Word Magazine December 1966 Page 9
Father Vladimir Berzonsky
Holy Trinity Church, Parma, Ohio
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the Vine, you are the branches.”
The real problem of the man in sin is that he is alone. One can sin only by acting irresponsibly. He must first convince himself that he is not responsible to anybody for his behavior; neither to God, nor to his neighbor, not even to himself.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they immediately “knew they were naked, and hid themselves.” They were estranged from God and from each other. God asked “Who told you you were naked?” That means, “when was it you discovered you were different from God’s other creatures, and from each other?”
Sin separated them from living unity with God and His creation. Sin made them alone, apart, estranged. They cut themselves off from dependence upon God, and now they had to live with it.
Modern man insists on following Adam and rejecting God, and he suffers the same fate as his father. All our novels deals with loneliness and despair. Titles such as “The Stranger;” “You Can’t Go Home Again;” “No Exit;” “Point of No Return;” all tell of man’s alienation from mankind and from God.
People without God are like pebbles in a box, while people with God are like fruit on a vine.
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, reduced all the commandments to two; love of God, and love of neighbor. Strictly speaking, the first part is enough. If we really love God, and acknowledge Him as Lord and Creator, then we will see ourselves in our brothers and sisters who were made by the same God. Like grapes on a vine, we have the same sap of Life running through our veins, supplied by the One Taproot, which is Christ. We who drink from the same chalice the broken Flesh and the Blood and Water poured out on the Cross are truly brothers arid sisters, since we have the same Lord who makes us His brethren, and true sons of the Heavenly Father. We confess this with Him when we recite with Jesus the “OUR Father.” If we acknowledge this, then it follows that we shall act responsible, in response to God and His world.
What, then, of the one who is alone in his sins? He must make atonement, acknowledging the sin as his, begging God’s mercy, and once more be united with God, with all the saints of all ages, with the Church, and with all the world. Atonement is itself that AT-ONE-Ment, overcoming division and separation, ceasing empty self-affinnation, foregoing personal pleasures, and taking responsibility for God’s world; for
“He who seeks to save his life will lose it, but he who will lose his life for my sake and for the gospel’s, that one will save it.”