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Homily for 8/27/04 - P13 - Vineyard parable

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  • Fr David Moser
    Last week we celebrated the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord. This great miracle was given to the Apostles and to us as an encouragement in the midst
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 27, 2007
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      Last week we celebrated the feast of the Transfiguration of our Lord.
      This great miracle was given to the Apostles and to us as an
      encouragement in the midst of trials. For the apostles, it was an
      encouragement which would support them through the great suffering of
      the crucifixion of Christ and which would constantly remind them that
      our Lord, being divine, took on this suffering voluntarily for our
      sakes. For us this miracle is a promise of what we have to look forward
      to in the Kingdom of God to encourage us as we face the struggle of
      living the Christian life. The vision of Jesus Christ as Light of Light
      and true God of true God is a constant reminder that we are made in His
      image and called to become like Him. That same divine light of Mt Tabor
      which emanated from Him lives in us and just as he was transfigured on
      Mt Tabor, so also we will be transfigured in the Kingdom of God.

      Today we are given the parable of the vineyard. We are reminded that our
      Lord has prepared this place for us and that here in this life we work
      for Him to present to Him the fruit of our labors. In the vineyard of
      this world we are given everything that is necessary for this work. The
      vineyard is tilled and the ground turned up, the vines are planted and
      surrounded by a wall to keep out the animals and predators; there is a
      watchtower and a winepress, and everything we need to work in this
      vineyard and to produce the fruit that God wishes. The vineyard is, of
      course, this world and the workers in the vineyard are you and I. God
      has set us here that we might work and bring forth the fruit of the Holy
      Spirit in our own souls and thus present to Him these fruits.

      The Lord has planted the vineyard and has sent his servants to work in
      it. He gives them everything needed for their lives. But the servants
      enjoyed living in the vineyard so much that they began to feel that the
      place belonged to them and that they were there to enjoy the vineyard
      without regard for the true owner. More and more the servants began to
      consider as their own all the prosperity which they were able to get
      from the grapes which grew so abundantly in the vineyard that did not
      belong to them; and they gradually began to forget the owner of the
      vineyard. The Lord gave them everything necessary for their life, but
      they began to take it for granted. They had a different understanding;
      they had the opportunity to use the vineyard and all the beauty of these
      earthly goods which God gives to man. This captivated them so much that
      they completely forgot, or better to say, they did not even give a
      thought to the fact that all this was temporary; and that years would
      pass, and the time would come when they would have return to the master
      the fruits of their labors.

      How like our world this vineyard is and how like us the workers are. God
      has given us a body which requires food, drink motion, rest – the things
      that we call the life of the body. But man also has a spirit, which
      always strives for the ideal. No matter how good our earthly life might
      be – in the human heart there will always stir that which cannot be
      satisfied by what we have, because the image of God is in every person,
      in his spirit; and that spirit also requires life – the life that comes
      only from God. Although the vineyard workers were “all right” in their
      physical life, in their spiritual life, they were dieing. They were
      dieing because they have cut off the vital part of their spiritual life
      – the life that comes from union and communion with God.

      We live in this world and we are given all that we need for our lives
      from God. We have air to breath, water to drink, food to eat, a time to
      work, a time to rest – everything that the body requires is given to us
      by God. The reason that He gives us this is for our own salvation.
      Everything that we have is given to us by God in order to be used for
      our salvation. It is our task, as workers in the vineyard to use that
      which God has given us to produce the fruit in our souls which He
      desires. But too often we forget God, or worse yet we don’t even think
      of Him at all. We forget the transfiguration, the destiny become like
      God and to share in His life for which God created us. Instead of using
      what He has given us to produce spiritual fruit to offer to Him, we turn
      our attention to the things that we desire, riches, comfort, worldly
      honor and prestige, power, authority, the satisfaction of our whims and
      desires. You know the list of what we desire in this world could go on
      and on. The point, of course, is that we forget God and we forget His
      purpose for us – to become like Him as He showed Himself to us on Mt
      Tabor. We neglect to produce the fruit which He desires from us – that
      is the fruit of the spirit – and instead focus on the fruit of our own
      fallen desires.

      God, seeing that we have fallen into this condition, sends His servants
      to us to remind us of our true purpose. These servants: the prophets,
      the pastors, the teachers, who come to us to set us back on the true
      path are too often dismissed without honor, are mocked and ignored and
      if they are too persistent in telling us what we do not wish to hear are
      done away with – usually in modern times by being labeled as fanatics,
      insane, or out of touch with reality, but there were and still are times
      when in fact such people are martyred – imprisoned and even killed for
      their faith. But God does not give up on us, rather He sends more
      servants, our friends, our family, sometimes even strangers who cross
      our path and they are treated just like the first. Sometimes these
      warnings that God sends are not people but events, misfortunes,
      illnesses, or other reminders that what we think we have in fact is not
      really ours. Finally He sends us His own Son and we are face to face
      with Jesus Christ – and we have a choice to make, whether we will return
      with His help to the path of salvation or whether we will reject Him. If
      we reject Him, if we turn away from Christ to serve our own desires,
      then the time will come when we will face the Lord in glory empty
      handed, and even what we think we have will be taken from us and we will
      be cast into torment – the torment of our own soul and of our own
      conscience – desiring life that God gives but having no way to obtain
      that life, having turned away from the Source of Life to serve our own
      desires.

      Matt 21:33-42

      This parable is in some ways the antithesis of the transfiguration. But
      it need not be such a terrible thing. If we remember God, who has given
      us this life, and continue to work for Him, to produce the fruit in our
      souls which He desires, then we will not fear and reject the prophets
      who come to shows us the path of salvation, but we will gladly walk with
      them on that path. When the Son comes to us we will not reject Him but
      He will excite in our souls the grace inherent in the fruit that we have
      already gathered and seeing in Him the fulfillment of our destiny we
      will embrace Him and follow Him into His kingdom.

      God has placed us here in this world as though in a vineyard. He has
      given us every possible thing that we might need to work out our
      salvation and to produce the fruit of the spirit in our souls which He
      desires for us. In order to welcome Him with joy when He comes and to
      draw from Him the eternal life which our soul desires, we need only to
      constantly remember Him, to work for Him. When we look at what we have
      in this world, whether our wealth or poverty, whether health or
      sickness, whether a position of high esteem and power or that of the
      lowliest servant, we must recall that these are just the tools and raw
      materials which are to be used to produce the divine fruit and not ends
      in themselves. Keep this focus in your life and work to produce in
      yourself the fruit of the spirit, that is love, joy, peace,
      longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self
      control which are the natural result of the working of God’s grace in
      us. This grace we acquire by living the life of the Church which brings
      us ever nearer to God so that the miracle of our Lord’s transfiguration
      may become in us and for us a reality.

      --
      Archpriest David Moser
      St Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church (ROCOR)
      Homilies: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/propoved/
      Website: http://stseraphimboise.org
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