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Within Me You Can Do Nothing


Eigh­teenth Sun­day After Pen­te­cost. [II Cor. 9:6–11; Luke 5:1–11] The fish­er­men toiled for an entire night and took noth­ing; but when the Lord entered their ship, and, after preach­ing com­mand­ed them to cast their net, they took so many that they could not pull them out and the net broke. This is an image for all work with­out God’s help, and for work with God’s help. When one per­son works, want­i­ng to achieve some­thing through his strength alone — he is all thumbs. When the Lord draws near to him, then one good thing after anoth­er flows in from some­where. In the spir­i­tu­al-moral sense the impos­si­bil­i­ty of suc­cess with­out the Lord is tan­gi­bly vis­i­ble: With­out Me ye can do noth­ ing, said the Lord. And this law acts in all things. Just as a branch not grown onto a tree not only does not bear fruit, but dries up and los­es its life as well, nei­ther can peo­ple bring forth fruits of truth valu­able for eter­nal life if they are not in liv­ing com­mu­nion with the Lord. Any good that they might have is only an appear­ance of good, but in essence it is faulty — like a for­est apple that appears red but if you taste it, it is sour. It is also tan­gi­bly clear in an exter­nal, world­ly sense: one strug­ gles and strug­gles, and all in vain. When God’s bless­ing descends, all comes out well. Those who are at­ ten­tive toward them­selves and the paths of life know these truths through expe­ri­ence.

Saint Theo­phan the Recluse