|Father Demetrios Serfes - Spiritual Nourishment for the Soul - June 2000|
Icon Of St. Tikhon of Zadonsk.
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They receive life from Christ, Who helps them to lead good lives and go good deeds. While fruit is seen on the branches, yet it is in the vine that finds the cause of the fruit; and like wise when Christians do good deeds, this is credited to Christ, the Son of God. Branches alone without the vine cannot bear fruit; and Christians without Christ can do nothing.
The branches are trimmed (cleansed) in order that they might bring forth better fruit; so likewise Christians are punished at times by the heavenly Father that they might bring better fruit in the form of good deeds. Branches are not especially pleasing to the eye, but inwardly they have good, sweet and pleasant sap, and bear fruit; so is it with Christians; outwardly they are not pleasing to the eye, and scorned, but inwardly are good, and live good lives.
The more the branches are laden with fruit, the more are these branches inclined to the earth. So likewise is it with the Christian. The more good deeds performs, the more humble he becomes. The branches bear fruit for the husband man, and the Christians perform good works for the glory of God, from Whom all good comes. The branch that does not bring forth fruit is cut off from the vine dries up, so likewise is it with a Christian who is cut off from Christ; he loses all his vitality and dies spiritually. The branch that has dried up is not useful and more except to be burned; and so it with a Christian cut off from Christ; he is dried up and left for eternal fire (St. John 15:4).
From this you see, O Christian:
1. What a close union and communion there is between true Christians and their Lord Jesus Christ. He is the vine, and they are the branches.
2. What a great and high dignity there is in this. What is there greater than to have communion with Christ, the Heavenly King?
3. How blessed they must be. If Christ is with Christians, then who can prevail against them? The whole world and hades cannot do anything to a Christian, for Christ is his refuge and strength.
4. Without Christ it is impossible to be benevolent and to do good deeds since branches cannot be fruitful without the vine
5. From here follows that it is necessary first to to be in Christ and so do good works; it is necessary first to become good and then do good deeds. A corrupt tree cannot bring forth good fruit (St. Matthew 7:18).
6. What a sad condition those Christians are in, who by an evil life have fallen away from Christ. For they are like withered branches.
7. Whoever wishes to be saved must turn to the Lord with a pure heart, and must cleanse oneself with repentance and tears, and in such a manner unite with Christ, the True Vine. For without Christ there is no salvation. Christ is Life and Light. He who has departed from Life and Light must then be in death and darkness. Consider this, O Christian, and with tears and repentance wash away your sins, that you may once again be united with Christ - your very life."
Source: Orthodox Life., Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville, N.Y., Issue 5 Number 53, 1958., pp. 15-16
May the peace, and the love of Christ our True God, who is both Life and Light, Bless you and guide you on your path towards salvation.
Peace be unto your soul!
Humbly In Christ Our Lord,
+ Reverend Presbyter Demetrios Serfes
Who prays for you and with you!
June 10, 2000