On August 9, on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon, 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 a homily in Russian. An English translation of that homily is as follows:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel lesson tells us about our Lord Jesus Christ walking on the water. There is nothing amazing about that. He is the Son of God and He has a full dominion over nature. In fact, at the end of today’s reading the Apostles confess their faith in Him worshipping Him and saying: “You are the Son of God” (Mt. 14, 33). What is amazing is that His Disciple, Peter could walk on the water also. It is not surprising that God can do amazing things. The real miracle starts when He invites man to do amazing things”.
“The Gospel tells us that Holy Apostle Peter wished to come to Jesus on the water. The only provision he has is that the Lord will command him to do so. Jesus quickly answers with one word: “Come” (Mt. 14, 29). Then Peter comes down out of the boat and starts walking on the sea, just as Jesus did. However, he could not make all his way to Jesus. Peter saw that the wind was boisterous, became afraid and began to sink. He cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” Jesus saved him and rebuked him for having too little faith”.
“Today’s Gospel teaches us that with God we are able to do anything. Having firm faith and sincere hope generates greatest powers in man. Today we commemorate Holy Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon. He was an Unmercenary physician who by the power of Christ performed miraculous healings. Before being baptized, this Saint could heal a child bitten by a venomous snake. He prayed to the Lord Jesus Christ for the healing, and the child lived and became cured. After that Panteleimon received Holy Baptism and became a zealous Christian doctor. Later he was condemned to be tortured for his Christian faith. His life story describes many different executions he endured and it says that in all of them he remained unharmed. When he had to be beheaded, the sword of the executioner became soft like a piece of wax. Only later, being comforted after a fervent prayer, the Saint himself ordered his torturers to kill him. Therefore, we see that St. Panteleimon having a firm faith in Christ could perform great works during his life and at the time of his martyrdom he showed great miracles”.
“A firm faith enables us to perform great things, as it was revealed in the life of St. Panteleimon. Our faith and our hope become our comfort in difficulties and our foundation in calamities. Speaking of walking on the waters, let us ask what do we need to stand on something or to walk on something? We need foundation and comfort. Naturally, we are unable to walk on the water because it does not have sufficient foundation for our body. But St. Peter could do it, at least for a brief moment, because his faith and trust in Jesus became his foundation”.
“In today’s Epistle lesson we also find thoughts of the Holy Apostle Paul regarding that. He calls Jesus Christ the foundation of our life in Him. “No other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3, 11). Having such a foundation we may build our life on Him. God will empower us to do many amazing things. St. Paul teaches that we may build using gold, silver or precious stones. He refers to a fruitful and rich life in Christ, life full of virtue and good deeds, life of holiness. This kind of life is very hard to conduct, it may even seem to be impossible, just as walking on the waters. But as an example we have a great number of people whom we call Saints. They could live such a life. They were always trying to do impossible things because they had faith as a foundation and they never lost the Christ from their sight”.
“But even if we fail, if we became overcome by doubt, by fear or by something else, Jesus still stretches His saving hand to us. Even if we start to sink, like Peter, it would be enough just to cry out: “Lord, save me!” And help will come. St. Paul tells that some may build their structure with wood, hay or straw. Although such building will not be strong, it still has a very strong foundation. It may be damaged, destroyed, but it could be rebuilt again. Thus when we experience difficulties, go through troublesome life, when we fall, let us not forget that our Lord Jesus Christ may help us and save us”.
“Let us attempt to have firm faith and full trust to do amazing and great things for the glory of God. Let us try to walk on the waters of our uncertain and unreliable earthly existence. God will help us. But even if we doubt, even if we become afraid, even if we fail, even if we fall and begin to sink, let us remember that Jesus is with us. Let us call Him. Let us say even a little prayer. He will come and help us. He will come and save us. For He is our Foundation, our Comfort and our Hope”.
During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.
The choir prayerfully performed hymns to St. Panteleimon during preparation for Holy Communion.
Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a short homily in English addressing the main ideas of his Russian homily. He also reminded parishioners of the beginning of the Dormition fast next week. Then Fr. Igor congratulated our small parishioner, Elena Malyshew and her parents on the occasion of her birthday. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.