September 19, 2021
I spent a lot of the past two weeks spinning nuts on bolts and tightening them down until they hollered, or maybe the hollering was from me groaning as these middle-age bones and muscles were exerting physical labor and pushed to their maximum ability. Or maybe it was the impact hammer drivers’ gears screaming as the nuts were tightened to the correct specification.
With these nuts and bolts, in the past two weeks our new church has taken a vertical position on the horizon. Progress has definitely been made as we have put a hedge around our vineyard! Glory to God!!
I can imagine the vineyard workers in the Gospel reading this morning were also making progress in harvesting the fruits of the season, but not enough progress was being made to suit the boss. This boss was not the owner but someone entrusted to care for the harvest. An owner typically has more to lose and therefore expects more from the folks harvesting the fruit.
All of us still living and breathing have our very own vineyard to maintain. If we do not spend time weeding, maintaining and fertilizing our vines, they will wither and not produce much fruit. We are the boss; our eternal life to come depends on how we spend our time in the vineyard.
Don’t expect someone else to do the work for you; this is all on you, and of course assisted by the grace from our creator, the owner. But it takes more than grace. Don’t be lazy or careless!
Jesus asks us in Matthew 21:42 if we have built our vineyard firmly on His foundation, or have we rejected Him? This is the thought I want to dwell on this morning. When our choices separate us from the vineyard, the fruit will spoil, the wild animals will dig up our roots and our vine will wither and not produce good fruit. What obstacles have you put in the way?
Neglect of our fertile harvest for most of us comes in the way of deceit from the fallen one. St. Mark the Ascetic says: “The devil makes small sins seem smaller in our eyes, for otherwise he can’t lead us to greater evil!” (St. Mark the Ascetic, Homilies, 2:94) Martyred Priest Daniel Sysoev sums it up this way: “We are saved not only by means of good works, however, but also through receiving the sacraments.
This is why those who have not entered into union with God through the sacraments will perish. They perish through being rejected by God, when God says:”You wanted to live without me, so go.” This is how they perish.”
We simply must continue to remember, we are not the owner! Everything that is, is HIS! You belong to Him! We have a very brief time in this flesh to produce good fruit. This is job #1, get your bolts and nuts tightened down and torqued, ready for the storms of life!
Listen to the instructions of St. Theophan:“ Every Christian is chosen—chosen for similar deeds, namely: to be with the Lord, through unceasing remembrance of Him and awareness of His omnipresence, through the preaching and fulfillment of His commandments, and through a readiness to confess one’s faith in Him.
In those circles where such a confession is made, it is a loud sermon for all to hear. Every Christian has the power to heal infirmities—not of others, but his own, and not of the body, but of the soul—that is, sins and sinful habits—and to cast out devils, rejecting evil thoughts sown by them, and extinguishing the excitement of passions enflamed by them.
Do this and you will be an apostle, a fulfiller of what the Lord chose you for, an accomplisher of your calling as messenger. When at first you succeed in all this, then perhaps the Lord will appoint you as a special ambassador—to save others after you have saved yourself; and to help those who are tempted, after you yourself pass through all temptations, and through all experiences in good and evil.
But your job is to work upon yourself: for this you are chosen; the rest is in the hands of God. He who humbles himself shall be exalted. ( St. Theophan the Recluse, Thoughts for Each Day of the Year: According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God)
Fr. Gabriel Weller 9-19-2021
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