On December 2, on the 27th Sunday after Pentecost, our parishioners gathered at St. George Church for a beautiful celebration. On that day we also observed feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into Temple which had been transferred on Sunday from December 4. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the readings from the Gospel he preached a homily in English:
“Dear brothers and sisters! Since today we celebrate the 27th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into Temple, we should compare the ideas of those celebrations and draw the conclusions from them.”
“The Sunday Gospel lesson we heard today was about a rich man whom God called the fool (Lk. 12, 16-21). This pretty short parable is teaching us about a number of things. For instance, it makes us understand that our human plans and our earthly expectations may be very uncertain. There is a known saying: “Man proposes, but God disposes”. And there is a joke saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans”. The Scripture tells about this in these words of wise Solomon: “A man’s heart devises his ways: but the Lord directs his steps” (Prov. 16, 9). The rich man in today’s Gospel was making great plans regarding his possessions; he desired to pull down his old barns and to build the greater to store his crops; he intended to enjoy his wealth, but God directed that this night his soul will be required of him and that he will lose all his earthly wealth. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, our human plans and our expectations are very relative and uncertain. They may very much differ from the God’s plans. Take a recent example: the fires in California. People built expensive houses in the area considered to be very good for living. California climate was praised by many. A town which was especially destroyed by fire was called Paradise. But, the fire came and that Paradise had been turned into hell. “Man proposes, but God disposes”.”
“How can we escape such a misery? How can we make sure that our plans may be blessed by God? The Lord tells us in today’s Gospel that we do not have to lie treasures for ourselves, but to be rich toward God (Lk. 12, 21). It means that we need to acquire God’s blessings by our good deeds, by our pious life and that we have to be grateful to God for His blessings. Note that in today’s parable the rich man did not praise the Lord for the blessings he acquired. Further, we need to use the blessings we have for the well-being of others, not just for ourselves. We need to serve the Lord and our neighbor in order to be more certain that our plans will be in accord with God’s Providence.”
“As we celebrate the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into Temple, we recall that Holy Ancestors of God Joachim and Anna were childless for many years. They probably did not plan to have child, but God planned differently. In their old age they became blessed by the birth of the Virgin Mary. And what did they do after such a blessing? They decided to dedicate their daughter to God. When little Mary was 3 years old, they brought Her to the Temple of Jerusalem to entrust Her to be raised and educated there. Then a wonderful and strange thing happen: Mary, a little girl entered the Temple and passing the outer and inner courts, came into the holy place and then She climbed the high steps to the Holy of the Holies and entered that most sacred place where only High Priest could enter once a year for the special sacrifice. This was read today in the second Epistle lesson: only a High Priest could enter the Holy of the Holies, and he did it only once a year to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the people (Hebr. 9, 7). Since it was not permitted for the people, especially for women, to enter the Holy of the Holies, this seems to be impossible to occur. Even today we, Orthodox Christians do not allow women to enter the sanctuaries of our churches. And if a baby is baptized and then churched, if it is a boy, the priest brings him into the altar, but if it is a girl, the priest stops before the iconostas. But in that festal event the Virgin Mary, a little girl did enter into the most sacred place of the Temple. Again, in this event men’s plans became overruled; men’s expectations became voided. Patience, virtue and being rich toward God of Joachim and Anna produced their result: their Holy daughter became more honorable than the Cherubim and by far more glorious than the Seraphim. She became the living Tabernacle of God. Thus She could enter the most holy place.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Being instructed by the parable about the rich man, let us understand our true purpose in life – to become rich toward God. Let us acquire His grace by living pious life, by acting charitably and with love towards our neighbors. And seeing an example of the Holy Ancestors of God Joachim and Anna, let us dedicate ourselves and our lives to the Lord. Let us entrust our families, our children or loved ones to Him, so He may bless them and to make great miracles through us voiding the earthly plans of the unfaithful!”
The choir was prayerfully performing for the first time of this year the pre-Nativity hymns, as well as the hymns of the feast of the Entrance.
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers performed a rite of glorification in front of the icon of the feast. The Rector then preached a short sermon in Russian to convey main ideas of his English homily. He also wished the parishioners a blessed and fruitful passing through the Nativity Fast.