The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 10 months ago

Decisive Repentance | Zacchaeus Sunday 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, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. A very happy Lord's Day to all of you, brothers and sisters. I've entitled my homily this morning decisive repentance. On the Sunday of Zechaius, it's also, however, the Feast of the three Holy Hierarchs, Basil, the Great Gregory, that theologian, and John Chrysostom. You remember that this feast, though, all...

...three of those saints have feasts in the months of January. Basil on the first, Chris Systems Relics are translated on the twenty seven. Gregory's feast is on the twenty five. They have a common feast since the eleventh century, when a great controversy erupted in the monks, the people of God throughout the Roman Empire, about which one of those three was the greatest, and there were camps. Can you imagine? I can't. I'd like to imagine having a culture that the great political arguments of the day are which of the three holy hierarchs is the greatest. Society was divided. The camps had been formed for the the Silians and the for the Gregorians and for the Jahn Nights. I can't even imagine to live in a country where the heroes that were debated were the beautiful ones on our walls. Unfortunately, the declining west and they declining west. We've abandoned heroes, historical heroes. We've moved from abandoning them to crucifying them, anyone who has a single smudge, and we've created all sorts of fantasy heroes, superman, Batman, spider man. You can abolish your heroes, but you can't eradicate the desire for heroes that is fashioned in the human heart. You know, and I know, our hearts yearn for heroes and heroines, which is why it feels so wonderful to be in here every Sunday, to see our Lord Hovering in the heavens watching us, to see the mother of God embracing us, to be surrounded on the left and the right, the front and the back, by these marvelous human beings who have found greatness, they have found love. It thrills us, it makes...

...our hearts dance. The Gospel Lesson is the Gospel of Luke, Chapter Nineteen, dedicated to the story of Zacchaeus. You know, this morning, as I was pulling into the church I was coming in the side gate, as I always do, and I stopped to get the mail and they're scattered all on the ground was mail everywhere. The entire street was full of mail and when I saw it my first thought was, I sure hope that's not ours. I have that fear because many times, until we bought the fort knocks of all mail boxes. Many times it was us and I had to pick up all the mail and hope that not too much of it was stolen when I went to pick it up. This time it was a neighbor's up the street. It contained sadly, important documents, including some legal documents, dram inner communications from the person's lawyer and other things. The all the letters had been ripped up and the pages were there and I was able to gather them and take them up the street. I dropped them off at as front porch when he didn't answer the doorbell, and then I got back in my car and promptly almost got run over by a speeding vehicle and I shamefully I bowed my head and thought no good deed goes unpunished. Shame on me, shame on me. I don't know where that thought I shouldn't have let that thought come in. Then, as I was driving back to the church from up the hill, I saw another, even larger stack of mail. So I pulled over this time and I began to pick up that pile, also full...

...of important documents, this time financial, and I was beset with a temptation. It's a temptation that many in the Gospel lesson today faced. For me, the temptation this particular loggi's mouse was dangerous because two weeks ago my checking account, which I've had with Bank of America since one thousand nine hundred and ninety four, was hacked. I laughed a lot of money, at least to me it was a lot of money. I have no idea if I'm ever going to see it again. I have spent tens of hours trying to fix this. It was a security breach on their site. No one stole my card. And so, with that background, I was a sitting duck for the temptation, the evil thought of Judgment. What kind of person hacks someone's account, Rickham Shmackem Schoem? What kind of loser breaks into people's mail boxes and takes their important documents? Perhaps you have faced a similar temptation, horror of horror, to give into that thought. I didn't think at the moment that perhaps the person who was stealing the mail had a sick child at home and maybe that child was on the vert to death and needed a certain medical treatment that they could only get if they had a little bit more money, and they didn't have enough. I didn't think that at all. I didn't think that there could have been some special temptation facing that person that drove them to do such a thing. I also, at that moment, did not think about the mountain of my sins, which, by the way, is a very good subject to meditate upon on a Sunday morning before you're coming to the holy liturgy. Very good subject, our own sins, even if...

...stealing from a mailbox wasn't one of them. How convenient of me. Nor did I think that this person, yes, this thief, might just be a few days away from meeting Jesus, repenting decisively and magnificently and becoming a saint that future generations would talk about for thousands of years, just like Zechus. It's not for nothing that Luke records for us that when the crowd saw Jesus go into Zachaeus's house. Quote, they all began to grumble, saying he has gone to be the guest of a man who is a sinner. Judgment is one of the key themes of the Zachaeus text. Everyone around fell into it. Let's just say it wasn't very hard for me this morning to find myself in the Gospel text curioleison. The text is sloup nineteen and it comes after Luke Eighteen, where we were last week with the blind man from Jericho that Jesus healed. That chapter also has Jesus saying some really atrocious things about the rich and how hard it would be for them to be saved. Then here we have, immediately in the next chapter, and exceedingly rich man being saved. So read the two together. Read the two together. Now, where in Jericho with Jesus he entered, it says, and he was passing through and there was a man named Zachaeus and he was rich and he had become rich immorally by working as a tax collector for the Romans, and he was very good at and a Texas he became the chief tax collector, but he desperately wanted to see Jesus but he couldn't. Desire was erupting in...

...his heart, but he couldn't fulfill it where he was because he was micross. The text says. He was small and he could see through the crowds, so he did the unthinkable. He ran through them and he climbed a tree. Note. Exterior riches often mask inner desolation. Rich people on the outside are often the pooroust on the inside. I know some of you have heard me tell stories of a year in my life that really changed me forever, absolutely changed me forever when I was a bank teller in the little beautiful suburb of Santa Barbara called Manacito, and I spent my days talking to exceedingly rich people literally who would come in and have me, as the teller, check their bank accounts to make sure it was still there. Frankly, having just been hacked, I understand what they're saying. We didn't have all that digital stuff back then, but they wanted me to check their accounts. I remember one lady I particularly loved. She had two million dollars in her checking account. She didn't do anything with it, she just had to know it was there. Yeah, and she would just come in to see me just so I could tell her no, yes, Miss Sown. So there's two million, twenty onezero dollars and thirty seven cents in your checking account, like you know, pretty much what there was last week when you came to see me. We can have all the money of the world on the outside and be completely impoverished, as Zakus was. Money, like sex and power, have no ability to satisfy the human heart the real longings for significance. This... why saying Augustine so so beautifully says that our hearts are always at rest until they rest in God. When God takes up his place inside our hearts, we find rest, as that Caius was yearning for. This passing by, Jesus looked up, the one who knows every man, even if each and every woman doesn't know him. Jesus looked up and he spoke to Zach Caius by name. Zakus, come down now, be fast about it, because today I'm coming to your house to eat with you. If my mother was here, and I hope she'll be back soon, she would not approve. That is not how you get an invitation to someone's house. That is it's not right. Shouldn't you ask if is that caus couldn't entertain you. That's not how the Lord did it. Imitating Jesus is certainly what we're all about, but takes a little nuance. Takes a little nuance sometimes. If I started telling you on Sundays after the liturgy, walking up to I pick a family a Sunday and say so good to see I'm coming to your house for lunch today. I hope you go home and get ready together. Uh Huh. It reminds me of that word that Jesus spoke to his disciples when he sent them a head to get the the donkey and her full so that he could make his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem. And they were completely freaked out by his request. The Lord. What are we going to say to the person that who we're stealing from? And he says say to them the Lord has need of them. Can you imagine? I come into your house and I take this marvelous picture off the wall. What are you doing, father? The Lord has need of them. Uh Huh. Jesus knew Zakus before...

Zakus knew him. Jesus loved Zakus before Zakus loved him. I read a beautiful homily this week on Zechus from Father Zacharas of Essex, in a new book that he just published on the sermons on the Sundays that lead up to great lent. Marvelous text, and he explains why he thinks Jesus was so gripped by Zachaus and why he called him out. He says that our Lord Jesus saw his own likeness in Zachaus. Zachaus was a kindred spirit, with the Lord becoming a fool in the eyes of the crowd. For Jesus Sake, he writes father's he writes quote. ZACHUS's desire and the sacrifice of his own dignity came first, and then God's visitation in his life. What decisive and marvelous repentance that care showed their ones. Look what he did. First, his desire for Jesus became so big that he was willing to completely embarrass himself. He disregarded his status. Next, he let his supreme desire disregard his status and even the opinion of others so that he could get near Jesus. And that's sometimes what it takes. Sometimes it simply takes being willing to lose the high opinion of your self in men's eyes in order to be where you need to be in a relationship to Christ. People don't have to understand. It's your desire. You know who he is and you want him, and what stands between you and him becomes an enemy, and you jump over...

...that wall, you find a way through that press so that you can be near him. And sometimes it's embarrassing and sometimes people don't understand why you're doing this and sometimes you simply can't explain it to them, and that's o K. Third, he welcomed Jesus with rejoicing into his home and into his heart. He didn't keep Jesus as a distant at a distance. He brought him right in, right where his stuff was everything. Forth, he forsook his sinful occupation. His days were over robbing people. Fifth, he dispossessed himself of half of his fortune on the spot and he made Jesus his heart, his heart, and Jesus's heart is for the poor. That's where his blessing lies. And what did he do? Gave half of his fortune on the spot to the poor, showing that Jesus's priorities had become his almsgiving had become his ambition. And Sixth, he made restitution to those from whom he had stolen, returning fourfold every penny that he took by extortion. He had become a man of righteousness, a man who did justice, followed the Lord's words. Fathers, he comments on that too. He says, you know, the magnitude of Zacchaeus's courage is shown by his willingness to look at his own heart, his acceptance of the reality of what he saw, which was the horror of his own desolation, his own ruin, and then his willingness to condemn himself by confessing his extortion in front of his family and in front of the Lord. This shows how courageous this man was, how decisive his repentance was, and such decisive repentance won him glorious words from our Lord, who...

...said, to day salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham, for the son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. Brothers and sisters, you should hear the bell tolling Ding. That's what Zechaea Sunday does for us. We've begun the preparatory Sundays for great lent, great lents coming, thank God it's coming. The hour of our repentance will be there, and let us imitate him. Let us also have us our ambition, this decisive repentance that will bring us the same salvation and the same closeness to Christ, who loves men, to this man loving savior who has come not to judge us but to seek us, to save us the glory and honor with his father, who has no beginning and is most pure spirit, forever from it. 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, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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