Fighting Dragons on St. George Day

Today is the feast day for St. George.  Those interested in reading up on St. George may turn here:

http://orthodoxwiki.org/George_the_Trophy-bearer

and here:

http://ocafs.oca.org/FeastSaintsViewer.asp?SID=4&ID=1&FSID=101184

In icons of St. George, the saint is portrayed as riding a horse and spearing a dragon.  Our parish received a a gift of an icon of St. George in memory of an Orthodox resident of Fargo in the 1960s also named George.  Not long after receiving that icon, my son, in skepticism (he was seven at the time) asked me, “dad, did St. George really kill a dragon?”  I told him that although there are Orthodox in some parts of the world who do believe this literally, I do believe, most understand the dragon as representing Satan and demonic powers.

Indeed, last night at Vespers, we heard precisely such language within our church’s liturgical texts, where St. George is praised for following Christ, even to the point of martyrdom, and for his victory over the hoards of demons.  The latter is a reference to St. George’s refusal to offer incense before any pagan idols, idols in which demons dwelt as if gods.  In this way, St. George most certainly did defeat a dragon, indeed, the dragon–Satan.

Thus is similar to our calling too.  For, in our very own society, we are often tempted by things that may become idols.  We might be caught up in materialism or our own views of self-worth or any number of other things.  Yet, just as St. George recognized the pagan idols for what they were, so we, too, need to recognize the indifferent things of life as indifferent.  Rather, we should seek after Christ, for in imitating him, we also come to love our neighbors and, indeed, the world, all the better.  By imitating Christ, we can slay the dragon seeking to make a lair in our own hearts.

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