The Arena
The Arena

Episode 585 · 3 months ago

Begging Jesus - Sunday of Legion 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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My Life in Christ: The Life & Teaching of Saint John of Kronstadt | 9 Lectures

Patristic Nectar Publications is pleased to present a new 9-part lecture series entitled My Life in Christ: The Life and Teaching of St. John of Kronstadt. This series consists of two parts. The first consists of four thematic lectures given in 2022 by Fr. Josiah to the St. John Chrysostom Catechetical School in Riverside, Ca. The second part of this series is five talks given by His Grace, Bishop Basil of Wichita, at a men’s retreat in Kansas in 2008. St. John of Kronstadt, the Wonder-Worker, served God in Russia during the second half of the 19th century and fell asleep in Christ in 1908. His life, miracles, and teaching have been cherished by believers as God’s love gift to the Church and to the world on the cusp of the 20th century, the most violent century in the history of humanity.  These lectures and discussions reveal the beauty of a life lived supremely in and for Jesus Christ the Lord.

Lecture #1 - The Life of Saint John of Kronstadt

Lecture #2 - On Prayer

Lecture #3 - The Eucharist and Divine Liturgy

Lecture #4 - On the Priesthood

Lecture #5 - The Russia of St. John of Kronstadt

Lecture #6 - Confession and Communion in St. John's Teaching

Lecture #7 - Q&A (Part 1)

Lecture #8 - St. John Counsels and Teachings on Prayer

Lecture #9 - Q&A (Part 2)

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Now available at Patristic Nectar dot org. Patristic Nectar Publications is pleased to present a nine part lecture series entitled My Life in Christ, The Life and Teaching of Saint John of Kronstadt. This series consists of two parts. The first consists of four thematic lectures given in twenty twenty two by Father Josiah Trenham to the Saint John Chrysostom Catechetical School in Riverside, California. The second part of this series are five talks given by His Grace, Bishop Basil of Wichita to a men's retreat in Kansas in two thousand eight. Saint John of Kronstadt, the wonder Worker, served God in Russia during the second half of the nineteenth century and fell asleep in Christ in nineteen o eight. His life, miracles, and teaching have been cherished by believers as God's love gift to the Church into the world on the cusp of the century, the most violent century in the history of humanity. These lectures and discussions revealed the beauty of a life lived supremely in and for Jesus Christ the Lord. For these and other available titles, please visit our website at Patristic Nectar dot org and now the arena with Father Josiah Trenna in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. A blessed Lord's day to all of you, brothers and sisters. Thank you. I've entitled my homily this morning begging Jesus. The background to our gospel texts is the mighty revelation of our saviors miracles. Just before this text found in Luke A, Jesus had still the storm on...

...the waters, demonstrating his divine power over the natural order. Hi, mommy, now you're going to see him exercise his power over the spiritual order. And then if you would keep reading and Luke to the next passage, you would see his authority over death itself as he raised Gyrus's daughter who had died from the dead, and healed the woman who was bent over and hemorrhage. It's a period in our Savior's ministry of outrageous, explosive, miraculous power, demonstrating for all who had eyes to see his own identity and his own disposition towards us, his will to do us good, to save us, to put us in order to heal us. To love us and to free us from those things that threaten us the most. The scene that we're confronted within the Gospel is the scene of a man called Legion. He's the gathering demoniac. It's a horrible, horrible scene. The opening description that Luke gets gives to us, this poor man has been absolutely stripped of all his dignity by the devils, which is the intention of Satan to strip us all, each and every one of us of everything that we cherish, to destroy the glory that God has placed upon a human being and the death. Those are never...

...satisfied. They take an inch, if we agree to the inch, they're going to take two and then ten miles, until we are literally dead from the inside out. Look how they stripped this man. To see what happened to this man, who has left nameless in the account should remind us all of what the devil himself did to our four first parents, the greatest stripping of dignity that the world has ever seen. Adam and Eve, who were clothed in arrayment of princely glory, veiled by the Holy Spirit without any need of clothing, being clothed in royal garments, they had the glory of prophecy, of extreme intelligence, of dominion over the world. They had a perfect communion with God and with each other, and mostly they were God's friend. They spoke face to face with the Almighty, they walked together with him in the Garden of Delights. And they lost it all the devils through their temptations, and we, through our folly and our misuse of freedom, lost everything. And if that wasn't enough, the devils have been seeking to complete the deal in each one of our lives. This poor man had lost his family, He had lost all semblance of a normal life. He had no home, he had no community. He was living in complete alienation. He couldn't...

...even wear clothing. The only place that the devil's allowed him to be was in that place on earth that was a picture of where they intended to take him, cemetery, living among the tombs, constantly chained and guarded. Can you imagine living in that village? If you were your job was private security, you dreaded that assignment, being assigned to go and guard the cemetery where the crazy legion was. The man who had broken numerous shackles that had been on his hands. How many people he pummeled. How many people he left violently wounded? We don't know, we're not told. All we're told is that the man was in a terrible, terrible condition. This is the work demons self destruction. They did it then and they're doing it now. Look around us, there ones mourn for the work of the demons in our own culture. I doubt there is a single person, a single person in this parish that hasn't been terribly, terribly tormented by the work of demons in a loved one, a relative through drugs. I doubt it. This demonic industry is stripping people of their dignity and glory in our culture. More than we can count. In these last years, over a hundred thousand Americans have died...

...through fentanel, over a hundred thousand. Let me help you understand what that means. Imagine a seven forty seven packed with people crashing to the death of all on board every day for an entire year, and you have about the number of people that have died by fentanyl. Do you think if we saw a seven seven packed with people crashing day after day three hundred and sixty five times that we might raise this concern to a level of public discourse. Do I think so? I think so? M This brings us to our beggars are beggars. This is the background this poor man. The Gospel account presents three approaches to Jesus, and it uses the same description each time, the description of begging. The first was the demons. They drove the man to Christ himself. It was as though the all powerful demons. As soon as the presence of our Lord Christ was within their vicinity, they were completely disarmed, completely tormented. All that they had done two men enter that village was now done to them, simply by the presence of Jesus in their midst. They were terrorized. They were tormented by the appearance of love, by the...

...appearance of goodness, by the appearance of the Son of God. And they came to him, and they fell before him, begging for mercy, just as they had wanted people to do to them, and they never gave it. This is the first scene. Don't send us, We beg you into the abyss. They thought that the time was up. They knew their future, they knew what was going to happen to them, and they thought that Jesus's presence at that moment meant the end for them. The second begging scene are from the towns people themselves, from the gatherines. After Jesus performed the exorcism and allowed the demons to leave the man and enter the herd of pigs, the herd rushed down the steep hillside and perished in the waters below. Some of the herdsmen were watching from a distance, and they went and reported to the townspeople what had taken place. And the townspeople came, and the second begging scene began even more pathetic than the first. They came and they begged, They begged Jesus to go away, Please go away. I must confess it is very difficult to get into the head of the gatherings. They have rightly been the subject of tremendous criticism by the Father's commenting on this text...

...for the last two thousand years. These gatherings. The third scene of begging is the man himself, whom, after he has been delivered from the demons, is pictured calm clothed and sitting in his right mind next to Jesus. What a beautiful description of healing. Where there was turmoil, peace has been established while there was a stripping of all dignity. The man is clothed. Don't think that just means with garments like this. It does mean that, but clothed with a lot more, and in a mind that was so ruined by the demons, so ruined that the man had lost his name. And we know him from the name of the deed demons. He's called in the church legion. The man had been turned into a golem, and here he was in his right mind. He was back. He was back. These are the three begging scenes. I want to unpack a little bit. I want you to see that confronted with the exact same Jesus doing the exact same thing, there was an incredible divide in response to him. The different response between the townspeople and the healed man is illustrative. First, the gatherings, they wanted Jesus out now a s a p Why Why were the gatherings so offended at Christ? Why did want him to go quickly? It doesn't tell... I have a few ideas. First, Jesus's actions seriously disrupted their lives. If he had done it quietly and healed this man and didn't mess with their pigs, if he hadn't messed with their pigs, it probably would have been a different story. But Jesus seriously affected their lives, he affected their economy. There may be more there then meets the eye, especially since it involves pigs, and if you know the Old Testament law pigs or unclean. There's the loss of money, and probably they were thinking, what is this man going to blow up next? What's going to happen next. Certainly there was a huge loss of money. Jesus didn't seem to care at all. Remember the one time that he borrowed the colt, he was so careful. He said, tell them that the Lord has need of him. He wanted to make sure that you know, there was no concern about that one cult. That cult would become famous, no doubt. I mean that colt. I wonder how that cult was used in celebrations Christian celebrations in the years that succeeded it. Can you imagine if we actually lived at that time and we had our Palm Sunday, that cult would be cherished. But here Jesus doesn't seem to care. This huge herd of pigs completely destroyed and drowned. Whatever, that's the Lord's attitude. Whatever these people were pervice, how many...

...of us have our own pigs that have to go. Really, I was recently at a conference. Speaking at a conference a couple of weeks ago, much to my sadness to be away from St. Andrew, I was speaking on catechism, catechism in America today and making some suggestions ten or fifteen suggestions on how to increase are the quality of our catechism universally, kind of across the country and in the West where the role of catechism is just skyrocking. The number of people coming to the church all over the place just increasing so much as the spirit of God is bringing people's hearts to a position of softness and great concern for the truth, for something that beats death, especially post COVID. And I was said just thing there that one of the lessons that we have to learn from richer catechetical times in the history of the Church, especially the most impressive times, which was the first three centuries of the Church's life, where we did the inexplicable, and that was convert half of the Roman Empire to the faith, starting with literally no resources of the earth at all, no money, no land, just Christ and his love in the human heart. This is what converted the world the faith. One of the things that the church did as she encouraged, especially sponsors in their role, was that she published lists of illegitimate jobs. These are jobs that exist in the Roman Empire that if you're coming to the church and are going to be a Christian, you must give up. If there needed to be a scripture...

...citation for that, it should be Luke chapter eight that we just read today. Some things are just illegitimate and have to be let go. The numbers of those jobs that exist in our culture today skyrocketing. The industries that are growing upon the founder an immoral foundation, massive in the medical realm, militarily, all sorts of realms in our culture. We're building massive industries on the presupposition that if we can do it scientifically, we should That is a big mistake. Because we can do something scientifically has nothing to do with whether we should do it or not. Because we have nuclear technology does not mean that we should apply it to the making of bumps. And if we say every time that when we get a new technology, we have to use it, we have to bring it to pass, then we have no curb, no moral evaluative curb. Well, it's going to be made anyway. Really, how do we know that If we have some moral sense, perhaps we can instead agitate for a consensus of how something should not be used, and then you establish strictures on how it should not be used, and then you punish the misuse of it. We didn't do that well with nuclear technology, and I'm very, very concerned that we're not going to use it today with genetic technology, with the altering of the genome, and especially in a a time of secular ambitions for the development of humanity that are so banal, so earthly, so bodily, with no appreciation for the soul or the mystery of consciousness and personality in the mind these people, obviously, to follow Jesus meant serious... cost. And it's the same for us, dear ones. If we're going to come to Christ, if we're going to be catechised by the Church, we may need to get different jobs, jobs that we can actually do as Christians. And it's not just those who are being catechized. Believers must make the connection between serving Christ and their employment. There are many aspects of our culture today which are just not fit. They're not fit for loving God. They resist loving God. If you can't be yourself, if you're a teacher and you can't be yourself where you're teaching, leave leave sadly. But whatever you do, don't compromise who you are as a Christian person. Whatever it takes, the love of ease, the love of the ordinary, not being able to break from false dependencies. These are all reasons to get upset at Jesus for turning your life upside down. These may have all contributed to the gathering problem. Just think of the Israelites when they were in slavery in Egypt and Moses was going to bring them out. Do you remember the significant contingent of Israelites who didn't want to go because it was going to involve change. They didn't want to follow Moses. They said, let's just stay here. At least we have leaks that we can eat. They preferred slavery as...

...long as it didn't upright the ship, as long as they didn't have to alter the ordinary. Moses was not ordinary. Moses was extraordinary, and Moses is Lord exceedingly extraordinary, and it meant a lot for the Gatherines. And they just wouldn't have it, and therefore they wanted him gone. What stupid people, Oh, go away, Jesus. You just healed this man. You just delivered us from the devils, and we want you gone. Notice the other response the man who was delivered from the legion of demons, he had exactly the opposite response. He asked Jesus, Lord, can I stay with you? He wanted to be wherever Jesus was the last thought in his mind that he could live with with Jesus leaving after what Jesus just did for him. Now, let's get into his mind. What do you think was going on in his mind? Why did he want to stay with Jesus. Why didn't he want to just take up where he left off before he was possessed. I think there's lots of reasons. One is probably to show his gratitude. When you receive a blessing like this and then your healer, the one who gave you this unspeakable gift, is about to leave, you're like, well, wait, wait, I want to tell you what this means to me. I want to make some return for the incredible gift that you just gave me. Let me wash your feet, let me let me make some food for you. Let me Could you come with me please and help... work things out with my family? Can you imagine what this person's family must have gone through his relatives. I want to work for you Lord for all the same reasons that those people who have found Jesus and who have been healed by him, as so many of you have from different things. You never want to leave him. You want to be with him forever, and you want to give back. He also probably wanted to learn a whole lot more about him. He knew almost nothing about Christ. Well, hait a minute, tell me more. How did you do that? How? How did you just throw all of those demons down there? He might have also have a lot of fear. He might have have a lot of had a lot of fear in his heart. I would have my first thought would have been, is this like deliverance for a day a month? Or when am I expecting these hordes to show back up? And what am I supposed to do? Then? I think he got his answer to that fear when Jesus told him, don't worry Gautier Village and tell all of them the great things that God has done for you. That must have just come to him as a great peace. I would have liked to have been with him as he tried to win back his wife and his children. That must have been extremely challenging. Who knows what he did to them, who knows what he did to their family. Reconciling with his village must have been tough. And then let me end by showing you the response that Jesus made to these two requests, the request of the gatherines that he eve and the request of the demonized... that he stay with him. Jesus agreed with the Gatherines, he answered their petition, and he refused the man he had healed. You would have thought that he would not do what the gatherings wants, since they were such wretched people, and that he would have done what the man who was healed wanted. But that's not what the Lord Jesus did. He did exactly the opposite. Why why did Jesus leave these people and agreed to do that? I think probably he fought to himself. There are a lot of people who are waiting to hear me, a lot of people who are going to receive me as their king and lord. And I'm not wasting another second with these fools. That's one thought. He also might have been trying to protect them from a greater sin. Maybe as the pigs went into the lake, maybe they were also going to try to throw him into the lake. They certainly weren't divided about their opinion that he leaves. The text doesn't tell us why did Jesus refuse to allow the man he delivered to come with him. Jesus is very clear the man had worked to do and this is a good message for us. Jesus had to leave those people, but Jesus didn't abandon them. Jesus sent the man as his own apostle. He sent the man who was healed to his own village. I'm not going to deal with them because they're not open to me, but they might be open to you. You go and you talk about what God has done. You be my witness. You'd be my hands and feet with this people. Maybe they need time. Particularly, Jesus wanted the man to speak about the great things that God had...

...for him. And I don't think that that request on Jesus's part is just a request for him, it's a request for us. Do you speak their ones Jesus commanded the man to speak. We don't think that he has There's nothing here that tells us he has any prerequisites, that he has any sort of education, that he had a degree, that he had been blessed as a catechist. Nothing like that. Jesus expected him to speak. Do we speak especially about the great things that God has done in our lives? On that matter, you're the professional. No one can question you. You know best what God has done for you, and speaking about it is certainly within the purview of your responsibility, within purview of your capability. You can speak about that. Why not, There's every reason to do that. Each of you has a history with God. Each of you has a story with him, and in it you have a way to exalt Him and to lift up his name. And that should and could be done in your life or else you're trivializing yourself. Don't trivialize your life. Your life is more important than just the ordinary. And then just doing your job. Do your job, do your job, but also speak about God in your life, about what God has done. Of course, choose wisely when you speak and how you speak. But you can do this. You can do this authentically like no one else can do it, and this will lead to humility and gratitude, and many others will learn about God and be attracted to God. I wish...

...that we had more in the Gospel text about the fruit of this man's witness. I would have loved to hear or to witness his efforts walking back into his village and saying, I'm back and I have something to say. Can you imagine? He could tell how he got possessed, what it was like to be in dwelt by the first demon, let alone a legion that presupposes thousands, thousands. He could have explained how he lost his family, how he lost his home, what it was like to live in the tombs, how he broke the shackles on his wrists, and more, and then how everything changed when a man he didn't know entered into his life and delivered him completely from the dominion of death and the devil. There's a lot here for us, dear ones. There's a lot here. Look at how much Jesus loves people, and the glory that he wills to clothe us in, to make us gentle, clothed and in our right minds, we have things to speak about. We can talk to about the wonders that God has done for us all next, we hope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit 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, ease visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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