On July 10, on the 3rd Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the Gospel reading he preached the following homily in English:
“Dear brothers and sisters! Today’s Gospel is taken from the Sermon on the Mount, the first occasion when Christ preached publicly to the people. Our Lord says that the light of the body is the eye. If the eye is light, so the body will be light. But if the eye is dark, so the body will be dark (Mt. 6, 22-23). The ‘eye’ means either our attitude toward life around us, or simply it means the soul. In these words our Lord says that we should not blame our bodies for our sins. Our bodies are the servants of our souls. If our souls are corrupted, then so also will be our bodies. On the other hand, if our souls are clean, then our bodies will also be clean. It is not our bodies which control our lives, or even our minds, but our souls. And we are called to cleanse the souls. Once our souls are clean, then our minds and our bodies will also be cleaned.”
“The Lord continues by saying that we cannot serve two masters, the master of the material world and the master of the spiritual world. One must be superior to the other. Thus we cannot serve God, the master of the spiritual, and mammon, the master of the fallen world (Mt. 6, 24). The word mammon means money or wealth. This teaching is just the opposite to the ideas of today’s world. Our society is based on money, on mammon. It is based on investments, stock exchanges, currencies. Furthermore, the philosophy which guides modern governments and much of human nature is called ‘monetarism’, in other words the belief in the primacy of money in human life and human motivation. Such a philosophy causes panic and depression both among those who have no money and also among those who have a lot, for such a philosophy excludes God from the serious life considerations, it bases everything on the idolatry of paper and electronic numbers.”
“But the Lord teaches, “Do not worry about your life” (Mt. 6, 25). The birds are nourished by God, the flowers grow, and they do not worry. We are told not to devote ourselves to what might or might not happen tomorrow. Our worries won’t change anything, cannot add any cubit to our stature (Mt. 6, 27). The Gospel tells us to do our best and then leave the rest to God, to trust in God. Modern life, on the other hand, tells us to worry all the time, to be always stressed. Such worry only causes depression, for it excludes God and His loving providence. On the other hand, there is nothing inevitable in the life of those who believe in God and His providence. Even the most terrible situations can end up positively, if we let God into our lives and societies. If we include God, then we can exclude worry and depression. As the Lord teaches us, we have to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Mt. 6, 33). And then all other things that we need “shall be added” to us.”
“Today we honor Venerable Father Sampson. Although we call him among Venerable ascetic Fathers, he was also an Unmercenary Physician which is a separate kind of Saints honored by the Church tradition. He was a holy ascetic by his way of life and a physician by profession. St. Sampson was granted by God the graced gift of healing the sick. By his good and unselfish attitude towards people, combined with his exceptional kindness, he was able to work many great things. And healing the people he never asked to be paid. Once he healed Emperor Justinian himself. The Emperor wished to give St. Sampson a lot of money but the Saint refused to take wealth. He asked the Emperor to build a hospital instead. The Emperor fulfilled the Saint’s request and did build the hospital. Now we can imagine how much money St. Sampson was offered if a hospital could be built. This attitude is so different from the attitude of our modern-day doctors who strive to make as much money as they can. They charge people for their services and charge the insurance companies. Of course, it is just to be paid for your work, however, today’s Gospel tells us, “Do not worry about your life “(Mt. 6, 25). We may say that the holy men and women like St. Sampson did nor worry, but simply put the Kingdom of God and His righteousness first. These values, to put the things of the spirit first, are the values of the Saints of God. They are exactly the opposite of the values of modern society, which puts anti-Gospel and anti-spiritual values first. By following the Gospel, we challenge all the cruelty and arrogance of the modern world.”
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! May all the Saints, especially Venerable Father Sampson, pray to God for us that we may come to partake of their values and their lives.”
Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector congratulated our young parishioner John (Ethan) Kay on the occasion of his past name day. Traditional Polychronion (Mnogaia leta!) was sung.
After the liturgical celebration the Rector and parishioners enjoyed simple but very delicious meals and a nice company at the coffee hour.