On June 21, on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, Rector of St. George Church served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a homily in English:
“The Gospel lesson of the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost is a part of the famous Sermon on the Mount which our Lord Jesus Christ preached at the beginning of His ministry. Today’s fragment is dealing with the right preferences, right priorities we should have. Our Lord knew our attachment to the material goods, so He teaches to care more about the true good which is the Kingdom of God. He says: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Mt. 6, 33).”
“Why we should be anxious about spiritual things? Because they never change and lead us to the blessedness. Spiritual values determine our place in the eternity. Through the merits of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, “the many dwellings” are prepared for us in heaven. There we will forever enjoy the good things which “eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered to the heart of man” (1 Cor. 2, 9). Those blessed things which belong to the Kingdom of God should be valued more than worldly, bodily pleasures, and we have to strive for those eternal things with all our soul in order to be happy after our earthly life.”
“When the Lord said “Seek first the Kingdom of God”, He meant not only life after death, but also our earthly life. Spiritual values have the greatest importance also for our earthly existence because they show us the true sense of life. God is a perfect and the happiest being. He is love, joy, peace and the source of happiness. And only a person who becomes close to God, can enjoy the true happiness, peace and pleasure. The one who became the temple of the Holy Spirit, who has God in his heart, always feels peace in the soul, the full satisfaction in life and the spiritual joy. Jesus said: “The Kingdom of God is within you” (Lk. 17, 21). It means that blessedness, happiness may be within us if we are close to God.”
”How can we acquire that state of blessedness, the Kingdom of God within us? Jesus tells us to seek that Kingdom and “His righteousness”. That means that we need to seek the God’s righteousness: how to please God and how to justify ourselves before Him. Those things we may acquire if we live in piety and justice. The All-Holy God indwells only in those who strive to imitate Him in their righteousness and piety. Only those people are granted the spiritual goods – peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. How can enjoy peace and joy those who attempt only to earn, as much as possible, wealth or power? How can have peace those who dream only about the pleasures of flesh, or about food, or alcohol, or drugs? Do you think that those who unjustly earned a lot of money, enjoy peace or sleep well? Why those powerful people are surrounded by the bodyguards?”
“If we will care about spiritual treasures, the Lord will bestow upon us earthly well-being, in addition to the spiritual goodness. “All these things shall be added to you” – says the Lord, meaning that we will have material wealth. Earthly goodness is the result of the spiritual, righteous life. Therefore, we have to decide to live as Christians, according to the precepts of God. We may live in this world and achieve awards along with the great Saints. St. Macarius says: “God does not look whether you are a virgin or a married woman; a monk or a lay person, but He seeks only a heartfelt desire for good deeds. Make such a resolution, and salvation is near you, whoever you are or wherever you live.” Thus, dear brothers and sisters, let us remember the commandment of God: “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you”.”
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to stress the main thoughts of his English homily preached before. He also congratulated all men and fathers of the parish on the occasion of Father’s Day. Traditional “Mnogaia leta” was proclaimed.
Following the Liturgy the Rector and parishioners continued Father’s Day celebration at the trapeza table enjoying delicious meals and a nice company.