On March 6, on the Meatfare Sunday, St. George Parish had a nice liturgical celebration in its temple. The Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily in English:
“Today’s Sunday the Church dedicates to the Last Judgment which, as we believe, is going to happen at the end of this world, at the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel reading which we just heard describes that unique and awesome event (Mt. 25, 31-46). It tells us that the Lord will come to judge everyone, He will divide all the people into two groups. One kind of people will be blessed and inherit eternal Kingdom prepared for the blessed ones, while another kind will be condemned and sent to eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. Commemorating that future event, let us reflect upon those two kinds of men.”
“It is very easy to understand that the two large groups of people divided by the Lord at the Last Judgment are those who tended to be good in their lives and, on the other side will be those who adhered to the evil. Simply saying, these are good and bad people. Whether someone is good or evil will be defined at that Judgment. And it is comforting because living our earthly lives we often do not really know who is good and who is not. It all tends to be confused. And many people like to think that way, to believe that not everything is black or white, but there are lots of shades of grey.”
“Thinking of that, we realize that good and evil coexist in this world. The earthly life is a constant fight between them. Very often we see that evil is winning and good is losing in that fight. The history of mankind is full of wars and injustices. Any plain earthly joy is often changed by sorrow and sickness. The just and unjust live together, and it is often noted that the sinners enjoy welfare while the righteous ones suffer. The warfare between good and evil is taking place everywhere, especially in the hearts of men. As the great Russian writer Dostoyevsky said, “God and the devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the hearts of men”.”
“Many people ask, “Why all these evil is happening? Why the world is so unjust?” The answer we may find in the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a parable He said that the Kingdom of God is similar to a field on which the wheat grows along with the tares. When the servants of the field’s owner asked whether they should go and gather the tares up, the owner said, “No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest” (Mt. 13, 29-30). By this parable the Lord teaches us that good and evil will not coexist forever. Thus the existing order of things will not be everlasting. It will end at the Last Judgment. That Judgment will be the time of harvest when the tares will be gathered together, bound into bundles and burned while the wheat will be gathered into the barn (Mt. 13, 30).”
“Those who at the Last Judgment will be placed at the right will not be without sin. However, these will be those who asked God’s mercy, help and forgiveness. God wants everybody to be saved. He said, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out” (Jn. 6, 37). If we, being sinful and evil, ask God to help us, He will. But if we continue to be evil and do not repent, God will not save us. Thus those who will find themselves at the left side, among the condemned, could not blame God for their condemnation. It will be their fault because they deliberately chose to reject God’s love. It will be their destiny because they themselves chose eternal torment. This is the justice of God – to forgive those who wish to be forgiven and to condemn those who do not.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! If we wish that the Son of Man may place us at his right hand, among the blessed ones, at the Last Judgment, let us repent, let us open our hearts to God that the Holy Spirit may cleanse them from all impurity. Let us serve our neighbor and perform the deeds of mercy, as today’s Gospel teaches us. Then we may have a hope that the Lord may grant us blessed eternal life, that He may place us at His right hand, among the blessed ones. This hope will not make us ashamed at the Last Judgment.”
Since there was no memorial service performed on the day before which was Meatfare Memorial Saturday, the Rector added the Litany for the deceased to the liturgy with commemoration of those who had fallen asleep.
Before the Holy Communion the choir beautifully sang penitential hymns in preparation for Lent
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian stressing the main thoughts of his previously preached homily in English.