On August 7, on the 7th Sunday after Pentecost our Parish family gathered for a nice liturgical celebration in our temple. The Divine Liturgy was served by our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov. Following the Gospel lesson he delivered the following homily in English:
“Dear brothers and sisters! The Gospel lesson of today tells us about two healings performed by our Lord Jesus Christ. He opened the eyes of the two blind men and he cast out the evil spirit from a mute man who then began to speak (Mt. 9, 27-35). These two healings were only a part of a number of other miraculous works of the Lord described in that chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. Summarizing them, the Gospel says, “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people” (Mt. 9, 35). This makes us to think that where the Lord Jesus appeared, there all the diseases, all the sicknesses and other misfortunes tended to disappear. This was the manifestation of His presence. Jesus being the Messiah performed the miracles and made things no one else could do. This is why we heard in today’s Gospel reading that the people exclaimed, “It was never seen like this in Israel” (Mt. 9, 32).”
“If such miracles that Jesus performed were never seen in Israel, they could not be seen in other places. The world lived in the darkness of idolatry, error and superstition. The humanity lived in slavery to sin and death. People suffered from diseases and from demonic possessions. But when the Lord Jesus came to the world, He showed that in His presence all these evil things can be conquered. He showed that physical infirmities can be corrected and the evil spirits can be expelled. And man can taste happiness if God is present with him.”
“Today we commemorate the Dormition of the Righteous Anna, mother of the Most Holy Mother of God. Our pious tradition holds that St. Anna was barren, she could not have children. Along with her husband Joachim she had to suffer from moral reproach, because being childless was considered a curse and a shame among the Jews. She was not blind or mute as those people healed in today’s Gospel lesson, but she suffered from being barren. Both Joachim and Anna were righteous people who lived according to God’s Commandments. They invited God into their lives. And God visited Joachim and Anna and blessed them with the holy Child. Anna conceived in her old age and bore Mary, the Mother of God. This tells us that if man wishes God to be present in his life, God will visit him. Just as those two blind man in today’s Gospel asked Jesus to have mercy on them, and had faith in Him, so Joachim and Anna were leading pious life and followed God’s precepts. As a result God blessed them and changed their life circumstances. This also, dear brothers and sisters, tells us that when God comes into man’s life, such life becomes changed for better.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us make no mistake: without God our fate is awful. Without God there are no values, no morals, no spirituality, only the error, sin and darkness, only disease, despair and death. In Russian there is a proverb: “Bez Boga, ne do poroga’”- “if you are without God, you may not enter”. And indeed people do not enter into salvation without God. Last week we heard sad news that the Abbot of St. Panteleimon’s Russian Monastery on Mt. Athos, Fr. Jeremiah passed away. He fell asleep in the Lord being over 100 years old. Once he said that if man lives with God the life becomes easy. He did not say that it becomes perfect or even good because it is impossible in this world. But he said that we live easy if we are with God. We will certainly see the troubles and pain, but if we live with God, those pains will be easy.”
“Let us then cherish our faith in true God and attempt all the time to be in His presence. Nowadays Jesus does not walk through our cities and villages, but He is spiritually present everywhere. He is even more present in the holy temple, in our sacred rites and Sacraments, especially in the Most Holy Eucharist where the Lord is offered to us in His true Body and Blood. Let us welcome the Lord God in our lives and let us be benefited from His blessed and life-giving presence!”
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian to stress the main thoughts of his English homily. He then congratulated the Kay family on the occasion of their son Elias’ (Jared) passed name day and their daughter Anna’s name day and birthday. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.