On October 7, on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, St. George Parish family held a beautiful celebration. Our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy at our temple. He was co-served by Abbot Eutychius (Dovganyuk), cleric of the ROCOR. Following the Gospel reading Fr. Igor preached the following homily in English:
“Today we begin reading of the Holy Gospel according to Luke. Among the Church people that passing of the readings from Matthew to Luke is called “the Lucan jump”. It is said that in this way the Church people know that Christmas season is approaching – the Gospel of St. Luke begins to be read on Sundays. The Greek Church even calls Sundays after Pentecost not by numbers, but by the Gospel lessons, so today the Greeks have the “First Sunday of Luke”.”
“The first Sunday of Luke is telling us about the calling of the first Disciples of Christ who were fishermen. It tells us about a miraculous catch of fish after our Lord commanded Peter to launch the boats out into the deep and to try to catch again. First of all, that Gospel lesson is teaching us about the difference between God and man, the difference between God’s view of Jesus and a man’s view of Peter. It also teaches us to seek God’s help and God’s presence in our lives.”
“Today’s Gospel lesson is an instruction on how we should act in our life. The fishermen said to Jesus, “Master, we have toiled all night and caught nothing” (Lk. 5, 5). Very often we make a lot of efforts, we labor a lot to reach some result but we do not succeed. Just like those fishermen in today’s Gospel story, we “toil all night”, even all our life but do not catch what we desire. It happens because not all our works are blessed by God and because we do not perform those labors along with God. Here is the image: the fishermen have toiled all night but caught nothing, but at the word of the Lord Jesus Christ they caught so many fish that their nets began to break and the boats began to sink (Lk. 5, 5-7). Thus all our works should be done along with God. God has to bless our deeds, otherwise we should not even do them.”
“St. Innocent of Moscow, when he preached to the Northern peoples, explained to them what is right and what is wrong by saying, “If you are doing something, think: could you do it with God? If you cannot, don’t do it”. And indeed, can we lie to someone with God? Can we take someone else’s property with God? Can we do something bad to someone with God? No, with God we can only do good things, the works of love and mercy.”
“But we often do those bad things which we cannot do along with God. And if we realize that, we see how far from God we are. In today’s Gospel Apostle Peter realized that and exclaimed to Jesus, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!” (Lk. 5, 8). We should also recognize our unworthiness and humbly pray to God. But our prayer has to say just the opposite of what Peter said: “Lord, be with me! Come to me for I am a sinful man!” Notice that although Peter told Jesus to depart from him, he himself stayed with Jesus being fallen on his knees. Thus we should also humble our souls, bend the knees of our hearts and pray to the Lord to be cleanse our sinfulness and to be with us.”
“And what does Jesus say to His future Apostle? He encourages him and says, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men” (Lk. 5, 10). It meant that his future Apostolic ministry will be accomplished by preaching and leading people to Christ. By proclaiming the Good News of Christ Peter and other Apostles indeed caught a lot of people into the nets of the Church of Christ.”
“Finally, when the fishermen in today’s Gospel brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Jesus (Lk. 5, 11). Having caught so many fish they could rush to the market to sell it and to make a lot of money. They could also hurry to feed their families. But instead, they left their boats and their nets, they left the fish they caught and followed Christ. They did it because they understood that the fullness of life is with Him. They understood that any wealth and any luck in life means nothing without God. And they followed the Lord to be with Him and to share that wonderful feeling of being with God – share it with other people.”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Having heard today’s Gospel reading, let us fervently pray to acquire the humility of Holy Apostle Peter and to have a zeal of faith of the Holy Apostles, so we may do everything along with God and follow our Lord Jesus Christ into eternity!”
During preparation for Holy Communion the choir beautifully performed the hymns in honor of the Theotokos, as well as in honor of St. Igor, the Rector’s patron Saint whose memory was celebrated last week.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian conveying the main ideas of his English homily.
Following the Rector’s sermon our Sacristan Andrew Malyshew congratulated Fr. Igor on the occasion of his past name day and of his 11th anniversary of serving as Rector of St. George. Traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) was proclaimed. Fr. Igor expressed his gratitude to the parishioners for their greetings, as well as to Fr. Eutychius for coming to participate in this celebration.
Our celebration continued at the trapeza table where the clergy and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and an interesting conversation. Fr. Eutychius raised a toast to the Rector greeting him on the occasion of the past name day and wishing that Fr. Igor would further serve our Parish which proves to be a small but devout family of the believers. Another Polychronion to our Rector was proclaimed and sun by the parishioners and guests.