On September 11, on the 12th Sunday after Pentecost, feast of the Beheading of St. John the Baptist, St. George Parish had a nice celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple.
Following the Scripture lessons the Rector preached a homily in Russian. In that homily he pointed out that the Gospel readings assigned for today may leave us a little disturbed. In the first lesson from the Gospel of Matthew the Lord tells that it is difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven (Mt. 19, 16-26). Jesus goes on and says that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. Thus, salvation is a difficult task. And in today’s second Gospel lesson we heard the story of an unjust killing of St. John the Baptist (Mk. 6, 14-30). It leaves us with an impression that good may not necessarily overcome evil. But if we examine those readings carefully, we may see that they give us some encouragement. The Lord says to the young man that if he wishes to enter into eternal life, he has to keep the Commandments. Therefore, it is enough for our salvation if we obey the God’s law, if we do not break the Commandments. If we wish to go further, we may follow the advice our Lord gives: to distribute possessions. But it is not a command. For the most people keeping the Commandments is enough to enter the Kingdom of God. Some people desire to go further. In Christianity it is called the monastic life. Monks take the vows, for instance, the vow of poverty, renouncing any material wealth. Our today’s celebrated Saint, Holy Forerunner and Baptist John also renounced all worldly things and led a life dedicated to the Lord in the desert. He was an example of such striving for perfection which cannot be imitated by many. However, no one is obligated to be a monk. Most of us do not even able to keep the Commandments. The problem is that most of the people violate them at least once in their lives. This is why we need to remember the encouraging words of Christ said in today’s Gospel: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Mt. 19, 26). Without God’s help we cannot even keep the Commandments because of our sinful nature. Therefore, we need to acquire the God’s help to reach our salvation.
The choir prayerfully sung the hymns dedicated to the feast of the Beheading.
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector preached a short sermon in English to address the main ideas of his Russian homily.