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The Vine and Our Nature

How many things in nature are combined in the same plant! In a vine, roots, green and flexible branches, which spread themselves far over the earth, buds, tendrils, bunches of sour grapes and ripe grapes. The sight of a vine, when observed by an intelligent eye, serves to remind you of your nature.

Without doubt you remember the parable where the Lord calls Himself a vine and His Father the husbandman, and every one of us who are grafted by faith into the Church the branches. He invites us to produce fruits in abundance, for fear lest our sterility should condemn us to the fire. He constantly compares our souls to vines. "My well beloved," says He, "hath a vineyard in a very fruitfull hill," and elsewhere, I have "planted a vineyard and hedged it round about." Evidently He calls human souls His vine, those souls whom He has surrounded with the authority of His precepts and a guard of angels. "The angel of the Lord encampeth round shout them that fear him." And further: He has planted for us, so to say, props, in establishing in His Church apostles, prophets, teachers; and raising our thoughts by the example of the blessed in olden times, He has not allowed them to drag on the earth and be crushed under foot. He wishes that the claspings of love, like the tendrils of the vine, should attach us to our neighbours and make us rest on them, so that, in our continual aspirations towards heaven, we may imitate these vines, which raise themselves to the tops of the tallest trees. He also asks us to allow ourselves to be dug about; and that is what the soul does when it disembarrasses itself from the cares of the world, which are a weight on our hearts. He, then, who is freed from carnal affections and from the love of riches, and, far from being dazzled by them, disdains and despises this miserable vain glory, is, so to say, dug about and at length breathes, free from the useless weight of earthly thoughts. Nor must we, in the spirit of the parable, put forth too much wood, that is to say, live with ostentation, and gain the applause of the world; we must bring forth fruits, keeping the proof of our works for the husbandman. Be "like a green olive tree in the house of God," never destitute of hope, but decked through faith with the bloom of salvation. Thus you will resemble the eternal verdure of this plant and will rival it in fruitfulness, if each clay sees you giving abundantly in alms. 

 

 
Saint Basil the Great: Homilies on the Hexameron, homily V, 6  Read online