February 9 (old calendar) / February 22 (new)
Leavetaking of the Meeting.
Martyr Nicephorus of Antioch in Syria (ca. 257). Uncovering of the Relics of St. Innocent, Bishop of Irkutsk (1805). Ven. Pankratii (Pancratius) of the Kiev Caves (Far Caves—13th c.). Ven. Nikífor (Nicephorus—1557) and Gennádii (Gennadius—ca. 1516), of Vazheozérsk. Hieromartyrs Marcellus, Bishop of Sicily, Philagrius, Bishop of Cyprus, and Pancratius, Bishop of Taoromina (1st c.).
SAINT NICEPHORUS OF ANTIOCH
The Holy Martyr Nicephorus lived in the city of Syrian Antioch. In this city lived also the presbyter Sapricius, with whom Nicephorus was very friendly, so that they were considered as brothers. They quarreled because of some disagreement, and their former love changed into enmity and hate.
After a certain time Nicephorus came to his senses, repented of his sin and more than once asked Sapricius, through mutual friends, to forgive him. Sapricius, however, did not wish to forgive him. Nicephorus then went to his former friend and fervently asked forgiveness, but Sapricius was adamant.
At this time the emperors Valerian (253-259) and Gallius (260-268) began to persecute Christians, and one of the first brought before the court was the priest Sapricius. He firmly confessed himself a Christian, underwent tortures for his faith and was condemned to death by beheading with a sword. As they led Sapricius to execution, Nicephorus tearfully implored his forgiveness saying, “O martyr of Christ, forgive me if I have sinned against you in any way.”
The priest Sapricius remained stubborn, and even as he approached death he refused to forgive his fellow Christian. Seeing the hardness of his heart, the Lord withdrew His blessing from Sapricius, and would not let him receive the crown of martyrdom. At the last moment, he suddenly became afraid of death and agreed to offer sacrifice to idols. In vain did Saint Nicephorus urge Sapricius not to lose his reward through apostasy, since he already stood on the threshold of the heavenly Kingdom.
Saint Nicephorus then said to the executioner, “I am a Christian, and I believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Execute me in place of Sapricius.” The executioners reported this to the governor. He decided to free Sapricius, and to behead Nicephorus in his place. Thus did Saint Nicephorus inherit the Kingdom and receive a martyr’s crown.
TROPARIA AND KONTAKIA
Troparion of the Afterfeast, tone 1
Rejoice, O Virgin Theotokos, full of grace! / From you shone the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God. / Enlightening those who sat in darkness! / Rejoice, and be glad, O righteous elder; / You accepted in your arms the Redeemer of our souls, / Who grants us the Resurrection.
Troparion of the saint, tone 4
Your holy martyr Nicephorus, O Lord, / through his suffering has received an incorruptible crown from You, our God. / For having Your strength, he laid low his adversaries, / and shattered the powerless boldness of demons. / Through his intercessions, save our souls!
Kontakion of the saint, tone 1
Bound with chains of love, O Nicephorus, / you demolished the malice of hatred. / And when beheaded, you became a holy martyr for the Incarnate Savior. / Pray to Him for us who praise your glorious memory in song.
Kontakion of the Afterfeast, tone 1
By Your nativity, You did sanctify the Virgin’s womb, / And did bless Simeon’s hands, O Christ God. / Now You have come and saved us through love. / Grant peace to all Orthodox Christians, O only Lover of man!
1 John 2:7-17 (Epistle)
- Brethren, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which you heard from the beginning.
- Again, a new commandment I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.
- He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now.
- He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
- But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
- I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake.
- I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one. I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father.
- I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning. I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.
- Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
- For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world.
- And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
Mark 14:3-9 (Gospel)
- And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.
- But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted?
- For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply.
- But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.
- For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always.
- She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for 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.”