"There was person, who planted a vineyard...". Sermon by the most blessed Metropolitan Vitaly (Ustinov)

Today's reading is from the Gospel according to Matthew [1].

The Gospel of Matthew was written in Hebrew.  It was primarily intended for the Jews, which is why in today's reading there is a direct message for them, in the history of the Old Testament Church, narrated in parable.

A certain rich man planted a vineyard, fenced it, and placed a wine press in it. And he let it out to the husbandmen.

And then, when he sent his people to collect his return, some of the husbandmen chased his people away, others killed them.  " But last of all he sent unto them his son..." [Matt. 21: 37].

This is a historical overview, in a parable, of the history of the Jewish people prior to the Coming of Christ. This is, as it were, an objective picture.

But the Gospel, beloved brothers and sisters, is always speaking directly to each individual. Therefore whenever we read the Gospel, we should take everything personally.

But how, [one may ask,] can this Gospel be addressed to us personally, to each one of us?

The Gospel is addressed to people. And each person is a part of the Church of Christ... his body is a Temple of God.

This is precisely what the Lord is saying in the Gospel: whoever corrupts his body, shall be destroyed by God [2], at the Last Judgment.  This is why we need to pay great attention and be cautious with respect to everything that has to do with our body. Even when we are by ourselves we are never alone. God sees everything that we do; [and] there should be modesty.

Modesty in how the body moves, modesty in how it is dressed, modesty in how we walk and in everything.

Do not forget this. Always be a Temple of God.

This especially concerns body movement. Nowadays, there is so much of depravity, debauchery¸ particularly in movement.

We are Orthodox Christians, and we must be aware of this.

I myself cannot imagine a Russian Orthodox girl going to modern dances. That would be something completely out of place in any circumstances.  By just visiting such gatherings, she has already lost the chastity of her soul.

Therefore, we must be watchful in regards to our body, and never forget that the body is the Temple of God. Thus, the Lord described our body [3]. [For] it contains our priceless soul that is the Throne of God. The Throne of God, which is the most coveted Throne for the Lord! For the Lord says: "Son, give me your heart" [4].  [The heart] is the essence of human nature and the source of feeling. The Lord wants to be seated on this throne.

And [if not so, then] this is the reason that many churches are being ruined, are being destroyed. Because they lack the main throne - the human heart.

That, beloved brothers and sisters, is the personal explanation of this Gospel to each and every one of us.

We are the Church of Christ. We must maintain ourselves very attentively and carefully.

And everything that happens to us, should be understood from a spiritual perspective.

Have you ever read a very valuable leaflet that passed through all of our Diaspora? It is entitled "This came from Me." It has the words as if spoken by the Lord to each of us. Those are wonderful words. The entirety of human life is captured; and for every set of circumstances there is the  assertion: "This came from Me".

"If you wished to serve Me, and have engaged in some enterprise to please Me, and I have made you bedridden from an illness - it came from Me.

If you have lost your friends and have become disillusioned with them, it came from Me," says the Lord. "For I want you not to be charmed by anyone, nor to make anyone your God, or an idol, except for Me, the One God who will never betray you. [I am -] the friend who will never betray you."

So, read this leaflet. These are wonderful words. It was brought to us from the Catacomb Church in Russia.

"... If you do not have enough money, I am your treasurer. I am rich. And if you lack money, this came from Me. And everything comes from Me. "

Now, if [we only] fully embrace the thought that everything that happens to us, everything comes from God. Even that, which seems  malevolent, or unpleasant, such as illness and any sort of misfortune -  absolutely everything is at the hand of God [5]. These are all lessons for us, for they are His teaching tools.

And God is Love, absolute love, unimaginable love, by which the Lord wants everyone to be saved.

Therefore, if you have suffered misfortune - this is your path to salvation.

If you are sick, this is your path to salvation. This means that the Lord has laid you down so that you no longer need to worry about anything. The Lord has placed you into the School of Prayer. What else is left for a sick person to do? To think about your illness all the time? That would be selfishness, this is egocentrity. If the Lord put you on a sick bed, it absolutely means that the Lord placed you in the School of Prayer. There is nothing more to be done; you are being looked after; there is nothing to think about, just pray. Learn to pray when you are ill.

So, beloved brothers and sisters that is how we should see our fates, our states, our lives.  We should keep a watchful eye on our hearts and on our souls, and notice what is happening in them.

Our relationship with God should be personal and should not be dispassionate. To have an objective attitude towards God means to know the history of the Church, to know liturgical textbooks... However, one can know liturgical textbooks, or the history of the Church, and at the same time be a godless person. And this happens to a lot of people, if there is no cordiality with the Lord.

No science, not even the most theological [would be sufficient in and of itself].

We even knew a certain [person], who gave us a lecture about icon painting. And when we asked him whether he keeps the Fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, he looked at us like we were some sort of oddballs. And this is a man who gave us a wonderful lecture about icon painting with all the nuances, explained all the colors, everything ... But he turned out to be empty.

Therefore, beloved brothers and sisters, to make sure that this does not happen to us, let us strive to deepen our relationship with the Lord, our God; and let us make it a habit to analyze everything that happens to us in this short life from a spiritual perspective. Amen.


[1] Matt. 21:33-42

[2] If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. [1 Corinthians 3:17 [KJV]]

[3] Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. [John 2:19]

[4] My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways [Proverbs 23:26]

[5] Job 2:9-10


(Of our Lord Jesus Christ)

This manuscript was brought out of the Russian Catacomb Church in 1942.

Did it ever occur to you that anything that concerns you, concerns Me in the same manner? This is because anything that touches you, touches the apple of My eye. You are dear in My eyes, you are precious, and I have loved you, therefore it is My delight and joy to bring you up.

When temptations rise up against you, when the enemy [1] comes up as a swelling river, I want you to know, that this came from me. 

I am the God who has the full control over your circumstances.  It was no accident that you are where you are: this is precisely the place that I intended  for you.

Did you not ask Me to teach you humility? Then see for yourself: I have placed you in school where this lesson is learned.  Your surroundings and those who live with you are only fulfilling My will.

Whenever you are having money problems, struggling to make the ends meet - this was from Me, as I am  managing your purse.  I want you to always come to Me, and to be dependent of Me.  My riches are inexhaustible. I want you to  be re-assured in the trueness of My fidelity and of My promises.

Are you living through a night of sorrow?  It came from Me. I am a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief [Isaiah 53:3].  I have allowed this so that you would be turning to Me, so that you could  find the eternal comfort.

Have you been deceived by your friend, your confidant you have been opening your heart to?  This came from Me. I have allowed this disillusionment to be felt by you, so that you come to know that it is Lord  who is your greatest friend.  I want you to bring everything to Me and to have complete faith in me.

Has anyone slandered you? Leave this to Me and lean closer to Me, your safe haven. I shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday [Psalm 37:6].

Have your plans been shattered?  Is your soul weary and tired?  It came from Me.  You have made up your plans and brought them to Me for My Blessing, however I want you to leave Me in charge of your circumstances, so that  the responsibility shall be on Me.  It would  be too difficult for you, as you alone cannot look after everything, you are only the instrument [2], and not the


Have you ever had a dream to serve Me in some special way, and instead found yourself on a bed of sickness and frailty?  This came from Me.  When you were immersed in your business, I could not attract your thoughts to My own Self; I want to teach you My deepest thoughts, because you are in My service.  I want you to learn to become aware of your nothingness [3].  The best of My co-workers are those who are cut off of external activity, so that they learn to master the weapon of ceaseless prayer.

Are you suddenly called to take upon a difficult and responsible position?  Proceed, relying upon Me. I entrust these difficulties to you, as for that your Lord Jesus Christ will bless you in all your deeds, in everything that will be done by your hands.  On this day, I put into your hand the vial with the Holy oil of My Blessing: you are free to use it, My child.

Each arising difficulty, every word that is insulting you, every obstacle in your work that could cause a feeling of resentment, every revelation of your infirmity and inability, let them be anointed with this oil. Remember that every hindrance is a Divine instruction. Any sting will be dulled if you learn to see Me in everything that concerns you. Therefore, treasure in your heart all the words that I have declared to you today: "It came from Me". As these are not empty words, for they compose your life...

Russian text source: The Orthodox Herald of the New York and Canadian Dioceses, No. 60/61, January / February 1993, pp. 5-7, (was published with the blessing of Metropolitan Vitaly, The First Hierarch of the ROCA).


[1] Of human race

[2] Rom. 6:13

[3] Gen. 18:27-28 "And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon Me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five?"