On June 2, on the Sunday of the Blind Man, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:
“Today the Holy Church in the Gospel story is telling us about a miracle performed by our Lord Jesus Christ when He healed a man born blind. That man never had a sight; he was born blind and he had no eyes. And behold, the Lord performs a miracle which is inconceivable for men. How did it happen?”
“The Lord spat on the ground, made clay with the saliva; thus He made the new eyes for that man. Then He anointed the spots on the face of that man where the eyes should be and told him to go to a pool of Siloam and to wash (Jn. 9, 6-7). And behold, the man began to see. This should convince us that our Lord Jesus Christ offers us the way of salvation through the Church rituals, through the ceremonies in which we materially touch something holy. We kiss the holy icons and the cross, we also kiss the relics. We sprinkle ourselves with holy water. And we consume the Body and Blood of Christ under the species of bread and wine.”
“But there are many of false teachers who say that those rites and the use of materials are not needed. They teach that we should believe in God spiritually and to come to know Him spiritually. In this way they are playing with the words of Christ that we heard in the Gospel lesson of the past Sunday: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4, 24). But, firstly, worshiping God in spirit and truth does not contradict the use of the holy objects or materials. And secondly, the Lord Himself is giving us an example of the use of a material and of the bodily touch with such a material in today’s Gospel story.”
“Of course, God can do anything and He was able to heal the blind man by His word or command alone. But Christ is making clay and is anointing the eyes of that man. Thus He shows him His love, desiring to touch the sick. And He also shows us that if the man’s body is made of matter, it needs a material touch, it needs a material intervention, some kind of a “surgery”. In the very beginning of the Sacred Scripture, in the book of Genesis, we read that God “formed man from the dust of the ground” (Gen. 2, 7). Thus He created man from the matter, from the same elements of which the world consists, from the same molecules and atoms. And that earthly body of ours needs the God’s touch, and the Lord is showing us that.”
“And the Lord established His Holy Church on the earth, so through the Church Sacraments and rites we would touch the sacred or materially receive the Sacraments through different materials, and that we were aware that the Lord is with us and that His divine power is sanctifying both our soul and our body.”
“Sadly, not everyone understands that. But today we read in the Gospel that also in the times of Christ not everybody was understanding that. Today we heard that the Jews, especially the Pharisees, did the whole investigation of the healing. They summoned the healed blind man many times and kept asking him how it happened. They called his parents and interrogated them. Then they began to accuse Jesus for being a “sinful man”. Finally, they got into a fight with the healed man and chased him away. People who had the eyes turned out to be blind because they failed to see the Son of God in Jesus.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, we need a God’s blessing not only for our soul but for our body also. And if we understand that and believe in that, our soul won’t be blind as it was with soul of those Pharisees who performed an investigation of the healing.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! The Holy Church enables us to have a spiritual sight and to receive the blessing of God. By its holy rites and Sacraments it often bodily touches us to convey its spiritual power, the divine grace. We were baptized by water, chrismated by the Holy Chrism, we are anointed by holy oil in the Mystery of Unction. And finally, we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion. Without those things there is no Church life, no divine grace and no salvation. The Lord Himself comes to us in those holy rites in the same way as he touched the man born blind and healed him.”
“Let us then glorify the risen Christ who granted us eternal life. Let us follow the example of the healed blind man and worship the Lord Jesus (Jn. 9, 38). Let us worship Him always and remain faithful to Him, to His Holy Church and let us follow Him in our life on His way of salvation!”
The choir prayerfully performed Paschal Aposticha and hymns assigned to the Sunday of the Blind man and during the preparation for Holy Communion.
Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in English conveying the main ideas of his Russian homily.
After the Liturgy we enjoyed some delicious food and a nice company at the coffee hour.