On August 2 the Church celebrates feast of the Holy Prophet Elias (Elijah). This year it fell on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the Scripture readings he preached a homily:
”In today’s Gospel we hear how our Lord came to His disciples walking on the water in the midst of a storm. We hear how St. Peter through faith joins Him on the water. Then Peter becomes distracted by the storm and cries out “Lord, save me!” (Mt. 14, 30). Our Lord reaches out and catches him and says “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14, 31).”
”In this Gospel we see the power of faith. We see that if we have faith we can perform miraculous things. Our Lord reminds of this when he says the following “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Mt. 17, 20) and again “Truly I say unto you, If you have faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say unto this mountain, be removed, and be cast into the sea; it shall be done.”(Mt. 21, 21).”
“Celebrating today feast of the Holy Prophet Elijah we could recall another miracle with the waters. The holy man took his mantle, rolled it up and struck the water, and the water of Jordan divided, so Elias and Elisha could cross the river walking on the dry bottom (2 Kings, 2, 8). Many other miracles performed the holy Prophet. They all were done due to his firm faith. God worked them through His holy man. And the most astonishing miracle happened to Elijah was his taking up to heaven in a fiery chariot. We know that every man has to die due to the sin of Adam. But some holy people were exempt from that. The Old Testament Patriarch Enoch did not die but was taken by God (Gen. 5, 24). And Prophet Elijah was taken by God like into heaven (2 Kings, 2, 11-12). We should also recall that the Most Holy Mother of God was taken into heaven along with Her body and soul, after Her Dormition. But that happened after our Lord accomplished His mission of salvation, so heaven became open to the people. The Most Holy Theotokos was taken there along with Her body and She did not taste death. But before the redemption holy people could not reach Heavenly Kingdom. Enoch and Elijah did not die, but were not transferred to heaven. The Holy Fathers point out that they were taken by God to some secret place where they await the Last Judgment. All these astonishing things happened to them because of their great faith.”
“When we have faith we embark on a spiritual path that leads to God. That path often appears dangerous. As we see with St. Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water in the midst of a storm. Elijah also did have fears and doubts, but God comforted him and he proceeded on his path of godly life. But if we have any doubt as we walk this spiritual path then the troubles and cares of this world overwhelm us. We become preoccupied with the storms that are around us because we lose our focus on God. This is what happened to St. Peter when he began to sink. He lost his focus on the Savior and placed his focus on the storm around him. When he did this he lost the grace that was given to him when he stepped out of the boat in faith. This should remind us as our Lord said “without Me you can do nothing” (Jn.15, 5).”
”When we lose our focus on the Lord and get caught up in the storm of temptations around us we have a choice to make. That choice is, do we place our trust in the Savior to help us or do we allow the temptations to overcome us. This is the same choice that St. Peter was confronted with as he was sinking in the water. When we are in this situation we can do two things the first is call out as Peter did “Lord, save me!” or “curse God, and die.”(Job 2, 9) as Job’s wife told him in the midst of his afflictions.”
”If we choose to follow St. Peter’s example and cry out “Lord, save me!”, then we will find that the Savior is ready to reach out His hand and pull us out of the storm of temptations just like he did for Saint Peter in the Gospel. This example shows us that the Lord is always there for us. How can we not see that the Lord is there for us then why do we doubt? It is because we are fainthearted and do not place our trust in the Lord. There are many examples for us in the Scripture that show us that we should rejoice in the Lord and trust in Him when we are in our greatest affliction. As we said, some of those examples concern holy Prophet Elijah whom we honor today.”
“With the remembrance of these examples we should not be given over to despair but should be strengthened in our faith that the Lord will save us so that we can say as the Blessed King David said “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Your vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto You. For You have delivered my soul from death: will not You deliver my feet from falling” (Ps. 56, 11-13).”
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to convey the main ideas of his English homily. He also congratulated our younger parishioner and altar server, Ilia Kay, on the occasion of his name day. Fr. Igor praised Ilia’s great devotion to the serving in the altar and his great love for the Church services and wished him all God’s blessings and protection of his patron, Holy Prophet Elijah. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta”) was sung.
Following the service the Rector performed the blessing of the cars of some parishioners who desired to have it done on this feast of St. Elias who is honored as a patron Saint of the drivers.