15th Sunday after Pentecost

On September 16th, on the 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church priest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Services began at 10 am due to our return to the winter schedule.
After the reading from the Gospel Fr. Igor preached a homily. He reminded parishioners that on September 14 the Church started the New Liturgical year. That date was set because according to the tradition it is a date of creation of the world. Therefore, the Jews also celebrate their New Year at this time of the year.
Explaining the Gospel lesson of this Sunday, Fr. Igor stressed that in this reading our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the main moral principle of our religion: to love God and to love your neighbor. To understand how we should love God, we have to understand how to believe in the true God.
“We have to believe in a God who is Love. For example, in other religions there is not the same god. Buddhists do not have a god: Buddhism is rather a philosophy, not a religion. Hindus believe in many gods, who try and do the strangest things. Muslims believe in a god who rewards warfare and acts of terrorism. Even the Jews whom we consider having the same religious roots as we do, believe in a quite different god, a god who takes revenge, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. Only the Christian God is the Creator of all and also the God of Love.”
“The second commandment given by Christ is to love our neighbors as ourselves. Christ says that this commandment is like the first one. For if we are called to love the Creator, then we must surely also love His creation, including other people, who are made in the image and the likeness of God the Creator. In this commandment we are also called to love ourselves, not in the sense of selfishness and vain self-admiration, but as a gift of God. The lack of faith in the loving Creator always and inevitably leads to hatred of His Creation, that is, hatred of our neighbors, and then hatred of ourselves.”
To illustrate that statement Fr. Igor recalled that in the 19th century some German philosopher stated that “God is dead”. In the 20st century, within three generations of that man’s death, the leaders of his people had started two World Wars and performed acts of hatred and genocide. The leaders of the Russian people also adopted the thought of this philosopher, and they too carried out acts of hatred of their neighbors, killing a lot of people. And in the 21st century some people may go further and come to a killing of themselves, to a suicide. To avoid that we have to follow the words of the Psalm which says: “Seek God and your soul shall live”. We have to seek God and love our fellow-men. The two Commandments of love are like the sign of the cross where we have to parts: vertical and horizontal. They both have to be straight and long enough. Thus our love of God and love of our neighbor has to be present in our spiritual life. Then we will find God and live forever.
After the Liturgy our parishioners and the Rector enjoyed a delicious trapeza.