14th Sunday after Pentecost


On September 18, on the 14th Sunday after Pentecost, we had a beautiful celebration in our parish. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today in the Holy Gospel we hear a parable of the Wedding Feast. It shows that so many people neglected the invitation of their king, and even among those who came to the banquet there were people not dressed appropriately. Our Lord finishes that parable by saying, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt. 22, 14)”.
That parable about the Wedding Feast may lead us to a conclusion that our human nature is so corrupt and ungrateful that God won’t allow most of us to enter into His Kingdom. Thus today we may tend to think negative and become filled with pessimism”.
If we recall the lives of the Saints commemorated today, we will also feel pessimistic. For today we honor Holy Prophet Zachariah and righteous Elizabeth, parents of St. John the Baptist. Last Sunday we celebrated the Beheading of St. John, his passing, and today is the memory of his holy parents. A week ago we were remembering the death of a just man, and today we commemorate sorrowful accounts from the life of St. Zachariah and Elizabeth. They both were persecuted because King Herod desired to destroy young St. John, so he wished to destroy his parents. They had to flee but the Forerunner’s father, St. Zachariah, was a priest, and he did not leave the Temple. He was murdered in the holy place, between the table of offerings and the altar of the Temple. So, recalling that we may feel sorrowful and negative”.
But let us try to think positive. The whole idea of the Kingdom of God where all of us are invited should overcome all kinds of pessimism. Our Lord is describing His eternal Kingdom in an image so understood to the people – as a banquet, a wedding feast. In the times of Christ and in the East weddings were celebrations of human love, and the families that made them attempted to invite as many guests as they could. So the Lord compared His Kingdom to such a feast. Everyone is welcome. It is now our own choice whether to accept that generous invitation. If we accept and do our best to get there, to enter into God’s Kingdom, to participate in His everlasting celebration of Love – we will be there. And our garment will be appropriate if we will prepare and put such garment on. That wedding garment should be understood as our pure and sanctified soul, a soul adorned with virtues and divine grace. If we take care of the soul, prepare it for God’s Kingdom, then we will be accepted there. So, the Lord won’t throw us out of His banquet hall into the outer darkness. It is totally up to us – whether to come and whether to be dressed appropriately”.
We have to note that at those times of Christ, in the East, the guests did not have to bring their special garment. The wedding garment was provided by the family holding the feast, it was given at the entrance to the banquet hall. That means that the person lacking that dress in today’s parable, person thrown out by the king, somehow did not wish to put the garment on or to receive it. That was his choice. How many people, especially nowadays, do not wish to embrace pious and godly life, to be with the faithful, to receive the divine grace! Thus, such people will be thrown out from the Kingdom of Heaven. But if we do desire to be with the Lord, we will accept His invitation and we will receive the wedding garment at the entrance. That garment is the divine grace to help us, to make our souls cleansed and pure”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, even if we fail to do our preparation, even if it seems difficult for us to accept God’s invitation, the Lord is always willing to help us. He provides His divine grace, He assures us that if with men it is impossible, with God everything is possible (Mt. 19, 26). And despite that only few are chosen, the Lord keeps saying, “Come to me, allyouwho are wearyand burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11, 28). And the whole Scripture is full of very optimistic and positive assurances of God’s love and willingness to save everyone. But on the other hand, of course, God won’t save us without our desire to be just. The book of Revelation says, He who is unjust, let him be unjust still; he who is filthy, let him be filthy still“ (Rev. 22, 11). God gives us a choice. If we are unjust or filthy, He will judge us; if we are righteous and holy He will bless us”.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, despite some strictness and negativity of today’s Gospel lesson, let us remember that God’s love will always prevail. Let us also remember that we are all invited to share in the joy of our Lord in His eternal Kingdom. An invitation is extended and the doors of the banquet hall are wide open. The Wedding Feast is waiting for us. It is now up to us whether we will accept that invitation, do our best to come and be dressed appropriately. If not, we will join those who will be thrown out. But if we will do our best, we will join the holy ones, we will be among the Saints, in the Kingdom of Heaven, “where the sound of them that keep festival is unceasing, and the delight is endless of them who behold the ineffable beauty” of the Lord’s countenance!”

Since on the first Sunday of September the Church holds a special day of prayer for the preservation of God’s creation, during the Litany of fervent supplication the Rector offered special petitions for that cause.

The choir nicely performed Psalm 33 and a prayer to the Most Holy Mother of God during preparation for Holy Communion.

After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made some announcements regarding prayers offered for preservation of creation, as well as regarding the coming feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos. Fr. Igor also greeted Phoebe Ching-Huei Li on her past name day proclaiming the Polychronion on her behalf and handing to her the Theotokian prosphora.