On November 22, on the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, we had a beautiful celebration in our parish church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:
”Today’s Gospel reading from St. Luke (Lk. 8, 40-56) tells us about two miracles, one the healing of an illness and the other the overcoming of death. This double miracle is also reported in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark (Mt. 9, 18-26; Mk. 5, 22-43). Thus, these two miracles should be viewed as related, for both illness and death have the same origin, the same cause, they are both the result of sin, both entered the world as a result of the sin of Adam. As the Apostle Paul says, “The wages of sin are death” (Rom. 6, 23).”
“Let us consider the healing of the woman with the issue of blood. We should note that this issue of blood was not that monthly issue of blood suffered by all women, but something else. It had lasted for twelve years. On this subject, it is worth making clear that the monthly issue of blood endured by all women is not of course the result of personal sin, but a result of the general sin of Eve. It is written in the Book of Genesis that women will suffer this as a result of the fall: “In pain you will give birth” (Gen. 3, 16). In the same way men are forced into having to work for a living, into “toiling by the sweat of their brow”. Both men and women suffer from the fall, but in different ways.”
”The issue of blood suffered by this woman was then an illness and it was healed by her touching the fringe of the clothes of Our Savior, Who, as it is written, felt ‘the power go out of Him’ (Lk. 8, 46). In these words we have a description of the nature of all illness. If it takes the power of Christ to heal an illness, then it is clear that every illness is in fact some lack, some absence of the power of Christ. Sickness is not something that is added, it is rather the sign of absence of the grace of God. As we are told in the Gospel when the woman was healed, or in other words she was ‘made whole’. Thus, a sick person suffers from a lack, that person is not whole. Such a person lacks the fullness of the power of Christ.”
“How and why was the woman in the Gospel “made whole”? This question is easy to answer, for Christ Himself says to her that: “Your faith has made you well” (Lk. 8, 48). In other words, if any of us is to be made whole, to be made well, we must first have faith. If we do not have faith, we lack something, we are without something, we are faithless or godless. But if we have faith, then healing can be inspired in us by the power of God.”
“This combination of faith and the power of God is so special that it can even overcome death. We see this very clearly in the second miracle, the resurrection of Jairus’ daughter. Here was this young girl, twelve years old, dying. We can easily imagine the frustration of her father Jairus. And yet he had faith, for he was seeking out Christ, the Only One Who could heal his daughter. As a result of Jairus’ faith and the power of Christ, his daughter was not only healed, but restored from death before the eyes of those who mocked Christ.”
”Reflecting upon those two closely related miracles, we may see that today our Lord Jesus Christ says to us all: “Have faith and I will give you all the power that you need to do My will”. Let us then hear His words to be made well in this life and later to be raised from the dead, especially for the eternal blessedness after His second coming.”
Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to stress the main ideas of his English homily. He also reminded the parishioners that next week we begin the Nativity, or St. Philip’s Fast which is a special time of spiritual preparation before the celebration of the Birth of Christ. The Rector mentioned that right before we start fast we could celebrate Thanksgiving Day. Although it is not a Church holy day, it has an important spiritual significance – we have an opportunity to give thanks to the Lord for all the blessings we received during the past year. Fr. Igor encouraged the parishioners to spend the Thanksgiving in the spirit of gratitude to the Lord. We can also have a nice traditional turkey dinner but we should remember that next day, on Friday, we begin fasting. Thus our festal food should be all consumed on the Thanksgiving Day.
Following the service the Rector and parishioners already enjoyed Thanksgiving meal together, having a very abundant luncheon with a delicious turkey and other meals prepared by our great cooks.