St. George of Lyda

St. George was a soldier of the Roman army who was tortured and beheaded for his Christian faith in the year 303, in Lydda (in modern day Palestine).  He was likely born in Cappadocia, of a Cappadocian father and a Palestinian mother of noble rank. At the death of his father (possibly martyrdom) he moved to Palestine with his mother where he joined the military and apparently served with some distinction, meriting several promotions in rank.

One account of the martyrdom of St. George is Eusebius´ Ecclesiastical History, which relates that when the emperor Diocletian issued an edict "to tear down the churches to the foundations and to destroy the Sacred Scriptures by fire…a certain man, of no mean origin, but highly esteemed for his temporal dignities, stimulated by a divine zeal, and excited by an ardent faith, took it as it was openly placed and posted up for public inspection, and tore it to shreds as a most profane and wicked act." 

This act of instransigence and holy audacity enraged the emperor who had the man tortured and killed. This man “of no mean origin”, i.e. of nobility, has been identified by more than one ancient source, including Eusebius, as St. George, though most modern historians of the period state that this is unlikely.

St. George is usually depicted in Christian art as a soldier on horseback killing a dragon with a lance. This image is a representation of a popular legend of St. George which first appears in 1265 in a romance titled "The Golden Legend," in which he saved a town terrorized by a dragon with one blow of his lance. The image, however, is also, and more significantly, a powerful symbol of the victory of Christian faith over evil (sometimes interpreted more contextually in the early Church as “paganism”), personified by the devil who is symbolized by the dragon according to the imagery in Revelations.

St. George is invoked as a patron of military causes, not only because he was a soldier, but also, and primarily, due to his appearance to the Christian armies before the battle of Antioch, in which they were victorious, and to King Richard the Lionheart of England during his crusade against the Saracens.

The cult of St.George, while universal, remains strongest in the Eastern Church where he is venerated as “The Great Martyr.” Accounts of early pilgrims identify the seat of the cult of St.George at his burial site in Lydda. The cult has been in existence since the 4th century, soon after his death.

St. George is the patron of soldiers and the patron of many nations, including Palestine; Lebanon; England; Georgia; Malta. He is also the patron of Palestinian Christians and of Boy Scouts.  He is invoked by sufferers of herpes, skin diseases, skin rashes, syphilis, and snakebites.


Acts 9:1-20

1 But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest
2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.
3 Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him.
4 And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"
5 And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting;
6 but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."
7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one.
8 Saul arose from the ground; and when his eyes were opened, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
9 And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.
10 Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Anani'as. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Anani'as." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
11 And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire in the house of Judas for a man of Tarsus named Saul; for behold, he is praying,
12 and he has seen a man named Anani'as come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight."
13 But Anani'as answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to thy saints at Jerusalem;
14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call upon thy name."
15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel;
16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name."
17 So Anani'as departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came, has sent me that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
18 And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized,
19 and took food and was strengthened. For several days he was with the disciples at Damascus.
20 And in the synagogues immediately he proclaimed Jesus, saying, "He is the Son of God."


John 6:52-59

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"
53 So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you;
54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed.
56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me.
58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."
59 This he said in the synagogue, as he taught at Caper'na-um.


Psalms 117:1-2

1 Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!
2 For great is his steadfast love toward us; and the faithfulness of the LORD endures for ever. Praise the LORD!


Lord, help us to go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News

Friday April 23 2021
3rd Week of Easter
Acts 9:1-20;  Ps. 116:1,2;
Jn. 6:52-59  (Ps Wk III)


Heavenly Light, Voice, Vision — this was Saul’s awesome first encounter with Jesus.

Blinded, he went into a retreat — fasting and praying. Through another vision and another voice — sight came as he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Baptised, belonging to the Way — the converted Persecutor became the Evangeliser…“Jesus is the Son of God” (v 20)! Saul became the Lord’s “chosen instrument” to bring His Name “before pagans and pagan kings and before the people of Israel” (vv 15-16). His election came with the promise of much suffering (v 16).

Today, we are in the third week of Easter. The Lord has risen! Before His resurrection, He suffered much — the most extreme being His crucifixion.

Hebrews says of the sufferings of the Son of God that through His suffering, He was made perfect (Heb 2:10). And by His bruises, we are healed (Is 53:5).

Saul, later named Paul, suffered much to bring the Gospel to many people and nations. Because he was willing to suffer, the Gospel spread. Likewise, the Gospel spread through many who were willing to suffer for the sake of the Gospel.

Today, let us ask ourselves: “Am I willing to place my life into God’s hands, to be God’s instrument, to bring the Good News to those who are hungry, thirsty, lonely, naked, sick, imprisoned — in the many and varied ways?” It may inconvenience us in more ways than one.

Lord, help us to go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News!