On December 4, on the 24th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as on the feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God into Temple, our parish family gathered at St. George Church for a nice celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy. Following the readings from the Gospel he preached a homily in English:
“Today’s first Gospel lesson is telling us about a wealthy man whom God called “fool”, although he was not a fool by this world standards. He was a good and successful businessman, a landowner. Yet he was fool in the eyes of God because he grew rich for Himself instead of becoming rich toward God.”
“Our Lord says, “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters” (Lk. 11, 23). It happens that a man is working all his life gathering his wealth, taking a good care of his business, worrying about making more and more riches and thinking that it will sustain him for many years. But at the end it turns out that all these efforts are useless because this treasure is gathered without God. God is not there, thus it has no worth. Thus all such man’s labors become unsuccessful and fruitless. The only true wealth and true possession is the one which a man does not lose here on earth, but takes it along with himself into afterlife. Such a treasure is gathered in the Lord.”
“How could we become rich toward God? All our actions and all our desires need to be in accordance with the faith of Christ. They need to be in accord with the Commandments of God. Jesus Christ has to lead our lives. Then we could gather the treasures that will be in Christ and become rich toward God. And such a treasure will never be taken away from us. Just as Mary from today’s second Gospel lesson listening to the words of Christ acquired a better part than her sister Martha who worried about unnecessary things. The Lord said that Mary will not be deprived of her chosen part (Lk. 10, 42).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! We are living in the world where we may find two areas: the area of good and the area of evil, the area of truth and the area of falsehood. The true wealth which may never be taken away from us consists of things belonging to the good and to the truth. And the good and truth belong to Christ. Therefore, if we do not labor and do not gather with the Lord, we cannot acquire any good or any truth. And if we possess anything without Christ, it is illusionary, not real, not valuable. Therefore, all our efforts and our works will be useless.”
“Celebrating today’s feast of the Entrance of the Most Holy Mother of God, we see the Virgin Mary as a four-year-old girl brought to the Temple by Her parents Joachim and Anna. Their daughter was the most precious treasure they possessed. And they wished to offer that treasure to God. Most Holy Virgin stayed in the Temple until such time as She Herself will accept to become a temple, Her womb becoming the dwelling for God Incarnate. The Virgin becomes the Mother of God, She who from that day on inhabits the Temple, Herself becomes the Temple of God. What treasure can be greater than that?”
“Through the Most Holy Virgin we clearly see that we all become what we inhabit. If we choose to live in a world of violence, greed, envy, lust, thirst for power, those vices will dwell within us. We will become them. We become what we inhabit. But if we inhabit the Church of God, then the Church of God will inhabit us. In the words of the Apostle Paul, we will become living temples of God.”
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, let us ask ourselves: which world do we inhabit? Do we inhabit a world of evil or a world of God? And which world therefore inhabits us? Which is our choice? Or to ask: in which area do we labor? In the area of truth or in the area of falsehood? Do we gather with Christ or do we scatter? In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks to us: “Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (Lk. 11, 28). Let us, therefore, not only hear the words of Christ, but also keep them, inhabiting the world of God, the area of good, so that God will then come and inhabit us.”
The choir was prayerfully performing for the first time of this year the pre-Nativity hymns, as well as the hymns of the feast of the Entrance.
After the Liturgy dismissal the Rector and the altar servers performed a rite of glorification in front of the icon of the feast. The Rector then preached a short sermon in Russian to convey main ideas of his English homily.