On December 7 St. George parish family celebrated 26th Sunday after Pentecost and a minor feast of the Holy Great Martyr Catherine. There was a Divine Liturgy served in our temple by the Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. After the Gospel lesson he preached a homily:
“Today’s Gospel lesson tells how our Lord Jesus Christ healed a sick woman who was bent over for 18 years. Again, our Lord shows His great and life-giving power, the power of God. But we should also note the reaction of certain people to the manifestation of that power. Instead of recognizing Jesus as the Lord and Savior, the leaders of the Jews try to find any possible fault in Him. In this case they are angry that He performed a healing on the Sabbath day. Jesus responded to such accusation and named His accuser very accurately. He called him a hypocrite.”
“Our Lord Jesus Christ always addressed the problems in a proper way and named the things accurately. He never used diplomatic ways to express His feelings. The so-called “political correctness” was foreign to Him. Nowadays people are fed up with political correctness. This is so not because it is so bad, but because it is a form of hypocrisy. It does not call things accurately. You don’t need to use “political correctness” in order to be just nice to others. It had been known for centuries – how to say things in order to avoid offending people. And it was not called “political correctness” but politeness and not being rude. And it was always based on our love of the neighbor, not on an intention to be “politically correct”. Basically, we have to be nice to others but we also have to call things accurately. Our Lord Jesus called the things how they are and avoided lie and hypocrisy. On the contrary, hypocrisy was the tool of His enemies.”
“Therefore, today’s Gospel may teach us to avoid the hypocritical attitude. That attitude was very much followed by the Pharisees and scribes, other leaders of the Jews who wished to appear very pious, worthy and virtuous but very often led a different kind of moral and private life. They said very good words but were doing evil things. This is called hypocrisy. Our Lord very often suffered from their attacks, accusations and criticism. And He responded to those attackers very often. The holy Gospels are full of Jesus’ chastising the scribes and Pharisees. Those words are commonly used along with the word “hypocrites’. Later on in many European languages, languages of the Christians the very word ‘Pharisee’ became a synonym of the word ‘hypocrite’. Jesus also called them the “fools and blinds”,” foolish ones” (Lk. 11, 40), called them “the cups clean outside, but their inward part is full of greed and wickedness” (Lk. 11, 39) called them “whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness” (Mt. 23, 27). Jesus warned His disciples from the “leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy” (Lk. 12, 1).”
“As our Lord Himself told, the Pharisees paid attention to the small and insignificant things, but missed the important ones. They “strained out a gnat and swallow a camel” (Mt. 23, 24). They paid the tithes on mint and rue, but did not pay on their large possessions. They made up different ways of avoiding the real acts of love and charity, but made a big deal out of someone’s failure to fulfill certain rituals. For instance, once Jesus did not wash before sitting to eat with the Pharisees and they noticed that and accused Him.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us not follow the way of the Pharisees and hypocrites, but remember things which are really great and important. Let us beware of the hypocritical attitude, the leaven of the Pharisees. Remember that hypocrisy begins when a person is not doing good, but only shows a likeness of good. Then such a person may wish to confirm his image of a benefactor without doing a charitable work., or having a personal profit from that charity. If such things are practiced and planned, we are dealing with a hypocrite whose heart is filled with lie and deceit. Good things must be done sincerely, from the heart, for the glory of God and without thinking of people’s reaction. Our Lord Jesus Christ wished to help the sick woman on the Sabbath day and did that good and worthy thing without considering what others would say about it. Let us imitate Him and not His enemies to be worthy of His Kingdom.”
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector briefly explained in Russian language his previously preached sermon to the Russian-speaking parishioners.