1. THE HOLY APOSTLE ONESIMUS
Onesimus was one of the Seventy Lesser Apostles. He was a slave of Philemon but transgressed against his master and fled to Rome where he heard the Gospel from the Apostle Paul and was baptized. Since the Apostle Paul earlier converted Philemon to the True Faith, he reconciled the two of them, Philemon and Onesimus, master and slave, writing a special epistle to Philemon. It is one of the most emotional compositions which exists in Holy Scripture. "I urge you on behalf of my child Onesimus, whose father I have become in my imprisonment. Perhaps this is why he was away from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a slave, but more than a slave, a brother, beloved especially to me" (Philemon 1:10,15,16). Moved by this letter Philemon, indeed, received Onesimus as a brother freeing him from slavery. Later, Onesimus was consecrated a bishop by the apostles themselves and accepted the episcopal throne at Ephesus following the Apostle Timothy. This is evident from the Epistle of Ignatius the God-bearer [Theophorus]. At the time of Trajan's persecution, Onesimus, already an old man, was arrested and brought to Rome. In Rome, Onesimus gave an accounting of himself before judge Tertycus, was imprisoned and finally beheaded. A wealthy woman removed his body, placed it in a silver arcophagus and buried it honorably in the year 109 A.D.
2. THE VENERABLE EUSEBIUS, A SYRIAN HERMIT
In the beginning Eusebius lived an asectical life under the direction of holy men and later he withdrew and became a recluse. He fed entirely on plant life. He did not even taste fruit. He spent all of his time in prayer in the open spaces enduring all conditions of weather. He lived to be ninety-five years of age and died peacefully in the year 440 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINT ONESIMUS, THE APOSTLE
The all glorious Onesimus, as a slave his life began,
And ended as an apostle of Christ and martyr.
For his name, the lawless Tertylus asked him?
My name is Christian, my surname Onesimus.
A freeman or someone's slave are you?
A slave of Philemon I was and a slave of Christ the God I am.
For what price did Philemon sell you [to Christ]?
His blood for me, the Lord Christ gave.
Tell me; the idols of the State, you do honor?
Gods I do not see but only statues
Various animals; all dead statues;
I see an ox and to the ox sacrifices offering
Thus the ram to rams, birds to owls -
Living animals to the dead beasts,
More alive to the more dead; stronger to the weaker.
No, to such gods I do not bow down!
But to the Living Lord, my Master
And Creator; mine and yours O Tertylus.
The man of God, Tertylus mocked.
That by the sword, ordered that he be beheaded!
Master over the body, his head severed,
But neither the soul nor the glory did they cut off.
The glorious name Onesimus remained -
That heaven and earth, of him, be praised.
For every man, peace of soul is precious. With those who have attained peace of soul, the body can be in constant motion; in work, in pain, but their souls, affixed to God, always remain in unwavering peace. St. Seraphim of Sarov teaches: "It is necessary to concern oneself with all means in order to preserve peace of soul and not to be disturbed by the insults of others. That is why it is necessary, at all costs, to restrain yourself from anger with the help of vigilance over one's self, preserving the mind and heart from indecent movements. For preserving peace of soul, it is also necessary to avoid judging others. By not judging and by silence, peace of the soul is preserved. When a man is in such a state of mind, he receives divine revelations. In order for man to be preserved from judging others, he must be vigilant over himself; he must not receive from anyone non-spiritual thoughts and he should be dead toward everything worldly. We must tirelessly guard the heart from indecent thoughts and influences. `With closest custody, guard your heart for in it are the sources of life.' (Proverbs 4:23). From perpetual vigilance over the heart, purity is born, in which the Lord is seen according to the words of eternal truth: `Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God' " (St. Matthew 5:8).
To contemplate the Lord Jesus as a Traveler:
1. How He is wearied by traveling, perspiring, hungry and thirsty for my salvation, for your salvation and for the salvation of all men;
2. How even at night, He labors for my salvation, for your salvation and for the salvation of all men;
3. How on every journey, He thinks, He worries and He desires salvation for me, for you and for all men.
About the believing people and the unbelieving elders
"When the Messiah [Christ] comes, will He perform more signs than this man has done?" (St. John 7:31).
The Lord Jesus performed miraculous works before all and all saw but not all believed. The people witnessed His miracles and believed in Him. Servants heard His words and believed in Him. But the leaders of the people and the masters of the servants also witnessed His miracles and did not believe in Him. And so, in those days the words of the Savior came true: "But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first" (St. Matthew 19:30). "For behold, some who are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last" (St. Luke 13:30). Those who were first in honor and authority were last in having faith in Him; and those who were last in honor and authority were the first in having faith in Him.
Why did the people and servants believe and the princes and scribes not believe? Because, the people and servants considered themselves insignificant and unimportant and did not have any personal pride nor envy toward Christ. The people and servants, without malice and prejudice, looked upon the divine miracles and listened to the divine words and were amazed and rejoiced. The princes and the scribes considered themselves first among the people and in the world and so they were filled with pride and envy and were unable, even for a moment, to look upon the miraculous works nor to listen to the divine words without malice and envy.
Brethren, do you see how man, without humility and meekness, is unable even to recognize truth nor to rejoice in the truth? Do you see how the proud and the envious do not even allow God to be ahead of them? As did Satan, at one time!
Lord Jesus, eternal truth cleanse our hearts of pride and envy that we may be able to see You and to rejoice in You.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.