October 27, 2014

Saint Nestor, the Daring Disciple

By Fr. Vasilios I. Kalliakmanis

A. Discipleship under a capable instructor and experienced spiritual father is considered essential for anyone who wants to be initiated in the Christian life. This cannot simply be transmitted through sermons or books. It is transferred by example. In the Synaxarion of Saint Demetrios it says that he came from "the city of Thessaloniki, pious towards the things above by his parents, and an instructor in the faith of Christ." At the same time he was a general of the Roman army in Thessaly and Proconsul of Greece. But this did not prevent him from cultivating Christian piety and to be a mystagogue of many students in evangelical truth.

B. He who is inspired by the message of the resurrection of the Gospel cannot only keep it for themselves; they desire to impart it to others as well. Those who undergo a "spiritual alteration", which is "most honorable", as our liturgical texts teach, want others to be initiated into the life of the Spirit. Among the most distinguished students of Saint Demetrios was Saint Nestor, whom the Church honors on October 27th.

C. When it was disclosed that Saint Demetrios was not only a Christian, but that he taught the faith to a circle of students, this resulted in his dismissal from his military post and his imprisonment. Caesar Galerius was very strict with the young officer. Furthermore he wanted to celebrate his victory against the Scythians, so he organized duels in the stadium of Thessaloniki, where the gigantic Lyaios boasted arrogantly and caused fright among the Christians.

D. At a time when the Christian faith was persecuted and Christians were led to the arenas as food for wild animals, to prison and a martyric death, who would dare resist? Yet, the daring disciple of Saint Demetrios, Nestor, who was armed with courage and bravery, voluntarily entered the arena to give a good fight. He did not calculate the superiority of his opponent, nor did he bend to the cheers of the hostile crowd.

E. What came to his mind was that which was taught by his teacher: that Christians may seemingly be weak and persecuted, but their strength is internal, spiritual and "perfected in weakness" (2 Cor. 12:9). He remembered the unequal battle between David and Goliath, where David came out victorious. He was inspired by the boldness and firmness of the faith of his teacher, who sacrificed earthly glory, offices and riches for the truth of Christ.

F. Nestor fled to imprisoned Demetrios, and according to the Synaxarion he said to him: "'Servant of God, I want to fight Lyaios. Thus supplicate unto the Lord through my words.' The Saint sealed his forehead with the sign of the Cross and told him: 'You will be victorious over Lyaios, and will be martyred for Christ.' Hence by the words of the Saint, Nestor received courage and strength in his soul, and straightway jumped into the stadium. He fought Lyaios and killed him. He did not receive the same arrogance of Lyaios, nor the praise of the king."

G. "The king felt shamed, and was saddened as well as angry. Because he learned that Saint Demetrios moved Nestor towards this, he sent soldiers to the prison and ordered them to pierce the Saint many times with spears. This was due to the massacre of Lyaios. When this happened, immediately the great Demetrios submitted his holy soul into the hands of God. He worked many miracles and strange healings after his death. Then the king ordered Saint Nestor to be beheaded." Thus like good soldiers of Christ, the instructor and the student received an "incorruptible crown of glory" (1 Pet. 5:4).

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.