On October 18, on the 20th Sunday after Pentecost, Archpriest Igor Tarasov, Rector of St. George Church served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. On this day we also observed great feast of the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God which had been transferred to Sunday. After the Gospel readings the Rector preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:
“The words of our Lord Jesus Christ that we heard in today’s Gospel lesson may sound to us little strange and too demanding. The Lord says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?.. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?” (Lk. 6, 32-33). He goes on and says, “Love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return” (Lk. 6, 35). We may notice that such rules are not very much followed among the people. Jesus says that sinners do good to those who do good to them. Thus the rules of this world are the rules for the sinners. But we, if we wish to be the followers of our Lord, need to have different rules, a different way of life. Then we could be called Christians and be worthy of such name.”
“If we read the Gospel we may notice that our Lord Jesus Christ very often taught His disciples to be a little better than average people. He said, “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Mt. 5, 39-41). Jesus wished His followers to be more than just “nice people”, more than just good. He wanted them to strive for perfection.”
“In the Gospel lesson dedicated to the Most Holy Mother of God we hear that Jesus was speaking with Mary, the sister of Lazarus. That woman sat at His feet and listened to His words while her sister Martha was preoccupied with much serving to the Guest and could not listen but came to complain that Mary left her to serve alone (Lk. 10, 39-40). The Lord told her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Lk. 10, 41-42). Like Mary, the sister of Lazarus, we also are called to choose a good part. And that good part will not be taken away from us.”
“The good part which will not be taken away is spiritual life. Martha was doing a very important and nice thing: she was serving the Guest, she showed great hospitality. The Old Testament morals taught to be hospitable. We may recall how Abraham treated the three men who once visited him. We know that it was God who appeared as three men to Abraham. And they were warmly received by that Old Testament hero of faith. To be hospitable is very good. Yet it is not perfect. The New Testament of our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us to do more than that. It teaches us to be not just good. This is why Martha was not commended by Jesus for her work, but Mary who did nothing about receiving the Guest, was praised for choosing spiritual instruction. And what Mary could learn from listening to Jesus, would never be taken away from her. But what Martha did with her cooking and other kinds of serving would be remembered but would be lost next day. The food and drinks she prepared would be consumed, the warmth of her fireplace would be extinguished and the Guest Himself would leave. Being too much busy with serving the Guest, Martha could not be really benefited from His presence. But Mary preserved the words she heard from Him in her heart.”
“What happened to Mary could happen to us, dear brothers and sisters! If we will choose spiritual learning, prayer and participation in the holy services of the Church, if we choose receiving the Holy Mysteries, these things will never be taken away from us. They will remain as a great gift and benefit for our souls. However, if we choose to be busy with our earthly cares and forget about spiritual life, we will labor and won’t get a reward or commendation from the Lord. Those cares will disappear one day and we will be left with nothing.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us live our lives choosing a good part, choosing what is spiritual and not material, choosing what is eternal and not temporary, choosing what is better than just “good”. Let us do more that it is required by the usual rules of this world. Let us love our enemies, do good and then our reward will be great, and we will be sons of the Most High (Lk. 6, 35)!”
The choir conducted by Olga Roussanow sang beautiful festal hymns in honor of the Most Holy Mother of God during the service.
Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers performed a rite of Glorification in front of the icon of the feast singing the troparion and the kontakion of the Protection. Then Fr. Igor preached a short sermon in English to convey the main ideas of his Russian homily.
After the Liturgy we continued our celebration at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company.