On July 12, on the 6th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Holy Major Apostles Peter and Paul, our parish held a nice liturgical celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the readings from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily in Russian. An English version of that homily is as follows:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the 6th Sunday after Pentecost and feast of the Holy Major Apostles Peter and Paul. Today’s first Gospel reading is a continuation of the story about our Lord Jesus Christ told last Sunday. A week ago we heard that Jesus was asked by the people of the country of Gargesines to leave their region. Thus “He got into a boat, crossed over and came to His own city” (Mt. 9, 1). This was the city of Capernaum which served as our Lord’s headquarters. Now we hear of another miracle Jesus performed: healing of the paralytic. The Gospel lesson of today tells us about the divine power of our Lord Jesus Christ. It shows us three signs of such a power Christ had as the Son of God.”
“First power is that He knew the secrets of hearts. Hearing that Jesus grants the paralyzed man forgiveness of sins, the scribes who were present there start thinking that Jesus is blaspheming. But Jesus reads their minds and argues with them openly. Only God can fully know the secrets of our hearts, only God can read our minds. Second power is that Jesus could grant the forgiveness of sins. No one but God can forgive sins. The scribes were correct in that. But they had no faith that Jesus is God. Thus He has a power to forgive sins. Here we see the third sign of the divine power of Christ – that He can heal the disease merely by His word.”
“Today’s first Gospel lesson may teach us also about our reception of the divine power coming from our Lord Jesus Christ. We ought to be His Church, a gathering of people which constantly practices the reception and acquiring of that power. And in order to be the Church we need faith.”
“Today’s second Gospel lesson is dedicated to the feast of St. Peter and Paul. It is also about faith necessary for acquiring the divine power from Christ. When Jesus asked His Disciples what they would say about Him, St. Peter expressed their faith and confessed, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16, 16). That kind of faith of the Apostles made them able to receive the Holy Spirit and to become the Church. The Lord speaks about this Church in our second Gospel lesson. He tells Peter that on him, as on the rock, He will build His Church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Mt. 16, 18). The Church is founded on a solid rock, on the faith of the Apostles expressed by Peter when he confessed that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God. And that very faith allowed the Apostles to receive from Christ the power to bind and loose the sins of men. The Lord today in the Gospel is telling Peter, “And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16, 19). If in today’s first Gospel lesson the people are amazed that Jesus forgives the sins of the paralytic, then according to the second Gospel reading, a similar power is possessed not only by Christ, but also by His Church, personally by the Apostles. And that power the Apostles transmitted to their successors, the Bishops. And by today Christ continues to forgive our sins, but through His Church, through the power He gave to her because of the faith of His Disciples.”
“The faith of Peter was the same as the faith of other Holy Apostles. This is why we believe that all of them were that ‘rock’, that foundation on which Jesus could build His Church. Roman Catholics believe that Jesus gave His power only to St. Peter and to his successors, the Bishops of Rome. Thus Catholics think that the Bishop of Rome has universal jurisdiction over all the Church. We, Orthodox Christians, believe that not only Peter, but all the Apostles possessed that power and those keys of the Kingdom of Heaven because they shared the same firm faith with St. Peter.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, in order to receive the gift of the life-giving, healing and forgiving power of Christ, we need faith. We need such a faith that Jesus saw in St. Peter and in all His Apostles. Similar faith was seen in those people, the paralytic’s friends who brought him to Jesus. Their collective faith became a reason for Christ to perform the miracle of healing. And collective faith of the Apostles became a reason of granting them the power to bind and loose the sins of men. The same faith makes us the Church of Christ. And then not only on St. Peter, as Catholics think, but on all other Christians believing in Christ, the Son of the living God, the Lord founds and builds His Church. He founds it on a rock of faith. And we are called to be such a rock.”
“May our faith, the faith of Christ and the faith of the Apostles save us!”
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector performed the rite of Glorification in the middle of the temple singing the troparion, kontakion and magnification of the feast.Following that the Rector preached a short sermon in English conveying main ideas of his Russian homily.
After the liturgical service we continued to celebrate feast at our trapeza enjoying delicious meals and a nice company.