On September 17, on the 15th 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! Reading the Epistles of St. Paul we always learn about Christian life. We discover what it means to be a Christian. In today’s Epistle reading we also learn something about it”.
“Today we heard that St. Paul says that through Jesus Christ God let His light shine in the hearts of men (2 Cor. 4, 6). This is a special ability, a special gift from God. His light may shine in our hearts, Jesus can live within us, the divine grace is given to us. But, as St. Paul goes further, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4, 7). “Earthen vessels” mean vessels of clay, clay jars. That means that we are earthly people, we have our material bodies which are subject to corruption and death. We cannot live this earthly life forever. Our bodies are like clay jars which may be easily broken. In addition, our souls are also corrupt by sin and attached to our bodies and our earthly desires. They are also vulnerable like those earthen vessels. The treasure of divine grace is held in us like in earthen vessels”.
“St. Paul tells us that entrusting such a gift to the earthen vessels is necessary. He says that “we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Cor. 4, 7). We should realize our infirmity and our imperfection, to be humble. We should not become too proud and should understand that our faith and the grace are coming from God, and not from our own merits”.
“Living like those earthen vessels make our life difficult. It is even more difficult to live a true Christian life. But if we think about it, we may realize that God never permits us to be annihilated, to be totally destroyed and to be tempted more than we can endure. Therefore St. Paul says, “We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Cor. 4, 8-9). The Apostle goes further and says that “the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh”. He says that although death is working in us, life also works (2 Cor. 4, 11-12). Commenting on those words St. John Chrysostom wrote that these trials mentioned by the Apostle show both the power of God and, more, disclose His grace. Christian life is a victorious one, but not trouble free. We need to endure all kinds of trials in order to become worthy of our Lord who also underwent sufferings but became the Conqueror of death”.
“Today we honor Holy Martyr Babylas who was the bishop of Antioch in the 3rd century, was one of the ancient Antiochian Patriarchs. His body was tortured in many ways to force him to renounce Christ. His earthen vessel was damaged but by the grace of God he persevered and became a martyr, a hero for Christ. Another Saint whom we commemorate today is Prophet Moses, a very famous Old Testament hero. If we recall the Bible, he was not very confident when he was beginning his special mission. He told God Himself with Whom he spoke, that he has certain physical shortcomings. But God gave Him an assurance of His help and continuous support, promised to be with him (Ex. 4, 1-11). With God’s help our earthen vessels can be very successful and efficient.”
“At the end, as St. Paul reminds us, “He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us” (2 Cor. 6, 14). Our earthly lives will end, our earthen vessels will be destroyed, but God will restore both our lives and our bodies at the end of time, so we can be presented at the second coming of His Son. Our trials and troubles, if we suffered them as true Christians, will not be in vain. We will be living eternal life. We will no longer have the treasure held in earthen vessels but in the vessels which will last forever”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us be humble and appreciate that God entrusted His treasure, His divine gifts, to be held in our earthen vessels. Let us endure and persevere in our trials, tribulations and temptations of this life. Let us keep in mind that at the end God who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us up, so we may be given life eternal”.
During preparation for Holy Communion the choir director nicely performed hymns dedicated to the Saints whose memory was celebrated: Holy Hieromartyr Babylas and Prophet Moses.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector made the announcement 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.