On July 25, on the 5th Sunday after Pentecost, ,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! Today’s Gospel lesson is about casting out the demons who possessed two men in the country of Gergesines. It is telling us that our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to bring salvation to the human race. Even before dying for us on the cross and being risen from the dead, He rescued people from different forms of evil. He healed the sick, but His sovereign power was not only over physical infirmity. Mental illnesses, demonic possessions were also subject to His miraculous power”.
“But today’s reading also shows us how limited is our human understanding of divine works, how ungrateful people may be towards their greatest Benefactor. After our Lord healed two demoniacs, the whole city came to meet Jesus and begged Him to depart from their region. Despite a great blessing He bestowed upon them, these people did not want Him to stay. To some extent, this was due to the fact that those people were pagans. As such, they could not appreciate mission of Christ. However, similar things always happen. The joyful fact is that the Lord wishes all of us to be saved. The sad fact is that not everybody wishes to respond to that willingness”.
“After His Resurrection our Lord Jesus Christ commissioned the holy Apostles to “go and teach all the nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28, 19). They did so. Thus we sing honoring the Apostles: “Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” (Ps. 18, 4). Many pagan nations received the Gospel of Christ and became faithful to the Savior of the world. Presently, all the nations of the world have Christian people who follow the teaching of our Lord. But since the human nature is still imperfect and inclined to evil, there is a great resistance to the divine grace and the Word of God to be spread. Opposing the Word of God to be spread and resisting the divine grace to be bestowed upon them, people help only their enemy and act against themselves”.
”One of the forms of such opposition is persecution of the Church. St. Augustine observed the following: “The first persecution of the Church when Christians were forced to bring sacrifice to idols by threat of exile, torture and death, was carried out by force. The second persecution the Church endures is from false teachers and false brethren, and is carried out by means of craftiness and deceit. The third persecution will be from the Antichrist, and will be the most dangerous of all, because it will be accompanied by force, craftiness and deceit.” It seems like that third persecution is taking place in our days”.
“If you review the history of Christianity, you may see that Blessed Augustine was right. In the first centuries Christians were forced to worship the idols and when they refused, they were tortured and killed. Today we commemorate Holy Martyrs Proclus and Hilarius. They lived not long after the Holy Apostles, in the 2nd century. And when they refused to honor the idols, they were martyred. Then later, after the 3rd century, when the Church became free and Christianity allowed in the Roman Empire, the heresies emerged and some rulers were heretics. They persecuted the Orthodox Church. Nowadays it is the third wave of persecutions. In some places the force is being used against the Church. It was done in our old countries under the Communists. It is still done in some places ruled by Communists, like in North Korea. Recently we heard about terrible crimes against Christians committed by the Moslem extremists in the Middle East”.
“Now we also see many false teachings, as well as a lot of deceit and opposition to the true faith. Jesus is asked to depart again and again from our lives. In fact, He is asked to leave this country by some its inhabitants who don’t want prayer in schools, mentioning God’s name in the pledge of allegiance, who wish to remove God from the courts and other public places. They also became very successful in legalizing such hideous iniquities like murdering the unborn children and entering into same-sex relations. The Supreme Court of the United States approved abortions 47 years ago and it recently decided that same-sex marriage should be legalized in the whole country”.
“We are witnessing that things are getting worse and worse. Holy Martyr Proclus whom we commemorate today was suffering in different ways. One of his tortures was being tied to a chariot. The chariot was driven, so the Saint had to run along with it. And St. Proclus prayed that the chariot would stop, stop just for a moment. And the Lord heard his prayer: the chariot stopped, the horses could not move any further. Of course, the executioners found another way to torture the Saint but his prayer was heard. Like St. Proclus we may also ask when this chariot of our moral and spiritual sufferings would stop. We may pray the Lord that this process of moral and spiritual decay in the human society may stop. It may be stopped either when the world will end or the Lord will bless us with some relief before His second coming. But in any case, let us remember that true followers of Christ will always be persecuted in the world. And the world around us is becoming more and more ugly with those terrible abominations which are now promoted by the leaders of the society.”
“What can we say?! Let these people beware! Because if they chase out God and Jesus who can make lives blessed, they invite evil into their lives, and that evil one will make their lives miserable. It is like we say in our Holy Week hymns about Judas, “Now he is leaving Christ and accepts the devil”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Reflecting upon all these unpleasant things, let us more appreciate the treasure of the true and orthodox faith we possess. Let us always welcome our Lord Jesus Christ into our lives, our works, our families. Let us be grateful for the salvation He performed for us and for delivering us from evil. Our Lord is the only one who can make us happy. Thus let us not ask Him to depart, but to stay with us forever”.
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.
Before the Holy Communion the choir prayerfully performed hymns dedicated to St. Olga whose memory was celebrated recently, as well as other singings.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector congratulated our Warden and Choir Director, Olga Roussanow and our active parishioner Olga Vnukova on the occasion on their past name day handing them the Theotokian prosphora. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed.
Following the Liturgy the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious luncheon. Our guest Vakhtang Kakishvili volunteered to grill some meat on the barbecue. The greetings and toasts were raised in honor of our two Olgas who celebrated their name day.