The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 1 year ago

Having Not Seen - Believe!

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Patristic lector publications is thrilled to host its two thousand and twenty one conference, entitled the Mother of God in our lives, right here in person at St Andrew Church in Riverside, California, and for all who register by video live streaming around the globe. Our theological itinerary is superb. We expect for lectures by his Grace Bishop Erina of London and Western Europe and additional lectures by Father Chad Hatfield, Father John Parker, Father Collinique Burger and myself. To Register, simply go to patristic nectar dot org and click on the registration button. Those who register will be able to see each of the lectures by live stream over the course of the weekend, participate in the Q and a, as well as received the edited lectures in their library at P ANDP. We hope to see what the conference and now the arena with Father Josiah Treno, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, Christ is risen. Happy days. It's all of you, brothers and sisters. You know the Fourth Book of Moses is a fascinating book. It's called numbers, it's called that because that book twice document the Census of the people of God. After they had come out of slavery in Egypt, through the Red Sea, being baptized into Moses and into the cloud, they came into the Wilderness and they walked for forty years. Moses numbered them at the beginning of that journey and he numbered them at the end to show how faithful God was to preserve his people through the period of the Wilderness as he was about to take them into the promised land. It's an incredible book full of lots of practical instruction for Christians who also live between baptism and the promised land. Numbers shows us how to live in the Wilderness, and this is exactly where we are. We're there in the Kingdom of God, but not yet fully. Were pursuing the things above and we are anticipating the resurrection of the dead in the life of the world to come. So you might think this would be a good book for lots of instruction for us, which it is. In fact, that's where you'll find in that book one of the most precious possible chants of all, a chant that you heard and you hear every year at midnight in the dark outside. Let God arise, let his enemies be...

...scattered and let them that hate him flee from before his face, and then we sing of the resurrection of Christ. Do you know that those words belong first to Moses? Those words were the words Moses spoke in the Wilderness every time the Ark of the Covenant, God's presence his Tabernacle, in the midst of his people. Every time, God would signify that it was time to move on to the next destination and that pillar of fire that hovered over the Tabernacle, or that pillar of smoke, depending on if it was day or night, would move. When Moses saw that it was moving, he would come to the Tabernacle, he would come to the arc and he would say that let God arise, let his enemies be scattered, the enemies that are threatening the people of God before us in our journey in the Wilderness, and let those that hate him flee from before his face, and then the people would walk. This is exactly what we did on possible night and we're continuing to do it as we chant this beautiful text. It's codified in the psalms. It was love. Those words were loved, and so King David place them into the PSALTER and the church uses them because we also are on a procession. We are also are on a wandering we're out of the church. Were encircling the church in the dark of night and yet holding the light of Christ. That is our life. That is our life. It is words, these words. They stir our heart, they give us confidence and they let us know the Christian life is a life of following delight, following God through this world. The apostles had to learn that. They had to learn that. You see them in the Gospel today, completely petrified, completely petrified. Why? Because the Jews were against them, the rulers were against them, they had made their faith illegal, they were hunting them down. They had lots of reasons to be afraid, but they had to learn that journey in this life is a journey following God. The only people who need to be afraid are the enemies of God. They need to be afraid. St John Chrysostom and his commentary on Pasca. He says man used to fear death and now death fears man because of Christ. Yes, Pasca is our our center, brothers and sisters. This is why we love it so much. It's when we act authentically Christian. It's when we take the resurrection and it's...

...implications in our life and allow them to have the result, the effect on our disposition. That is correct. You know, today this Sunday, St Thomas Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter, Sunday, this is called, besides St Thomas Sunday, it's also called ANTIPASCA. In English, anti PASCA. It doesn't mean opposed to Pasca, that were and the in Greek immune two things, depending upon the case that follows it. It doesn't mean in opposition to Pasca, it means in place of PASCA. And why do we call Sunday Antipasca? We call it Antipasca because, after the resurrection, the Holy Day for believers was no longer Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, as much as we respect it and honor it as the seventh day. We don't disrespect the Sabbath, but we're not Jews either, or believers. Were Christian believers who believe that the Jewish hope has come to fruition, the Messiah has come, he's conquered death and he's raised from the dead on Sunday, which is why we literally call Sunday. We may men after Jesus. Kyrio. Key is the name, the Greek name, the day of the Lord, the Lord's Day. That's what today is. It's the Lord's Day and we plant Sunday as a commemoration perpetually of Easter. This means that every time that you we come to church on Sunday, we're celebrating PASCA. We're keeping PASCA alive. This is why we sing all of the resurrectional hymns. It's why, after you hear the Gospel, you hear the chanters lead you in in that we have beheld the resurrection of Christ. Let us worship the holy Lord Jesus. It's why, in a cycle of eleven gospels, we read eleven resurrection accounts, one every Sunday. Tonight or this morning, you heard. That's another thing that happens in holy week. Night and day flipped. This morning you heard Alephon on one Jesus appearing to the apostles after the resurrection and giving them the Great Commission to go into all the world. This is how the Christian life has lived, brothers and sisters, this is how the light conquers the darkness. We celebrate the Lord's Day. We celebrate Pasca every single Sunday because it's the heart of our faith. Now let me say just something about Thomas, about St Thomas. Look at what happened in the Gospel text to day. The Lord appears and as I mentioned in bright weeks, those of you who were here when I was kind of pulking us men and praising the...

...women amidst amidst us, because the Lord chose not to appear to men for a little while after his resurrection from the he appeared to the ladies. There's a lot to that. There's a lot to that. I was reading this week Saint John Chrysostom's in Saint John Krassostom's commentary on the acts of the apostles, which is appointed to be read during the days of Pasca, just like in our monasteries, just like the latter is appointed to be read during the days of lent, during the days of POSCA our monasteries. Read the commentary on the acts of the apostles by Saint John Krasostom and I was amazed to see that he poses this question and he pontificated upon the significance of Jesus appearing to women before his apostles. Not going to say more right now, but it's fascinating truth. Our savior appeared to his disciples to day, and he did so and marvelous way. He literally, as they were in a state of fear, even though he had promised them that he would rise from the dead even before going to the cross. He told them, don't worry, I'm giving you my peace and my joy and no one will ever be able to take it away from you. I don't think they were thinking of those promises when they were in fear for their lives in the room this morning. And then the Lord just walk right through the wall, he just goes right through the door. There's a lot to that about the resurrection body. He wasn't a ghost. Sometimes we think apparitions, nonsubstantial people walk through doors. That's not what he was, and he affirmed it immediately by asking the disciples to come and touch him, by eating in their presence right away. No, it's more like the Lord was so substantial, not unsubstantial, more substantial than our most substantial things, like a lead pipe compared to water. He just walked right through that door. He called the disciples to him and he said, touch me, and then he said remember my love. He had them actually come and touch the wounds on his hands, to touch his body. He said, don't be faithless, believe me, be believers. Don't be faithless, but be believing. Thomas was the most hesitant. Thomas had missed the appearing of Christ a number of times and when he heard about it he wasn't blast to believe the witness of his own friends, of the his...

...fellow apostles, of the mother of God. Thomas wouldn't believe it. Sometimes we're so happy at Thomas's doubt because it confirmed the resurrection that we we forget how impious it was. Shame on you, Thomas. You don't believe the mother of God that she saw her son. You don't believe Mary Magdalen that she saw Christ, you don't believe the other apostles that they just saw him. Now he said, unless I see with my eyes and touch with my hands Christ, I will not believe in the Lord because he is so condescending, because he is so loving, so willing to bend to help us. He said, Thomas, come here, come here. Thomas went there and he pulled his shirt back. He said right there, put your finger into my wound, the place where I was stabbed with the spear by the Roman Centurion, and water and blood gushed out, showing how I'll nourish my people from my very bosom, by baptism in the you crews, come and put your finger in there. And he did. And what did he do? Confessed in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, my Lord, my God odd and he was blessed. He became blessed, he overcame his doubt because of the love of Christ. And then Jesus said something truly amazing. Those that he had been so sympathetic to that he had appeared to them, that he had eaten with them, that he had allowed them to touch him, that he breathed on them, he gave them the Holy Spirit, he charged and could gave a commission to the apostles to forgive. People sins received the Holy Spirit. Whoever sins you forgive are forgiven. Whoever since you remit, are emitted and retained. He then pronounces a great blessing, not on them but on us, he says, after Thomas had believed. He said, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. Jesus did all of these things, brothers and sisters for the apostles, and, by the way, that's just the very scratching the surface. St John Goes on in his account in the Gospel to say that Jesus, in the coming days, showed them many indisputable proofs of his resurrection. Many he established them so that there was no question, absolutely no worry, because these were going to be the men and women who actually would go out into the world and bear witness to Christ, through whom the world, which had not seen like they saft, would come to believe and be blessed like us. Jesus said, you saw, that's why you believe. Blessed are those who have not seen. What does that mean? Does that mean that we who have not seen have blind faith? Not at...

...all. When he says we have not seen, he means we have not seen. Like the apostles, we weren't blessed to be able to put our fingers in Jesus side, to touch his hands and put his hand on our head, to sit down and eat with the resurrected Lord in that upper room. We weren't able to do that. This is what the Lord means. Nonetheless, we have believed because we have seen many things. You know, I might have told you. I'm not sure. I was racking my brain this week to think if I had ever told you. I think I might have once or twice over the years told you about a an ambition that I have. I don't know if it's ever going to come true. It's certainly never going to happen if the pace of my life right now stays this way, but I have no intention for it to stay like this. The question is, are my intentions go to match up with God's? That's the question. But I'm hoping no, that I'm it's not going to be like this forever for me, and then I'll be able to write a book and I want to entitle it the things my eyes have seen and then subtitled it a pastor's remembrance. It'd be nice if I did it as my last effort before I died, because I first decided that I wanted to write this book because of the the the horrors I had no idea I was going to see as a priest. This is why I first decided I wanted to write the book that's a sad confession to make that it kind of was born out of internal angst. But I had no idea. You know, priests get to see beautiful things and also the worst of things, and sometimes the you're not when you go to seminary. There's no class that says this is pastoral horrors one hundred and one. There is no class like that. No one told me that as a priest, I would be leading a parish that would be in five lawsuits. Five I had no idea. I had no idea. I had no idea that I would be standing next to a beloved brother to bury him after he died on a motorcycle, our beloved Joe Dicky. By the way, did you know that his seventeen anniversary was this week? Seventeen years ago our beloved you'll Dickie passed the way. I had no I had no idea that I would sit and anoint a brother who had suffered so bad that I literally could not recognize him when I annointed him. I had no idea...

...the things that my eyes have seen. But, brothers and sisters, there's also besides the horrors, and thank God for the horrors, becaut and having a priest. In the time of horror. Christ went into hell and he makes his priests go in there too, so that people aren't alone there. We all have our hells. Who wants to be there, especially by yourself, for goodness sake, half the time priests whole job when they go into hell with people is just to sit next to them, just to be there. Is All we need just to keep our faith alive and to get through it. Goodness Gracious. But then over here there's a whole another subject of the things that we all have seen an especially priests, as priests get to be with people on such happy occasions and such a beautiful things. Don't think, just because Jesus said blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe that this means believing is blind faith and that you don't see things that you don't see wonders. The whole Christian life is a wonder. The pastoral life certainly is a one. Their parish life is a wonder to see so many people find the love of God in their heart. If I had to say the number one wonder that I've witnessed that has strengthened my faith is to see so many of you grow in your love for God over time, to see you actually trust him more, to see you love him and other people more, to see you work hard at living at peace with people you would not naturally gravitate to, but because they're your fellow parishioners, because they're your brothers and sisters in the church, you Labor to be patient, you Labor to build some bridges, to have some friendships. What is the explanation for this? One thing, and one thing only. By this, all men will know that you are my disciples and that you have love for one another. It's a miracle. In a culture that's so dark and so unloving, the church is a bubbling calldron of love. Constantly were growing in it and it's incredible to see. You know, parishioners don't always know the secrets of other parishioners. No, thank God. Who wants that everybody's secret? But priest usually do, preseusually do, because they hear confessions and they go to houses and they are interacting a little bit with everybody over here. So we often know when this person really has a problem with this person, and then we get to see the miracle of love sustained. We need get. We get to see the miracle of forgiveness. There's also the the sight of truth and of light, to see people grow in the knowledge of God, in the...

...understanding of their faith, in being able to work out their faith, in a being able to change their disposition, to be able to actually have a mind that believes in the truth, that confesses the Gospel, that, without shame, can wear across and tell people that we we believe in the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection from the dead. This is a mighty miracle to see these wonders of faith, of truth, and you say this, you say you're going to say it in about twenty minutes. You're going to say we have seen the true light. Yeah, it's a miracle. Your the eyes of your soul, have perceived the truth, the presence of Christ here, the risen Christ in your midst. Your hearts are going to be moved to receive him, to take holy communion, to be one with him and with the with your brothers and sisters in the church. These are wonders, and blessed are you, brothers and sisters, serves, even though you haven't touched Christ, like the apostles did. You have still seen him by the eyes of faith. You have pleased God by your trust in him, and you have received Christ's blessing upon you, and know this one day, one day without doubt, we're going to see his face. If you don't believe me, when you go home, take your New Testament and go to the last page, revelation twenty two, verse four, and you'll read these verses and we shall see his face. Christ is risen. If 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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