On February 19, on the Meetfare Sunday, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple. After the Gospel lesson he preached the following homily:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today’s Meatfare Sunday is dedicated to the Last Judgment. Preparing us for Lent, the Holy Church commands us to remember about the end of the ends of our earthly life – the second coming of Christ and His Dreadful Judgment”.
“Since we recently celebrated feast of the Meeting of the Lord and continue its liturgical celebration, we should be especially sensitive to the idea of the encounter with our Creator. As the holy elder Simeon met His God and Savior, we are going to meet Him also. That encounter will take place after our passing from this life. And it will also occur at the Last Judgment. Therefore, let us seriously reflect upon that perspective that, according to our faith, everyone is facing”.
“Today’s Gospel lesson says that at the Last Judgment our Lord Jesus Christ will judge us according to our deeds. Those deeds are the basic works of mercy towards other people. We ought to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, take in the stranger, visit the sick or the prisoner (Mt. 25, 35-36). That will be the main criteria by which we are going to be evaluated at the Dreadful Judgment of the Lord. We often consider our salvation to be dependent on the way we pray, we fast and do other important religious works. But Christ Himself in His Gospel teaches that the most important and necessary things for our salvation are our works of mercy toward other fellow men and women. Salvation means exercising real love. All our pious works of prayer, fasting and receiving Sacraments will mean little if we won’t have love and mercy”.
“Thinking of that leads us to an idea that one of the most important things in our human life is to be able to build proper relations with others. We are living among other people, and the Lord is expecting us to get along. The works of mercy mentioned in today’s Gospel – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and so on – all these works are the signs of proper relationships with other people. And, in the contrary, lacking of such works would be the sign of our inability to build good relations. The most prominent positive example of being able to build such relations is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. For He loved us, human beings, and He became Man, being infinite God; He served us and suffered for us; He died for us on the cross. By His great divine and human works He covered all possible aspects of love and mercy. By redeeming the human race the Lord surpassed all possible human works of mercy. Now He expects us to be similar. But have to do much lesser job: not to save the whole world, but only to serve certain people whom we meet in our earthly life journey. However, if we try to build good relations with more people, to be good to as many persons as we can, then we will certainly become closer to the level of work done by our Lord, Jesus Christ. Of course, we may never reach His level, but at least, we may be a little closer”.
“Speaking of positive examples we may not be limited to remembering our Lord. We may recall many people who followed Christ and who did great works of mercy and love. Nowadays we may see many such examples. I was really delighted to see how many American people began to help the needy Ukrainians during the last year of the terrible war in Ukraine. Tons of clothes, a lot of goods and money were sent to Ukraine. Now we are also called to help the people in Turkey and Syria after the terrible earthquake that happened there. However, every day and every moment we may called to assist anyone whom we encounter around us and who is in need. And those needed works, those abilities to build up relationships – they are not limited to the list given in today’s Gospel. There may be big and small works, great deeds and just little favors – all of them will be considered at the Last Judgment. Sometimes we just need to watch the house of our neighbor, to feed his cat. Sometimes we only need to jump start our neighbor’s car or give him a ride. That will certainly build and strengthen our good relationships. And it will count at the Last Judgment. We cannot judge in advance, but we may say that most likely they will hear the kind and gracious words of Christ at His Last Judgment, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt. 25, 33)”.
“On the other hand, there many negative examples when people fail to build good relations and refuse to do the works of love. Such people, instead of seeking to resolve their problems peacefully, start to fight the wars, as we now see in Ukraine. Such people, instead of building relationships with their neighbors, engage in the acts of terror, as we see in the Middle East. Such people attack others, steal and commit criminal acts, as we see everywhere, and particularly in this city of New York. We cannot judge in advance but most likely they will hear the harsh sentencing from our Lord at His Last Judgment, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mt. 25, 41)”.
“Dear brothers and sisters, reflecting on these important and saving matters, let us work to build good relations with other people, with our family members, with our neighbors, our co-workers, our superiors and subordinates. Let us assist them in need. Let us be compassionate towards the needy around us. Let us perform those works by which we will be considered to become worthy of the Heavenly Kingdom. Let us avoid hostile and bad attitude of those who fail to be merciful. Let us learn how to be successful in building good relations and pleasing others, so we will eternally please the Lord God, our future Judge at His second coming!”
Since there were no services for the departed performed on Meatfare Memorial Saturday, the Rector added the Litany for the deceased to the Liturgy with commemoration of those who had fallen asleep.
During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director prayerfully performed hymns of the feast of the Lord’s Meeting, as well as penitential hymns.
Following the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made the announcements regarding the coming dairy week (“Maslenitsa” in Russian) and about our parish events.
After the services the Rector and parishioners stayed for the coffee hour. Then our Annual Parish Meeting was held right after that.