30 November 2022 (MIA)
Macedonian Orthodox Church Calendar
St. Gregory the Wonderworker
The odds against anyone born Christian in the early third century, particularly in the city of Neocaesaria, were staggering; but there was born in that city in A.D. 203 a man who reversed those odds in Christianity’s favor and who, as events bore out, made the number seventeen a special number. It was by coincidence that the number seventeen marked milestones in an illustrious career, but divine design that diverted a pagan from a course that would have led to oblivion to a course which led to sainthood and glory. The name of this saint has come to us as Gregory the Wonderworker, but he was born with the given name of Theodore in Neocaesaria, in the province of Pontos. From birth his pagan parents saw to his every need, save the spiritual, providing the tutors an easy task of a brilliant pupil whose education was aimed at making him a man of law and letters. It was in Alexandria that young Theodore came upon the renowned Christian teacher Origen. Theodore absorbed the teachings of Christianity, and in due course was converted with the given name of Gregory. As Gregory, he became a familiar figure in religious circles, displaying a wisdom beyond his years and an ever-increasing devotion to Jesus Christ, the Saviour who had been denied in his native city. He did not return to Neocaesaria until the year 288 AD, by which time his fame had preceded him. Rather than take up the practice of law as had been originally intended, he sought out the Christians with a determination to swell their ranks. The word was sent to followers of Christ to assemble in secret, and was prevailed upon by those who gathered to become their bishop. Gregory assented and must have assumed that those present were but a contingent. When told that every Christian of the city was there, the dumbfounded Gregory counted heads, and there were exactly seventeen assembled. A lesser man would have been disillusioned, but the scant number only served to make Gregory all the more determined to bring more into the Christian fold. Ever the optimist, St. Gregory remarked there would be no challenge if the entire city were Christian and that the thousands of pagans represented an inspiration to serve God and man. He was ordained bishop of Caesaria and plunged into his task of conversion with a zeal that was so contagious that he was not many weeks in making the vast majority of the city Christian. The task was not an easy one, and on many occasions the growing number of Christians were put to flight only to return and gather more members when tempers had cooled. The transformation of an entire city by a single person was so remarkable that it was written about years later by such great hierarchs as St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory of Nyssa. In the end, however, not even the presence of a Christian populace could prevent the persecution of Bishop Gregory. He fell victim to the state whose leaders were largely pagan and who engaged in sporadic raids on unsuspecting Christians. Bishop Gregory was occupied in a successful defense of the faith against the heresy of Paul of Samosata when a handful of hardened pagans, under the protection of soldiers provided by the provincial governor, succeeded in seizing the bishop for trial and sentencing. Before he died, he was told that there were only seventeen pagans left in the city, the same number of Christians he had found at the outset. Gregory died for Christ on November 17.
St. Andrew – Apostle
Andrew, like his brother Simon Peter, was a fisherman. He became a disciple of the great St. John the Baptist, but when John pointed to Jesus and said, “Behold the Lamb of God!” Andrew understood that Jesus was greater. At once he left John to follow the Divine Master. Jesus knew that Andrew was walking behind him, and turning back, he asked, “what do you seek?” When Andrew answered that he would like to know where Jesus lived, Our Lord replied, “Come and see.” Andrew had been only a little time with Jesus when he realized that this was truly the Messiah. From then on, he chose to follow Jesus. Andrew was thus the first disciple of Christ. Next, Andrew brought his brother Simon (St. Peter) to Jesus and Jesus received him, too, as His disciple. At first the two brothers continued to carry on their fishing trade and family affairs, but later, the Lord called them to stay with Him all the time. He promised to make them fishers of men, and this time, they left their nets for good. It is believed that after Our Lord ascended into Heaven, St. Andrew went to Greece to preach the gospel. He is said to have been put to death on a cross, to which he was tied, not nailed. He lived two days in that state of suffering, still preaching to the people who gathered around their beloved Apostle. Two countries have chosen St. Andrew as their patron – Russia and Scotland.ia and Scotland.