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July 11, 2023

Homily Three for the Fifth Sunday of Matthew (St. Luke of Simferopol)

"I Am the True Vine"

5th Sunday of Matthew
By St. Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and All Crimea

(Delivered on July 20, 1952)
"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2).

Jesus Christ, our Lord and God, calls Himself the Vine, and He calls us all the branches of this vine. Listen further to what He says: “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

You understand this, it is quite clear that a branch that has not retained its connection with its vine, of course, cannot bear fruit.

She lives and brings forth beautiful bunches of grapes by the power of the juices coming from the root of the vine.

And so the Lord Jesus Christ says that we should be in the same close, inseparable union with Him, like the branches with the root of the vine.

"Abide in Me, and I in you."

Only under this condition, if we abide in Him, and He in us, will we bring forth beautiful fruits pleasing to God.

How can we understand these amazing words of the Lord Jesus Christ: why does He call Himself the Vine, the true Vine? Why does He say, if we do not feed on the juice of this vine, then we will be dry branches, not bearing any fruit?

To answer this question, we need to think about the meaning of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.

Why was it necessary for God Himself, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, to become true Man?

Why was it necessary that this true God and true Man gave His Divine blood for the salvation of the world – what was it for?

This was necessary in order for us to become partakers of the nature of God. You see what an awesome, what a great goal: to become partakers of the nature of God.

You hear at every Liturgy: “Take, eat, this is My Body, which is broken for you for the remission of sins." "Drink of this, all of you; this is My Blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins.”

And what do we read in Holy Scripture about blood? We read very awesome and important words, for it is written: "The soul is in the blood of the body." The soul is in the blood, in the blood of the body. His Divine soul dwelt in the Blood of the God-Man. And this Blood, along with the Flesh, He gave us to eat and drink.

He said: "He who eats My Flesh and drinks My Blood has eternal life" (John 6:54).

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven: whoever eats this bread will live forever; the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51).

“Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood, you will not have life in you” (John 6:53).

True life is impossible without partaking of the Blood of Christ and His Flesh. They can be compared to the juices of the vine. With these juices the Lord feeds us all.

When we partake of the Body and Blood of Christ, something great happens to us, something truly awesome - we truly become partakers of His Body and Blood. And the Soul of Christ, which is in His Blood, is perceived by us with His Blood.

We thus become partakers of the soul of Christ.

Do you understand how great and awesome it is?! Together with the Blood of Christ, which we partake of in the great mystery of the Eucharist, we perceive molecules, particles of His Body.

These particles of the Divine Body, Divine Blood become particles of our own body, we become partakers of both the Body of Christ and His Blood, we become partakers of the Soul of Christ.

Therefore, this is why the Lord Jesus Christ said that if we are not the branches of the Vine, if we do not feed on the juices of the Vine – the true Blood of Christ – we cannot do anything good, for further He said: “Without Me you cannot do anything.” Only with Him, with His grace, having become partakers of the Blood and Body of Christ, can we do good. Without this, we cannot do anything good.

Everything else that is done without Christ is worthless, all is worthless and contemptible in the eyes of God.

We create truth and goodness only by His grace, only those fruits are true and good that we bring back, feeding on the juices of the Vine.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

And if you abide, if you always maintain a living connection with the True Vine, then it will be what Christ says: “Every branch (from Me) that does not bear fruit, He cuts off, and every one that bears fruit He cleanses, so that it will bear more fruit” .

“I am the Vine and you are the branches. Whoever does not abide in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither, and such branches are gathered and thrown into the fire and burned."

These are terrible words: it is terrible that even the branches of the Vine, i.e. us Christians, are cut off by God, if we do not maintain a true connection with the roots of the Vine. And if we bear fruit, He purifies every fruit-bearing branch, making it capable of bearing more and more fruit.

"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, then ask whatever you want and it will be done to you."

In order to have everything that we ask in prayer, it is necessary to be fruitful branches of the True Vine, it is necessary to always feed on the juices of this Vine.

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and you will be My disciples.”

You see, we can even glorify God if we are fruitful branches of the True Vine, which is our Lord and God Jesus Christ. For us to glorify God, we only need to be living branches, doing good, doing the will of Christ, the will of the True Vine.

Remember that by partaking of the Blood and Body of Christ, you become partakers of His soul, drinking the life-giving juices of the True Vine. Amen.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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