The Arena
The Arena

Episode 557 · 11 months ago

An Accountable Life | Sunday of the Great Judgment 2022


The Arena Podcast is the flagship of Patristic Nectar Publications and contains the Sunday Sermons and other theological reflections by Father Josiah Trenham delivered from the ambon of St. Andrew Church in Riverside, California and begun in 2010. Currently there are more than 550 sermons and lectures covering ten years worth of preaching through the liturgical calendar.

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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present theological foundations God, man and the world in Genesis one through three a ten lecture series. The opening chapters of the Holy Bible provide the fundamental elements of the Christian World View. There we learn about the one true God, the human being fashioned in God's image and God's meaning infused creation. These texts, which have always formed a central element in the Church's catechetical ministry, present the most important of Christian convictions. These chapters are particularly relevant today, as secularism has suppressed these essential truths from the Western mind and priests can no longer assume that these basic theological affirmations are believed by those coming to the church or raised in the church. These lectures are presented as an aid in the formation of catechumens and as an effort to set forth the transcendent beauty of the glory of God, of the human being and of God's magnificent world. For these and other available titles, visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trennam and the name of the father, end of the son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. A blessed Lord's Day to all of you, brothers and sisters. Thank you. I stand with sobriety this morning in the liturgy, on this Sunday of the great judgment. The church has been molding us in these pre lent in Sundays, preparing us to repent in the great season of lent, encouraging us to seek the renewal of our souls in these holy days. All of the saints loved great lent. They loved it. So many saints describe the days leading up to great lent in their own life to be days full of incredible anticipation. I want to be like that and I want you to be like that, to not to dread not eating meat, not to dread the challenges that will come and lend, but to have anticipation that this is about your transformation, to remember how low the Lord bows to be with us and to change us during the holy days of great lent. This is the most terrible of all Sundays of the year. Certainly in the appostical less night invespers there is one hymn that begins the way I think this whole Sunday makes us fill by saying woe is me. This is how the hymn begins. Woe is me, woe are we? For certainly we will come before the judgment seat of Christ. Today we heard from the Gospel of Same Matthew that incredible account that our savior presents to us about his second coming and about what will happen then. The Angels Will Fill Thatmospheric Heavens. Well, hear their voices, will hear the trumpet of the Archangel. Christ himself will appear, but not as he appeared in his humiliation on the earth. Christ will appear in radiant glory, the same glory...

...that blinded the eyes of St Paul before he was a Christian, the same glory that eclipsed the Sun, the same glory that Saint Stephen Saw when he saw the heavens opened and Christ standing at the right hand of the father. Jesus. is going to come like that, and then he's going to set up his glorious throne. That's central focus in the apocalypse, the throne of God upon which Christ sits. Then there's going to be a great gathering those who are living at the time from all the ends of the earth will come before the throne and all those who have lived and died, the vast, vast majority of the human race, will be raised from the bowels of the Earth. I'll come forth. Those that the sea consumed will be given up by the sea and every human being who has ever lived will be gathered before the throne of Christ for that moment of great and divine accountability. And after the great gathering they'll be a great separation. Christ himself will separate all of us into two. He began doing this when he came to the earth and worked his miracles and began to call out his disciples, and he promised that for we who have chosen to follow him, that we ourselves will work this division, that Christ's presence in US and in families will separate those who love him and those who don't, that even biological families will be divided over Christ. That separation comes to a culmination at the great judgment seat, when he himself will put some on his right and some on his left. On the right he'll put the sheep, who have a fundamental commonality that explains why they're on his right, and on his left he'll put the goats that also share a fundamental commonality, which explains why they're on his left. And then he'll issue a great judgment, a great declaration, inviting those on his right into the Kingdom of his father, an unspeakable blessedness for all eternity, and then saying to those on his left, depart from me, into everlasting fire reserve for the devil and his angels. This is the day that's coming. It's very, very important for us the church doesn't just bring the subject of the judgment before us on this Sunday, which she does, and there's many reasons for that. May Be all of these wonderful preltent Sundays haven't been enough to excite you and motivate you for lent. And so now, on this Sunday, we recognize that what God's asking us to be the love that he's asking us to acquire, the virtue he's asking us to culivate. It's not a suggestion. It's not a suggestion, it's a divine command. It must be done, dear ones. But besides this sober Sunday, we think and pray about the great judgment seat every single day. Think of the prayer that almost all of you say every single morning in your morning prayers. That's provided universally... all of our prayer books. Suddenly, the judge shall come and the deeds of each shall be revealed, but with fear. We cry out in the middle of the night through the Thil Tokos. Have mercy on us. We meditate upon this every day, knowing that a day can't be lived properly without the thought of the judgment seat, without the sobriety that comes from it. This is our morning remembrance. And remember that this teaching that we just heard in the Gospel it follows. Immediately preceding it, Jesus is teaching about the talents, the fact that God has given to every person, every human being, talent, some five, some two, some one, and that God will ask for an accounting of the use of our talents. Then he explains how and when that accounting will take place in his next teaching that you heard this morning. This is the centrality, this is our of the judgment, this is our world view, our Christian understanding of things. Our lives, dear one, all of our lives are heading towards a goal, towards this day. We call it the Great Day. It's what we're looking for. We say in the creed that goal is not dissolution into the great impersonal one, like some false religions teach. Nor is it a reed do we come to the end of our life and then we go back again as someone else and we redo it, as though there's some sort of reincarnational or cyclical principle. We don't believe that either. We don't lose our personalities and we don't start again. In fact, we come to a culmination of our life for the great evaluation that will determine our eternal happiness or unhappiness. And notice also that no one but human beings are judged. No animals are judged, apes are not judged. Human beings are judged because we're uniquely God's image, uniquely recipients of freedom and reason. The standard is shocking. Soon, I trust, if the world continues, and who knows if it will? If the world continues, soon this Gospel text will be more centrally placed in your heart because you'll see it depicted in that vault over the NARTHEX, that beautiful small vault, vault we have slated to depict the icon of the great judgment, but not the typical icon of the great judgment that you would see in the NARTHEX. That is the place in the Byzantine scheme of iconography where you put the icon of the great judgment, often on the rear wall, so as you walk out you remember it. But the icon that we're going to place is not the Great River of Fire and Christ on the throne. It's rather it's called the V an Ecu icon and it has each of the six references made to the standard of Judgment in the Gospel text. Today. I was hungry and you fed me. I was thirsty and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, exandos and you came to me, you visited me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and in prison and you came to me. It has each of those actions, those virtues, depicted in a man, a naked man, a hungry man, a thirsty man and imprisoned man, a foreign men. Each is DEP did...

...will be depicted in the vault there with the face of Christ. It's a beautiful, beautiful icon and I trust that your children and grandchildren who are growing up now, for them it will be just normal. They'll hear this gospel in a different way their whole life because they'll be able to gaze upon that magnificent icon coming and going from the church and the years to come, if there are years to come, this is the standard are. The Standard in this text is whether or not we have lived a life of loving deeds towards our neighbor, very specific neighbors, those in need in our life, those who are hungry, if we cared about that, those who are thirsty, and this has to do with not just physical hunger, but psychological hunger, spiritual hunger, those who are an an outsider. How we relate to outsiders? How we relate to those who are naked, who are wretched, who would be ignored by us if it wasn't for Christ in us? How do we react to the rip, to the wretched, to those who are sick and in great need, and to those who are in prison? Jesus taught us that all judge meant has been given to him by his father. The father judges no one, but all judgment has been given to the son. And then Paul Develops that teaching even further and says, don't you understand to the Corinthians. He said that the saints will judge the world. First, Corinthians, thirty one, don't you understand that the saints will judge the world? What does this mean? How does God judge through Christ, through the saints? Elder sophroni describes in his writings, when he was first repenting of his sins, that he had a terrible temptation to think terrible thoughts about God, because he thought it was unfair that God would judge men. And then he understood, finally God got through to him that God judges no one, that he's given all judgment to his son, and that Christ himself is going to be the judge of men on the last day, Christ who lived as a man and showed us what a man was. And then he learned even further that the saints themselves have a role in the judgment of the nations, because saints in every generation and in every place bear witness to what a human is and what a human can be. You all know that there's only one reason that I'm not a saint, and that's because I haven't used my freedom to become one. I stand in shame that I'm not becoming a saint is not just something that God does. Wh I pick that one and I pick this one over here and that one over here. To become a saint as the calling of every person to love God with our whole heart and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is the calling for every person, and the saints bear witness that it's possible. They're the same people as we are, living in the same culture with the same temptations. What's the difference? The difference is how we use our freedom and the choices that we make. This is the difference between people who become saints and people who are more like devils. This is how the saints judge the world. I want you to see,...

...also their ones in this text, the different reactions of the sheep and the goats to the judgment of Christ. How did the sheep respond? Well, they responded with incredible humility. When the Lord said to them inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world, they said, wait, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you? When did we ever see you thirsty and give a drink to you? We never saw you as a stranger and came to you. I don't remember seeing you naked, Lord. I don't remember when you were sick or when you were in prison and we came to you. Notice this attitude, this incredible humility, and not just a humility but a competition with Jesus in humility, literally saying, Lord, you don't no offense, you are the master who sees all things, but just on this one point, just on this one point, you're wrong. We don't remember doing any of those things. Not only had they cultivated humility, they had learned not to do their good deeds before men, as Jesus teaches us in the sermon on the Mount. They didn't trumpet their deeds. It's a matter of fact they went further. Not only did they hide them from men, they hid them from themselves. They fulfilled Jesus is teaching not to let their left hand even know what their right hand was doing. They embraced and Nimity of themselves with regards to their good deeds. The only things that they were remember are their mistakes and they covered over all of their good deeds. This kind of humility, elder sophroni calls quote, hollowed self, hatred unquote, hollowed self hatred. Now look at the goats. Look at the damned. What attitude they had when the judgment was rendered. They literally contradicted God. At the judgment God spoke and they contradicted him. Ooof they complained to him. When, when did we do those things? When did we make when did we fail? They justified themselves. You know, it's sad enough for us to justify ourselves, and we all do it. We all do it. Hey, baby, you know those onyx stones are paradisal, especially when the babies crawl on them and especially when the when the brides, come down on them. They just glow. They just glow. They justified themselves. These goats. They had no shame to compete with God. They literally were insane. And that's what happens when we are proud. We don't let the love of God fill our hearts. You know, set John of Sinai in his fourth in his fourth step, which is all on obedience, as the second longest step in the ladder of the thirty steps to Paradise, he describes the man who justifies himself. He says whoever justifies himself is an enemy of his own salvation.

Oh, whoever justifies himself, he says, renounces his own salvation. It's a form of madness to justify ourselves. We're like these people. Yesterday we began our spring, late winter and spring catechism for our catechumans, glory to God for all of them. I was telling the catechumans yesterday I was giving the first lecture, which is on Holy Baptism, and I was explaining the miracle that takes place in baptism and I was describing it in under the image of seeing this magnificent icon that I had seen once back in one thousand nine hundred and ninety seven. The icon was an icon painted in the fourteen century of St Gregory Polymas, the Great Archbishop of Thessalonica and Saint of the church, who name is celebrated on the second Sunday of great lent. I was at the monastery of Vattel pevy and Mount Athos and they have the oldest church dedicated to him as well, and in there they have an icon, massive icon that's considered by the church to be the very first icon that was ever painted of St Gregory, and when I was there it's not that way today, but when I was there in one thousand nine hundred and ninety seven, the icon was extremely confusing to look at because from the waist up there was one set of vestments on him and from the waist down a completely different set and a different color. And I asked my guest master, I said, what's going on here? What is that? He said, look more closely. This icon, which was at that time over six hundred and fifty years old or so, had been venerated and honored for so many years, in centuries, so many candles had burned before that icon of Saint Gregory that the first icon actually was completely covered over with soot. And so in the nineteen century a Russian iconographer painted St Gregory with a whole new set of vestments, the exact same icon, just painting over him and restoring the icon so that you could see it. And so what had happened two hundred years later now was that they had hired and expert rest sorer and they were actually removing the nineteen century second version from the original in order to bring the icon back to its original, pristine condition. This is an image very much an image of baptism. We're all made in the image of God and called to develop his likeness in our lives by our sins. All sort of soot covers us. That image is covered over, it's darkened, it's not eradicated. It's there but you can hardly see it. When a person goes into baptism it's like going into the best cleaner. Just imagine if you have some beautiful old piece of silver. You've seen those commercials where they take some fancy cleaner and they dip your silver dish into the cleaner halfway and they pull it out and the whole bottom part is completely restored in the top is still muck. This is us. When we go into the Baptismal Font. Were completely submerged into the grace of God, which is the greatest cleaner of all, and we come out radiant. The image is restored. St John Krassost them says when we come out of the Baptismal Font every person is so radiant that the angels themselves have to put their wings up like this to function as kind of angelic sunglasses so that they don't burn their angelic eyes by looking at the radiance of our glory. Coming out with a restored image. But that is not the likeness.

The likeness is a CO operative venture between you and God. Saint Viavoco so Fhotigi, in the PHILOCALIA describes this process, emphasizing the same things that Jesus emphasized are going to be the most important matters on the Day of Judgment. Listen to what he says. He says divine grace confers on US two gifts through the baptism of regeneration, one being infinitely superior to the other. The first gift is to give to us at once, when grace renews us in the actual waters of baptism and cleanses all the lineaments of our soul, that is, the image of God in us, by washing away every stain of sin. This is the first gift. The second gift, our likeness to God, requires co operation. When the mind begins to perceive the Holy Spirit with full consciousness, we should discern that grace is beginning to paint the divine likeness over the divine image in us. Artists first draw the outline of a man in mony a chrome and then add one color after another until, little by little, they capture the likeness of the subject down to the smallest of details. Like the smile. In the same way, the grace of God starts by remaking the divine image and man into what it was when he was first created. But when it sees US longing with all of our heart for the beauty of the divine likeness and humbly standing, then, by making one virtue after another come into flower and exalting the beauty of the soul from Glory to glory, it depicts the divine likeness in the soul. Something similar happens to those who are being repainted by God's grace in the divine likeness. When the luminosity of love is added, then it is evident that the image has been fully transformed into the beauty of the likeness. Love alone among the virtues can convert dispassion on the soul, for love is the fulfilling of the commandments, and in this way our inner man is renewed through the experience of love, and in the perfection of love our inner man finds its own fulfillment. That's from his text on spiritual knowledge in the first volume of the field of Kalia. Dear ones, this is what we're shooting for. A lent God has given to you the grace of Holy Baptism, he's restored his image inside of you. But the development of the likeness is chiefly accomplished by the acquisition of love. This is why we are enthused and why we're zealous to embrace great lent. Let's do this together. Let's seriously, seriously, focus on renewing our soul this land. Let's make it our number one ambition, let's lay aside the things that are tripping us up and are keeping us from running, and let's have a super clear focus on learning to take care of those who are in need around us in these ways that Jesus says are going to be so important on the last day. Let's try to have a competition to while we do it, a competition in humility, not looking at other...

...people except to admire their virtues and not remembering anything that we accomplished ourselves, except our own vices that we need forgiveness for. And with God's help, maybe we also can be renewed. Maybe we can come to Pasca and it will mean so much more to us than eating a hamburger and opening a bottle of champagne. May God be with us on them. We hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by patristic nectar publications, a non profit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in other available titles or if you would like more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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