17th Sunday after Pentecost


On October 20, on the 17th Sunday after Pentecost we had a service in our temple. St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy. Following the reading from the Gospel he preached a homily:
“Today we heard the words of St. Paul recalling God’s promises to the people. The Apostle recites the words of the Lord said to Moses: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Lev. 26, 12; 2 Cor. 2, 16). These promises were given by God Himself to His chosen people of Israel. St. Paul assures that the same promises are now given to us, the New Israel, the members of the Christian Church.”
“In our times we do not like to believe the promises given to us by other people. A famous senator said to his son, “Son, there are two qualities that will get you far in government: integrity and astuteness. By integrity I mean if you ever give your word, keep it. By astuteness, I mean don’t ever be stupid enough to give your word.”

“God both gives His word and keeps it. Some famous Orthodox preacher gives us a very modern and American example: a bank check. A check is a man’s promise to pay. It depends totally upon the person who signs it, upon his integrity, his word. When you have confidence in a man, you take his check as readily as cash. Then you endorse it. But if you refuse or forget to endorse it, it becomes just a piece of paper.”
“The Scripture is full of the great promises made by God. They are backed by God’s name, God’s integrity, God’s tremendous powers. Each one of these promises is for you. They are like checks made out to you bearing God’s signature. All that is required that you have enough faith in the signer to endorse the check, and to receive what is promised.”

“It is about these promises St. Paul speaks in today’s Epistle lesson when he says, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7, 1).”
“There are many false promises being made today by politicians. Recent economic crisis and other financial problems in the country and in the world show us that false promises are made by financial institutions. And we always knew that it is not wise to trust the fantastic claims made by the advertising industry. But these false promises make us not trusting to all other promises, especially to the one miraculous claim which happens to be gloriously true. That claim is that Jesus Christ saved us.”

“If we read the Scripture, we may see how the Lord fulfills His promises. In the Old Testament God promises to send His Savior. He says that the Messiah is to come of the family of David. The genealogy written in the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew lists the fulfillment of this promise. The promise was that the Messiah would be born of a Virgin Mother. He was! The promise was that He will be born in Bethlehem, in Judea. He was! The promise was that He will be betrayed and sold for the thirty pieces of silver. He was! The promise was that He will die and that His side would be pierced. It was! And, finally, the promise was that Christ will be raised from the dead. He was! Therefore, St. Paul says, “All the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen…” (2 Cor. 1, 20).”
“Understanding how true are the promises of God, let us also remember that for every promise there is a condition. St. Paul says that having such promises, “Let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7, 1). In order to see the fulfillment of God’s promises in our lives, we have to strive for perfection. God promised us salvation, but the condition for us is to believe in Him. The promise of God is to forgive us, but the condition is to repent and to forsake our sin. The promise is to give us whatever we ask, but the condition is that we should abide in the Lord. Thus, the fulfillment of God’s best promises depends on conditions: abiding in Christ, living with Him, surrendering to Him. God wishes to be our Savior, but He saves us only if we participate, if we work with Him. Recalling the example of a check, let us accept and endorse the ‘check’ given to us. Our works of faith and perseverance will be rewarded by the fulfillment of God’s promises.”

After the Liturgy we had our coffee hour and enjoyed delicious refreshments and a good company.