On August 21, on the 10th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov headed the Divine Liturgy in our parish temple. After the reading from the Holy Gospel he preached the following homily:
“Dear brothers and sisters in Christ! We past the great feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Today’s Sunday is between two great holy days – Transfiguration and Dormition. Today’s lesson from the Gospel is about our Lord coming down from the mountain of Transfiguration and facing the evil of this world – a man possessed by a demon. Not long before Jesus was showing His Disciples His shining face of the Son of God, He was conversing with Moses and Elijah, and now He is back to the reality of the corrupt human life. He has to cast out a demon. In order to succeed, the Lord desires to be supported by the faith of the people. Thus that reading again shows us how it is important to have faith. And faith is comforted by prayer and by fasting”.
“The child possessed by a demon described in today’s Gospel was tormented in different ways. Sometimes he would fall into the fire, at other times he would fall into the water. In other words the demon, who lived inside the son, was trying to destroy him by burning him to death or drowning him, in order to occupy that soul to all eternity”.
“The falling into fire and water also show us how the demons abuse God’s creation. Fire is not a tool with which to burn and destroy, but a gift of God for heating, cooking and other useful activities. Water is not a tool with which to drown, but a gift of God for drinking and washing and other useful activities. Moreover, we can see how fire is also a symbol of the fire of passion and anger which can possess those who are attacked by demons, and water is a symbol of the waves of despair which can also possess those who are attacked by demons”.
“We may wonder how did the demon get inside the man’s son and possess him? To this question we have the reply of Christ: “O faithless and perverse generation” (Mt. 17, 17). The demon came into possession of the son through unbelief, faithlessness. Not only the son’s unbelief, but also the unbelief of the father and others around the son who could have cared for him and given him faith. However, as with everything that God allows to happen, there is a positive, providential aspect to this illness. It is clear that because of the illness of the son, the father has been brought to know humility. Thus he calls Christ, “Lord” and asks, “Have mercy on my son” (Mt. 17, 15). This shows humility, not pride. God gives His grace to the humble ones. Thus the possessed son of the humble father was healed”.
“Understanding that, we may still ask: What is the solution to the sickness of the son? The answer is “prayer and fasting”, for this is how Christ casts the demon out of the son. Prayer and fasting are the deepening of faith. The Fathers of the Church call prayer and fasting a “two-edged sword”. In other words, where there is prayer and fasting, there is faith. And as St. Theophan the Recluse wrote: “Where there is no prayer and fasting, there are the demons””.
“Referring to the word of St Theophan, we could say therefore that much of the modern world has become the dwelling-place of demons. It seems that each day that passes brings us news of some new instability, some new disaster and misfortune. Presently, every day we hear about the atrocities of the war in Ukraine, and we wonder how this could happen in the 21st century, but it did. It did because of the lack of faith in Christ, because of the lack of true spiritual life among those who started that war”.
“Dear brothers and sisters! The fact is that, whenever we are faithless and cease to pray and fast, then we lose the protection of the grace of God and we are besieged by the demons and the world falls into fire or water. And when such thing happens, any place, any country or any city becomes the favorite resort of the demons. And as today’s Gospel made it clear, you need prayer and fasting to draw those evil spirits away, thus you need faith. It is all a question of faith. Let us then be faithful in order to be worthy of the Transfiguration of Christ, the glorious event we recently celebrated and continue to celebrate today. Being truly faithful we will be worthy of our own transfiguration, our salvation in Christ. And may the Most Holy Mother of God whose Holy Dormition we anticipate, in whose honor we keep this fast, save us and lead us to Her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ!”
During the Litany of Fervent Supplication the Rector had a petition for the suffering country of Ukraine and its people. He also added a commemoration of the “suffering Ukrainian land” at the Great Entrance.
The choir nicely performed hymns of the Transfiguration during preparation for Holy Communion.
After the dismissal of the Liturgy the Rector encouraged faithful to spend the rest of the Dormition Fast in proper abstinence and piety preparing for the major Theotokian feast.