On March 20, on the Second Sunday of Lent, 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 is the Second Sunday of Lent on which we read the Gospel lesson about healing of a paralyzed man (Mk. 2, 1-12). On this Sunday the Church also commemorates St. Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessalonica who was one of the Church Fathers. St. Gregory lived in the 14th century and became known for his writings about the divine grace, about divine energies and for his teaching that through the feats of piety a person is able to attain a similarity of God, to undergo so called «deification» (theosis). Honoring of this Saint on the Second Sunday of Lent is not accidental, for during Lent we are called to the endeavors of piety. On this Sunday we also commemorate Venerable Fathers of the Kiev Caves who also are the examples of piety. Their example shows how people can engage in a life of piety and dedicate their lives to the Lord and then attain holiness and deification”.
“In today’s Gospel lesson (Mk. 2, 1-12) we also heard about a certain feat, an endeavor performed by the four men who brought a paralytic to Jesus. In order to reach Christ they had to get on the roof of the house where Jesus stayed and taught. They had to lift their sick friend to the top of the house, then to uncover the roof and to let down the bed with the paralytic. Can you imagine what had these people done? Isn’t that a heroic act? And as we read in the Gospel, the Lord saw their effort, saw their faith and forgave the sins of the paralytic and then He healed him (Mk. 2, 5-11). As we can see, a feat of faith, a persistence and a labor performed by those four people became the reason for their friend or relative to be healed”.
“Dear brothers and sisters, this reading from the Gospel teaches us to perform a labor in order to achieve spiritual goals.It teaches us to be decisive and to engage in the feats of piety. The works and efforts are necessary to acquire the divine grace. Of course, the divine grace is a gift and it is given not because of our merits, but by the blessing of God Himself. However, many of the gracious gifts of God cannot be bestowed upon us without our efforts and without our labor to attain them. It is especially true when we speak of our salvation. Although it may sound strange, but God cannot save us without our desire to be saved. God needs our co-operation in the great work of our personal salvation“.
“The Lord says, “The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force” (Mt. 11, 12). These important words teach us to make efforts, to spiritually fight for our salvation. And that struggle for salvation involves both our soul and our body. Ven. Isidore of Pelusium interpreting those words of the Lord wrote that the Kingdom of Heaven is taken by those who force their body to fasting, chastity, and any kind of virtue, who submit the body to the laws of spirit and make it assist them in virtue. This is why in today’s Gospel lesson, the Lord took care of both the soul and the body of the paralytic. Jesus first forgave his sins and then healed his body. Let us remember that at the end, in the eternity we are going to exist with both our body and soul. We often forget about that when we speak about spiritual matters. We do remember about immortality of the soul, but we should always remember that our bodies will be resurrected before the Last Judgment to follow into life eternal“.
“The Lord shows His glory in both the souls and the bodies of His great Saints. It is not accidental that the remains of many Saints can be incorruptible. Speaking of the venerable ascetics of the Kiev Lavra we should recall that their relics are kept in the monastery caves. When the monastery was restored after the Communist persecutions, many of the skulls of those ascetics began to flow with myrrh. Isn’t that a manifestation of the divine glory in God’s Saints? “God is wonderful in His Saints” (Ps. 67, 36)“.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us continue our endeavor of Great Lent, performing spiritual labor, making efforts of body and soul for our salvation, for the achievement of Heavenly Kingdom, so through our pious life the Lord may perform the wonderful works of His Providence!“
During the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector had the petition for the suffering land of Ukraine and its people. He also added a commemoration of the suffering land of Ukraine at the Great Entrance.
The choir beautifully performed Psalm 33 during preparation for Holy Communion.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements and wished the faithful a spiritually fruitful passing of the Lenten journey.