October 16, 2013 + “Truly this was the Son of God”
from St. Nikolai Velimirovich, The Prologue of Ohrid, October 16th
The divine Matthew the Evangelist, in describing the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, says: Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54). That centurion was this blessed Longinus, who with two other of his soldiers came to believe in Jesus, the Son of God. Longinus was chief of the soldiers who were present at the Crucifixion of the Lord on Golgotha, and was also the chief of the watch that guarded the tomb. When the Jewish elders learned of the Resurrection of Christ, they bribed the soldiers to spread the false news that Christ did not resurrect, but rather that His disciples stole His body. The Jews also tried to bribe Longinus, but he did not allow himself to be bribed. Then the Jews resorted to their usual strategy: they decided to kill Longinus. Learning of this, Longinus removed his military belt, was baptized with his two companions by an apostle, secretly left Jerusalem and moved to Cappadocia with his companions. There, he devoted himself to fasting and prayer and, as a living witness of Christ's Resurrection, converted many pagans to the true Faith by his witness. After that, he withdrew to a village on the estate of his father. Even there, however, the malice of the Jews did not leave him in peace. Due to the calumnies of the Jews, Pilate dispatched soldiers to behead Longinus. St. Longinus foresaw in the spirit the approach of his executioners and went out to meet them. He brought them to his home, not telling them who he was. He was a good host to the soldiers, and soon they lay down to sleep. But St. Longinus stood up to pray, and prayed all night long, preparing himself for death. In the morning, he called his two companions to him, clothed himself in white burial clothes, and instructed the other members of his household to bury him on a particular small hill. He then went to the soldiers and told them that he was that Longinus whom they were seeking. The soldiers were perplexed and ashamed, and could not even contemplate beheading Longinus, but he insisted that they fulfill the order of their superior. Thus, Longinus and his two companions were beheaded. The soldiers took Longinus's head to Pilate, and he turned it over to the Jews. They threw it on a dung heap outside the city.
HYMN OF PRAISE
The Holy Martyr Longinus
St. Longinus stood beneath the Cross / When, on the Cross, Christ breathed His last.
Longinus beheld the wrath of the mild sky, / Witnessed the earth as it shook,
And the bright sun as it lost its rays / And clothed the whole world in darkness.
The tombs of many were opened, / And many of the dead appeared alive.
Brave Longinus was filled with fear, / And exclaimed with a remorseful sigh:
"This Man was the Son of God! / Sinful men have crucified the Innocent One!"
Next to him, two other soldiers / Echoed the exclamation of their centurion.
Longinus was a witness of the Resurrection, / And he could attest to His humiliation as well.
An eyewitness, a true witness, / Longinus desired to not conceal the truth,
But proclaimed it everywhere he went, / And glorified the resurrected Christ God!
To his death he remained Christ's soldier; / And for Christ, Longinus gave his head.
Martyr Longinus the Centurion, who stood at the Cross of the Lord
Longinus, you beheld the King of Glory who was nailed to the Cross, yet shone on those in darkness. You were enlightened by His rays and became a martyr and save those who cry: Glory to Him who gave you strength! Glory to Him who granted you a crown! Glory to Him who through you grants healing to all!
Kontakion, Tone 4
The Church rejoices in gladness on the day of the commemoration of the ever-memorable athlete Longinus! She cries out: "You are my strength and support, O Christ!"