On July 18, on the 4th Sunday after Pentecost we had a nice celebration at St. George Church. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy after his return from Ukraine. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Gospel reading tells us about a healing of a paralyzed servant of the Roman centurion. Our Lord Jesus Christ performed such a miracle even without seeing or approaching the sick person. It was done through faith and intercession of the ill servant’s master. Let us reflect upon this event described in the Gospel of Matthew”.
“A centurion was a Roman army officer who commanded one hundred men. This person mentioned in the Gospel was a Gentile. But he had a faith that Jesus is the One who can help his servant to be cured from the disease. Although Christ usually stressed that He came to save His own people, the Jews, the whole ministry and the whole message of His teaching was encompassing the whole human race, regardless of the people’s origin. Jesus is really the Savior of all. For Him ethnic or social distinctions are void. In the eyes of the Jews, especially the Pharisees who were always ready to criticize Jesus, coming to the house of a Gentile was inappropriate. If Jesus entered the centurion’s home, it would make Him unclean. However, the Lord could act without entering the Gentile’s house. Doing so, He showed that salvation will come upon all the people of faith”.
“In the words of the centurion we hear the recognition of Jesus’ authority. He calls Jesus the Lord. It was significant for a man who himself had authority. But although the centurion had the power over men, he understood that only Jesus had the power over disease. He also understood his own limitations and unworthiness. Therefore, he said to Christ: “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof “(Mt. 8, 8). But his sense of humility was perfected by his firm faith in the healing power of the Lord. Thus he continued: “But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed”(Mt. 8, 8). The word of the Savior is enough for a man to be freed from his disease”.
“This event teaches us about the importance of faith. Our Lord Jesus Christ praised the faith of the centurion. He speaks highly about that Gentile person, lifting him up as an example. The Lord goes further and declares nullity of the Jewish supremacy, saying that many from other nations will share the heavenly blessings with the Jewish patriarchs. He prophesizes: “And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness” (Mt. 8, 11-12). We know that the sons of the kingdom are Jews, who had a sense of racial or national superiority as the chosen people of God. Coming of Christ demonstrated that not the Jews but all the people who believe in the Savior will become the chosen nation, the New Israel”.
“The last time I served here, was on the feast of the Pentecost. But then we celebrated two consecutive Sundays dedicated to the Saints. We had Sunday of All Saints and then we had Sunday of the Russian Saints. I was away and celebrated them there. You were celebrating them here. Those two Sundays made us recall that as a result of the descending of the Holy Spirit different nations acquired the right to become the true worshipers of God. Many nations accepted the preaching of the Gospel and produced lots of holy men and women, people we call the Saints. Today we celebrate feast of one of our own Saints, the Uncovering of the relics of Venerable Father Sergius of Radonezh. That Saint certainly did not belong to the chosen people of the Old Testament. He was our Russian, Slavic person. But since he was a Christian, since he cherished his Orthodox faith in Jesus Christ, he was one of the chosen ones, belonging to the New Testament chosen nation. His holy life in Christ and in a special devotion to the Most Holy Trinity made him worthy to sit with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the Heavenly Kingdom”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us keep and cherish our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, our only Savior. Let us recognize His power and authority over the whole world and over any little thing in our lives. Let us believe that He can help us if we have faith. Let us also understand our limitations and unworthiness and humbly ask Him to help us. And let us be worthy of the name of Christian that means to be among the chosen people of God, His holy nation which is prepared to sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, also with the Holy Apostles, Martyrs and other Saints in the Kingdom of heaven”.
During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease. After the Litany he also offered a special prayer for the deliverance from pestilence.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements. He expressed his gratitude to those parishioners who assisted in removing the tree fallen after the storm. Especially he commended Emilian Suric who found a tree removing company and donated part of the payment, as well as Alexander Bezkrovnyj who helped working.
Following the Liturgy the Rector served a memorial Litia for the repose of Valentina Malyshev and Larisa Vnukova requested by their families.
After the services the Rector and parishioners interacted at the coffee hour.