! (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

You have appeared to the whole world today, * and Your light, O Lord, is signed upon us, * who with knowledge sing praise to You: * “You have come, and You have appeared , O Unapproachable Light." (Kontakion, Tone 4)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (Troparion, Tone 4)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"The wage of the righteous leads to life, the gain of the wicked to sin." (Proverbs 10:10 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Therefore let us leave untouched the senseless speculations of the masses and the false doctrines, and turn to the teaching delivered to us in the beginning, let us be temperate and ready for our prayers, persevere in fasting, and fervently implore the All-seeing God not to expose us to temptations, since the Lord has said: 'The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'

St. Polycarp, Epistle to the Philippians