On August 26, on the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy at our Parish temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! In today’s Gospel lesson we heard a parable on the evil tenants of the vineyard. This parable pictures the relationship between God and His chosen people of Israel. And usually when we reflect upon it, we talk about the history of salvation and how that parable shows its main events. Today we will though try to discuss another aspect of that Gospel reading. We will try to interpret the words of our Lord Jesus Christ at the end of the parable, the words by which Jesus concluded His parable: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (Mt. 21, 42).”
“What is the most important thing in our life? Some people would say that it is the money and wealth. Without the money you cannot live a good life. Some other people would say that it is health. Even if you are wealthy, you cannot enjoy your life if you are sick. Some smart people want to have both of them and wish to be healthy and wealthy as well. Yet others would say that these things are rather material and too inferior but what is really important is love and good relationship with other people, what is important is your family and friends. All these answers are true, but only to some extent. As it was mentioned, your money won’t make you happy if you are going to suffer from some illness. Your wealth may be lost very quickly. Health also is not a certain thing because you may get sick any time. Even a very healthy person can have a little blood vessel break and lose not just health, but the whole life. And good relationship and even love, family life may end: your friends may change their attitude and dislike you; your spouse may become unfaithful or leave you; your children may leave you and don’t want to see you when they will grow up. Thus, all these important things in our life are not certain and secure.”
“Therefore, those answers may be correct but not totally true and not perfect. In addition, they don’t tell much about our spiritual attitude. Those who consider the money or health the most important things, those people are oriented towards material things. There is nothing spiritual or high in their answers. Those who prefer love, friends and family are emotionally oriented but still not spiritually. If all these people will tell you that they are spiritual (or as it is in style to say nowadays, “I am not religious but spiritual”) – don’t believe them!”
“But what is the most correct and perfect answer to that question? What is the most important thing in our life for a spiritual person? The answer is in the words of Christ at the end of today’s Gospel lesson: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone”. These words mean that many people, being builders of their lives, reject the stone which is the most important for the building: they reject the very sense of their lives and their existence. And that sense of life is God. He created us and granted us this life; He will expect us to come at the end of it. Everything in this life changes, everything can cease to exist but God remains unchangeable, His eternal Love and His Providence remains intact. Despite our fall and sin He came into the world to save us. He became Man, so we would not perish but have eternal life. God does everything for us. And if we wish to build our life securely, we have to build it on that chief cornerstone, on God and His Son Jesus Christ.”
“That cornerstone is also our faith in God. Do we accept Him or reject? That is another important question we may ask ourselves today. And the answer to that question must be our whole life. First of all, by our words, verbally we have to accept the Lord. Sometimes it becomes important. In the history of Christianity we find many instances when people were asked whether they believe in one God, in Jesus Christ and in the Orthodox Church. If they answered “I do”, they could be martyred, they could be killed. And it is still happening in the Middle East. But in many other instances, our words are not enough to prove our faith. All our deeds, our thoughts and our choices in life will be judged and will bear a witness to either our acceptance of Jesus Christ, the Chief Cornerstone, or our rejection of Him.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! The vineyard mentioned in today’s Gospel story can be understood as our own soul. And we are those vinedressers who are entrusted such a great responsibility – to cultivate our souls and to bring them to salvation as those fruits that had to be given to the owner of the vineyard on time. We are entrusted a lot, so God will ask a lot. Therefore, let us remember what is the foundation of our living. Let us ask the Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother that we always may see Him, our Savior, the Chief Cornerstone of our life and be worthy to unite with Him in life eternal!”
The choir prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to the celebrated feast of the Transfiguration before Holy Communion.
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and altar servers performed the rite of glorification before the icon of Transfiguration to mark the end of that holy day liturgical celebration. Then the Rector preached a short sermon in Russian addressing the ideas of his English homily.