32nd Sunday after Pentecost


On February 2, on the 32nd Sunday after Pentecost we had a celebration at St. George Church. The parish Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the readings from the Scripture he preached a homily:

“Today we heard the Gospel story about Zaccheus, a chief publican who wished to see Jesus and who decided to change his life, to repent. We may notice that in his desire to see the Lord Zaccheus labored, he climbed a tree. He could doubt that he will be successful, but he did make an effort, and his effort was rewarded. Thus, we may say that Zaccheus had hope. Therefore, today we will reflect on this wonderful virtue, we will speak about hope.”
“Today’s Epistle lesson says that we Christians labor and suffered reproach, “because we trust in the living God” (1 Tim. 4, 10). Trusting in God means to have hope that God will make everything work for our good. Hope is one of the three most important virtues, along with faith and love.”
“If we think about it, we may see that it is impossible to live without hope. The farmer would never sow a seed in the soil, or a preacher preach a sermon, a mother undergo the pain of childbirth, a student the discipline of study, or a doctor perform a surgery – were it not for the hope that out of the effort something good, something better might result. The person who loses hope in life may not wish to live. This is why we say that hope dies the last. A hopeless person is likely to commit suicide. Ironically, even his suicide is done in hope, in hope that death is better than life. Man must hope! St. Paul calls hope an anchor of the soul (Heb. 6, 19).”

“But our hope has to be true and real. Very often our hope is with regard to earthly needs. It is natural to hope and work for better health, for success in business or profession. But there is higher hope. Our earthly needs are temporary. And our hope and trust in earthly things or in the people may not be true. “Do not put your trust in princess, in the sons of men, in whom there is no salvation,” – says the Psalm (Ps. 145, 3). A higher, an eternal hope, a hope which alone gives meaning and direction in our life is the hope in God. The Psalm goes on saying, “Blessed is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God” (Ps. 145, 5). If there were no God, if God was not interested in the world He made, Jesus would not have come. But He did come! And because of this, there is hope. If there was no repentance and forgiveness, life would hold no hope for any of us. If death marked the end of man, life would make no sense. But in Jesus we have forgiveness and life. He is our hope, a true and real hope.”
“A Christian is never without hope. He always finds a way out in Christ. He knows that all things can work for good to those who love God. He knows that there is nothing in all creation, not even death, that can separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus. He knows that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed to those who put their trust in Jesus.”

“Christian hope is confidence in God, the willingness to entrust to Him the future of our life. It is a realistic hope because in such hope we fully realize that tomorrow may not be better than today. Tomorrow we may suffer. Tomorrow we may fall. Tomorrow we may die. But tomorrow, like today, God will be with us, sustaining us, upholding us, supporting us with His everlasting arms, bringing good out of evil, granting life in death.”
“Remember what some people said about Jesus Himself when He suffered on the cross? They mocked Him saying, “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now” (Mt. 27, 43). We know that God did not deliver Jesus from the cross, but He did raise Him from the dead! At the end God brought the greatest good out of the greatest evil. Jesus who died, was risen from the dead. This is why, as St. Paul says, we also have to labor and suffer reproach, “because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men” (1 Tim. 4, 10).”

“Dear brothers and sisters! Let us finish our today’s reflection with the words of blessing given by St. Paul to the Romans: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 15, 13).”

After the dismissal of the Liturgy Fr. Igor congratulated one of our youngest parishioners, Anton Malyshew on the occasion of his past name day, feast of St. Anthony the Great and wished him God’s blessings and fervent intercession of his patron Saint. The traditional “Mnogaia leta” was sung.