Afterfeast of the Nativity of Christ. Saturday after the Nativity. The 14,000 Infants (Holy Innocents) slain by Herod at Bethlehem. Ven. Marcellus, Abbot of the Monastery of the “Unsleeping Ones” (485). Ven. Mark the Grave-digger, Theophilus, and John, of the Kiev Caves (Near Caves—11th-12th c.). Ven. Theóphil of Luga and Omutch (15th c.). Ven. Thaddeus the Confessor, of the Studion (818).
14,000 Holy Infants were killed by King Herod in Bethlehem. When the time came for the Incarnation of the Son of God and His Birth of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, Magi in the East beheld a new star in the heavens, foretelling the Nativity of the King of the Jews. They journeyed immediately to Jerusalem to worship the Child, and the star showed them the way. Having worshipped the divine Infant, they did not return to Jerusalem to Herod, as he had ordered them, but being warned by God in a dream, they went back to their country by another way. Herod finally realized that his scheme to find the Child would not be successful, and he ordered that all the male children two years old and younger at Bethlehem and its surroundings be killed. He thought that the divine Infant, Whom he considered a rival, would be among the dead children.
The murdered infants thus became the first martyrs for Christ. The rage of Herod fell also on Simeon the God-Receiver (February 3), who declared before everyone in the Temple that the Messiah had been born. When the holy Elder died, Herod would not give permission for him to be properly buried. On the orders of King Herod, the holy prophet and priest Zachariah was also killed. He was murdered in Jerusalem between the Temple and the altar (Mt. 23:35) because he would not tell the whereabouts of his son John, the future Baptist of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The wrath of God soon fell upon Herod himself: a horrid condition struck him down and he died, eaten by worms while still alive. Before his death, the impious king murdered the chief priests and scribes of the Jews, and also his brother, and his sister and her husband, and also his own wife Mariam, and three of his sons, and seventy men of wisdom who were members of the Sanhedrin. He initiated this bloodbath so that the day of his death would not be one of rejoicing, but one of mourning.
TROPARIA AND KONTAKIA
Troparion of the Nativity, tone 4
Your Nativity, O Christ our God, Has shone to the world the Light of wisdom! For by it, those who worshiped the stars, Were taught by a Star to adore You, The Sun of Righteousness, And to know You, the Orient from on High. O Lord, glory to You!
Troparion of the saints, tone 1
As acceptable victims and freshly plucked flowers, as divine first-fruits and newborn lambs, you were offered to Christ who was born as a child, holy innocents. You mocked Herod’s wickedness; now we beseech you: “Unceasingly pray for our souls.”
Kontakion of the saints, tone 6
When the King was born in Bethlehem, the Magi came from the east. Having been guided by the star on high, they brought Him gifts. But in his exceeding wrath, Herod mowed down the infants as wheat; lamenting that the rule of his kingdom had come to an end.
Kontakion of the Nativity, tone 3
Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, And the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One! Angels with shepherds glorify Him! The wise men journey with a star! Since for our sake the Eternal God was born as a Little Child!
1 Timothy 6:11-16 (Epistle, Saturday After)
- But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness.
- Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
- I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
- that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing,
- which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
- who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.
Matthew 12:15-21 (Gospel, Saturday After)
- But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.
- Yet He warned them not to make Him known,
- that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
- “Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen, My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased! I will put My Spirit upon Him, and He will declare justice to the Gentiles.
- He will not quarrel nor cry out, nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
- A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory;
- and in His name Gentiles will trust.”