(The Eighth Day of the Blessed Month of Tute)
I. The Martyrdom of Zacharias the Prophet:
On this day St. Zacharias, the priest, was martyred by the hand of Herod the King. When the angel Gabriel announced to him the birth of John his Son, he did not believe his word and the angel made him dumb, unable to speak until the child was born. (Luke 1: 18-22) When they named the child, he asked for a writing table and wrote that his name would be John. Then he spoke, and praised God. (Luke 1:63-79) The Holy Gospel gave testimony concerning him, that he and his wife were righteous, walking in the Law of God without blemish.
When our Lord Christ was born, and the wise men came to worship Him, Herod was troubled and feared for his kingdom. Therefore, he gave the order to slay all the children of Bethlehem, from two years old and under, so he would kill the Lord Christ among them. The angel of God appeared to Joseph in a dream saying, "Take the child and flee to Egypt." St. Joseph took the child Jesus and St. Mary, His mother, and went to Egypt as the angel of the Lord had told him. But John's mother took him and fled to the mountain were she dwelt, bringing him up for six years. After her departure to heaven, the child remained in the desert till the day of his appearance to Israel. (Luke 1: 80)
It was said that during the slaughter of the children, Herod thought that John was the Christ. He requested John from his father, Zacharias, who said, "I do not know where the child is." They threatened to kill him, but he did not heed. Herod ordered his soldiers to slay him.
It was also said that when Herod sought John to slay him, Zacharias escaped with him to the temple and put him on the altar and when they caught up with him, he told the soldiers, "From here I accepted him from the Lord," and thereupon the angel of God snatched away the child, and took him to the desert Zifana. When they did not find the child, they slew Zacharias between the temple and the altar. (Matthew 23:35)
Zacharias the priest, son of Bar-a-chi-as, is not Zacharias the prophet, who was one of the twelve minor prophets. Zacharias the prophet was not martyred but died and his body was found without decay.
His prayers be with us. Amen.
II. The Departure of Moses the Prophet:
On this day also, the righteous Moses, the head of the prophets, departed. He labored on behalf of the people of God till his death and delivered up himself for them. It was he who worked miracles and wonders in Egypt and in the Red Sea. When he became of age, refused to be called the son of the daughter of Pharaoh.
She brought him up when his parents left him on the banks of the river because they were afraid of Pharaoh who had commanded the slaughter of all male children of the Hebrews. When the daughter of Pharaoh found him by the river, she took him and reared him as her own son. When he had completed his 40 years, he saw an Egyptian slaying one of the Hebrews and straightaway he avenged the Hebrew and slew the Egyptian. The next day he saw two of the Hebrews fighting and he attempted to make peace between them. He, who was in the wrong, told him, "Do you want to slay me as you did slay the Egyptian yesterday?" Because of this, Moses fled to the land of Midian where he married and begot two sons. (Exodus 2)
When he was 80 years old, a fire appeared to him in a bush, but the bush was not consumed. When he moved close to behold this great sight, the Lord spoke to him from the bush and commanded him to bring out the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.
God worked at his hands the ten plagues upon the Egyptians, the first was the river which turned into blood and the last was the slaughter of the first born of the Egyptians. (Exodus 7-12) He brought the people out, and he divided the Red Sea and made them pass through it, and then he brought back the water over their enemies. He brought down for them "Manna" in the desert for forty years, and he made the water flow from a rock, and in spite of that they grumbled against him and many times they wanted to stone him. But he was long suffering with them, and he prayed to God for them, and because he loved them greatly, he said to God, "If You will not forgive this people their transgression, then blot out my name from Your book." (Exodus 31:32) The Book testified that he spoke with God five hundred and seventy times as a man talks with his friend, and he was called the mouthpiece of God. When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, after being with God, with the two tables of testimony in his hands, his face was shining. The children of Israel were afraid to come near him, so he put a veil on his face when he came near to talk to them. (Ex. 34:29-35)
When he was 120 years old, God commanded him to commit the leadership of the people to Joshua, the son of Nun, his disciple. (Deuteronomy 34:9) Moses called him and commanded him with the commands of God and His Law, and informed Joshua that he was the one to bring the people into the promised land. After Moses had made the Tabernacle of Witness and everything which was in it as God had commanded him, he died in the mountain. He was buried there, and God hid his body so the children of Israel would not find it and worship it because the Book testifies there never rose up a prophet in Israel as Moses. When Satan wished to reveal the body, Michael the archangel rebuked him, and prevented him from doing so as St. Jude testifies in his epistle. (Verse 9)
His prayers be with us. Amen.
III. The Martyrdom of St. Dimides (Diomede):
On this day also, St. Diomede (Dimides), was martyred. He was from Dershaba of the chair of Dantu. He loved the church, was kind to the poor and visited the sick. A luminous man appeared to him and commanded him to go to receive the crown of martyrdom and promised him heavenly rewards. He rejoiced greatly and left his parents and went forth from the city. He prayed to God to help him to endure the torture for His Name's sake.
He came to the city of Attribis and confessed the Lord Christ before the governor, who tortured him severely. Then they sent him to Lucianus, the governor of Alexandria. When he was on the boat, the Lord Christ appeared to him, comforted him, encouraged him and promised him everlasting happiness and his soul rejoiced. Lucianus tortured him with different kinds of tortures, then gave the order to cut off his head, thus he received the crown of martyrdom. The people of his city came and took away his body and paid a great honor to it.
His blessings and prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.