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A Program of Spiritual Formation for Candidates to the Priesthood

The Lay Monastic Community of Caryana





(Matt. 21:33-43), (Phil. 4:6-9)

Christ spoke about the vineyard which the owner had fully prepared: put up fences, planted choice grapes, cleared it of stones and weeds. The hired tenant farmers had nothing else to do but to harvest the grapes and send a portion to the owner.

The owner is Christ. The vineyard of the Lord is working out our salvation by, firstly, learning all the commands of Christ and how to obey them and, secondly, by obeying those commands. He who does not engage in such activity is apparently not in the vineyard of the Lord.

The tenant farmers were the Jewish people; but today it refers to Christians. The fact that the owner had cultivated the vineyard, having done all things necessary, signifies the fact that in our work of salvation almost everything is God's work. What is left for us to do is simply to harvest and render the just portion to the owner.

Jesus Christ redeemed us by His death; He gave us an example to follow. And formulated His example in the form of commands. He then explained them to show us what pleases God and what displeases Him. He gave us guardian angels and His Blessed Mother to inspire us. God could truly look at us and say "what else have I not given you" for the salvation of your soul?

Everything that has happened to us and all that we have, both good and bad, were given to us for the benefit of our souls. Even when we fall into sin--this is allowed by God to make us repent and be humble. One reason why we are not saints is because we never take time to sit down and find out everything that God has given us and be grateful for them.

Most of us are like Jews. We have received God's gifts, we have enjoyed the gifts but refuse to give Him His just portion. His portion is obedience… obedience to His commands. Many of us don't even know what those commands are or even take time out to find out what those commands are. Definitely, it cannot be learned from most homilies and theological writings. These commands are generally found in Scriptures and in the writings of the Fathers of the Church…the so-called Tradition of the Church.

St. Paul mentions a few: "Let your thoughts be wholly directed to all that is true, all that deserves respect, all that is honest, pure, admirable, decent, virtuous or worthy of praise."

For those who have received all these gifts from God and have refused to render God's portion, which is obedience to His commands, God will take away the vineyard from them, i.e., God will remove all the helps for their salvation, both the knowledge of Christ's commands and the power to obey those commands. Needless to say, Christ will also destroy them and will give the knowledge and the power to be saved to others.

We must learn how to be grateful for all the things God has given us. It is gratitude that motivates us to render to Him His due. Those who turn out to be wicked tenant-farmers are those who are attached to worldly things, refusing to give God His due and even aspiring to get what is not theirs, the inheritance of the Son. Such wicked tenants are really capable of murder.

For those work in the vineyard of the Lord and render to God His due--their obedience to His commands--may expect their reward, the denarius, the everlasting happiness in heaven for being faithful servants.

St. John Chrysostom, Sermo LXVIII





(updated 02-09-02)

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