9th Sunday after Pentecost


On August 18, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, Prefeast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, our parish held a nice celebration. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily in English:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! On this Sunday we hear the Gospel lesson about our Lord Jesus Christ walking on the waters. We also hear about the boat with the Apostles being tossed by the waves due to a storm. And, finally, we hear about Holy Apostle Peter attempting to walk on the waters (Mt. 14, 22-34).”
“This rather impressive Gospel reading makes us think about our relationship with God, with our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us attempt to interpret it. The sea and its waves described in that lesson is our life. The wind and the storm are all the tribulations and difficulties we face while we live. The boat is the Holy Church in which we should stay if we wish to sail over the sea of life and be spiritually safe. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the only One who can make us feel secure and certain. And if we attempt to get out of the boat, we need to be strengthened by faith in the Lord and to keep our eyes on Him, not on the temptations and obstacles such as the winds and the storms.”
“Our Lord Jesus Christ never said that in our sailing over the sea of life we won’t encounter the storms. He never promised that our life will be free of difficulties, sorrows, sufferings and troubles. In fact, He told just the contrary: “In the world you will have tribulation” (Jn. 16, 33). But He assured us that we won’t perish in that sea of life if He will be with us. He told us: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Id.). Therefore, if we believe in Christ and follow Him in our life, such a life won’t be freed from troubles but the Lord will save us from them. Some people presume that if they are faithful to God, believe in Him, say their prayers, attend the church and do good things, they should be spared from all the problems in this life. No! It does not work that way. Our Lord Himself, being the Son of God, was not spared from the temptations of the devil in the wilderness; He was not spared from the persecutions of the Pharisees and scribes; and He was not spared from being condemned to death and from His death on the cross. But, as we know and believe, He conquered death by death and was risen on the third day.”
“If we live in the world, we will always face different troubles and difficulties. Therefore, it is important to stay in the Holy Church. The Church is the safe boat in which we could cross the stormy sea of this life. Once crossing the ocean, a large ship confronted a huge storm. One of the passengers being afraid of that approached the captain and said, “Look, we are facing a very big storm. What is going to happen?” The captain seemed to be calm. He replied, “Don’t look at the storm. Look at the ship”.”
“It is common that big ships that are well built and equipped can endure the storms. Thus the captain was calm and certain that the storm was not a problem. In the same way, being good members of the Holy Orthodox Church should give us a certainty that we are secure and can endure any storms of our life. We have to just look at the ship, not at the storm. We have to look at the Holy Church, not at the troubles of earthly life. In the course of its two-thousand-year history the Church endured many storms. It survived all of them. It happened because our Lord Jesus Christ is the Head of the Church and because He Himself said that even the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Mt. 16, 18).”
“Being the Head of His Church, being in charge of the saving boat of our life, our Lord Jesus Christ has to be the One at whom we should look in all our troubles and difficulties. In today’s Gospel Peter began to sink when he looked at the storm, not at the ship, when he looked at the waves and the wind, not at Christ. If we are really faithful Orthodox Christians, we should keep our focus on Christ. Then we will be able to endure all the temptations of life and survive all the storms of our earthly journey.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us stay in the Holy Church led by our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us trust Him and keeping our focus on Him, let us approach Him over the stormy waters of life and strive to be united with Him here and forever!”

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector performed the customary blessing of the new honey. Then he preached a short homily in Russian addressing the main ideas of his English homily. The Rector also congratulated the Malyshew family on the occasion of their little daughter Elena’s 5th birthday celebrated last week. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was sung.