Wednesday June 30, 2021 / June 17, 2021
2nd Week after Pentecost. Tone eight.
Apostles’ (Peter & Paul) Fast. By Monastic Charter: Strict Fast (Bread, Vegetables, Fruits)
The Holy Martyrs Manuel, Sabel and Ismael
Commemorated on June 17
The Holy Martyrs Manuel, Sabel and Ismael, brothers by birth, were descended from an illustrious Persian lineage. Their father was a pagan, but their mother was a Christian, who baptised the children and raised them with firm faith in Christ the Saviour. Having grown into adults, the brothers entered military service. Speaking on behalf of the Persian emperor Alamundar, they were his emissaries in the concluding of a peace treaty with the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). Julian received them with due honour and showed them his favour. But when the brothers refused to take part in a pagan sacrificial offering, Julian became angry, and annulling the treaty, he locked up the peace emissaries of a foreign country in prison, like common criminals. At the interrogation he told them, that if they scorned the gods worshipped by him, it would be impossible to reach any peace or accord between the two sides. The holy brothers answered that they were sent as emissaries of their emperor on matters of state, and not arguments about gods. Seeing the firmness of faith of the holy brothers, the emperor gave orders to subject them to fierce tortures. They suspended the holy martyrs, having nailed their hands and feet to wood, at their heads they thrust nails, and under their finger-nails and toe-nails they wedged sharp needles. During this time of torment the saints, as though not feeling the tortures, glorified God and prayed. Finally, they beheaded they holy martyrs. Julian ordered their bodies to be burned. But suddenly there occurred an earthquake, and the ground opened up and took the bodies of the holy martyrs into its bosom. After two days, following upon the fervent prayers of Christians, the earth returned the bodies of the holy brothers, from which issued forth a fragrance. Many pagans, having witnessed the miracle, came to believe in Christ and were baptised. Christian reverently buried the bodies of the holy Martyrs Manuel, Sabel and Ismael. This occurred in the year 362. And since that time the relics of the holy passion-bearers have been glorified with wonderworking.
Having learned about the murder of his emissaries, and that the law-transgressor Julian was marching against him with a numerous army, the Persian emperor Alamundar gathered up his army and started off towards the border of his domain. In a large battle the Persians vanquished the Greeks. Julian the Apostate was killed by the holy GreatMartyr Mercurius (Mercury, Comm. 24 November).
Thirty years later the pious emperor Theodosius the Great (+ 397) built at Constantinople a church in honour of the holy martyrs, and Sainted Germanos, Patriarch of Constantinople (Comm. 12 May), then still a priestmonk, wrote a canon in memory and in praise of the holy brothers.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.
THE HOLY MARTYRS MANUEL, SABEL AND ISHMAEL
Of a Christian mother and a pagan father,
Three blood brothers, wonderful peacemakers,
Manuel, Sabel and young Ishmael,
Dead for Christ’s sake to earthly delight.
To serve peace they voluntarily set out–
To unite in peace the Persian and Greeks.
But Julian the cursed, the servant of the devil,
Began to dispute with the three brothers about the Faith
And proposed that the brothers, in Christ baptized,
Embrace his faith impure.
To the crowned beast the brothers then replied:
“To change our Faith, we did not come,
But peace to make, O Emperor of the Greeks.
In the Son of God, we have faith.
The worse for the better can well be given up,
But the better for the worse, only a madman would exchange.”
The enraged emperor–in him hades burned–
In bitter torments the three brothers slew.
But God the All-seeing, Who the value of each knows,
Against the evil emperor turned with anger.
Julian, the evil one, weak before God,
A shameful death died, and everyone laughed;
Everyone laughed who knew his pride,
And through him the weakness of injustice they recognized.
The adversaries of Christ have always achieved results oppposite to their efforts against Christ. Instead of stopping the river of Christianity, they have widened it, deepened it, and made it louder. Instead of drying Christianity up, they have, so to speak, caused a flood throughout the entire world. Where one martyr fell, a company of Christians was created; where shame was committed, glory sprouted; where it was said that Christianity was finished, there was the beginning of luxuriant crops. In spite of all international considerations and customs, Julian the Apostate, because of his insane idolatrous fanaticism, killed the Persian emissaries for peace, Manuel, Sabel and Ishmael. What did Julian accomplish by this? He multiplied the number of Christians, increased the number of martyrs, and hastened his own end and the end of paganism. Indirectly and unwillingly, the apostate helped in the spreading and deepening of Christianity, not only by his evil persecution but also by his inadvertent statements. Thus, in discussions with Christians, Julian stated: “Christ did nothing in His life that would merit glory, unless it is counted as a great deed that He healed the lame and the blind and expelled demons!” O wretched Julian! As if opening the eyes of only one blind man by the power of words alone were not a greater deed than the subjugation of ten kingdoms! How valuable it is that Julian, as the greatest betrayer of Christ after Judas, acknowledged the miracles of Christ.
To contemplate the miraculous Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus: And after six days Jesus took Peter, James and John his brother and brought them up into a high mountain apart. And was transfigured before them” (St. Matthew 17:1-2):
1. How the face of the transfigured Lord shone as the sun;
2. How even I, although darkened by sin, can shine by Christ’s power and grace with the original radiance of sinless man.
About the punishment of those who bear false witness
“The false witness will not go unpunished and he who utters lies will perish” (Proverbs 19:9).
God and all the hosts of heaven see everything that happens in the world. Therefore, how can man conceal the truth from so many witnesses of the truth? And not only do the heavenly hosts see the truth but they also are zealous for the truth. Therefore, how can a mortal man go against the truth, which means, against the myriads of heavenly zealots for the truth? In truth, darkened in the mind is the one who thinks that he can conceal the truth and proclaim a lie instead of truth. When millions of discerning angels know the truth, can a man conceal the truth? Can someone rise up against the truth and not be punished? O my brethren, there is nothing more false than falsehood! Nothing more unsuccessful! Nothing more arrogant! Nothing more insane!
God and all the hosts of heaven see that which occurs inside a man. A man’s guardian angel especially sees it. And this guardian angel does not tolerate a man’s bringing forth from himself and about himself that which is not in him. If a man remains persistent in his lie, his angel will abandon him and will turn him over completely to the spirits of falsehood. Then, woe to that man! Of what benefit is it to witness falsely against the entire world, if his angel will witness truthfully against him before God and the hosts of heaven? It would be better for that man if he had not been born. For, whoever lies, lies to the Spirit of God, and the Spirit of God leaves the liar in darkness and death.
O Lord of Truth, sustain us by the power of Your Holy Spirit, that we never witness falsely. Make Your Holy Truth sweet to us and remove false words from our tongue.
To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.