On April 21, on the Fifth Sunday of Lent, we had a Sunday service in our church. The Liturgy was celebrated by our Rector, priest Igor Tarasov.
Following the reading from the Gospel Fr. Igor preached a sermon. He said:
“On the Fifth Sunday of Lent we hear again, for the second time, that our Lord Jesus Christ is foretelling His death and sufferings. In this way we, little by little, are being prepared for the days when we are going to commemorate the holy Passions of the Lord. These days are coming soon. Next Sunday will be the beginning of them when we will celebrate Entry of our Lord into Jerusalem. In a similar way the Lord was approaching Jerusalem when He spoke to His disciples in today’s Gospel lesson. The Lord says, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of God will be betrayed…” (Mk. 10, 33). We are also going up to Jerusalem, we do it in a spiritual way. Our final destination is High Jerusalem, the Kingdom of God. But in time our destination is holy Pascha, feast of the Resurrection of Christ.”
“Today’s Gospel is also telling us about the difference between the ideals of the Christian teaching and the ideals of worldly life. The Lord rebuked His disciples, James and John who wished to be given the seats closest to the Lord in His Kingdom. He said to them, “Whoever desires to become great among you shall be yours servant. And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all” (Mk. 10, 43-44).
“Today we also honor Venerable Mary of Egypt. She was a great sinner who became a great Saint. There is no such thing as sinless life, but there is no such sin that cannot be forgiven if the sinner repents. Mary being a harlot for 17 years repented and became a greatest woman-Saint… The life of St Mary of Egypt teaches us that the true and everlasting values are quite different from those of the world. The world is looking for pleasure, for possessions, for money and power, but St Mary had no money, no property and no power in the world. Today’s Gospel confirms the way of life of St Mary, for it says that those who wish to be great must be servants. This is the opposite from all the ways of this world. But our Lord preached this and St Mary lived by this.”
“St Mary of Egypt is one of the greatest women Saints. The use of this word ‘great’ could sound strange. In our worldly life we often speak of ‘great politicians’, ‘great warriors’, great movie stars’, ‘great sportsmen’. But the Church calls St Mary of Egypt ‘great’ and all the centuries after she lived we ask for her prayers, but not for prayers of any politician or general or movie star or sportsman. That is because she made a right choice and lived according to the everlasting values.”
Fr. Igor concluded his sermon saying, “As we approach the days of the holy Passions of Christ, the feast of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem, let us also think of the words of the Mother of God, which led Venerable Mary of Egypt to her salvation through repentance and her greatness: “If you cross the Jordan, you will find true peace”. These mysterious words are also addressed to us, for we are looking for our true peace. We may find it only if we ask the Mother of God and St Mary to guide us. And then we shall find our own ‘entry into Jerusalem’”.
“Holy Mother Mary, pray to God for us! Amen.”
After the Liturgy we enjoyed our common coffee hour.