The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 1 year ago

Radical Generosity

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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 a four part lecture series by Father Josiah trenum entitled God's Prodigal Prophet, an exposition of the prophecy of Jonah. This text is found amongst the minor prophets of the Old Testament and is much beloved by believers, not only for its Christological typology, in which it sets forth the death, burial, plundering of Hades and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also because it is simply packed full of spiritual themes like obedience, repentance, sinful nationalism, God's call, Timission, the enlightenment of the nations, brokenness, rebellion and grace, the love of enemies and much, much more. For these and other available titles, visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trennum, the name of the father and of the sonet of the Holy Spirit, a blessed Lord's date to all of you brothers in systems. I've entitled by Hobbily this morning radical generosity, radical generosity, and it's based upon the Gospel lesson that you just heard. I have blessing in my life and that is that I am the grandson on my mother's side of Ruby Green. Some of you old timers might have heard me speak about him a number of times. I love speaking about him, I love thinking about him. I have his picture above my bed. I wake up every day and look at him. I do that because he was such an inspiration to me in my life. He died the year I became a priest. I remember that because it was the hardest Anaphora I ever prayed, finding out that morning of my grandfather Ruby's repose. He was a seed farmer in the northeast part of Missouri in the little town called Kirksville, and he spent his entire life. He died as an old, old man. He'd spend his entire life as a seed farmer. He sold seed to farmers. He had a seed House in the downtown of the of the town. It's a town. Last time I was there with there's about fortyzero people there and I would go visit him. My parents would send me in the summer time to visit my grandparents. He lived on a little house right in the middle of town had five acres of grass and he grew things in the back and we got to eat my grandmother's sweet corn and her gravy and oh it's just everything was homemade,...

...everything was canned. is fantastic. It was a beautiful and quite a shock for a southern California boy. I'll tell you, quite a shock. He went bankrupt three times in his life. The reason he went bankrupt was because on all three occasions he didn't stop giving seed to the farmers when they couldn't pay and he kept them alive as long as he possibly could until the bank pulled out the rug on him and he had to shut his doors. He recovered all three times. He was an extremely exquisite, responsible, charitable person. What at his funeral, my jaw was on the ground as I watched one person after another go to the podium and bear witness to his generosity, how he endowed the local college, people from the hospital, people from his church, people from the mission society, everywhere, one after another. I wasn't surprised. I knew nothing about it. All I knew was his generosity in my life. All I knew is what he had done for his grandchildren, making sure that I had some money since I was since I was a young teen, he gave each of his grandchildren a little money. We couldn't touch it. It was to make sure that, no matter what happened, we would be able to go to college. This is my grandfather. I respect him because he did what almost no one can do who's blessed. He decided to practice radical generosity and not to take the blessings that God gave him and just drink them himself, which is what most people do. You know the story of the golden handcuffs. I've told it a few times. People who are never have any money, no matter how much money they're making, because the more money they make, the more bills they accumulate, the higher standard of living they embrace, and therefore they're always out of money. And even when the PRIESTT calls and ask for money for the Saad Academy, there's none to give. That is exactly what my grandfather wasn't he was a man who decided on a level of contentment, a little a level of responsibility, what he thought was right before God, and he lived that way. Whenever else God gave him, he would use it to bless people. He would use it to bless those who had need. That, in my mind, was Christianity. I saw it, I recognized it as authentic to the Gospel teaching that you just heard. You know, the Gospel Lesson today is a real shocker. It certainly was a shocker to the apostles, I promise you. Jesus was commenting upon the best of the world's ethics. Loaning to people in need, being kind to people who needed it, loving people. It's all there, and Jesus said the shocking things. This the shocking thing, that all of that best kind of virtue, worldly virtue, loving people,...

...giving to people, lending to those in the sinners did. It nothing special to us. It's kind of special, maybe we know to me to Midy, downright greeting on loving people or something. But Jesus said, don't be impressed. There's nothing impressed about loving those who love you. There's nothing impressive about giving money to people from whom you hope to receive back in the future. This is what sinners do and it has nothing to do with us. The Christian Standard is to love enemies, to do good to those who hate us, to give and to lend, not like Moses said, at no interest to a brother, but to give and lend with no thought of ever seeing it again, and to do it all with the great joy that those acts are, in act, absolute tangible expression that we are at the children of God who loves that way and gives that way. This isn't a this is a radical teaching. Today, who could keep it? Who could keep it? Give to those who ask of you without a second thought. He didn't say a dollar, that's in your pocket. Okay, I clap if you give a dollar, that's nice, but that's not what he said. That's not what he said. Give to anyone who asks you what, with no thought of getting it back my hard earned money. Certainly, Lord, certainly this is hyperbole, is it? Is it? What an incredible passage, how generous God is it certainly wasn't hyperbole in Jesus's case, was it? We are the children of the God who didn't just love us a little bit, who didn't just give to us a little bit? Where the children of the God who chose not to give us what we deserved, every one of us. You know Saint Paul's teaching. The wages of sin is death. God is certainly within his rights, if he was interested in his rights, to have brought us all to judgment as sinners. God is certainly would have. Nobody could have criticized this justice if he brought us all to judgment. But he didn't, because that's not his desire. That's not God. He's a God who loves even when he isn't loved, who loves even when...

...the love that should be given to him is given to idols and to others, like most of the world was doing at the time when he gave the greatest love gift of all and sent his own son to us to come here to save us, to cover us with his love, to cover over every one of our sins, to remove every vulnerability that we have in life, to squash under his divine human feet every one of our enemies that make us so terrified. He sent his son for that, to reclaim us, to make us his children, his sheep, and he wasn't even content with that. This is the God who loves us so much he insists on being with us at all times, literally in dwelling us, nourishing a communion with us in every service. Why do you think he commands that you come to liturgy, only so he won't miss you, only so he can be with you. If you don't come, how can you be united to him? How can he be in you and how can you be in him? This is the God that we serve. You know. Today is also the Feast Day of an incredible saint who got this. He understood the radical generosity of God and it changed his life. His name is, saying, Dionysius the areopagite, the first or the Bishop of Athens. You heard the story from the acts of the apostles appointed for today, on his Feast Day, St Paul went to the capital, the intellectual philosophical capital of the Pagan World, Athens, where all the philosophers spent all of their days studying the world, teaching their in their schools. He went to the very heart of it, to the Areopagus, that place in Athens which, by the way, is still preserved. It's an it's a massive rock outcropping, a Reappagos, actually means the rock of Aris, and this is exactly where Paul went. This was the center of the Supreme Court of Athens, the areopagite counsel. There are only nine men, interesting number for a Supreme Court, isn't it? Yes, there were nine men and Dionysius was one of them, together with his good friend Hirotheos. When Paul arrived to preach the Gospel to the Pagans, he did so with great, great care. He spoken their language, he quoted their pagan books. You don't just quote Pagan Literally R without studying it. He didn't study it so that he could become conformed to the Pagans. He studied it out of love, so that he could make connections for the Gospel with these people, and he did. He courted their prophets to describe the character of God. He used the statue to an unknown God as an...

Avenue to preach Christ to them and he told them, look, you need to know this. God has set a day in which he will judge every man by Jesus Christ. That day's coming, and God has shown that this is his son by raising him to the dead. He did this to prove it to every man on earth. And as he was preaching, Dionysius's heart was moved. He invited set Paul home to his house and Paul spent hours with him speaking about Christ. Dionysist told Paul that when he was a young man, he was studying Heleopolis in Egypt, studying philosophy there, and he was there on the day that our Lord was crucified and the Sun was eclipsed, and Dionysius, being a great student of the heavens, recognized that this was a completely out of time eclipse and he noted it in his own journal that it was unexplainable and he told Paul that at that time he turned and said to his companions, either God today has died or he is writhing, or it's the end of the world. He found out later, years later, in the s late S, when Paul came to Athens to record it in act seventeen, Paul's journey, he learned exactly what it was. He learned that it was Christ crucified. He was baptized by Paul. He became a missionary, just like his spiritual father, and he began to travel. He traveled to Crete, he traveled to the Holy Land. He wanted to meet the mother of God. When he met the mother of God, he told everyone I knew who she was the first time I saw her. Every every way that she moved, the way that she spoke, the way that she carried herself, I knew that this was our Lord's mother. He was he loved her so much the Lord allowed him to come with the apostles to her door mission he ended up going all the way to Gaul and becoming an incredible missionary in Paris, when Paris was just a small town. He's beloved there to this day. He ended up evangelizing and as far as Britain. We owe him a ton for the preaching of the Gospel in the West St Dionysia's. But I want to end my homily by sharing a story that was from his life that highlights in shows just this radical generosity which is the character of our God and the character of Christians. He had gone to the Crete and he had disembarked and he was preaching the Gospel in creed and there was already the church was flourishing there and he was hosted by a priest named Father Karpas. Father Carpas was an unbelievable believer. He he loved God, he celebrated the Liturgy. The text says always after seeing a vision, he would...

...stand before the holy table and God would give Him a vision and then he would start the liturgy. That was just his normal life. That's how close to God he was. He had a precious spiritual son that he had catechised and formed, and a terrible thing happened. An atheistic philosopher had won his spiritual son away from the faith, had led him away into apostasy, and it's so burned in the heart of other carpos. He was so wounded that he allowed bitterness, he allowed bitterness to be in his heart and he allowed hit the bitterness to actually take form in words, and, worse, in words of a prayer. And he prayed to God and he asked that this terrible man and his spiritual son, whom he had invested so much in and who had completely apostatized and renounced the faith, that God would bring them both to judgment. What a thing to pray, what a thing to pray. God instead showed Father Carpos a vision. Father Carpos was sitting in his house and his house began to shake and the floor split open and he saw it descend Jesus himself with the apostles, and they were standing right on the ridge of the hole, and the hole was a hole, basically into hades flames were coming up out of Hades snakes, he said, I saw snakes writhing up from underneath the ground, coming up to the ridge. Jesus was there, standing on the edge and he had his hands out like this, supporting two people, and he looked across and he saw his spiritual son, who had apostatized, and the terrible man, the atheistic philosopher, who had converted him, and they were both walking on the edge of the cliff, so close to falling into the flames of destruction, but Jesus was upholding them. And then Jesus looked at Father Carpos Curialis. He looked at Father Carpos and he said, father who, why don't you go ahead and strike me, because I am ready to be crucified again in order to save these men and everyone else, and be careful lest you yourself fall in. Wow, that, dear ones is the Lord that we serve. He is so radically generous, so loving to his enemies, so merciful to those who aren't worthy of being receiving mercy, that we ourselves are here because we love him for this very reason. This is why we love him, this is why we are...

...doing what we're doing for him. You know, this week. It's been a beautiful week here, a super beautiful week, and to see these kids every day. Forgive me, I'm I'm in heaven before Heaven, all of the wonderful kids, teachers putting all their desks and decorating their rooms, been so wonderful. And I've heard something, I'm telling you. I heard it ten times. I heard it this morning, very, very short statement, two words. I'm exhausted. I heard a ten times. It made my heart sing because in fact, lots has been going on. That's that to exhaust us. Credible investment, incredible devotion, incredible love that's going on. It's all together, all together, Christian. Let me tell you, it's all together, Christian. But let me warn you. As your priest, you had a very dangerous spot. Those of you who are investing so much are a very, very dangerous spot. You are, I think, right on the edge of if you're doing it in your strength, you're right on the edge that you're going to fall off the cliff. If you're doing it in the Lord's strength, which is how we have to do it right, then we're exactly where we should be. We're exactly where we should be and being exhausted for the reasons that we're all exhausted. Is there anything better than this? Who would we want to pour out our lives for more than the children of this parish, to give them the smiles and the light and the love and the support that we're able to give them, that we've been giving them these three weeks? But if we try to do this in our strength, if we try to do this according to the goodness of the sinner's ethic, where we're looking for pats on the back, we're looking for people to tell us how great a job we're doing, we're looking to get something back, then we could really mess this up, we could really miss us up, and it's going to be one or the other, because this is way too hard a task, dear ones, it's way too heart attacks. And, by the way, it's not just the teachers, the staff, it's all of us. It's all of us. I mentioned when we started this that it will never end. There's no being done with the school. You know that. I don't know a single parish that has started a school and then stopped having to invest in it time, energy, money, and I'm...

...not just talking about development, just to maintain there's no end. We embraced it, all of us together. We embraced it because we considered this to be an act of the Gospel. We consider this to be a work of charity, which it most definitely is. We are loving each other. The stronger helping the week. Those who have resources are helping those who don't have resources in order that we might collaborately give an education. What we mean by an education, a nourishment in Christ to our young people. Of course, the fruits are going to be unbelievable, unbelievable, and we already seeing them. But we're only going to do it by radical generosity, by keeping the Christian disposition in spirit. If we have it, if we will have started, especially you, faculty and You staff, who are laboring so hard. I'm seeing you, I'm watching you, I'm praying for you, so is Father Joseph, so as Deacon, although Deacon needs to be prayed for more than anybody else. It's more exhausted than anybody. But Wow, this is an opportunity for all of us, for our Christian faith, to practice the character of our God, which it is our honor to imitate by His grace, the character of radical General Rossity, make his name be praised. 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 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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