The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

Imitating Christ as a Person of Principle

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Ancient faith radio and patristic nectar publications, present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with father just Siah Trenem.When we speak about keeping the tradition, following the holy fathers, that whichis the essence of what it means to be Orthodox Christians, what we meanprimarily is praying the way they pray. This is what we mean, communingwith the Holy Trinity, the way that they commune the cultivation of sincere andunceasing prayer by the Christian masters. I would like to talk about bodily worship. Bodily worship how we use our bodies in prayer, as we offer aprayer from the whole person, body and soul. There are many types ofprayer that express themselves in each of our prayer rules. Prayer it's not justasking God for things. So your prayer shows where you stand. I knowthat's a hard saying. It's a hard saying, but it's very important forus to believe it so that if we don't pray, we can make theright judgment about the cause. When we don't pray, it's not that we'reeasily distracted, it's not that we have a busy life. Those things allmay be be true, but if we don't pray, the issue is wedon't love. At that moment, our hearts cold. What you have justheard our sound bites from some of the lectures in a sixpart lecture series entitledthe Prayer Rule. These lectures explore the discipline of classical Orthodox Christian personal prayer, examining the content and order of the prayer rule, giving special emphasis tothe prayers of repentance, the rule of prostrations, the giving of thanks andthe use of the Jesus prayer. patristic nectar publications invites you to download thefirst of these six lectures here at ancient faith radio. For more information andthe remaining lectures, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. And now here's father Josiah trennum with the Sunday homily. The name ofthe father and the son and the Holy Spirit, one God. Our Life, brothers and sisters in the church, as a mystery. It's a mysteryof Jesus as presents in our midst, inside of us and in the middleof the community. We express that in the church by often saying to oneanother. Christ is in our midst,...

...he is and shall be. Weaffirm the fact that this is not a temporary state, it's an eternal one. He's with us now and he will be with US forever. The churchis not just a school of students taking notes, learning to be able tohave the ideas of their founder, their masters. More than that, hislife is our life. His blood courses through our veins, his mind isour mind. We in the church are in the process of being transformed intohis life on the earth. Sat Paul puts it this way. It's verybeautiful. It's the end of the first chapter of his epistle to the EPHESIANS. He says that God made him head over all things to the church,which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.This is a radical affirmation about what we are. Sat Paul calls us.Jesus is fullness. So if you want the full Christ, you can't justgo to the right hand of the father and take him as though somehow heexists independently. And if you have Jesus, you have the full Christ. NotSo. The whole Christ is Jesus and us, the whole church,is the fullness of Christ. And if you want the whole Christ, youhave to have the church with him. That's how intimate, that's how closethe connection is between Jesus and ourselves. His life is our life. Thatmeans that the church on the Earth is literally Christ walking the Earth. Nowit is the continuation of the miraculous incarnation in the twenty first century. Itmeans this parish in Riverside is the mysterious presence of Jesus Christ. Now that'sChristianity and we who are members of this church or members of the mystical bodyof Christ, our life is a life of becoming him, becoming like him, thinking his thoughts, having his heart, walking in his footsteps. Saint Johnsays it very beautifully in his second epistle. He says that we walkin the footsteps of Jesus. Now I'm telling you all of that because it'sthe background, it's the what undergirds so much apostolic instruction. If you listento the epistolescent today from Romans Chapter Fifteen, you would have heard Saint Paul askus to do two things and he said that we should do these thingsbecause Christ did them and if we're authentic Christians. That that means his lifeis ours, his life belongs to you...

...and you are becoming him. Thesetwo things are these. First, he says that we ought not please ourselves, but each of us ought to please his neighbor to his edification, forhis good, because Christ himself did not please himself, but the reproaches ofthose who reproached the fell on me. Jesus did not live a life ofselfishness. He lived a life of service for us. He didn't do anythingto please himself. This is one of the shocking realities, if you readthe Gospels, is that we can't find Jesus getting his alone time, histime for himself. Didn't have that. His life was to do his father'swill and to love and serve and redeem us. He didn't please himself.His life was the death of selfishness, and we who are attached to himare called by God to do the same thing, not to please ourselves,but to please our neighbor for his good, to his edification. This means thatwe should view our life here for the upbuilding of our brothers and sisters. Is that how you view your life? I think, if we're honest,a lot of times we think through the day, what should I doto build myself up? If we're making some progress, we may be thinkingwhat can I do to build up my children or my friends? But whatwe're being called to do if to not think about ourselves and not do thosethings which please ourselves, to put a death to self centeredness and to livefor the upbuilding of our neighbors. That's number one, very difficult to do. And especially, I want to use my finger to poke the young.There is a great danger, a great danger between the ages of fifteen andtwenty five, to fall into the pit of pleasing yourself. The reason youcan do it is because so many other people are serving you. Your parentsare talking to you, your grandparents are talking to you, your church istalking to you, everyone's trying to help you. People are going into debtfor you and it's a great danger, if you're between fifteen and twenty five, that you can actually come to believe it's about you. You can thinkthat educations about you, you can think the new job is about you,and none of it's about you. It's...

...all trying to strengthen you so youcan serve others and please the Lord. That's what it's about to great danger. You also don't have the natural things that God gives as gifts to helpus not be self centered, like a wife or a husband and children.This is why, brothers and sisters, especially you young between fifteen and twentyfive, watch out. Watch out. Invest Yourselves back in your families,find a ministry in the Church, be a servant to your neighbors, tothose who you share dorm rooms with, to your friends, serve them.Tell yourself your life is found in not seeking your own but seeking the goodof your neighbor, to his upbuilding. That's number one. The second thingSaint Paul says in the epistle lesson to day to do, because Jesus didit, is to welcome one another, just as Christ welcomed us to theglory of God. This means to follow him. To Be Authentic Christians,we have to accept one another. In the context, Saint Paul's talking aboutthe strong accepting the week and the week excepting the strong, and he goeson in the chapter to talk about the Jews accepting the gentile believers and thegentile believers accepting the Jewish believers. But it applies to every differentiation amongst humanbeings. It means especially that we accept and welcome strangers. Let me saysomething about that. We all were one strangers. We know what it's like. Our families were welcomed into that Great Olive Tree, which is God's family, even though we were wild. I speak mostly for myself. My Anglo, Saxon and Celtic ancestors were the definition of wild men. And God welcomedus and he tamed US and he washed us and he made us holy byfaith. We, who are strangers and who were welcome to have to welcometo stranger. See Paul puts it this way in his epistle to the Hebrews. I love this text. He says make sure that you practice hospitality tostrangers, because some have entertained angels unawares. To beautiful text. Sometimes, bytaking stranger into your home and feed them, taking them out to lunch, even sitting down with them to talk with them, to let them knowthat they're welcome, that they're accepted,...

...we're actually not dealing with human beings, but we're passing the test that God is sending to us with angels.You know, this parishes strength what we have, the strength that we havea decent portion of that strength is that that precept is dear to us.We're okay being different and we have a collage of people, Young, medium, old, colors of all sorts, countries of all sorts. This isa blessing. It's a blessing that we have to hold and we have tonurture. Of course it's a natural to want to know. As a defaultposition, it's natural to talk to people who look like you, who speakyour language. It's natural for for the the Arabs to talk to Arabs,for the Russians to talk to Russians, for the angle of to talk toAnglos, for the Africans to talk to the Africans, for the Greeks totalk to the Greeks. It's natural, it's understandable, but it has tobe very seriously regulated. One of the things I really don't like seeing inthe fellowship all are tables of people who speak the same language. Don't likeit, don't like it at all. This is not the place for it. That just naturally happens outside of the church. That naturally happens. Youdon't need to nurture that here. What you need to nurture here is whatSaint Paul's calling us to in this text, welcome one another except one another whenyou're at the church. It's especially important for the young to mingle withthe old and not to just be in the parking lot with the young,and for the old to mingle with the young and not just to talk tothe retirees. It's important for those who don't speak the same first language totalk at church, because we transcend natural associations by supernatural ones, and wehave supernatural associations that are deeper than all of our beloved ethnicities, which wegive thanks to God for, but we never give thanks to God for thoseas much as we give thanks to God for the one race, the Christianrace, which is compiled constituted by so many different nationalities. These are ourprinciples, brothers and sister, and this is what we're living these two things. We're welcoming and accepting all on principle, living by Supernatural Association, and we'retaking care of each other. We're not despising one another, we rejectself service. We think that we exist here for each other, to thebuilding up of each other. Those are the principles that Jesus model for us. And we in Mystical Union with him, we who are becoming his presence,whose faces are becoming the face of Christ to the world. This ishow we have to live on principle,...

...and I think we should be peoplea principle. Is My last point. Can you take it? Yeah,I don't want you to fall asleep. I know it's hot, I knowit's hot. Big Temptation for me when people sleep during my homilies, bigtemptation. I always think of the great revivalist preacher John Wesley. Probably toldyou the story a hundred times. So what the great revivalist preacher John Wesley, who? He was so talented at speaking to the heart of human beingsthat he could speak to ten thousand people without amplification. Outside people could hearhim. It was incredible. But one thing he couldn't bear is to havethe word of the Lord despised by people sleeping when he was preaching. Soone time someone dared do this. This was inside and he saw the man. He stopped his homily. No offense bill, but let's say was you. He walked up to him, the person sleeping comes right up next tohim. He slams his leg on the ground and he claps his hand andhe says, behold the Archangel of God and the trumpet. The Lord isupon you. I can promise you that man did not fall asleep in anyother future, certainly oof. I want to just end with this, thisthis important teaching about being people of principle. We believe it's our people of principle. This means that we keep the Lord's Sacred Commandments in season and outof season, when it's easy and when it's hard. That's what people ofprinciple do. I'll tell you an interesting story I once heard. Some ofyou might have heard it once. It comes from the early and Mid TwentiethCentury Playwright and novelist, George Bernard Shaw. He once said that he was havinga socializing with a woman and he wanted to test her. So hesays to her, would you sleep with me for one million dollars? Shelooks at him and she goes hmm, she's kind of thinking she doesn't wantto answer. So then he looks at her and says will you sleep withme for five dollars, and she goes, are you crazy? What kind ofperson do you think I am? And he says we already have determinedwhat kind of person you are. We're simply haggling about the price. It'sa profound interaction about being a person of...

...principle or not. There is noprice, brothers and sisters, for us, no price that would be enough forus not to keep the commands of the Lord and not to do thesethings I'm suggesting to you. I read a beautiful story yesterday about the manof principle, one of the best in the recent years, elder Paisios theATHENAE. Some of you are reading his biography because we sold more than fortyof them. Whether Peter was here, there's a beautiful story. When hehad he had gone to his home village to fulfill a vow to the VirginMary to rebuild her monastery there, and as he was doing it he wasable to reconnect after many years of being gone from his village. He hadgone to Mont Athos, he become a monk. He was able to reconnectwith family and friends he hadn't seen in a long time and they were ableto see the grace of God in Him. They were getting a lot from himand he heard a bad story about a girl he had grown up withwho had really just fallen. She had just really fallen, and so heprayed to God that God would send her to him and ask a word fromhim so that he could help her fix, get fixed. So she did.She came with a couple other women and the things he heard were reallyscandalous and he was really hard on her, too hard. And when she left, a temptation came upon him that he had never felt, a temptationof lust. It was so violent he couldn't shake it. He was becomingafraid that he was going to fall himself. He even punished himself. I won'ttell you what he did. It so scary. He punished himself physicallyand then finally it didn't go away. So finally he said to himself,what I'm not going to do? I'm mean, they're going to fall ordie. He said, I choose death, and he walked to the forest tobe eaten by bears. This was his resolve. I'd rather die thengive in to this temptation. And as he was walking to the forest,he had a revelation from God and he discovered that he thought about the womanhe had been searching for. Why this temptation had come upon him, buthe couldn't figure it out until he proved himself and he was going to die, and the Lord told him. The reason you did this is because youwere too harsh with that woman. You judged her. Imagine if her temptationwas as serious as yours, if she burned in desire with the same temptationthat you're having. It's almost killing you, an Athonite monk. How then,you blame her so hard? Maybe she had the same degree of temptation. You should have a little compassion. And as soon as he thought thethought, as soon as he changed from judgment to more compassion, it completelyleft him and he didn't have to be...

...eaten by bears. Really, thatis a man of principle. That's what I want to be. I knowthat's what you want to be. God's strengthen us. So the in seasonand out of season, when it's easy when it's hard, we keep thewords of the Lord and we don't live for ourself. We live for ourneighbor. We accept and welcome all the glory of God. Amen. Wehope that you have enjoyed and have been edified by this presentation offered to youby Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing this spiritually thirsty withthe sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. Until next time,.

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