On August 21, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. Following the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:
“Dear brothers and sisters! The Gospel lesson of today is showing us a very impressive picture: Jesus walking on water. It should be easily understood because He was the Son of God, and all the nature was subject to His infinite power. He could override the laws of creation being Himself the Creator of this world. It was though very unusual for the Apostles who, at that point, did not fully realize Who their Teacher was. But at the end of the lesson we heard that the Disciples “came and worshipped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God”” (Mt. 14, 33). They did understand Who Jesus was. And this is the first aspect of today’s reading from the Holy Gospel.”
“Another very important thing is that apart from an impressive image of the Lord walking on waters we should consider another image from today’s Gospel reading: an image of St. Peter sinking beneath the waves. That is the image of us. Jesus could walk on the water because He was God. But Peter was a simple man, completely like us. He also tried to walk with Jesus but began to sink. Anyone can imagine himself or herself in such a situation.”
“Our life can be compared to the waters of some sea. How often we sink in the waves doubt, guilt, fear, tension, anxiety, temptation, despair, sin! How often we are attacked by the winds of problems, sicknesses and misfortunes! I don’t know what kind of waves and winds you have in your life, but the Gospel lesson today assures us of one thing: in the wind and the waves there is a Presence. The same Jesus Who was with Peter when he began to sink is with us. His presence can make all the difference in the world. “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” – Jesus said to His Apostles being in the boat (Mt. 14, 27). And He is saying that and he is coming to His followers in the midst of their storms for the past 2000 years. Thus, it is very important to remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is always with us in all our troubles.”
“The worst thing for the Disciples during the storm described in today’s Gospel story was the fact that Jesus was not there with them. Same thing happens to us if we forget that the Lord is always present in our lives. The real trouble in the storms of life is to lose our trust in God. In days of tension and stress when we burdened with problems and all the world looks dark, we may exclaim: “If only Jesus were here!” In moments of anxiety when we don’t know how we can possibly face what lies ahead, we cry out: “If only Jesus were here!” In days of fierce temptation, when we feel so powerless against the wracking passions of the soul, we entreat: “If only Jesus were here!” But He is here – nearer than we think. He can let the storm happen but He will stay with us. Jesus never promised to still all the storms, be He said that He always remain in the boat with us. “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” – He said. That was His promise and in His company we can face whatever storm may come.”
“The presence of Jesus in the boat does not prevent the storms from taking place. That surprises a lot of people who have come to believe that the existence of the loving God means no more emergencies, no bitter experiences, no occasions when we can say to ourselves, “I never thought it could happen to me”. It is still possible, even when Jesus is present, for some terrible disease to appear suddenly, or some dreadful accident to happen. But His presence in the boat with us will make a difference in the way we face the storm.”
“Our Lord stretched His hand to save Peter in the waves. But He also said to Peter: “Come” (Mt. 14, 29) assuring him that we are also able to overcome the nature, fear and weakness. Jesus says to us: “Come, you can walk on the troubled waters of your life”. If some illness has struck you or your loved one, you can say, “God, bid me walk on the water of that illness.” If financial trouble torn your life apart, you can say: “God, bid me walk on the water of this need.” The same power, the same faith, the same Jesus Who helped Peter walk on stormy waters of Lake Galilee is available to you today. The power to weather the storms of your life, to walk over them and through them to eternal victory!”
During the Liturgy, especially before the Holy Communion, the choir was prayerfully singing the hymns of Transfiguration, a feast which celebration was still going on.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian stressing the main ideas of his English homily.