On January 27, on the 35th Sunday after Pentecost, the Rector of St. George Church served the Divine Liturgy at our Parish temple. Following the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached a homily in Russian.
In his homily Fr. Igor stressed the three points regarding the Gospel lesson about a conversation between our Lord Jesus Christ and a person who asked how to inherit eternal life (Lk. 18, 18-27).
First, the person in the Gospel reading wished to praise himself that he is so just that kept all the Commandments from his youth (Lk. 18, 21). Such an attitude is very dangerous spiritually because if we regard ourselves “good” or “just”, we delude ourselves. The enemy of mankind is the deceiver, and he is willing to support such an attitude. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking is very much spread in America. People tend to praise themselves, to say, “I am a good person!” But the Lord teaches differently. In today’s Gospel He says, “No one is good, but God alone” (Lk. 18, 19). And all our Orthodox prayers are filled with the spirit of penance and awareness of our imperfection. When we approach Holy Communion, we pray: “I believe, o Lord… Thou came to save sinners from whom I am the chief”. Although we are repenting and cleansing ourselves before Communion, we still recognize that we are very sinful, not good. But, we are not desperate and we claim to be the partakers of Christ.
Secondly, am outer keeping of the Commandments is not sufficient. It is one thing not to break any of the Commandments formally, and another thing to keep them in our hearts. A person may never commit a murder but may have hatred in his heart and may wish evil to another. And the Lord said that everyone having anger against his brother kills him in his heart (Mt. 5, 22). A person may never commit adultery but may have such filthy thoughts that it is shameful to imagine. And thus the Lord taught that if that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Mt. 5, 28). The state of our soul is sometimes more important than our outer actions. And in today’s Gospel the Lord indicated the main passion of the person who spoke with Him – his attachment to the wealth. Perhaps that man had never stolen anything from anyone, yet he desired riches or was jealous about others’ wealth, so committed a spiritual theft. Thus we should avoid sinful thoughts and vicious feelings and dreams.
And finally, the third thought from today’s Gospel lesson is that if we wish to enter into the Kingdom of God, we need to attempt to build that Kingdom (or a similarity of it) around ourselves in this life. We have to care about our neighbors, to show love and justice. Everywhere – at our home, workplace or parish – we need to built a similarity of paradise. Otherwise our life may become similar to hell.
The choir prayerfully performed hymns of the feast of the Theophany since this was the last day of its celebration.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector and the altar servers performed the rite of glorification in front of the icon of the Theophany in the middle of the church. Then the Rector preached a short sermon in English and made some announcements.
Following the Liturgy the Rector served a short memorial service (Litia) requested by the Malyshev family and Olga Vnukova commemorating their deceased relatives, as well as those who died during the siege of Leningrad 75 years ago.
After all the church sevices the Rector and parishioners enjoyed the delicious meals and a nice company at the trapeza table. A toast to Fr. Igor who recently celebrated his birthday was raised and traditional Polychronion (“Mnogaia leta!”) sung in his honor.