Redeeming the Time
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Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
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Redeeming the Time
The Parable of the Evil Husbandmen
Vol. 04.15

See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
redeeming the time, because the days are evil.















By Sainted Andrew, Archbishop of Crete




Trapeza Teams

Jason Papadopoulous and Elizabeth Ash are reorganizing our trapeza teams to help balance the load. We need your help to make this work! Rather than have three small rotating teams as we have had in the past, we will have a weekly sign-up for the following week's trapeza. Please sign up as often as possible to help with the main dish, side dish, dessert or drinks. In this way, it is hoped that no one or two people are having to prepare a meal for 40, but rather that a generous handful of people can each bring a more "normal" amount, and share the job. Many hands make light work! Fr. Constantine has agreed to continue providing all the paper goods each week, as he has been for the past few years. Thank you in advance for your participation (and thank you, Jason and Elizabeth, for your initiative)! Please see Jason or Elizabeth with any questions or comments.

Nativity of the All-Holy Theotokos

This coming week:
Vigil Wed evening, Sept 7/20 at 6:00 PM
Divine Liturgy Thu morning at 6:00 AM

Thoughts on this Sunday's Gospel

Matthew 21:33-44

Hear another parable: 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: {34} And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. {35} And the husbandmen 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 unto them likewise. {37} But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. {38} But when the husbandmen 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. {40} When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? {41} They say unto him, 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. {42} Jesus saith unto them, Did ye 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? {43} Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. {44} And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.1

Today is the 13th Sunday after Pentecost. We hear the parable of the vineyard on this day. It is also the Church New Year, being September 1. Also on this day we commemorate St. Symeon the Stylite and his mother, Martha, so we have many feasts today.

All Scripture helps us to learn about God. It gives us promises. It teaches us how to live. It teaches us how not to live by giving us the opposite example. It also gives us a pattern and a role for living.

Today, in this parable about the vineyard, we can see all these things. On the surface, there is a strong rebuke of the Jews, because of their rejection of the Messiah. Some of the Jews, were the ones, of course, that were the husbandmen who killed the Householder's servants and even His son. The Jews understood this when He rebuked them. Have no doubt about it. This was one of the things that led them to plot to kill Him.

We not only see the negative example of the Jews, but also a pattern for how to live. If you look at how carefully God created the vineyard, and His continual entreating of the householders and what he required of them, you can see that this is, in microcosm, the Christian life. And you can see how to live and how not to live. And then, with a little explanation, with an understanding of the mind of the Church of what fruits are and what some of the symbolism is, you can see how this parable doesn't just apply to the wicked Jews who killed the Savior. It applies to us, who are wicked if we do not do the work that we are called to do in the vineyard.

Now, there's also a marvelous connection between this Gospel and the Gospel we say for St. Symeon who is a venerable Father2. We say this Gospel where at the end it says, "My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden."3 There is a connection between these words, "Take My yoke upon you" and what God told the householders to do. It's quite simple. God gave us everything we need for our salvation. It is natural labor. Not natural according to the natural man, but natural according to the heavenly man, which is who we are supposed to be becoming.

Let's see a little bit about this parable - it is rich in symbolism - and then see how it applies to us.

"There was a certain householder which planted a vineyard and hedged it round about and digged a wine press in it and built a tower and let it out to husbandmen and went into a far country."4

If you read from the Fathers you can see what these things mean. The Church has understood them for many, many hundreds of years now. The Householder, of course, is Jesus Christ. The vineyard is the Jewish people, and by extension, the New Israel -Christians, the Christian Church. Blessed Theophylact says that everything described is spiritual. He created a vineyard with everything necessary for our sustenance and for our salvation. A vineyard bears sweet and juicy grapes that are not only tasty for the palate, but are good for the body and, by extension, this vineyard is good for the soul.

There is a hedge round about the vineyard. What does a hedge do? It protects from marauders, from thieves and from wild animals. It keeps that which is undesirable, and even evil, out. The vineyard is the Church. And the hedge that goes round the Church is just like the sides of a boat, which is another image of the Church - the Ark. This is the Law, the Law of God. This is our tradition. Our Holy Tradition: our fasting, our services, which are so full of meaning and beauty, our way of thinking, confession, the grace of baptism - all of these things and many more are the hedge that goes round about the Church.

The winepress is the altar. Sacrifices are offered on this altar. The Jews would have thought of the sacrifices of bullocks, but we think of the sacrifice that the God-Man has given to us and of the Body and Blood of Christ offered on this altar. And the tower within the hedge is the temple. It is high, to be seen by all, and to be a light for all. And the temple, or course, must be within the hedge because the True Faith is only within the Church. And it is hedged round about keeping away heresy and unclear ways of thinking and acting, no matter what they are.

There are two meanings regarding the husbandmen. First of all, the Jewish teachers were the first husbandmen all throughout the ages. And there were good husbandmen, but there were a remarkable amount of bad ones. Later, Christian bishops, priests, deacons and indeed, all of us, because we are a holy priesthood, a holy nation, and peculiar people, so says the Apostle Peter.5 We are like husbandmen now because if you see, later in the parable, the vineyard was taken away from the first husbandmen. They were not worthy of it. And it was given to other husbandmen, that is the universal Church, through the calling of the Gentiles. Now we are of that vine and of that body, if we choose to live according to the way God has taught us.

Now, God, the householder, went into a far country. What does this mean? It means God's long-suffering for us. It means that He is slow to judge us and quick to hear our repentance. He is not slack concerning our salvation, but He is patient with us.6 But you know, when a person goes on a long journey, they return from that journey eventually. And when He returns that will be the end of the age. That will be the judgement. So God is patient. And God might seem, occasionally, because of this patience, to be far away from us. "He doesn't see", so we sometimes lie to ourselves. Indeed, He sees all, and He is patient. But there will come a time of reckoning.

So we must not be slack concerning what we have been told to do just because He is not on top of us as a taskmaster with a whip, telling us every moment what to do. We must indeed be mature in Christ and live according to the Gospel without compulsion. Remember some of the other things that are in the Gospels. The prodigal son went into a far country and came back. In that case the country means something different. Remember the foolish virgins. Their master went away and He was late, so they thought, in coming and five of them let their oil go out. They did not have works of mercy and of devoutness and of desire and they were left out when the Bridegroom came to the great feast.

Be careful, brothers and sisters. Life has a sort of narcotic quality to it. We're so busy with living. We're so busy with the things we need to do (or think we need to do). We forget so often, God is merciful and allows us time. Time to become like Him. Time to repent of our sins. Time to grow in knowledge of Him. Time to grow in perfection. This is the purpose of our life. Not time to acquire anything, or for pleasures, or for entertainment, or all the other things that are craved in our industrial society. We must watch. Jesus said it to us. He said to His apostles and to us, "Watch, therefore, for ye know not what hour the Lord shall come."7

So, the Master of the house is in a far country. But He still sees all. And He is patient. And that patience should spur us to action knowing that we have a little bit of time to work out our salvation. It should make us zealous.

Let us think for a minute of this image of the vineyard. The Master of the house has given us everything necessary and he has hedged it off so that all which is evil cannot get in. As long as you are within the vineyard you are safe. As long as you are within the Ark you are safe. All the things in the vineyard are there for a purpose: the altar, the tower, the trellises, the land, and the crops. We are given these things in order to work. What are householders to do in the vineyard? Are they to lie in the sun? Are they to daydream their days away? There is work to be done in the vineyard! There is honest labor and growth to be accomplished in the vineyard, and gradual growth in the knowledge of God. And as we grow in the knowledge of God, we grow in becoming like God in morality.

"And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. {35} And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. "8

In fact this happened twice, and then He sent his Son. The "time of the fruit" is the years of the prophets, according to the Fathers. They announced the coming of the fruit many, many times. And God sent His servants to receive the fruits of the vineyard, that is our obedience and growth. That is all we are asked to do, to tend the vineyard. We're given all the tools and everything necessary just to be obedient. That is what we are asked to do and to grow in the knowledge of God. God counts as His gain our gain and knowledge of Him.

So these householders, these terrible wicked men, given all of these things for their salvation, thought of it as theirs instead and grasped it, and killed the prophets. Isaiah was sawn in half. Zachariah, father of St. John the Baptizer, was killed between the temple and the altar.9 St Elias was hounded. So many of the others were killed, tortured in various ways because the husbandmen would not be obedient to the Master of the house.

"But last of all he sent unto them his son saying, 'They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son they said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come let us kill him. Let us seize on his inheritance.' And they caught him and cast him out of the vineyard and slew him."10

The coming of the son is the Incarnation. God comes to His own vineyard, which He had created for us. And when He was cast out of the vineyard, this was a prophecy of how He was to be killed because, indeed, He was killed outside the gates of Jerusalem, cast outside the vineyard. Jerusalem is a metaphor for the Church, and He was also cast outside the guileless will of the people. He was killed by the wicked householders outside of the Law, outside of the vineyard, which was hedged round about.

Now, there is an important question which asked, "When the Lord, therefore, of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?"11 He came looking for fruit, you know. He came looking for obedience. He came looking for someone who had used His gifts, the talents that He had given properly. Some actively opposed Him, and perhaps there were other householders who were not so wicked, just misused the vineyard and did not work, but then again did not lift the hand to stop the killing of the prophets or of the Son of God.

The Jews hearing the parable did not yet that is was about was about them. We can see in St. Luke that they did understand eventually because they said, "He will miserably destroy those wicked men and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen which will render him the fruits in their seasons."12 Then when Christ said something that made them understand, it was them - they said, "God forbid!" Well, they had already said it. They had prophesied what would happen to themselves and all those who do not labor in the vineyard with honest work.

Let us look carefully at this phrase, "...render him the fruits in their seasons." There is fruit to be rendered. To be a Christian is to have an obligation. You have accepted God's grace, and baptism. You must work now in the vineyard. Our Christian life is labor. I've said it a thousand times and I will say it a thousand more times if I have breath. The great heresy of our age is that one can have belief without labor. It is not true. The Christian who laments his sins knows that he must labor to cease doing them. The Christian that loves God and is thankful for what has been given desires to labor in the vineyard and picks up his spade and digs, and a hoe and hoes away the weeds from his soul so that it will be bright and shiny and will be able to grow.

We have everything we need in this vineyard and it is hedged round about and yet we, in our foolishness, sometimes cut through the hedge. That's what we do when we sin, you know. That's what we do especially when we have incorrect attitudes about the Christian life, because from incorrect attitudes comes sinful behavior and we open the hedge. And if we open it wide enough, marauders will come in. This is happening in our beloved Church, even as we speak, these days. And it is something that should make a Christian lament. We currently see so many opening the hedge to marauders by false doctrines, false ways of life, false practices that are being touted as Orthodox and we know that they are not.

The fruit that the Lord wants is the knowledge of Him in our souls. And a necessity - if the knowledge comes then the action will come too. A man fools himself if he thinks he knows something about God and he doesn't live morally. Do not mistake the time the Lord has given you for your own personal security. You must bear fruit. It is a requirement. Now, you need not bear fruit like St. Symeon did. He would stand in prayer from sundown until the 9th hour (that's 3 in the afternoon). And then he would counsel people until sundown from that time. And he did this for 80 years on a pillar. He had clairvoyance and humility and all manner of spiritual gifts. He bore fruit abundantly. We must have humility and realize we cannot reach such heights. But we must stay in the hedge to bear the fruit that God desires and requires of us.

How do we do this? It's simple. The things I've told you over and over. And the things I tell myself over and over, because it is only possible to do spiritual works by making a beginning; keeping the fasts, accepting the Church's authority over you, and the way you live, even in the way you think, the way you act, going to the services, fasting, praying, giving alms-giving what is God's to God, and work in the vineyard. Know that your purpose is to know God. It's to become perfected. It's to ascend in knowledge and in action. Those two swords, when Christ said it was enough, when someone said, 'here are two swords'13, knowledge and action. Those are the necessities for salvation. Anytime you sin you break down the hedge. So you must rebuild it as rapidly as possible.

May God help you in staying within the vineyard and in working out your salvation. Now remember, in the vineyard, there is a product of a vineyard and it is grapes, and fruit. Now, if you are in the vineyard and you do not participate in producing fruit then you will be cast off. Have you ever seen grapevines burn? It is mentioned when they tried to burn the Three Holy Children. The wood that comes from a vine, like grapes, when it dries out, burns incredibly rapidly and with great heat and intensity. This is what will happen to those who cast themselves off the vine by not laboring. So now we see. We come to the end of the meaning of this parable. Apply it to your life. Work in the vineyard, brothers and sisters, and struggle for your salvation and understand that every moment God requires of you fruit. May God help you to attain salvation. Amen.

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

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?

"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.

"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?

"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"?

"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?

"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.

"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.

"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!

"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.

"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

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.

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)

Discourse on the Nativity of the Most Holy Mother of God

By Sainted Andrew, Archbishop of Crete

The present feastday is for us the beginning of feastdays. Serving as boundary limit to the law and to foretypes, it at the same time serves as a doorway to grace and truth. "For Christ is the end of the law" (Rom 10:4), Who, having freed us from the writing, doth raise us to spirit. Here is the end (to the law): in that the Lawgiver, having made everything, hath changed the writing in spirit and doth head everything within Himself (Eph 1:10), hath taken the law under its dominion, and the law is become subjected to grace, such that the properties of the law not suffer reciprocal commingling, but only suchlike, that the servile and subservient (in the law) by Divine power be transmuted into the light and free (in grace), "so that we -- sayeth the Apostle -- be not enslaved to the elements of the world" (Gal 4:3) and be not in a condition under the slavish yoke of the writing of the law. Here is the summit of Christ's beneficence towards us! Here are the mysteries of revelation! Here is the theosis [divinisation] assumed upon humankind -- the fruition worked out by the God-man.

The radiant and bright coming-down of God for people ought to possess a joyous basis, opening to us the great gift of salvation. Suchlike also is the present feastday, having as its basis the Nativity of the Mother of God, and as its purposive end -- the uniting of the Word with flesh, this most glorious of all miracles, unceasingly proclaimed, immeasurable and incomprehensible. The less comprehensible it is, the more it is revealed; and the more it is revealed, the less comprehensible it is. Wherefore the present God-graced day, the first of our feastdays, showing forth the light of virginity and as it were the crown woven from the unfading blossoms of the spiritual garden of Scripture, doth proffer creatures a common joy. Be of good cheer -- sayeth it -- behold, this is the feast of the Nativity of the Virgin and of the renewal of the human race! The Virgin is born, She groweth and is raised up and prepareth Herself to be the Mother of God All-Sovereign of the ages. All this, with the assist of David, makes it for us an object of spiritual contemplation. The Mother of God manifests to us Her God-bestown Birth, and David points to the blessedness of the human race and wondrous co-kinship of God with mankind.

And thus, truly one ought to celebrate the mystery today and to offer to the Mother of God a word by way of gift: since nothing is so pleasing to Her, as a word and praise by word. It is from here also that we receive a twofold benefit: first, we enter into the region of truth, and second, we emerge from the captivity and slavery of the written law. How? Obviously, when darkness vanishes, then light appears; so also here: after the law there follows the freedom of grace.

The present day solemnity is a line of demarcation, separating the truth from its prefigurative symbol, and ushering in the new in place of the old. Paul -- that Divine Trumpeter of the Spirit -- exclaims thus about this: "For anyone that be in Christ, ye are remade a new creature; the old passeth away and behold all is become new (2 Cor 5:17); for the law hath perfected nothing adducing for a better hope, whereby we draw nigh to God" (Heb 7:19). The truth of grace hath shown forth brightly.

Let there now be one common festal celebration in both heaven and on earth. Let everything now celebrate, that which is in the world and that beyond the world. Now is made the created temple for the Creator of all; and creation is readied into a new Divine habitation for the Creator. Now our nature having been banished from the land of blessedness doth receive the principle of theosis and doth strive to rise up to the highest glory. Now Adam doth offer from us and for us elements unto God, the most worthy fruit of mankind -- Mary, in Whom the new Adam is rendered Bread for the restoration of the human race. Now is opened the great bosom of virginity, and the Church, in the matrimonial manner, doth place upon it a pure pearl truly immaculate. Now human worthiness doth accept the gift of the first creation and returns to its former condition; the majesty darkened by formless sin -- through the conjoining by His Mother by birth "of Him Beauteous by Goodness," man receives beauty in a most excellent and God-seemly visage. And this creating is done truly by the creation, and recreation -- by theosis, and theosis -- by a return to the original perfection! Now a barren one is become beyond expectation a mother, and the Birth-giver hath given birth without knowing man, and She doth sanctify natural birth. Now is readied the majestied color of the Divine scarlet-purple and the impoverished human nature is clothed in royal worthiness. Now -- according to prophecy -- there sprouts forth the Offshoot of David, Who, having eternally become the green-sprouting Staff of Aaron, hath blossomed forth for us with the Staff of Power -- Christ. Now of Judah and David is descended a Virgin Maiden, rendering of Herself the royal and priestly worthiness of Him that hath taken on the priesthood of Aaron in the order of Melchisedek (Heb 7:15). Now is begun the renewal of our nature, and the world responding, assuming a God-seemly form, doth receive the principle of a second Divine creation.

The first creation of mankind occurred from the pure and unsullied earth; but their nature darkened the worthiness innate to it, they were deprived of grace through the sin of disobedience; for this we were cast out of the land of life and, in place of the delights of paradise, we received temporal life as our inheritance by birth, and with it the death and corruption of our race. All started to prefer earth to heaven, such that there remained no hope for salvation, beyond the utmost help. Neither the natural nor the written law, nor the fiery reconciliative sayings of the prophets had power to heal the sickness. No one knew, how to rectify human nature and by what means it would be most suitable to raise it up to its former worthiness, so long as God the Author of all did not deign to reveal to us another arranged and newly-constituted world, wherein is annihilated the pervasive form of the old poison of sin, and granting us a wondrous, free and perfectly dispassionate life, through our re-creation in the baptism of Divine birth. But how would this great and most glorious blessing be imparted to us, so very in accord with the Divine commands, if God were not to be manifest to us in the flesh, not subject to the laws of nature -- nor deign to dwell with us in a manner, known to Him? And how could all this be accomplished, if first there did not serve the mystery a Pure and Inviolate Virgin, Who contained the Uncontainable, in accord with the law, yet beyond the laws of nature? And could some other virgin have done this, besides She alone, Who was chosen before all others by the Creator of nature?

This Virgin is the Mother of God -- Mary, the MostGlorious of God, from the womb of Whom the MostDivine issued forth in the flesh and by Whom He Himself did arrange a wondrous temple for Himself. She conceived without seed and gave birth without corruption, since that Her Son was God, though also He was born in the flesh, without mingling and without travail. This Mother, truly, avoided that which is innate to mothers but miraculously fed with milk Her Son, begotten without a man. The Virgin, having given birth to the seedlessly Conceived-One, remained a Pure Virgin, having preserved incorrupt the marks of virginity. And so in truth She is named the Mother of God; Her virginity is esteemed and Her birth-giving is glorified. God, having conjoined with mankind and become manifest in the flesh, hath granted Her a unique glory. Woman's nature suddenly is freed from the first curse, and just as the first did bring in sin, so also doth the first initiate salvation also.

But our discourse has attained its chief end, and I, celebrating now and with rejoicing sharing in this sacred feast, I greet you in the common joy. The Redeemer of the human race -- as I said -- willed to arrange a new birth and re-creation of mankind: like as under the first creation, taking dust from the virginal and pure earth, wherein He formed the first Adam, so also now, having arranged His Incarnation upon the earth, -- and so to speak, in place of dust -- He chooses from out of all the creation this Pure and Immaculate Virgin and, having re-created mankind within His Chosen-One from amidst mankind, the Creator of Adam is made the New Adam, in order to save the old.

Who indeed was This Virgin and from what sort of parents did She come? Mary, the glory of all, was born of the tribe of David, and from the seed of Joakim. She was descended from Eve, and was the child of Anna. Joakim was a gentle man, pious, raised in God's law. Living prudently and walking before God he grew old without child: the years of his prime provided no continuation of his lineage. Anna was likewise God-loving, prudent, but barren; she lived in harmony with her husband, but was childless. As much concerned about this, as about the observance of the law of the Lord, she indeed was daily stung by the grief of childlessness and suffered that which is the usual lot of the childless -- she grieved, she sorrowed, she was distressed, and impatient at being childless. Thus, Joakim and his spouse lamented that they had no successor to continue their line; yet the spark of hope was not extinguished in them completely: both intensified their prayer about the granting to them of a child to continue their line. In imitation of the prayer heard of Hannah (1 Kings 1: 10), both without leaving the temple fervently beseeched God that He would undo her sterility and make fruitful her childlessness. And they did not give up on their efforts, until their wish be fulfilled. The Bestower of gifts did not contemn the gift of their hope. The unceasing power came quickly in help to those praying and beseeching God, and it made capable both the one and the other to produce and bear a child. In such manner, from sterile and barren parents, as it were from irrigated trees, was borne for us a most glorious fruition -- the Immaculate Virgin. The constraints of infertility were destroyed -- prayer, upright manner of life, these rendered them fruitful; the childless begat a Child, and the childless woman was made an happy mother. Thus the immaculate Fruition issuing forth from the womb occurred from an infertile mother, and then the parents, in the first blossoming of Her growth brought Her to the temple and dedicated Her to God. The priest, then making the order of services, beheld the face of the girl and of those in front of and behind, and he became gladdened and joyful, seeing as it were the actual fulfillment of the Divine promise. He consecrated Her to God, as a reverential gift and propitious sacrifice -- and, as a great treasury unto salvation, he led Her within the very innermost parts of the temple. Here the Maiden walked in the upright ways of the Lord, as in bridal chambers, partaking of heavenly food until the time of betrothal, which was preordained before all the ages by Him Who, by His inscrutable mercy, was born from Her, and by Him Who before all creation and time and expanse Divinely begat Him, and together with His consubstantial and co-reigning and co-worshipped Spirit -- this being One Godhead, having One Essence and Kingdom, inseparable and immutable and in which is nothing diverse, except the personal qualities. Wherefore, in solemnity and in song I do offer the Mother of the Word the festal gift; since that He born of Her hath taught me to believe in the Trinity: the Son and Word Without-Beginning hath made in Her His Incarnation; the Father begetting Him hath blessed this; the Holy Spirit hath signed and sanctified the womb which incomprehensibly hath conceived.

Now is the time to question David: in what did the God of all forswear him? Speak, O Psalmist and Prophet! He hath sworn from the fruit of my loin to sit upon my throne (Ps 131[132]:11). Here in this He is forsworn and wilt not break His oath, He hath forsworn and His Word is sealed with a deed! "Once -- said he -- I forswear by My Holiness, that I lie not to David; his seed wilt prevail forever, and his throne, like the sun before Me and like the moon coursing the ages: a faithful witness also in heaven" (Ps 88[89]:35-38). God hath fulfilled this oath, since it is not possible for God to lie (Heb 6:18). Consider this: Christ in the flesh is named my Son (Mt. 22: 42), and all nations will worship my Lord and Son (Ps 71[72]:11), seeing him sit upon a virginal throne! Here also is the Virgin, from Whose womb the Praeternal One issued forth, incarnated at the end of the ages and renewing the ages, likewise sprung forth from my loins! All this is so!

People of God, holy nation, sacred gathering! Let us revere our paternal memory; let us extol the power of the mystery! Each of us, in the measure given by grace, let us offer a worthy gift for the present feast. Fathers -- a prosperous lineage; mothers -- fine children; the unbearing -- the not-bearing of sin; virgins -- a twofold prudence, of soul and of body; betrothed -- praiseworthy abstinence. If anyone of you be a father, let him imitate the father of the Virgin; and if anyone be without child -- let them make harvest of fruitful prayer, cultivating a life pleasing to God. The mother, feeding her children, let her rejoice together with Anna, raising her Child, given to her in infertility through prayer. She that is barren, not having given birth, lacking the blessing of a child, let her come with faith to the God-given Offshoot of Anna and offer there her barrenness. The virgin, living blamelessly, let her be a mother by discourse, adorning by word the elegance of soul. For a betrothed -- let her offer mental sacrifice from the fruits of prayer. All together rich and poor, lads and maidens, old and young (Ps 48:2, 148:12), priests and levites -- let all together keep the feast in honor of the Maiden, the Mother of God and the Prophetess: from Her hath issued forth the Prophet, foretold of by Moses, Christ God and Truth (Dt 18:15). Amen.

Strong statement from school Principal.

This is a statement that was read over the PA system at the football game at Roane County High School, Kingston, Tennessee by school Principal Jody McLoud, on September 1, 2000. It clearly shows just how far this country has gone in the wrong direction.

It has always been the custom at Roane County High School football games to say a prayer and play the National Anthem to honor God and Country. Due to a recent ruling by the Supreme Court, I am told that saying a prayer is a violation of Federal Case Law. As I understand the law at this time, I can use this public facility to approve of sexual perversion and call it an alternate lifestyle and if someone is offended, that's OK. I can use it to condone sexual promiscuity by dispensing condoms and calling it safe sex. If someone is offended, that's OK. I can even use this public facility to present the merits of killing an unborn baby as a viable means of birth control. If someone is offended, no problem. I can designate a school day as earth day and involve students in activities to religiously worship and praise the goddess, mother earth and call it ecology. I can use literature, videos and presentations in the classroom that depict people with strong, traditional, Christian convictions as simple minded and ignorant and call it enlightenment. However, if anyone uses this facility to honor God and ask Him to bless this event with safety and good sportsmanship, Federal Case Law is violated. This appears to be at best, inconsistent and at worst, diabolical. Apparently, we are to be tolerant of everything and anyone except God and His Commandments. Nevertheless, as a school principal, I frequently ask staff and students to abide by rules which they do not necessarily agree. For me to do otherwise would be at best, inconsistent and at worst, hypocritical. I suffer from that affliction enough unintentionally. I certainly do not need to add an intentional transgression. For this reason, I shall, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's," and refrain from praying at this time. However, if you feel inspired to honor, praise and thank God and ask Him in the name of Jesus to bless this event, please feel free to do so. As far as I know, that's not against the law - yet.

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


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)

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.

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)


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)


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)


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)


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.


"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)


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)


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)

1 The following sermon was transcribed from one given Sept 1/14 1997, the 13th Sunday after Pentecost, and also the day of the commemoration of the Church /New Year St. Symeon the Stylite.

2 The term "Venerable Father" is used in the Orthodox liturgical literature to denote a saintly monk.
3 Matthew 11:30, 11:28 (The verses are in reversed order)
4 Mat 21:33

5 1 Peter 2:9
6 Cf. 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

7 Matthew 24:32
8 (Mat 21:34-35)
9 Cf. Matthew 23:35
10 Matthew 21:37-39
11 Matthew 21:40
12 Matthew 21:41
13 Cf. Luke 22:38

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