On September 25, on the Sunday before Exaltation our Parish gathered for a liturgical celebration. In addition to Sunday celebration we also observed feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy.
After the Scripture readings the Rector preached a homily in Russian. He pointed out that in the Epistle to the Galatians assigned for this day St. Paul says that by “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ… the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6, 14). It means that St. Paul after his conversion to Christ became strange to the world, and the world became strange to him. However, in today’s Gospel lesson the Lord Jesus Christ Himself says, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3, 16). The world that became strange to Paul, that same world is so loved by God! How can we reconcile the words from the Epistle and the Gospel?
In order to understand that we need to read further the chapter of the Gospel passage assigned for today. Jesus says the world is going to be judged because the light came into that world but men loved darkness rather than light (Jn. 3, 19). That light is our Lord Jesus Christ. He came to the world to redeem it by His death on the cross. But not all men believed in Him; they loved darkness. From the world of such men St. Paul and all Christian champions of faith were renouncing. Such a world is full of evil and is our enemy. But, on the other hand, faithful also live in this world. And for them our Savior willed to suffer.
Fr. Igor further reflected upon the great generosity of God who offered Himself for us. This is the most generous gift. But we who wish to be the followers of Christ need to learn to be generous. Celebrating the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God we may recall that righteous Joachim and Anna were very generous. They lived only on one third of their income giving one third to the poor and one third for the Temple. And the Most Holy Mother of God was generous by offering all Her life to God, to Her Son, Jesus Christ. Her generosity continues in heaven where She keeps helping us.
In conclusion of his homily the Rector called the faithful to retreat from the sinful world but to love the world praying for it and serving the neighbor. He called to love God in return for His generous love and to show generosity to others.
Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector stressed the main thoughts of his homily in a brief sermon in English.