Sts. Forty Martyrs of Sebastia,
Twenty-Seventh Day of Great Lent
 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment will ever touch them.
 In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died,
and their departure was thought to be an affliction,
 and their going from us to be their destruction;
but they are at peace.
 For though in the sight of men they were punished,
their hope is full of immortality.
 Having been disciplined a little, they will receive great good,
because God tested them and found them worthy of himself;
 like gold in the furnace he tried them,
and like a sacrificial burnt offering he accepted them.
 In the time of their visitation they will shine forth,
and will run like sparks through the stubble.
 They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them for ever.
 The shatterer has come up against you.
Man the ramparts;
watch the road;
gird your loins;
collect all your strength.
 (For the LORD is restoring the majesty of Jacob
as the majesty of Israel,
for plunderers have stripped them
and ruined their branches.)
 The shield of his mighty men is red,
his soldiers are clothed in scarlet.
The chariots flash like flame
when mustered in array;
the chargers prance.
 The chariots rage in the streets,
they rush to and fro through the squares;
they gleam like torches,
they dart like lightning.
 But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
 When you pass through the waters I will be with you;
and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
and the flame shall not consume you.
 For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
Ethiopia and Seba in exchange for you.
 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
 Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
 and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace;
 besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one.
 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
 Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls,
 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net which was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind;
 when it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into vessels but threw away the bad.
 So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous,
 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.
 “Have you understood all this?” They said to him, “Yes.”
 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyright © National Council of Churches of Christ in America