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Sunday of the Triumph of Orthdoxy


On this day the Church commemorates the final ending of the Iconoclast controversy and the definitive restoration of the holy icons to the churches by the Empress Theodora, acting as Regent for her young son, Michael III.   This took place on the first Sunday in Lent, 843.  There is, however, not only a historical link between the first Sunday in Lent and the restoration of the icons, but also a spiritual affinity.  If Orthodoxy triumphed in the era of the Iconoclast Controversy, this was because so many of the faithful were prepared to undergo exile, torture, and even death, for the sake of the truth.   The Feast of Orthodoxy is, above all, a celebration in honor of the martyrs and confessors who struggled and suffered for the faith: hence its appropriateness for the season of Lent, when we are striving to imitate the martyrs by means of our ascetic self-denial.  Please see the related article in “Father Quotes”.

In the Epistle Reading today, we hear of the sufferings of Moses and of David, of the patriarchs and martyrs of Israel:  these were images drawn not on wood, but in the flesh.  They prefigured and announced the coming of the definitive Icon, the Person of Christ.

The Gospel reading today has no direct bearing on either icons or Orthodoxy:  rather, we see the Apostle Philip bringing Nathanael, who will also become a disciple, to Jesus. 


The following readings below are for Sunday, February 21, 2021:

Today's Epistle reading [Hebrews 11.24-26, 32-40]

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, 
 choosing rather to share ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 
 He considered abuse suffered for the Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he looked to the reward. 
 And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets -- 
who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
 quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.  
Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. 
 Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. 
 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated --
 of whom the world was not worthy--wandering over deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 
 And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised,
 since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.



The Gospel reading for today [John 1.43-51]:

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. And he found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." 
 Now Philip was from Beth-sa'ida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 
 Philip found Nathan'a-el, and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 
 Nathan'a-el said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." 
 Jesus saw Nathan'a-el coming to him, and said of him, "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!" 
 Nathan'a-el said to him, "How do you know me?" Jesus answered him, "Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you." 
 Nathan'a-el answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" 
 Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these." 
 And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."