2nd Sunday after Pentecost, of All the Saints of Rus’

On June 14, on the 2nd Sunday after Pentecost, on the feast of All the Saints of the Russian Church, we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. Our parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that sermon is as follows:

“Today’s reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew tells us about our Lord Jesus Christ calling His first Disciples to follow Him. It is about electing the first followers. The Scripture tells that those four men, Andrew, Peter, James and John, were fishermen at the Sea of Galilee. Although these men were unlearned and illiterate, they could accept such a call. The interpreters of the Gospel tell us that those men were prepared for Jesus’ call by the preaching of St. John the Baptist. They came to listen to his speeches, were probably baptized by him and were ready to accept Christ. This is why we read that they “immediately left their nets and followed Him” (Mt. 4, 20).”
“In the same way our Lord chooses and calls different men to become laborers in His vineyard, servers at His holy altar, to become priests. It happens in infinitely various ways, but the sense is the same: Jesus comes, calls them to follow Him, and they do. I may recall my own vocation to the priestly ministry. At the age of 12 I just became interested in the Church life, in services and desired to become one of the servants of the Lord. There was no special vision or supernatural revelation – I only became very much exited about the Church life. All other interests became less important. Other people could have a different story, but the sense is the same: Jesus calls, and we follow.”
“But Jesus also, in the same way, calls everybody to follow Him. He wishes every man and woman to be His disciple, His follower, to be a Christian. The calling happens also in many different ways, in different time, at different age. But it happens. God in His ineffable wisdom called St. John the Baptist from the time he was conceived in his mother’s womb, so he could leap in the womb of Elizabeth when Holy Virgin Mary, also being pregnant with Jesus, came to visit her. God in His incomprehensible providence called St. Nicholas the Wonderworker when he was a babe, so little Nicholas refused to be nursed on Wednesdays and Fridays. Almost ten centuries later the same behavior was seen in the baby Bartholomew who later became Venerable Sergius of Radonezh, one of our greatest Saints.”
“Many Saints were called at their young age, but some were called later. St. Paul converted at the age of maturity, after he persecuted Christians. St. Moses the Black converted after being a merciless criminal and killer. St. Augustine changed his life after 20 years of prayers said for his conversion by his mother, St. Monica.”
“Celebrating today our Saints of Rus’ we may also recall that one of them, Equal to the Apostles Prince Vladimir also converted at his age of maturity. Before that the Baptizer of Rus’ was a zealous pagan. But when he heard and accepted the calling of Christ, he became a pious worshiper of the true God. After being a sinner, a polygamist, he became a sincere Christian. And after being a cruel ruler he became Vladimir the “Sunny Beautiful” how he was called by his subjects.”
“All of us were first called to follow Jesus when we became baptized. But for those of us who were baptized at their early age, this was just an advance invitation. After growing up we may truly accept or decline that Lord’s invitation. The world is full of stories of various people how they heard the calling of the Lord and started to go after Him.”
“Therefore, if it happened for those people, it should happen for us. Many of us may say that we have been already called and followed Jesus. Our presence here in the church serves as a proof of that. But even then, we need to be open to the voice of the Lord calling us to follow Him further. We need to be faithful to our vocation as Christians. We need to eliminate from our lives anything which stands in our way of following the Lord. So, let us discern the true calling of our lives and be the true disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector briefly conveyed the ideas of his Russian homily in a short English sermon.