19th Sunday after Pentecost

On October 11, on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, we had a nice celebration in our parish. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Scripture readings he preached a homily:

“Today’s Gospel lesson takes us to the shores of the Lake Gennesaret, also called the Sea of Galilee. Jesus preached there to the people and because the multitude pressed upon Him, He used a boat belonging to Simon Peter to preach from it. Then Jesus commands Peter to launch out into the deep and let down the nets for a catch. When Peter, after some doubt and distrust in the words of Jesus, obeyed Him, the Apostles caught a great number of fish. The Lord then called Peter to follow Him and promised to make him a catcher of men (Lk. 5, 1-11).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! This Gospel story gives us a lot of important spiritual ideas. Simon Peter was an experienced fisherman. So, he knew that trying to catch fish after a night of hard labors in attempt to have a catch and being unsuccessful, launching the boat into the deep again makes no sense. As a fisherman and as a man he was right. But our Lord Jesus Christ had a different understanding. He, as God, had a different vision. And we see that Peter was wrong and Jesus was right. However, we also see that Peter obeyed Jesus. He let down the nets and was rewarded for that.”
“In this story we see the difference between the vision of men and the vision of God. The whole human understanding of life, of human relations and human history are relative if we compare it to God’s will and God’s Providence. Being human we often rely on our own experience, our views and ideas, as well as we rely on other people, on the societies and governments, forgetting that our most important trust should be in God. Same happened to Simon Peter. He relied on his experience and on human understanding of fishing business and could not believe Jesus. But we praise Peter for his obedience to the Lord which can be understood also as his trust in the words of his Teacher.”
“The difference between human and divine in today’s Gospel is also seen in the way Peter reacted to the miraculous catch of fish. He fell down at the knees of Jesus and exclaimed, “Depart from me, for I am sinful man, o Lord!” (Lk. 5, 8).  At that moment Peter understood that Jesus is not just a great Teacher but someone much higher than that. He is the Lord, and any man is strange and inferior to Him. In Peter’s words we see the fear of man standing before God. He expresses human incomprehension of God and acknowledgement of man’s unworthiness. But God tells Him in today’s reading, “Do not be afraid” (Lk. 5, 10).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! We, like Simon Peter, should also understand our unworthiness before God. We should acknowledge our sinfulness and be humble. But, on the other hand, we should remember that through Jesus Christ, the great Teacher of men and Divine Son, we are able to approach God and even unite with Him. Yes, we must be humble and express our unworthiness in repentance, but we also can draw near to the throne of grace in confidence, as St. Paul says (Hebr. 4, 16). Such opportunity is given to us in the offering of the Eucharist and in receiving it ion Holy Communion.”
“In today’s Gospel story our Lord was preaching from the boat. Thus, the boat represents the Church. Jesus preaches from it and the Apostles catch a great number of fish placing it to that same boat. It represents the holy ministry of the true Church. The boat before Jesus stepped into it was the Church of the Old Testament, the synagogue. The fishermen toiled all night and could not catch anything. It tells us that the Old Testament Church could fulfill nothing before Christ. But once Christ stepped in, with His divine presence, everything is possible. The net which is the Gospel catches a lot of fish which represent a lot of nations caught by the holy teaching of Christ.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us stay in the boat of Christ. Let us stay in His Holy Church. Let us listen to what Jesus Christ is telling us and obey Him. Let us also acknowledge our unworthiness and sinfulness before God and attempt to cleanse it by true repentance. But let us also remember the encouraging words of Jesus pronounced to St. Peter, “Do not be afraid”. Let us trust in God and in His vision and let us draw near to Him with confidence, so we may follow Him into His eternal Kingdom!”

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to stress the main ideas of his English homily preached before. He also congratulated Maria Malyshew on the occasion of her name day celebrated on this day in commemoration of St. Maria, the mother of St. Sergius of Radonezh. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta”) was sung.