Saturday, June 24, 2017

Synaxis of the Righteous Zechariah and Elizabeth

Synaxis of the Righteous Zechariah and Elizabeth (Feast Day - June 24)

On this day is the Synaxis of the Righteous Zechariah and Elizabeth.

Verses

Having given birth to your son the Forerunner,
Your relatives rejoice with you, and now all of creation.

Six months before his appearance in Nazareth to the All Holy Theotokos, the great Archangel of God, Gabriel appeared to Zechariah the high priest in the Temple at Jerusalem. And before he announced the miraculous conception to the unwed Virgin Mary, the Archangel announced the miraculous conception to the childless old woman, Elizabeth.

Zechariah did not immediately believe the words of the herald of God and this is why his tongue was tied with dumbness and remained as such until eight days after the birth of John. On that day, the relatives of Zechariah and Elizabeth gathered for the young child's circumcision and for the sake of giving him a name. When they asked the father what name he wishes to give to his son and being dumb, he wrote on a tablet: "John." At that moment his tongue became loosed and he began to speak.

The home of Zechariah and Elizabeth was on the heights between Bethlehem and Hebron. The news of the appearance of the Archangel of God to Zechariah was spread throughout all of Israel, as well as of his dumbness and the loosening of his tongue at the moment when he wrote the name "John." The news concerning this even reached King Herod. Therefore, when Herod sent soldiers to slay the children throughout Bethlehem, he directed men to the hilly dwelling place of the family of Zechariah to kill John also. However, Elizabeth promptly hid the child.

Enraged, at this King Herod sent his executioners to Zechariah in the Temple to slay him (for it happened that it was Zechariah's turn again to serve in the Temple of Jerusalem). Zechariah was slain between the court and the temple and his blood coagulated and petrified on the stone pavers and remained a perpetual witness against Herod. Elizabeth hid with the child in a cave where she died soon after. The young child John then remained in the wilderness alone under the care of God and God's angels.


Apolytikion in the Second Tone
The memory of Your prophets Zechariah and Elizabeth we celebrate today, O Lord. By their prayers, we beseech You, O Christ God, save our souls.


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