On July 26 our parish celebrated 8th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the six Ecumenical Councils. On that day we also celebrated feast of St. Vladimir which was transferred to Sunday due to this year’s Millennium jubilee of the Holy Equal to the Apostles Prince of Rus’.
St. George’s Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. After the Scripture readings he preached a homily:
“Today we heard the Gospel story of a miraculous feeding of the five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Our Lord Jesus Christ worked a great miracle: a large number of people were fed with such a small amount of food. It is interesting that this miracle is described in all 4 Gospels. It makes us understand how important this event was among the other works of our Savior.”
“The Gospel of Matthew which we heard today tells that Jesus seeing so many people following Him He “was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick” (Mt. 14, 14). After that, also due to His compassion He decides to feed these people with 5 breads. This is a very elementary work – to feed the hungry, a basic work of mercy. And the Lord does it in a perfect, miraculous way. We might consider that this is the fulfillment of His mission – to heal the sick, to feed the hungry and to make everybody happy. Many Jews expected their Messiah to do just that – to build a perfect society, to give enough food, a lot of wealth and to make Israel strong and independent country. But we should know that the real mission of the Son of God was not directly related to the things of this world. He brought us salvation from sin, not from poverty or starvation. He came to redeem us from the captivity of the evil one, and not to provide us with a good lifestyle. Our Lord wished to give us the real and eternal life, a life truly abundant, and not just good life here on earth.”
“Many people wished to build a better society, to make a good life only here, on earth. For instance, the Socialists used to exclaim: “First feed the hungry and then demand them to be moral!” They promised good life here if they overthrow the governments and the kings and build their societies based on social justice. But when they succeeded, they created much worse life with more oppression of the people, and they could not solve even social problems. The hungry were still around and even grew in their number.”
“This is why our Lord Jesus Christ in the very beginning of His mission, when He was tempted in the wilderness, rejected the proposal of the devil to command the stones to become bread. If He did He could feed all the hungry, to solve a social problem. But Jesus said: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Mt. 4, 4). Only the knowledge of the will of God can make us happy. Without that knowledge we won’t be able to solve any social problem.”
“Therefore, the significance of the miracle of feeding those 5 thousand people with 5 loaves of bread is not about giving food. It is about making the people partakers of the divine presence, making them connected to God. This miracle is the image of the Holy Eucharist, a mystery in which our earthly bread becomes the Body of Christ. The same Jesus Christ becomes multiplied as those 5 loaves of bread to be consumed not by 5 thousand men, but by all the faithful who are willing to receive Him. Christ is not divided; He remains the same. As it is written in today’s Epistle, Christ does not divide. Yet in every church, at every Divine Liturgy Christ is being distributed to the partakers of the Holy Communion. Christ cannot be consumed. Yet every time we receive Communion we consume Him. Isn’t that a miracle? And this miracle happens every time we participate in the Liturgy.”
The Rector further spoke about the great mission of St. Vladimir who baptized our ancestors, the people of Rus’, more than a millennium ago. In this way our holy Baptizer made our people also the partakers of the divine presence, made them members of the Body of Christ.
The Rector concluded saying, “Keeping this in mind, let us appreciate our Lord Jesus Christ and His saving gift of the Eucharist He gave us. Let us strive for eternal, spiritual and truly real things instead of temporary, material and passing things of this world. For were our treasure is, our heart will be also.”
Following the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers came out of the sanctuary to the middle of the temple and performed the rite of Glorification before the image of St. Vladimir singing the troparion and kontakion in his honor.
After the service the Rector congratulated our Warden and Choir Director Olga Roussanow on the occasion of her past name day, the memory of the Holy Equal to the Apostles Princess Olga celebrated two days before. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta”) was sung.
Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company. A toast to Olga Roussanow celebrating her name day was made by the Rector, and a “Mnogaia leta!” was sung again.