On October 13, on the 16th Sunday after Pentecost we had a celebration at our temple. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the Scripture readings he preached a sermon:
“In today’s Epistle lesson St. Paul makes an interesting statement. He says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6, 2). In this way the Apostle urges his listeners to act upon their salvation, to receive the grace of God and to keep it, not to receive it in vain (2 Cor. 6, 1). In other words, we have to do the important things now, not some day.”
“Many people endure the present while they are waiting for something better to occur in the future. They believe that now they are doing some small things, but later their fate will open the door to something more important and significant… Some woman said, “I am living for that blessed day when my children grow up, my husband retires and I will get a little rest”. When her husband retired and the children were married and living in their own homes, this same woman was very unhappy person. She looked back to the time when her husband was working and the house was full of children as the happiest time of her life.”
“How often we miss the joy and the happiness of the present time because we keep thinking how much better it will be tomorrow. Thus, St. Paul reminds us, “Now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation” Now, not tomorrow, is the time to live, to be saved, to be made whole.”
“Our time on earth is limited. Every moment is unique and unrepeatable. Tomorrow is not ours; today is. Now is the time to do the works of mercy. Now is the time to say a prayer. Now is the time to pronounce the words of forgiveness. Now is the time to repent if we have sinned. Now – before our time runs out. Now is the most glorious period of life. God’s time is always now. “Now is the accepted time…””.
“This is why, dear brothers and sisters, we should not postpone our spiritual works, our prayers, our reception of the Sacraments, our acts of mercy and charity, our forgiveness and reconciliation with our brethren.”
“If a gambler says: “I must quit gambling. Tonight I am going to do it the last time, but tomorrow I will stop”. Such a gambler will never stop. But if he says, “I must quit gambling. I cannot speak for tomorrow, but as for today I am not gambling” Such a person will quit. If we postpone our action until tomorrow, this tomorrow may never arrive. Only ‘today’ is real.”
“There is a legend according to which Satan once called the demons to seek out a way to keep people away from God. One demon said, “Let’s tell people that there is no God”. Another said, “Let’s tell that God doesn’t care about right and wrong”. Finally, the third devil said, “Let them believe that there is God who cares about right and wrong. But let’s just keep whispering that there is no hurry”. And the demons agreed that this is the best way of eluding people. And Satan has been whispering to us, “Yes, of course, you must do all good things, but you don’t need to do them today. There is no hurry. Take your time and do it when you are ready.” In this way Satan is tempting us and keeps us from achieving most of good things we want and intend to do. This is the way the evil one is stopping us from receiving the grace, or makes us receive it in vain… Finally, when we approach the end of our lives, we realize, after it is too late, that we have achieved only a tiny portion of our potential, that we have done only a small bit of the good we intended to do.”
“How often we hear people say, “I wish I had time for church, for prayer, for the Bible”. We do have time! God gives it to us. Each morning, 24 hours are presented to us. We must never be too busy to sit at Jesus” feet, nor too preoccupied to go out and serve Him. Because there will come a time at the Judgment seat of Christ when we shall have to give an account of what we did with all our days and hours, which can never be repeated.”
After the Liturgy dismissal Fr. Igor reminded parishioners in English and in Russian language that on this day the Church commemorates two holy men who were the first bishops of the two local Churches: St. Gregory the Enlightener of Armenia and St. Michael, the first Metropolitan of Kiev. Both became the first heads of the local Christian Churches, Armenian and Russian. The history showed how things can change. The Armenian Church which once was the Church of the first Christian nation in the world history, separated from the universal Orthodoxy. But the Russian Church preserved Holy Orthodox faith. This also proves St. Paul to be right when he says, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6, 2). We have to do the right thing at each moment in our life, in our history. We have to keep fidelity to the Holy Orthodox Church like those two Saints whom we honor today.