Sunday after the Theophany


On January 23, on the Sunday after the Theophany, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:

“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate Sunday after the Theophany. We read the short Gospel passage telling us that our Lord Jesus Christ began His saving ministry (Mt. 4, 12-17. Let us talk about that Gospel lesson”.
“First we read: “When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee” (Mt. 4, 12). Very soon after he baptized the Lord in the Jordan River, St. John the Baptist was incarcerated. He suffered not precisely for Christ but for preaching the truth about king Herod Antipas. Later the Holy Forerunner was put to death for that, so in his troparion we sing, “having contested for the truth, thou joyfully preached in the hades…”. We should recall that Jesus proclaimed about Himself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14, 6). Jesus Christ is the Truth because He is God, therefore if someone is preaching the truth and is suffering for the truth, he suffers for Christ. Of course, it has to be the truth, not some idea which someone considers to be true. Many people are unfortunate to suffer for things which are not truth. But if someone is upholding real truth, he is serving God and suffers for that. And we have to admit, many people preaching the truth are persecuted and put in prison”.
“So, Jesus hearing that St. John is in prison, departed to a different region where He could safely begin to proclaim His preaching. That region was Galilee where Christ grew up. But we read that He left His town of Nazareth and came to the lands in Galilee that were populated by the Gentiles, the regions of Zabulun and Naphtali. This is why the Gospel says, “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned” (Mt. 4, 16). The heathens dwelling in those regions, living in the darkness of their false religion and superstitions, were given a blessing to hear the preaching of Christ. The true Light has down upon them”.
“Dear brothers and sisters, the Light of Christ is shining upon all of us. It is accessible for the whole humanity. It is noticeable that in this time of the year we observe that we see more light. Today the Church commemorates St. Gregory of Nyssa, a great Father of the Church. He was the brother of St. Basil the Great and he was a prominent theologian and philosopher. He wrote about this season: “Today the darkness begins to grow shorter and the light to lengthen, as the hours of night become fewer…. Realize that the true Light is now here and, through the rays of the Gospel, is illumining the whole earth.” So, celebrating the feast of the Theophany we see that even nature reminds us of the light overcoming darkness. And in spiritual sense, our celebration reminds us that the true Light, Christ our God, is now shining for all of us”.
“However, not every human being becomes enlightened by Christ. Sadly, we observe that a lot of people ignore that light or even turn away from it. Some even attempt to block that light from shining upon others. The way St. John the Baptist was persecuted, nowadays many of those who love the truth and the light of Christ are being persecuted. But that true Light cannot be overshadowed. And if we truly wish to live by that light, the light of Truth will enlighten us and will show us in the true state – the way we are”.

“If we come to a dark room, we cannot see whether it is dirty or clean. But when the sunlight is coming to that room, all the dust and filth becomes visible. In the same way, spiritually, the light of the Truth, the light of Christ, reveals our sins and passions. And if we want to please God, we will begin cleaning. That cleaning is called the repentance, to which both St. John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus called the humanity”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! In order to clean the house, we need to do some work. In order to clean the soul, we need to repent, to perform spiritual labor. Last Sunday we were talking about that. In order to begin something, we need to prepare and to get rid of everything that stands on our way. For the soul, for the spiritual life, such work is repentance. It is a conversion; repentance, metanoia – a “change of mind”, as it is literally translated from Greek. To repent means to change your mind, your way, to change your person. It is to be honest with yourself and to see yourself in a true light, the way we really are. It is to be truthful. It is to suffer for the truth”.
“Only by such a true repentance we may be successful in our spiritual efforts. Only by being truthful with ourselves and by acknowledging our sins we may become mature in spirit. As Holy Apostle Paul says in today’s Epistle, then “we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4, 14)”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us follow the command of our Lord and work spiritually to repent. Let us attempt all the time to cleanse ourselves from sins and defilement. Let us frequently confess our sins to the Lord in the presence of a God’s priest. Let us be loyal to the truth and the truth of Christ will surely save us and lead us to the Kingdom of Heaven which is always at hand since the true light of Christ has dawned upon us!”

The choir performed festal hymns of the Theophany during preparation for Holy Communion.

Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements.