Longinus the Cenurion: The Story Continues

Have you ever read the Bible and thought, “I wonder what happened to him/her later?” Sometimes I think we Christians have a tendency to put the Bible into its own little box and we forget that along with being God’s inspired words to us, it is also the story of REAL people whose lives REALLY continued after the one moment of their lives that we read about. This is one of the things I have enjoyed so much about Orthodoxy; we have the stories of those folks that pick up where the Bible leaves off. Here is an example: the Gospel reading for today is from Matthew 27:33-54. For space’s sake, I will only include the final verses, picking up after Christ has taken his last breath:

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Who was that centurion? Did he become a Christian? If so, what happened to him later? Guess what, he did! His name was Longinus the Centurion and today we celebrate him in the Orthodox Church.

Reading from the Synaxarion:
This Martyr was in the service of Pontius Pilate at the time of Christ our Saviour’s Passion. While standing guard at the Cross and beholding the earthquake and all that came to pass, he cried out with fear, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matt. 27:54). After the Resurrection, he forsook the military and departed for Cappadocia, his homeland, where he preached Christ. By the agency of Pontius Pilate, Tiberius Caesar had him arrested and beheaded.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thy Martyr, O Lord, in his courageous contest for Thee received the prize of the crowns of incorruption and life from Thee, our immortal God.  For since he possessed Thy strength, he cast down the tyrants and wholly destroyed the demons’ strengthless presumption.  O Christ God, by his prayers, save our souls, since Thou art merciful.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
With great joy the Church of Christ today rejoiceth on the festive memory of blest Longinus, the all-famed and godly prizewinner.  And she doth cry out:  O Christ, my foundation and might art Thou.

How cool is that?


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