On November 29, on the 25th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew, the Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the readings from the Sacred Scripture he preached the following homily:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! The parable of the Good Samaritan from the Gospel that we have just heard tells us about the new teaching our Lord Jesus Christ brought to the world. That teaching did not reject the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament. In fact, Jesus is referring to the Law of Moses in today’s Gospel lesson while speaking with the Jewish scholar of law. But our Savior wished to introduce the new principle into that law. He preached that all kinds of laws and regulations must be subjected to the highest law, the law of love. This is why He is teaching us that love surpasses everything and has no boundaries”.
“In today’s parable we see that love towards a fellow human being has to be beyond the national, religious or social differences. A man fell among the thieves and laid wounded and half dead on the road (presumably this was a Jewish man). He did not receive help from the highest and respected members of the Jewish society: from a priest and from a Levite who happened to be there and passed him. But a Samaritan, a stranger, almost an enemy to the Jews, had compassion and took a good care of the wounded man. This shows us what the Lord desired to tell the scholar of law: that a neighbor to a man is anyone in immediate need, even a supposed enemy. Since we are all humans and since we are all created as the image and likeness of the infinite God, we all are neighbors to each other. We all owe love to each other”.
“Unfortunately, due to the sin and corruption of humanity, we are divided in numerous ways: by race, nationality, ethnicity, faith, politics and many other reasons. Recently we were witnessing a great division in this country, a division because of political views, as well as some promotion of the division because of race. But all those human divisions are inevitable in that state of corruption. God Himself would not bless the unity of such humanity, being sinful and proud. As the Scripture tells us, God divided people confusing their languages when they attempted to build the Tower of Babel, to create world domination without God’s blessing. In a similar way nowadays people building a global community without religious and traditional moral principles will not have God’s blessing and will not succeed. We are now seeing how it is done. The whole world was forced to hide and to wear masks. This is a clear sign of such tendencies. And God permits this to happen. It may last for some time, as the godless regime lasted in our old country for more than 70 years. For some time people may suffer but it won’t last forever. God may permit us to be tested for the certain time but finally He will end such hard times”.
“Instead of creating a godless human unity based on the low instincts and pride, our Lord Jesus Christ proposes us a unity based on love and understanding of our imperfection. This is a unity of helping each other regardless who we are, Black or White, [Russian] or not, being born somewhere or not. We are called to love the neighbor, and that neighbor may be anyone who would need our help, our care, our compassion”.
“A good example of such mercy and Christian love is the activity of the sisters of Mercy founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta. It is a Catholic monastic community but we can look at their example because they are living according to Christian ideals showed in today’s Gospel parable. They did exactly what Good Samaritan did. Living in India, they assisted all people in need, no matter what faith or race they belonged to. Some intelligent people admire Indian culture. But you should remember that Indian culture is a pagan culture, a culture where you divide people into casts. Speaking of the divisions, we should recall that among the Hindus if you belong to the higher cast you cannot deal with someone from a lower cast. Once those nuns, those Sisters of Mercy picked up a dying man on a street that belonged to the lowest Hindu cast. Such people very often are born and die on the streets and others consider a defilement to touch them. One of such poor men was taken by the Sisters of Mercy, washed, given medicine and placed in a bed with clean sheets. When he woke up and came to his senses, he asked, “Where am I?” One of the Sisters told him that he is in their infirmary. The man asked why they are doing this. She explained that they are Christians and help the people in need because their Lord Jesus Christ taught them to do so. The poor man asked, “Who is your Lord Jesus Christ?” The Sister told him that He is God they believe in. Then the man said, “If this is your God I also believe in Him!””
“Another example of how Christian attitude and Christian faith may change the people can be drawn from the life of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. Today we commemorate his falling asleep. He was one of the 12 Apostles and he wrote the first Gospel, the Gospel of Matthew. St. Matthew preached in a number of countries of the East but he died in Africa. Speaking of racial divisions, St. Matthew preached among the black people and converted them. He was in Ethiopia, and it was difficult. We should recall that the tribes living there in the times of St. Matthew were savage, and they were cannibals. And some of them fiercely persecuted the Holy Apostle. St. Matthew was tortured, and the local Ethiopian prince was very cruel to him, ordering more and more executions. But when that prince saw the miracles, when he saw that the Disciple of Christ is enduring the tortures and his terrible wounds are healing fast, he believed in Christ and converted. Although St. Matthew was finally put to death, that local prince later became a Christian and was baptized taking the name Matthew. Savage people became Christians and abandoned their wicked way of life. See how true Christian attitude of love changes the people, changes the world”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, every Christian community is called to practice the love of Christ, the love of a Good Samaritan”.
“At the same time we should understand that our human nature is weak and wounded by sin, so nothing we can really accomplish without God’s help. Symbolically, the Good Samaritan is Jesus Christ who came to help the humanity wounded by sin and robbed by the devil. We are in fact wounded and sick spiritually. Only divine grace shown in the parable as the treatment given by the Samaritan (bandaging the wounds, pouring on oil and wine) may help us to heal”.
”Dear brothers and sisters! Let us strive practicing love of our neighbor, helping them and doing it in the name of the Lord and under the holy cover of the Church”.
During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease as well as a petition of thanksgiving.
During preparation for Holy Communion the choir nicely performed the Psalm 33 and the hymns in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos.
Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector proclaimed the Polychronion in honor of His Grace, Bishop Matthew of Sourozh who celebrated his name day on this feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew. Then he also congratulated the Suric family on the occasion of their son’s past name day. Fr. Igor greeted little Victor, handed to him the Theotokian prosphora and proclaimed the Polychronion on his behalf.