On September 23rd, on Sunday before the Exaltation of the Cross, Rector of St. George Church, priest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our temple.
Fr. Igor preached a homily after the Gospel lesson. He said that the assigned reading from the holy Gospel mentions the events from the Old Testament history. It says that “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (Jn. 3, 14). “Our Lord Jesus Christ recalled that to teach His disciples about His own mission in the world, the mission of salvation. And He compared His mission to the mission of Moses who led the chosen people of God from the Egyptian captivity to the promised land. The Jews were wandering in the wilderness for the long 40 years. But God was taking care of them. He gave them food and water, He provided for His people. But the people complained and regretted that they left Egypt where they had a lot of food. They forgot that they were slaves in that country, and remembered only some good things they used to have there. A punishment for that ungratefulness to God and to Moses came soon. The Israelites came to an area full of poisonous snakes. Those serpents bit and kill a lot of people. Everybody could perish there if God did not stop that. God told Moses to make a copper snake and to raise it on a pillar. God told that any person who would look at the copper snake will not die of the poison.”
“This event is the symbol of what happened at Calvary, and a prophecy of what is going on with the whole human race. Desert is this earthly life. It is full of poisonous snakes. Evil bites any human from birth and up to the last hour of his or her life. Countless snakes surround human life from all the sides. These are the sins and passion that surround us.”
“We remember that when Adam and Eve, our ancestors, committed the first sin, they were tempted by a serpent. And when we may become bit by a snake? When we come into a close contact. Adam and Eve sinned because they entered into a contact, a conversation with the snake. When we commit sins, we do the same. We converse with the snake… And it bites us with the deadly poison, it pours that poison right into our soul. And there is no cure to any man. No cure, if not a merciful God, who sends us not Moses, but His Onlybegotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Only if our gaze is turned to Christ, to His Cross, to the copper serpent of our faith, then we get healed. Just as the copper serpent had no poison, so Christ was similar to all of us, being one of us…”
“Let us also remember how such a salvation is actually obtained. It is obtained through the holy Church. Especially through the holy Eucharist. Only the Blood of Christ can heal us from the deadly poison of sin. We are redeemed, we are purchased from the slavery of sin and death by the Blood of Christ shed on the Cross. That Blood we partake in the Holy Church. Holy Communion is a great cure from our sins and temptations. It also works like the copper serpent.”
“Let us then, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, turn our spiritual eyes to the holy Cross of Christ, let us ask for the forgiveness and delivery. Let us remember that God redeemed us, purchased us with great price of His own Blood shed on the Cross. Let us receive His holy Body and Blood in Communion, so we would not die but have life everlasting.”
After the Liturgy our parishioners and Fr. Igor enjoyed delicious lunch. It had been recalled that these days our Rector marks his 5 years of serving at St. George. For this reason parishioners congratulated Fr. Igor at the table and had a toast to his health and success in pastoral ministry.