Sunday of Orthodoxy



On March 9, on the First Sunday of Lent when the Church celebrates the Triumph of Orthodoxy we had a solemn liturgical service in our temple. On this day we also observe the feast of the Finding of the precious Head of St. John the Baptist. Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov celebrated the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the great. Following the Gospel lesson he preached a sermon:

“Today’s first Epistle lesson tells us about the faith of many Old Testament heroes. It says about their endeavors and states that all these great achievements of the righteous men and women were reached because of faith. It is important for us to note because today we celebrate the Triumph of Orthodoxy, we celebrate the victory of the true Christian faith. We commemorate the decisions of the 7th Ecumenical Council of Nicaea and later achievements of the Orthodox Church in establishing the true faith concerning veneration of the holy images. Today is Sunday which celebrates the holy icons. This is why today we sing: “We venerate Thy most pure icon, o Good one…” Orthodox faith means that we believe in God’s Incarnation, we believe that God took our flesh, our human nature. God became man. “The Word became flesh”, as the Gospel says (Jn. 1, 14). Since God became man we can and should image Him and make His icons. We have to venerate them. This is one of the important parts of our faith. Along with all other sacred dogmas it constitutes holy Orthodoxy, the true treasure we all possess.”
“In today’s Epistle lesson St. Paul says: “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb. 11, 24-26). Faith made him choose to renounce the riches and power and to become a leader of the Israelites. Adopted by the Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses had been brought up in great luxury of Egypt. He was heir to a kingdom. But he had never forgotten his people. And the day came when he decided to join them. To do so, he left behind the riches and power, the royalty he might have had.”
“Moses gave up earthly glory for the sake of the people of God. He chose the loyalty that led to suffering rather than the ease which led to glory on earth. He chose to suffer for the right than enjoy luxury with the wrong. His faith made him understand that the treasures earth had to offer were of no comparison to the ultimate reward of God. So St. Paul says that he considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Heb. 11, 26).”
“In the same way, many other righteous men and women in the world, those described in the Scriptures and those who lived later than the Scriptures were composed, made their choice. They gave up the riches, or comfort, or other advantages of this world and preferred to follow God, to do the right thing and to look to the reward from God. One of them was St. John the Baptist whose feast we celebrate today. St. John could live a comfortable life if he would be nice to king Herod. The king liked him and enjoyed his speeches and sermons. But when St. John began to criticize the king, to say to him that he is doing inappropriate things, he was imprisoned. Later the king’s illegitimate wife used her influence to force the king to execute St. John. He was beheaded. Later in the history, his precious head was uncovered three times by the faithful people. Today we celebrate the first and the second finding of St. John’s head. St. John also, like Moses considered the reproach of Christ greater riches than any treasures of the world.”

“One of the marks of true wisdom is to be able to discern the real treasures in life; the ones that last and bring true happiness. Many people labor for treasures that turn out to be no treasures at all. A poem says,
He used his health

To store up wealth
Then spent his wealth

To get back health
And only got a grave.

“Dear brothers and sisters! The real treasure we possess is our Orthodox faith. We inherited it being born to the Orthodox parents or being converted to the holy Orthodoxy. We received it by getting baptized in one, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Eastern Church. It is up to us now to preserve that wealth or to renounce it by preferring the ideals of the sinful world. If we choose the riches of the world and lose our treasure of faith, then we will end up with nothing. The wealth of the world will disappear when we die. The world itself will end one day. But if we choose faith and life according to it, then it will lead us to a reward, the same reward Moses and other righteous people were looking to. Looking to such reward will be looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, as today’s Epistle says (Heb. 12, 2). Let us look unto Jesus! Let us look now at Him on His holy icons. Let us venerate them. Let us have them as an encouragement for our own endeavors of faith. Led by His light shining through the holy icons, we will some day see, as our Lord says in the Gospel, “heaven open, and the angels ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (Jn. 1, 51).”

After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector performed prayer service of the Sunday of Orthodoxy.