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 which is the essence of what it means to be Orthodox Christians, what we mean primarily is praying the way they pray. This is what we mean, communing with the Holy Trinity, the way that they commune the cultivation of sincere and unceasing 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 a prayer from the whole person, body and soul. There are many types of prayer that express themselves in each of our prayer rules. Prayer it's not just asking God for things. So your prayer shows where you stand. I know that's a hard saying. It's a hard saying, but it's very important for us to believe it so that if we don't pray, we can make the right judgment about the cause. When we don't pray, it's not that we're easily distracted, it's not that we have a busy life. Those things all may be be true, but if we don't pray, the issue is we don't love. At that moment, our hearts cold. What you have just heard our sound bites from some of the lectures in a sixpart lecture series entitled the 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 to the prayers of repentance, the rule of prostrations, the giving of thanks and the use of the Jesus prayer. patristic nectar publications invites you to download the first of these six lectures here at ancient faith radio. For more information and the 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 of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit, one God. Our Life, brothers and sisters in the church, as a mystery. It's a mystery of Jesus as presents in our midst, inside of us and in the middle of the community. We express that in the church by often saying to one another. Christ is in our midst,...

...he is and shall be. We affirm 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 church is not just a school of students taking notes, learning to be able to have the ideas of their founder, their masters. More than that, his life is our life. His blood courses through our veins, his mind is our mind. We in the church are in the process of being transformed into his life on the earth. Sat Paul puts it this way. It's very beautiful. 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 just go to the right hand of the father and take him as though somehow he exists independently. And if you have Jesus, you have the full Christ. Not So. The whole Christ is Jesus and us, the whole church, is the fullness of Christ. And if you want the whole Christ, you have to have the church with him. That's how intimate, that's how close the connection is between Jesus and ourselves. His life is our life. That means that the church on the Earth is literally Christ walking the Earth. Now it is the continuation of the miraculous incarnation in the twenty first century. It means this parish in Riverside is the mysterious presence of Jesus Christ. Now that's Christianity and we who are members of this church or members of the mystical body of Christ, our life is a life of becoming him, becoming like him, thinking his thoughts, having his heart, walking in his footsteps. Saint John says it very beautifully in his second epistle. He says that we walk in the footsteps of Jesus. Now I'm telling you all of that because it's the background, it's the what undergirds so much apostolic instruction. If you listen to the epistolescent today from Romans Chapter Fifteen, you would have heard Saint Paul ask us to do two things and he said that we should do these things because Christ did them and if we're authentic Christians. That that means his life is ours, his life belongs to you...

...and you are becoming him. These two things are these. First, he says that we ought not please ourselves, but each of us ought to please his neighbor to his edification, for his good, because Christ himself did not please himself, but the reproaches of those who reproached the fell on me. Jesus did not live a life of selfishness. He lived a life of service for us. He didn't do anything to please himself. This is one of the shocking realities, if you read the Gospels, is that we can't find Jesus getting his alone time, his time for himself. Didn't have that. His life was to do his father's will 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 him are 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 that we 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 do to build myself up? If we're making some progress, we may be thinking what can I do to build up my children or my friends? But what we're being called to do if to not think about ourselves and not do those things which please ourselves, to put a death to self centeredness and to live for 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 and twenty five, to fall into the pit of pleasing yourself. The reason you can do it is because so many other people are serving you. Your parents are talking to you, your grandparents are talking to you, your church is talking to you, everyone's trying to help you. People are going into debt for 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 think that 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 you can 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 help us not be self centered, like a wife or a husband and children. This is why, brothers and sisters, especially you young between fifteen and twenty five, watch out. Watch out. Invest Yourselves back in your families, find a ministry in the Church, be a servant to your neighbors, to those 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 good of your neighbor, to his upbuilding. That's number one. The second thing Saint Paul says in the epistle lesson to day to do, because Jesus did it, is to welcome one another, just as Christ welcomed us to the glory of God. This means to follow him. To Be Authentic Christians, we have to accept one another. In the context, Saint Paul's talking about the strong accepting the week and the week excepting the strong, and he goes on in the chapter to talk about the Jews accepting the gentile believers and the gentile believers accepting the Jewish believers. But it applies to every differentiation amongst human beings. It means especially that we accept and welcome strangers. Let me say something 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 welcomed us and he tamed US and he washed us and he made us holy by faith. We, who are strangers and who were welcome to have to welcome to 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 to strangers, because some have entertained angels unawares. To beautiful text. Sometimes, by taking stranger into your home and feed them, taking them out to lunch, even sitting down with them to talk with them, to let them know that 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 have a 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 is a blessing. It's a blessing that we have to hold and we have to nurture. Of course it's a natural to want to know. As a default position, it's natural to talk to people who look like you, who speak your 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 to Anglos, for the Africans to talk to the Africans, for the Greeks to talk to the Greeks. It's natural, it's understandable, but it has to be very seriously regulated. One of the things I really don't like seeing in the fellowship all are tables of people who speak the same language. Don't like it, don't like it at all. This is not the place for it. That just naturally happens outside of the church. That naturally happens. You don't need to nurture that here. What you need to nurture here is what Saint Paul's calling us to in this text, welcome one another except one another when you're at the church. It's especially important for the young to mingle with the 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 to the retirees. It's important for those who don't speak the same first language to talk at church, because we transcend natural associations by supernatural ones, and we have supernatural associations that are deeper than all of our beloved ethnicities, which we give thanks to God for, but we never give thanks to God for those as much as we give thanks to God for the one race, the Christian race, which is compiled constituted by so many different nationalities. These are our principles, 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're taking care of each other. We're not despising one another, we reject self service. We think that we exist here for each other, to the building 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 is how we have to live on principle,...

...and I think we should be people a principle. Is My last point. Can you take it? Yeah, I don't want you to fall asleep. I know it's hot, I know it's hot. Big Temptation for me when people sleep during my homilies, big temptation. I always think of the great revivalist preacher John Wesley. Probably told you 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 beings that he could speak to ten thousand people without amplification. Outside people could hear him. It was incredible. But one thing he couldn't bear is to have the word of the Lord despised by people sleeping when he was preaching. So one 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 to him. He slams his leg on the ground and he claps his hand and he says, behold the Archangel of God and the trumpet. The Lord is upon you. I can promise you that man did not fall asleep in any other future, certainly oof. I want to just end with this, this this 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 out of season, when it's easy and when it's hard. That's what people of principle do. I'll tell you an interesting story I once heard. Some of you might have heard it once. It comes from the early and Mid Twentieth Century Playwright and novelist, George Bernard Shaw. He once said that he was having a socializing with a woman and he wanted to test her. So he says to her, would you sleep with me for one million dollars? She looks at him and she goes hmm, she's kind of thinking she doesn't want to answer. So then he looks at her and says will you sleep with me for five dollars, and she goes, are you crazy? What kind of person do you think I am? And he says we already have determined what kind of person you are. We're simply haggling about the price. It's a profound interaction about being a person of...

...principle or not. There is no price, brothers and sisters, for us, no price that would be enough for us not to keep the commands of the Lord and not to do these things I'm suggesting to you. I read a beautiful story yesterday about the man of principle, one of the best in the recent years, elder Paisios the ATHENAE. Some of you are reading his biography because we sold more than forty of them. Whether Peter was here, there's a beautiful story. When he had he had gone to his home village to fulfill a vow to the Virgin Mary to rebuild her monastery there, and as he was doing it he was able to reconnect after many years of being gone from his village. He had gone to Mont Athos, he become a monk. He was able to reconnect with family and friends he hadn't seen in a long time and they were able to see the grace of God in Him. They were getting a lot from him and he heard a bad story about a girl he had grown up with who had really just fallen. She had just really fallen, and so he prayed to God that God would send her to him and ask a word from him 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 really scandalous and he was really hard on her, too hard. And when she left, a temptation came upon him that he had never felt, a temptation of lust. It was so violent he couldn't shake it. He was becoming afraid that he was going to fall himself. He even punished himself. I won't tell you what he did. It so scary. He punished himself physically and 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 or die. He said, I choose death, and he walked to the forest to be eaten by bears. This was his resolve. I'd rather die then give 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 woman he had been searching for. Why this temptation had come upon him, but he 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 you were too harsh with that woman. You judged her. Imagine if her temptation was as serious as yours, if she burned in desire with the same temptation that 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 the thought, as soon as he changed from judgment to more compassion, it completely left him and he didn't have to be...

...eaten by bears. Really, that is a man of principle. That's what I want to be. I know that's what you want to be. God's strengthen us. So the in season and out of season, when it's easy when it's hard, we keep the words of the Lord and we don't live for ourself. We live for our neighbor. We accept and welcome all the glory of God. Amen. 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 this spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. Until next time,.

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