Sermon by Archbishop Nathaniel (Lvov +1986) of Vienna and Austria
on the 13th Sunday of Pentecost
Today we heard Christ’s Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, about how a householder planted a vineyard, surrounded it with a hedge, leased it to husbandmen—workers—and went to a distant land, whence he awaited the fruits of his vineyard.
He would send his servants to collect the fruits, but the workers beat some of them, and killed others. Then the householder sent his son, hoping that the workers would be shamed and obey. But the husbandmen took him out beyond the gates and killed him, too.
Of course, this parable makes a direct reference to Old-Testament Israel, which the Lord had so tended to for many centuries, but whose people killed His prophets, and finally, murdered the Son of God Himself. But the tale also refers to New Testament peoples, to whom He entrusted His vineyard—His commandments—His Holy Church, granting Her great powers.
Let us pay heed to the fact that the Lord “hedged” around His vineyard. The Most-Wise Lord of the Old Testament, knowing the future parable of Christ, warned: “whoso breaketh an hedge, a serpent shall bite him” (Ecclesiastes 10:8).
Meanwhile, before our very eyes, among all peoples, we see in the so-called Ecumenical movement every effort to destroy the hedge around the vineyard that the Lord entrusted to us, which surrounds the Church of Christ. Alas, these efforts are often successful. Only we, a small group of faithful Christians within our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, confess the inviolability of the hedge of the Orthodox Church.
But we will be expected to bring forth good fruit, worthy of the Divine Householder, the Omnipotent God. What sorts of fruits are these?
The Holy Fathers, interpreting this parable, from St Basil the Great to Metropolitan Anthony loved to remind us that these fruits represent the spiritual love for Christ and devotion to Him.
It is less deeds that the Lord expects from us as a certain spiritual attitude. He either gives us the opportunity to do good works or He does not. But love for Him, devotion to Him, and the efforts which we exert in fulfilling the words of the Gospel, we can offer from within ourselves, and this is what the Lord awaits.
If we are to possess this spiritual mindset, then works of kindness will flow forth from us, freely, naturally, directly, and not in an artificial, forced way as the policy of “good deeds” cultivated by the West.
Let us tend to our souls and bring to our loving Lord that which He expects from us: a good spiritual attitude, as the good fruits of His vineyard.