Great and Holy Wednesday
Martyr Sabbas Stratelates (“the General”) of Rome, and 70 soldiers with him (272). Ven. Savva and Aleksy the Recluse, of the Kiev Caves (Near Caves—13th c.). Martyrs Valentine and Pasikrates in Moesia, Bulgaria (228). Martyrs Eusebius, Neon, Leontius, Longinus, and others, at Nicomedia (303). Ven. Thomas the Fool, of Syria (6th c.). St. Elizabeth the Wonderworker of Constantinople (6th-8th c.). Ss. Iorest (1678) and Sava Brancovici (1683), Metropolitans of Ardeal and Confessors (Romania). Hieromartyr and Confessor Elijah (Ilie) the Wallachian (1657).
On Great and Holy Wednesday, the hymns of the Bridegroom Service remind us of the sinful woman who poured precious ointment on Christ’s head at Simon the leper’s house (Mt. 26:7).
The disciples complained about the wasteful extravagance, for the myrrh could have been sold and the money given to the poor. On this same day Judas agreed to betray the Lord for thirty pieces of silver. Because the betrayal took place on Wednesday, Orthodox Christians fast on most Wednesdays during the year.
On the other hand, the Savior declared that the woman’s actions would be remembered wherever the Gospel is preached (Mt. 26:13), for she had anointed Him in preparation for His burial (Mt. 26:12).
Troparion of the day, tone 8
When the glorious disciples were enlightened / At the washing of their feet before the supper, / Then the impious Judas was darkened, ailing with avarice / And to the lawless judges he betrays You, the righteous Judge. / Behold, O lover of money, this man who because of money hanged himself. / Flee from the greedy soul which dared such things against the Master. / O Lord, who is good towards all men, glory to You!
Kontakion of the day, tone 2
With his hands the betrayer receives the Bread. / With his hands he secretly receives the silver, / The price of Him who fashioned man with His hands; / So the servant and deceiver Judas remains depraved.
Matthew 26:6-16 (Gospel, Presanctified)
- And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper,
- a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.
- But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste?
- For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”
- But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me.
- For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.
- For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.
- Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
- Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests
- and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.
- So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.