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Redeeming the Time Vol. 02.17 13th Sun after Pentecost Aug 24/Sep 6 1998


Redeeming the Time

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Dallas, TX

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,

redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

August 24/Sept 6, 1998

Thirteenth Sunday After Pentecost

The Parable of the Evil Husbandmen

Vol. 02.17

News and Announcements *

Youth Group News *

Concerning Candles *

Ten Questions about the Parable of the Evil Husbandmen in the Vineyard *

An Explanation of the Parable of the Evil Husbandmen *

Gleanings from the Fathers *

The Fullness of Grace *

Good Works *

Of water and of the Spirit *

Two aims in baptism *

Two cleansings in baptism *

Fulfilling the commandments *

Renouncing all *

Answers to Ten Questions about the Parable of the Evil Husbandmen in the Vineyard *

ANSWER 1 *

ANSWER 2 *

ANSWER 3 *

ANSWER 4 *

ANSWER 5 *

ANSWER 6 *

ANSWER 7 *

ANSWER 8 *

ANSWER 9 *

ANSWER 10 *

News and Announcements

St Nicholas Upcoming Events and Plans

Youth Group News

  • The first fund raiser was determined to be a bake sale at a local grocery store. The date was tentatively is set for next weekend, 9/13. It will be in Plano, on the West side.

Concerning Candles

We have developed a custom to always have a candle burning in the candle stands whenever a service is in progress, and many times, someone takes a candle out of "stock" in the middle of a service ONLY for this purpose. This is actually counter to the purpose of the candles. Each candle should be placed in the candle stand with a prayer, AND the giving of alms (paying something for the candle). Fr Seraphim asks that the practice of putting a lone candle in a candle stand in the middle of a service, for appearance sake, be stopped. Of course, anyone at any time may give alms and light a candle before the icons,

Ten Questions about the Parable of the Evil Husbandmen in the Vineyard

QUESTION 1

The Parable of the Evil Husbandmen of the Vineyard appears in St Matthew's Gospel (21:33-44), and is read on the 13th Sunday after Pentecost. It is also found in Mark 12:1­9 and Luke 20:9­16.

Describe the parable. Why was it spoken by Jesus?

QUESTION 2

"There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and dug a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandman, and went into a far country:" (Matt 21:33)

As in all parables, there is much important symbolism here. In order to understand the inner meaning we must construct a "glossary" of symbols.

  1. Who is the Householder?
  2. What is the vineyard? There are two answers!
  3. What was the expectations of the householder? Describe in spiritual terms.

QUESTION 3

"There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country" (Mat 21:33)

  1. What does the hedge represent?
  2. What does the winepress represent?
  3. What does the tower represent?
  4. Who did the work described, and is this significant? Why?

QUESTION 4

"There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country" (Mat 21:33)

  1. Who are the husbandmen? There are again two answers!
  2. What is meant by the householder "going into a far country"?

QUESTION 5

"And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it." (Mat 21:34)

The householder ends up sending servants three times to the vineyard. In this first attempt, it is said that "the time of the fruit drew near". This means something very specific. What? Who are the servants?

QUESTION 6

"And the husbandman took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. {36} Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did to them likewise." (Matt 21:35-36)

Who are the husbandmen that so shamefully treated the householder's servants? Give at least three REAL-LIFE examples of their activities (things that actually happened). Hint: St Paul's later writings as well as an understanding of Old Testament history will help quite a bit.

QUESTION 7

"But last of all he sent to them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. {38} But when the husbandman saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. {39} And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him." (Matt 21:37-39)

"Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him." (Luke 20:13)

  1. Who is the son?
  2. Why is the householder, Who is God, and therefore knows all things, presented as asking a question, and showing uncertainty (in Luke's gospel)? This question represents a very important freedom God has granted man.
  3. What is the meaning of him being cast out of the vineyard before being killed? This is a prophecy. Explain.

QUESTION 8

"When the lord therefore of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those husbandmen? {41} They said to him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard to other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons." (Matt 21:40-41)

  1. When was this prophesy fulfilled in a literal sense, and how?
  2. What are the fruits Jesus is talking about? Personalize!

QUESTION 9

"Jesus said to them, Did you never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?" (Matt 21:42)

  1. This is read VERY OFTEN in church? When?
  2. What does it mean?
  3. Who are the builders?
  4. What (Who) is the stone?
  5. Speculate why we read this verse so often.

QUESTION 10

"And whoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder." (Matt 21:44)

A terrible, and enigmatic promise! Herein lies altogether four prophecies of destruction. Two address the Jews directly, and among these, one was a prophecy that was soon fulfilled for all to see. Two address every man in a spiritual way, and only one of these "destructions" leads to eternal life. Explain.

An Explanation of the Parable of the Evil Husbandmen

We find the parable of the evil husbandmen in the first three Evangelists (Matthew 21:33­41, Mark 12:1­9, Luke 20:9­16). Here is how the Evangelist Luke transmits this parable:

A certain man planted a vineyard, and let it forth to husbandmen, and went into a far country for a long time. And at the season he sent a servant to the husbandmen, that they should give him of the fruit of the vineyard: but the husbandmen beat him, and set him away empty. And again he sent another servant: and they beat him also, and entreated him shamefully, and sent him away empty. And again he sent a third: and they wounded him also, and cast him out. Then said the lord of the vineyard, What shall I do? I will send my beloved son: it may be they will reverence him when they see him. But when the husbandmen saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, This is the heir: come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be our's. So they cast him out of the vineyard, and killed him. What therefore shall the lord of the vineyard do unto them? He shall come and destroy these husbandmen, and shall give the vineyard to others (Luke 20:9­16).

This parable was uttered in the Jerusalem temple itself not long before the Lord Jesus Christ's death on the Cross, and was addressed to the Sanhedrin (the highest court, which was located in Jerusalem and consisted of seventy­two members under the presidency of the high priest).

In the parable of the evil husbandmen, which was directed in denunciation of the leaders of the people who had rejected and killed the prophets and, most important of all, who also rejected and crucified Jesus Christ Himself ­ there is disclosed the history of God's forethought for the chosen people, God's long­suffering toward its leaders and the sad result of their bitterness against Christ and His teaching. Not suspecting at first that the parable was referring to them, the chief priests and the elders of the people, allured by its logic, themselves passed sentence on themselves: He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons (Matthew 21:41), which is expressed in the Lord's words thus: The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof (Matthew 21:43).

For greater clarity of speech, Christ used, like a canvas, the Prophet Isaiah's "song of the vineyard" (Isaiah 5:1­7), which was well­known to the Pharisees and lawyers, wherein it is said that to the "vineyard" ­ to the "house of Israel", that is, to the Hebrew people as a whole with its Old Testament Church, much labor and care were allotted by the Owner ­ God. Indeed, everything was given by God to the chosen people for its successful development. God Himself was the Leader of the people after its exodus from Egypt, manifesting a multitude of miracles and signs; afterwards, the supreme authority over the people was turned over to the spiritual leaders chosen by God.

The Evangelist Matthew adds to the parable certain important details which are absent from the Apostle Luke's account. The Apostle Matthew informs us that the vineyard's owner hedged the vineyard "round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower..."

The "hedge" around the vineyard is the Law of Moses, which, like a "fiery wall", defended the Hebrews from the influence of the Gentiles and preserved them from deviations from the norm of life, by containing in itself in prefigurings the doctrine, religious ordinances and rites which were to have given the people the true content of life. God also continued to take thought for the Hebrews after their entry into the promised land. The "tower" in the vineyard served as an abode for the watchmen who guarded the vineyard. In the parable, the tower, according to the interpretation of the Holy Fathers, signified the temple in Jerusalem. The "winepress" served literally for pressing out the grape juice; in the parable it signified the altar whereon the blood of sacrificial animals was shed, prefiguring the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ.

Having arranged everything well, the owner of the vineyard went away, leaving husbandmen in it, who at a specified time were to have given to the owner the fruits obtained. So too, the Lord, having arranged everything well in the Old Testament Church, entrusted the direction of the people's religious and moral life to the spiritual leaders, in the first place to the chief priests and the priests, who were to have given to the people the content of life in the spirit of God's Law and to have brought forth in the people the fruits of a life according to God's commandments. The good estate of the "vineyard" depended on them, and they bore responsibility before God.

But, in governing the people, the spiritual leaders were not concerned about its spiritual perfection, pursuing instead personal, mercenary interests. With malice, they cruelly slew the servants of God, the Old Testament prophets, of whom, according to the word of the Apostle Paul, the world was not worthy (Hebrews 11:38), because the prophets reminded the preceptors of the people of their duty before God and required of them "fruits", that is, a life according to God's will. Thus, for example, the Prophet Isaiah was sawn in two with a wooden saw, Jeremiah and Zachariah were killed by stoning, many were tortured or, according to the word of the Apostle Paul, had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: they ...were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented... (Hebrews 11:37­37; Nehemiah 9:26 and others). In exactly the same way, the leaders of the people also killed, persecuted and tortured the Apostles and many followers of Christ.

The owner in the parable sent his one son, his well­beloved...last unto them (Mark 12:6) ­ in reality, God sent His Only­begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the heir (Hebrews 1:2), unto Whom all things are delivered of His Father (Matthew 11:27); but, at the time when the Lord was uttering this parable, the spiritual leaders of the people had already decided to kill Him, fearing to be deprived of their domination over the Old Testament Church and their authority over the people. The crime of deicide, which was being prepared by the chief priests and the Sanhedrin, took place shortly thereafter, just as it is depicted in the parable: The Savior was given over to execution outside the vineyard (Matthew 21:39), that is, outside the gates of Jerusalem (Hebrews 13:12), which was the center point of the Old Testament Church.

The Evangelist Matthew writes that the Lord, having finished the parable, asked this question of the chief priests and members of the Sanhedrin: When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? To this he received the very logical answer: He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him their fruits in their seasons (Matthew 21:40­41).

Glancing at his collocutors, who were assured of the impossibility of being deprived of their inherent advantages, the Lord highlighted His thought that they were excluding themselves from the Kingdom of Christ that was being newly established, by reminding them of the prophecies which they themselves attributed to the Messiah: The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes (Matthew 21:42; Luke 20:17; Psalm 117:22­23; Isaiah 28:16; I Corinthians 3:11; Romans 9:33 and others). The spiritual construction of God's Church was entrusted to the leaders; but they rejected Christ, the Cornerstone of this temple. Despite their rejection, the Stone lay all the same as the foundation of the corner, and united in the New Testament Church two "walls": believers from the Jews and the Gentiles. The fulfillment of the prophecy on Jesus Christ demonstrates that God the Father Himself sent Him into the world in order to found the Church and to serve as an object of amazement and reverence for all the faithful redeemed by Him (Matthew 12:42; Mark 12:10­11). From the leaders of the people, who rejected Christ the Messiah and did not desire to understand the essence of His Kingdom, it will be taken away and given to all the members of Christ's Church who bear the fruits of true faith and virtue.

The teachers of the people understood, finally, that the parable referred to them. Certain of them when they heard it, they said, God forbid. (Luke 20:16), that is, God forbid that the Church be taken away from them and given to others.

Saint John Chrysostom writes that the pronouncing of the sentence by Christ's enemies themselves against themselves "was a clear proof that it was not the Punisher, but the punished who were the cause of the punishment sent down upon them". This more than anything angered and embittered the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they tried at that time to lay hands on him (Luke 20:19; Matthew 21:46). Only fear before the people, who revered the Lord as a prophet, stopped them for a time from committing this evil deed.

Christ's prophecy concerning the punishment of the evil husbandmen and the transfer of the vineyard to others was fulfilled exactly thirty­five years after Jesus uttered this parable. The Roman commander, Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and all of Palestine, and the Jews where dispersed throughout the whole world.

It was good for the workers of the vineyard to remain and labor in the vineyard ­ it was so good, that they began to consider this place to be their own. All that they had, all that the Owner had given to them for their maintenance, they began to take as their due. All of this so gripped them, that they completely forgot that all of this was temporary, and that the years will pass and the hour will come when they will have to leave the vineyard and hand it over to others. They distorted their spiritual life and lived only according to the flesh. They stifled their conscience. The matter reached the point where the workers of the vineyard even killed the Owner's heir, only in order not to give up the enjoyment of the vineyard.

Christ's word is eternal. The parable of the evil workers of the vineyard bears a relation not only to the leaders of the people of Christ's time, but also to us, people working in the new vineyard of Christ ­ in the Church. If the new leaders of the faithful people, the princes of the Church ­ the patriarchs, metropolitans, bishops and priests ­ will behave as did the workers of the vineyard in the parable, the same lot awaits them: they will be rejected by the Owner ­ God, and the vineyard will be transferred to other, worthy workers.

This parable in equal measure relates also to each faithful Christian. In the parable of the evil workers of the vineyard, Christ forewarns us lest it happen thus to us also, lest the earthly beauty in which we live be turned into the vineyard of the parable and allow us to forget that the Lord of the vineyard shall come and require an account of our work.

Let us then labor in the vineyard and bear its fruits unto its lawful Owner ­ God.

Priest V. Potapov , Parish Life, July, 1995

See http://www.stjohndc.org/parables/9507.htm

Gleanings from the Fathers

The Fullness of Grace

Everyone baptized in the orthodox manner has received mystically the fullness of grace; but he becomes conscious of this grace only to the extent that he actively observes the commandments.

St. Mark the Ascetic (No Righteousness by Works no. 92, The Philokalia Vol. 1 pg. 133):

Good Works

We who have received baptism offer good works, not by way of repayment, but to preserve the purity given to us.

St. Mark the Ascetic (No Righteousness by Works no. 23, The Philokalia Vol. 1 pg. 127

Of water and of the Spirit

When you will go down into the water, do not represent to yourself water alone, but await salvation from the operation of the Holy Spirit; because without the one and the other it is impossible for thee to attain perfection. It is not I who say this, but the Lord Jesus Christ, Who has authority over this. He says: "Except a man be born from above," and He adds to this: "of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:3, 5).

Saint Cyril of Alexandria.

Two aims in baptism

Since two aims are assumed in baptism - to exterminate the sinful body, so that it would no longer bear the fruits of death, and to revive the spirit, in order to have fruit in holiness - the water depicts death, receiving the body as though into the grave, while the Spirit communicates life-creating power, raising our souls up from sinful deadness to the original life - which also means to be born from above by water and the Spirit.

Saint Basil the Great.

Two cleansings in baptism

Since we consist of two natures, that is, of soul and body, of natures visible and invisible, so also the cleansing is two-fold, namely by water and the Spirit. And one is received visibly and bodily, while the other at the same time is performed invisibly and non-bodily; one is figurative, while the other is true and cleanses the very depths.

Saint Gregory the Theologian.

Fulfilling the commandments

Some without fulfilling the commandments think that they possess true faith. Others fulfill the commandments and then expect the kingdom as a reward due to them. Both are mistaken.

St. Mark the Ascetic (No Righteousness by Works no. 18, The Philokalia Vol. 1 pg. 126)

Renouncing all

When you hear the Lord saying that if someone does not renounce all that he has he 'is not worthy of Me' (Matt. 10:37), apply this not only to money but to all forms of vice.

St. Mark the Ascetic (On the Spiritual Law no. 109; The Philokalia Vol. 1, pg. 117)

Answers to Ten Questions about the Parable of the Evil Husbandmen in the Vineyard

ANSWER 1

The Parable of the Vineyard describes the treatment of the servants of a householder who had created a vineyard, and let it out to husbandman. The meticulous preparation of the vineyard is described, and then three separate incidents in which the householder sent emissaries to the vineyard to collect it's fruits. In two successive incidents, he sent servants to the vineyard, and they were beaten or killed. In the last incident, he sent his son, who was sized by the husbandmen, cast out of the vineyard, and killed.

The parable was presented to condemn the Jews who were soon to fully reject the Messiah, who stood in their midst, and they knew him not, but there is much more hidden within it, as the holy Chrysostom relates:

"Many things doth He intimate by this parable, God's providence, which had been exercised towards them from the first; their murderous disposition from the beginning; that nothing had been omitted of whatever pertained to a heedful care of them; that even when prophets had been slain, He had not turned away from them, but had sent His very Son; that the God both of the New and of the Old Testament was one and the same; that His death should effect great blessings; that they were to endure extreme punishment for the crucifixion, and their crime; the calling of the Gentiles, the casting out of the Jews." (St John Chrysostom)

ANSWER 2

The householder is God, who is spoken of as a man to show His great love for man, according to Blessed Theophylact.

The vineyard was the Jewish people. With the coming of the Messiah, the church is now the vineyard. Another, equally valid and important interpretation is that the vineyard and the husbandmen is ourselves. We have been provided all necessary things through baptism and the manifold and continual mercies of God, and are responsible to cultivate ourselves. (Bl Theophylact, Commentary on Luke 20:9-16) The Lord gave the Jews, and now us, every good thing, and expected them to bear fruit. The householder expects a good harvest of grapes, and God expects us to live according to the light He has given us.

ANSWER 3

A hedge protects a vineyard from marauding animals and thieves. This was the function of the Law, which protected the Jewish people from the pollution of idolatry from the Gentiles. Another interpretation the Fathers give is that the hedge represents the angels, who protected and guarded Israel. In any case, the hedge protects those who believe correctly in God, and worship Him in Spirit and truth. It may be likened to the sides of a boat, which protects sailors from the stormy sea. The ark is also a strong symbol of the church.

The winepress, which was used for pressing out the juice from the grapes, is understood to be the altar, which was so essential in Jewish worship and sacrifice and which prefigured, with the blood of sacrificial animals, the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ. The altar is no less essential now, as we are fed the "medicine of immortality" (the Holy Eucharist) from it.

The Tower is the temple.

All the preparation of the vineyard was done by the householder. The tenants were responsible for the tending of the vineyard AFTER its initial planting. So it is in the Christian life. God reveals Himself to us by His great mercy, and gives us everything necessary for our salvation. We must appropriate no credit for the things that are given us, because, " For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: {9} Not of works, lest any man should boast." (Eph 2:8-9) However, after we are vouchsafed the great grace of baptism, we must tend the vineyard, which is to say, fulfill the purpose for which God created us: " For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them." (Eph 2:10)

ANSWER 4

The first husbandmen are understood to be the Jewish teachers, the Scribes and the Pharisees. This is confirmed by the Evangelist, who reports the anger of these false shepherds after the telling of the parable: "And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. {46} But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet." (Mat 21:45-46) In our age, the vineyard is the church, and the householders are the bishops, and priests and all true believing and acting Christians.

The great mystery of God's love and patience towards man is expressed by householder going into a far country. To unrepentant and sleepy sinners, God appears to be far away, as in a far country, but He is actually being patient with us, and after setting all tings in order for our salvation, waits for our repentance. We must not use the time that God is away from the vineyard in a foolish way, because He who goes away will certainly come back, in the eighth day, and we will be asked to show our fruits. "Occupy till I come." (Luke 19:13)

"Not a change of place, for God, by whom all things are filled, cannot be absent from any place; but He seems to be absent from the vineyard, that he may leave the vine-dressers a freedom of acting." (St Jerome)

"And went into a far country;" that He bore long with them, not always bringing the punishments close upon their sins; for by His going into a far country, He means His great long-suffering." (St John Chrysostom)

ANSWER 5

The prophets are the first and second group of servants. Their entire era was a times when the "fruit drew near", as they preached and prophesied concerning the coming of the Messiah and the redemption of man. Much of their ministry was moral, and not just prophetic. True worship of God is not just knowledge, but life according to that knowledge - that is, moral amendment, and the doing of the commandments. This is the true fruit of the holy prophet's preaching.

"He calls the Prophets servants, who as the Lord's Priests offer the fruits of the people, and the proofs of their obedience in their works. But they showed their wickedness not only in refusing the fruits, but in having indignation against those that come to them, as it follows, And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another." (St John Chrysostom)

ANSWER 6

The Jewish rulers were responsible many times for the slaying or persecution of the prophets.

  • Isaiah was sawn asunder.
  • Jeremiah was beaten.
  • Elijah was hounded and pursued.
  • Zachariah was killed between the temple and the altar.

"And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: {33} Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, {34} Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. {35} Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: {36} And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: {37} They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; {38} (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth." (Heb 11:32-38)

ANSWER 7

Of course, the son is the only begotten Son of God, the God-man Jesus Christ. In this parable, the Lord prophesied His death and something about the manner of it, by showing that the husbandmen slew the Son outside of the vineyard. Jesus Christ was crucified outside the city gates of Jerusalem.

The Householder's question and apparent doubt is meant to show that God gives man free will, and His foreknowledge of events is not the cause of man's disobedience. (Bl. Theophylact, Commentary of Luke 20:9-16). This is a construct often used in Scripture.

ANSWER 8

"Christ's prophecy concerning the punishment of the evil husbandmen and the transfer of the vineyard to others was fulfilled exactly thirty­five years after Jesus uttered this parable. The Roman commander, Titus, destroyed Jerusalem and all of Palestine, and the Jews where dispersed throughout the whole world." (Fr Victor Patapov)

"And "He sent His servants," that is, the prophets, "to receive the fruit;" that is, their obedience, the proof of it by their works." (St John Chrysostom)

"... To every one of the faithful is let out a vineyard to cultivate, in that the mystery of baptism is entrusted to him to work out. One servant is sent a second and a third, when the Law, the Psalms, and the Prophets are read. But the servant who is sent is said to be treated despitefully or beaten, when the word heard is despised or blasphemed. The heir who is sent that man kills as far as he can, who by sin tramples under foot the Son of God. The wicked husbandmen being destroyed, the vineyard is given to another, when with the gift of grace, which the proud man spurned, the humble are enriched." (Blessed Bede)

ANSWER 9

The Hymn called "God is the Lord" is chanted and sung alternately by the Deacon and choir in most matins services, immediately after the Great Litany, very near the beginning of the service. It included the verse Christ quotes about himself, above.

A corner stone is the strongest stone in a building, and brings together two walls. These are understood by the church to be the Jews and the Gentiles, who were all brought together by Jesus Christ, the chief corner stone. Those builders who rejected this stone are the false teaching scribes and Pharisees, and all false teachers, to this day.

"Then that they might learn that not only the nature of justice requires these things, but even from the beginning the grace of the Spirit had foretold them, and God had so decreed, He both added a prophecy, and reproves them in a way to put them to shame, saying, "Did ye never read, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner? This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes;" by all things showing, that they should be cast out for unbelief, and the Gentiles brought in. This He darkly intimated by the Canaanitish woman also; this again by the ass, and by the centurion, and by many other parables; this also now. Wherefore He added too, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes," declaring beforehand that the believing Gentiles, and as many of the Jews as should also themselves believe, shall be one, although the difference between them had been so great before." (St John Chrysostom)

ANSWER 10

The Lord prophesied the terrible fall of the Jews who would deny Him, by first showing the "destruction of their souls which they suffered when they took offense at Christ, for 'whosoever shall fall on that stone shall be broken'" (Bl. Theophylact, Commentary on Luke 20:16-19), and the eventual razing of Jerusalem and the scattering of the Jewish people abroad, by adding, " but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder" (Ibid.)

These words also apply to every man who encounters Christ. The second part of the prophesy is indeed terrible for all, as it indicates the total loss of a soul who refuses to believe in Christ, but the first part actually indicates the process of the redemption of sinners.

"Whoever sins, yet believes in Him, falls indeed upon a stone and is broken, yet is not altogether crushed, but is preserved to salvation through endurance. But on whomsoever it shall fall, that is, whomsoever this stone shall itself assault, and whosoever shall utterly deny Christ, it shall so crush him, that not a bone of him shall be left in which a drop of water could be taken up." (St Jerome)

"Redeeming the Time" is an almost weekly Journal of St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Texas. Distribute this text if you wish, but only if attribution and all contact information are included. I would appreciate being contacted if any large-scale use of this text is desired. All unsigned or unattributed portions © 1998 Fr Seraphim Holland. All rights reserved

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St Nicholas Orthodox Church, Dallas Home Page Icon of St Nicholas Go to the top of the page

Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
Phone: 972 529-2754
Priest Seraphim Holland

nicholas@orthodox.net
Web Editor:
Fr. Seraphim Holland
Email:
seraphim@orthodox.net
Phone:
972/529-2754
Snail Mail:
2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071, USA

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