24th Sunday after Pentecost

On November 23, on the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, we had a beautiful celebration in our church. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily:

“The parable of the Good Samaritan tells us about the new teaching our Lord Jesus Christ brought to the world. That teaching did not reject the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament. In fact, Jesus is referring to the Law of Moses in today’s Gospel lesson while speaking with the Jewish scholar of law. But our Savior wished to introduce the new principle into that law. He preached that all kinds of laws and regulations must be subjected to the highest law, the law of love. This is why He is teaching us that love surpasses everything and has no boundaries.”
“In today’s parable we see that love towards a fellow human being has to be beyond the national, religious or social differences. A man fell among the thieves and laid wounded and half dead on the road (presumably this was a Jewish man). He did not receive help from the highest and respected members of the Jewish society: from a priest and from a Levite who happened to be there and passed him. But a Samaritan, a stranger, almost an enemy to the Jews, had compassion and took a good care of the wounded man. This shows us what the Lord desired to tell the scholar of law: that a neighbor to a man is anyone in immediate need, even a supposed enemy. Since we are all humans and since we are all created as the image and likeness of the infinite God, we all are neighbors to each other. We all owe love to each other.”
“Unfortunately, due to the sin and corruption of humanity, we are divided in numerous ways: by race, nationality, ethnicity, faith, politics and many other reasons. Those divisions are inevitable in that state of corruption. God Himself would not bless the unity of such humanity, being sinful and proud. As the Scripture tells us, God divided people confusing their languages when they attempted to build the Tower of Babel, to create a world domination without God’s blessing. In a similar way in our days people building a global community without religious and traditional moral principles will not have God’s blessing and will not succeed. Instead of creating a godless human unity based on the low instincts and pride, our Lord Jesus Christ proposes us a unity based on love and understanding of our imperfection. This is a unity of helping each other regardless who we are, Black or White, from this or from another country, of this or of a different ethnic background, are born somewhere or not. We are called to love the neighbor, and that neighbor may be anyone who would need our help, our care, our compassion.”
”A good example of such mercy and Christian love is the activity of the sisters of Mercy founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Although those nuns are no Orthodox, they show a good example of Christian life and attitude. They assisted all people in need, no matter what faith or race they belonged to. Sometimes they helped those Hindus who hated Christ and wished to use violence against Christian missionaries.”
“We may say that every Christian community is called to practice the love of a Good Samaritan. At the same time we should understand that our human nature is weak and wounded by sin, so nothing we can really accomplish without God’s help. Symbolically, the Good Samaritan is Jesus Christ who came to help the humanity wounded by sin and robbed by the devil. We are in fact wounded and sick spiritually. Only divine grace shown in the parable as the treatment given by the Samaritan (bandaging the wounds, pouring on oil and wine) may help us to heal. This is why, by the way, the Church uses oil mixed with some wine in the Mystery of the Anointing of the sick. In the times of Jesus people did not have advance medications to treat the wounds. They used oil and wine to make the wounds better. This was done by Good Samaritan in today’s Gospel lesson. But in a symbolic way, our Lord did it to the human race. And the oil and wine are His divine grace, the grace of healing spiritual wounds of humanity.”
“Dear brothers and sisters!  Let us strive practicing love of our neighbor, helping them and doing it in the name of the Lord and under the holy cover of the Church.”

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector briefly explained his English sermon in the Russian language. He also reminded parishioners that next week we begin the Nativity, or St. Philip’s Fast. This year it starts right after the Thanksgiving Day. Fr. Igor wished everyone a nice and happy Thanksgiving celebration but warned the parishioners before excessive eating which may violate the first days of fasting.