On October 31, on the 19th Sunday after Pentecost, as well as on the feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke, St. George Church opened its doors after the three week break. On that Sunday our Rector, Archpriest Igor Tarasov came to serve the Divine Liturgy after his return from Ukraine.
After the reading from the Holy Gospel Fr. Igor preached the following homily:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Today we celebrate the 19th Sunday after Pentecost. And today’s Gospel reading contains very famous parable about the Sower who went to sow his seed. The seed falls to the different ground, and in most of the cases it did not produce any fruit. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself explained that parable to His disciples saying what it means. We easily learn that the seed is the Word of God which is sown by the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Sower of the Word. Now, the grounds are different types of people, different types of human souls. And the Lord tells us what kind of souls He is talking about. In one case they hear the word but the devil comes and takes the word away. In another case people have no root for the word and fall away at the time of temptation. In the third instance the people are too busy with their daily cares, riches or pleasures, so they cannot grow the seed of faith. Only in the fourth example Jesus talks about some “good ground”, about those who are successful”.
“In today’s Gospel we are given four different way of receiving the Word. Three of them are inappropriate, failing. Only one is right and appropriate. It looks like a multiple choice question where one answer is correct while three others are not. How can we find the right answer?”
“The right answer is given in today’s Gospel in the following simple words: “But that on the good ground are they, which in a noble and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” (Lk. 8, 15)”.
“First of all, we have to possess a “noble and good heart”. A “noble heart” is an honest heart. We don’t have to make dishonest excuses for our failings, we have to be honest about ourselves. And a “good heart” is a kind heart, a heart willing good things. If our hearts are not noble, honest and kind, the seed of the God’s Word may be taken from us, devoured by the demons”.
“Secondly, we have to “keep the word”. It means that we should not fall into careless excitement, we must cultivate the seed of God, giving moisture to it, so that it puts out roots and develops. It is achieved by obeying the Commandments”.
“Finally, so that the seed of God is not choked with the thorns and weeds of our passions, we must “bring forth fruit with patience”. We cannot expect fast and wonderful progress because we have so many earthly cares. We have to be patient and persevere”.
“Usually we look at the lives of the holy people, the Saints who were able to achieve those different Christian virtues. Today we celebrate feast of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke. Let’s see how he was able to receive the seed of the Word of God and to bring forth its fruit”.
“St. Luke was one of the 70 Apostles, not one of the 12. Later he became an assistant to the Holy Apostle Paul. He was not a Jew, like most of the Apostles, but a Gentile, probably a Greek. St. Luke was a physician. In today’s second Epistle lesson St. Paul mentions him as “the beloved physician” (Col. 4, 14). He also could be a lawyer because he helped St. Paul in different legal tasks. In addition, St. Luke was an artist: he painted the first icons. A number of the holy and miraculous icons of the Theotokos were written by Luke. Among those images are the icon of Our Lady of Vladimir and the Iveron Icon. Thus he was very talented and educated. He used his gifts to serve God and the Church. And St. Luke is known as the author of one of the Holy Gospels, the Gospel of Luke, as well as the author of the book of the Acts of the Apostles”.
“It is obvious that Holy Apostle Luke had a noble and good heart, that he kept the Word of God in that heart and that he brought forth the fruit in patience. After the martyrdom of St. Paul, Luke went to preach in different places, mostly in Greece. He lived a long life in labors, in sowing the Word of God, he himself became a sower of that sacred seed, like other Holy Apostles. “Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world” – says the Scripture about them and we sing it today in honor of them (Ps. 18, 5). Finally, being an old man, he was martyred, hanged on an olive tree”.
“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, the soul of this Saint became a good ground for the seed of divine Word”.
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! Let us learn to be successful in receiving the seed of the Word of God in our hearts and to bear its fruit. Let us imitate the Saints in that important task and let us be a good ground for the divine Word to be received, grown and multiplied”.
During the Litany of Fervent Supplication, Fr. Igor proclaimed a petition beseeching the Lord to spare the faithful from the outbreak of the disease.
The choir nicely performed Psalm 33 and a hymn in honor of the Most Holy Theotokos during preparation for Holy Communion.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector expressed his joy about being back in the parish and thanked the parishioners for their prayers offered for his safe return. He also made some announcements.
Following the service the Rector and parishioners enjoyed delicious meals and a nice company during the coffee hour.