Reflection for October 26, 2020
REFLECTION • OCTOBER 26 • Holy Greatmartyr Demetrius of Thessalonica, the Myrrhgusher
A miracle of St.
Demetrius of Thessalonica: Demetrius was a commander of Thessalonica during his
life and remained so after his repose. People have felt his presence in
Thessalonica, especially in times of great calamities. He protects the city,
wards off misfortunes, repels invaders, and helps all who invoke his name. Here
is a wonderful example of his unusual aid to people in need. Once, the
barbarians attacked Thessalonica and were unable to overtake it. Infuriated at
this, they pillaged the countryside and bound and carried off two beautiful
maidens whom they gave as a gift to their prince. These maidens knew how to
embroider well. When the prince saw their handiwork, he said to them: “I hear
that there is a great god in your land, Demetrius, and that he works great
miracles. Embroider his face on this linen.” The maidens told him that St.
Demetrius was not a god but rather God’s servant and the helper of Christians.
At first, they refused to embroider the face of the saint, but when the prince
threatened them with death, they carried out the command and completed the task
by St. Demetrius’s Day. On the eve of the feast, they looked at their
embroidery and wept sorrowfully, as they had to spend the feast day in slavery
and had to give that embroidered image of their beloved saint to an impious
barbarian. Both maidens prayed to St. Demetrius to forgive them. Then St.
Demetrius appeared to them and took them both away, as an angel had once taken
the Prophet Habakkuk. He brought them to Thessalonica and set them in his
church. A solemn all-night vigil was being celebrated, and many people were
there. When they learned of the miraculous rescue of these Christian maidens,
all glorified God and St. Demetrius, His great servant and commander. (St. Nikolai Velimirovich, Prologue from
Fr. John’s Reflection
You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.
And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hardworking farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things.
Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:1-10, for St. Demetrius)
The Church honors the memory of the Greatmartyr Demetrius on October 26. A soldier, he suffered martyrdom on October 26, 306 after converting many people to Christianity and professing his faith to the emperor. His body was cast out for wild animals, but disciples came and buried him reverently. From his life on oca.org:
During the reign of Saint Constantine
(306-337), a church was built over the grave of Saint Demetrius. A hundred
years later, during the construction of a majestic new church on the old spot,
the incorrupt relics of the holy martyr were uncovered. Since the seventh
century a miraculous flow of fragrant myrrh has been found beneath the crypt of
the Great Martyr Demetrius, so he is called “the Myrrh-gusher.”
Several times, those venerating the holy wonderworker tried to bring his holy relics, or a part of them, to Constantinople. Invariably, Saint Demetrius made it clear that he would not permit anyone to remove even a portion of his relics.
The selection from the Second Epistle of St. Paul to Timothy cited above is read for St. Demetrius. In addition, in a passage from the Gospel of St. John also read, Jesus reminds us that we would suffer for Him because He suffered. The letter to Timothy refers to warfare and being a soldier. Sometimes we are surprised when we hear about soldier-saints in the history of the Church. But the reality is that Christian faith = warfare. Three points stand out in St. Paul’s words (and the life of St. Demetrius):
- You must endure hardship as a good soldier in Christ Jesus. Hardship is expected in the life of a soldier. No one who signs up for the military is surprised when asked to live on the land, in a tent in pouring rain, on rations, etc. Nor is one surprised when he finds himself imprisoned, as Paul did. To live the Christian life is a call to hardship. Temptation, ridicule, struggle, even sometimes imprisonment and death. We are warriors, and sometimes warriors suffer and die.
- A good soldier cannot be entangled with the affairs of this life. A warrior must keep “his eye on the ball,” so to speak. As Christians, we are tempted at all times to let the “affairs of this life” interfere with growing in Christ. It does not mean we don’t take care of our lives, or the lives of our loved ones, but we make sure they have a proper place in our lives. We pray for strength and direction to prioritize appropriately.
- Finally, Paul reminds us that he himself was in chains for the glory of God. He looked at the chains as an extension of the warfare, enduring all things “for the elect.” If we are good soldiers fighting the good fight, we will suffer much gladly for those in our lives, both to protect them and to fill them with the hope and love of faith.
Holy Saint Demetrius, pray to God for us and strengthen us to be good soldiers in the army of God which is the Church!
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023
November 29, 2023