The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

Receiving and Embracing the Great Responsibility

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Second Sunday after Pentecost. Learn more about Patristic Nectar Publications.

The principle of Christ calling us tohis service is common to us all, and every one of you in herehas heeded the response, the call of our savior to his service and baptismin age of every condition. What the Lord is asking is that you takewhat you're given, the responsibility he has entrusted to you, that you receiveit for his sake and you take that small area. It could be adesk, a car, a truck, an office, the management of persons, whatever it is, you take it and you make it an outpost ofhis presence. Ancient Faith Radio and patristic nectar publications present the arena Sunday homiliesand theological reflections with Father Josiah trenem. Father Josiah is the pastor of SaintAndrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founder of PatristicNectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with thesweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. For more information on patristic nectar publications,please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. And now FatherJosiah. They anim of the father and of the son and of the HolySpirit, one God. Brothers and sisters, you heard in the Gospel, thisGospel for the second Sunday after pentecost, a very short, a pungent accountof our saviors calling his first four disciples, Andrew, Peter, Jamesand John. It's an amazingly unlikely account. Our Savior calls the most unlikely folksto build the Greatest Organization, the most magnificent divine and heavenly institution inhistory, and he's going to establish it upon two sets of brothers who arefishermen, simple, uneducated men, who would think? No one would believethis today. God's wisdom is certainly not man's. What was involved was adivine call, a radical request from Jesus to them, articulated in just twowords. Follow me. But they knew what he was asking. They knewenough about him, having been disciples of the forerunner, have him been withJohn The baptist, having already had some interaction with Jesus, they recognized thatthis was just not a call to come listen for a little while. Thiswas a radical call to unearth. It was a call to break bonds inorder to re establish a much more significant, bond with Jesus primarily and then,through him, with everyone else. It was a reorientation of the mostextreme kind. Follow me means uproot yourself from your most stable forces in life, leave your family. That's what it meant for them. Can you imaginethat first night in Zebode's house? Hello, dear, the boys are not cominghome tonight for dinner. They weren't. Uproot yourselves from family, leave yourjob, leave your home, your town, embrace new geography altogether.They left their biological families for the family...

...of disciples. They left fishing atthe Sea of Galilee to become fishers of men, and they left Bethseda toembrace the whole world. Some of you are avid travelers, but I canassure you nothing compared to the Holy Apostles. They had immense faith. They hadimmense faith even though it was in such colonel form, in Jesus thatthey followed him. He had already impressed them enough. I once heard usa sermon on this text and the priest said they went from low pay.They were fishermen, young fishermen. They went from low pay to no pay, but they went in their great fete in their great faith. What wasthe mission that Jesus was calling them to? Let me say a few words aboutthat. The first thing that Jesus was asking of them is that they'dbecome his disciples by a thoroughgoing repentance. They showed that practically by a onehundred and eighty degree turn from nets and the Ocean to Christ and his service. Remember that this account begins in the eighteenth verse of Chapter Four of SaintMatthew's Gospel. The seventeen verse records the first words out of Jesus's mouth,the first time he ever preached publicly, and those words were repent for theKingdom of Heaven is at hand. This calling of the disciples is in thecontext of his preaching of Repentance, and this is the first thing he's callingthem to in the mission, a thoroughgoing repentance, establishing themselves as his disciplesand entering into a three year whole life catechism in which they would learn tolive with and serve the savior. And their future success as apostles was builtupon these three years of intensive twenty four hour a day, seven day aweek, three hundred and sixty five day a year catechism at the hands ofour savior. This was the best seminary that ever existed. The second partof their mission, having first done this becoming formed through repentance and this threeyear catechism, was to preach the Gospel to the entire creation, oversee theconversion of the nations and plant and shepherd the entire church. Has that fora job description. This is what Jesus was asking those fishermen, those youngfishermen, to do. Convert the world, sanctify everyone and joined them to meby the mysteries and shepherd the whole church. Okay, Lord, theywere to free the world from darkness. They were to break the grip ofSatan on men and women across the Globe and eradicate slavery to Sin. Theywere the ultimate freedom riders. They brought freedom to the cosmos. And finally, their third mission at the end of their life was to ascend thrones andto sit on apostolic thrones on Jesus has left and right and judge the world. This is what he promised them. This part of their mission will bedone and complete in the future. This is what our savior was calling themto do, and he had a strategy, a very detailed strategy. He hada great logic behind his choice.

Not only did he spend many,many hours and sleepless nights on the tops of mountains praying to his father fordiscernment about who he should call as disciples, he did that before he called hisdisciples, recorded in St Luke's Gospel. He made this call and he establishedthe very numbers of his disciples with an evangelistic strategy in mind. I'llcall it the seventy twelve three one strategy. Seventy twelve, three one strategy.This was our Savior's plan. He called seventy apostles. These were notthe twelve, they were lesser apostles. He gave them a measure of authorityand power, gifts and miracles, and he sent them in front of himinto towns and villages to announce his presence, to proclaim in the city squares thefulfillment of the promises that were given by the prophets and to get everyoneready for when Jesus would come. We know who these seventies are. Theyare wonderful people like St Luke, the Apostle and evangelist, St Barnabas andothers. He did this because, as you heard in the Gospel, hewas going about every town, in village, preaching the Kingdom of God and healingall manner of disease and sickness. How did they know what to bringtheir sick? The seventy were there. They were saying, if you wantyour sick healed, get them in. The rogue of Jesus is coming atthree o'clock to this town. Maybe they weren't so German punctual, but thatwas the general the general idea. Now the twelve were his intimate disciples.He allowed them in much closer than he did the seventy and he revealed tothem the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. He told them things that no humanear had ever heard. He explained his teaching and his mysteries to themand he made them the very foundation stones of the church. He gave themthe signs of the apostles, even the ability to triumph over demons, toheal the sick, to raise the dead. And then, within that twelve,which was the fulfillment of that sacred number in the Old Testament of thetrys of Israel, he chose twelve to be the new foundations for the newIsrael, for the New Testament Church. And within that twelve he chose three, Peter, James and John. As an inner circle. These three accompaniedJesus places that the twelve did not like, to the top of Mount Tabor.These three became the living connection between our savior and his transfiguration and therest of the world. Peter, he made the Prince of the apostles,James, he made the First Apostolic Martyr, and John He was the one inthe seventy twelve, three and one strategy. He was in the twelve, he was in the three, but he was in a league by himself. He was in the Scriptures, called the beloved disciple. He was theone granted to rest his head on the bosom of Christ. That resting wasa significant event. From that connection came forth the Stream of Fountain of Theology, and John, of all the apostles, articulated depths of Trinitarian theology in hisGospel, penetrated the heavens in his...

...account that he gave in the spirit, in the apocalypse and the revelation, and establish the ethos of the Churchas a community of love for God and neighbor in his epistles. Through thesemen, these seventy, these twelve, these three and this one, thefaith has spread over the whole earth. This was our savior strategy called byChrist. They became established in repentance. They were washed by Jesus himself,filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit and sent, according to his prescription,from Jerusalem and then a little bit further to Judea, and then a littlebit further to Sumaria, and then to the ends of the Earth. Theyestablished churches in every place. They ordained bishops and priests to carry on theirGospel Ministry, laying their apostolic hands on the heads of sinners and conveying tomen the grace of the mysteries and the Authority of God to forgive sins andretain them. They inspired monks and nuns, men and women who, in aquest to imitate the apostolic life, made also a radical departure from attachmentsto this world. They infused the whole body of the church with a spiritof service to the Lord, and men, women and children who became Christians choseto Labor for Christ, to put the service of the Lord above everyearthly thing, to cooperate in a symphony of service, to March as thearmy of Christ, under the general ship of the clergy, against the forcesof the evil one, and to wait for, to eagerly anticipate and toseek, first above everything else, the second coming of their savior, theclimactic breaking in of the Kingdom of God, the fulfillment of history and the establishmentof Heaven on the Earth. We in the twenty one century. We'reliving in the church established by them. Brothers and sisters. Our life isa direct fruit of their obedience to the call of Christ that you heard aboutin the Gospel. Today we live the faith that they preached and we seekto live the same discipleship to the master that they manifested in their own callingsand their own willingness to, without hesitation, follow. Let me say now afew words about their response and ours. You've seen how radical this call was, what our saviors strategy and thought was, and how it was fulfilledand successful to this day. But look at how shocking the response was,how quick they embrace the Path and how the apostles accepted the responsibility to dowhat Jesus was asking. That concept, the acceptance of responsibility is not vogue. You know this. If there is a concept today repulsive to Western society, it's the acceptance of responsibility. It manifests itself in a thousand ways andagainst it the apostles bear witness. I fear that we are all terribly threatenedby this temptation to think that the more responsibility we have, the more inshackled we are, to think that the more things we embrace in the serviceof God, the less free we are. This is a terrible lie. Thepath of responsibility, the embrace of responsibility, is the sign of greatnessof soul, it's the sign of dignity...

...and it's the way to freedom andhappiness and exhaustion. Who Cares? We accepted it when we were baptized.We pledged our service to the Lord. We enrolled ourselves as spiritual warriors andhis army. And every one of us, brothers and sisters, has a partto play. Every one of us has a calling. It's not asdramatic as the apostles, no doubt there unique, but the principle of Christcalling us to his service is common to us all, and every one ofyou in here has heeded the response the call of our Savior to his serviceand baptism. You make said, you made sacred vows, you made apledge for your life to be his servants, to follow him in each and everythingyou do, to make all aspects of your life ways that his facecould shine, a means by which his kingdom could be manifested. And itdoesn't matter if you're a mother at home bandaging knees, giving baths and usingthe MC guffy reader, or if you're a retired person free from the responsibilitiesof work. Doesn't matter in each of every condition. What the Lord isasking is that you take what you're given, the responsibility he has entrusted to you, that you receive it for his sake and you take that small area. It could be a desk, a car, a truck, and office, the management of persons, whatever it is, you take it and youmake it an outpost of his presence. You take it and you make ithis, you make whatever it is Christian. I love the eighth chapter of theeight acts of the apostles. It's a fantastic chapter because we've just witnessedSaint Stephen's martyrdom in chapter seven, which has shocked the church the Lord toldthem to convert the nations. He told them that in the process many wouldrespond and many would resist, even unto the point of killing us. Butthey hadn't actually seen it yet. When Stephen was slaughtered, this was thefirst time the seriousness of our Savior's words and of our mission became manifest tothe apostles. They recognize that this is going to be a bloody mess,literally in the fulfillment of the evangelistic call. Stephen had hardly been martyred and ageneral persecution broke out against the church, not just Stephen, and all theapostle had a decision to make. Should we leave or should we stay? They said temporarily we're going to stay in Jerusalem, but we want mostof the believers to leave. And it says in Acts Chapter Eight that thebelievers left Jerusalem and they were scattered abroad. So here is an initial division betweenthe generals declared to the Holy Apostles and the Faithful, and the faithfulleft. But then it says everywhere they went they went about preaching the word. Everywhere the faithful went. It shows very clearly that the church embraced fromthe beginning brothers and sisters, a concept of mission that was not just awork of the apostles. They knew who their leaders were, but they knewthey were in the army, and all of the believers embraced the mission ofChrist. Wherever they were leaving their homes scattered from Jerusalem, they were busymaking where they were belonged to God.

Today we honor the apostles and wehonor those believers who have accepted, like the apostles, responsibility from God's hands, especially our father's. This is the glory of being a father. Afather worthy of praise is a man who has accepted responsibility from God. Youknow that these types of fathers, as dear as they are to us,are very rare in our society. We have an epidemic of chestless fathers,men and who like to use women for their own pleasure without commitment, menwho like to sire children but not raise them, men who don't have anyproblem doing the deeds of fatherhood to bring children into existence, but won't laydown their life to raise their children up in beauty. We stand against thisgreat betrayal of fatherhood. We honor like we did this morning. We honorthe fathers of our children. What a joy for me as a priest tohold in my arms, to precious children, and especially I want to commend thecouples. You know, one of those children was a fifth. Yes, do you hear that? We honor them, we support our families whoare accepting the responsibility that the Lord is giving them. We know that todo that, the father say, is a small type of martyrdom. That'show serious the service is. To allow not just one or two children,but to allow a third, a fifth, to do that with happiness is aservice to God and it's an acceptance of responsibility that brings with it asthe loud, vocal support of the church we are we know our future laysthere. We just made two catechumans. That's what the churching service is.CHURCHING is the making of catechumans of children of believers. So we just didand do you know that pretty much this last twelve months we have made asmany catecumans by children of the believers as we have a people from outside thechurch. Running neck and neck. I wouldn't doubt, really I won't doubtthat they'll come a time in the growth of our parish that will be makingmore catechumans who are children of our our families, then we will from outside, and I'm not expecting to decrease our evangelistic efforts outside. I expect thoseto increase. But it's always been the case, St Ambrose says this,that the Church has build built, built up most by families accepting the responsibilityof taking children and raising them floor the glory of God. This isn't justbecause of numbers, but it's because, the means of formation, we cantake an adult from outside the Church, preach the Gospel to them, bringthem into an experience of the church, wash away their sins and baptism buildthem up through discipleship. But that still is giving them only a tiny fractionof what children in this parish will get in the course of eighteen years,living in their homes, celebrating for eighteen years the sacred cycle of services,interacting with their brothers and sisters, hopefully getting an Orthodox education. That iswhy seet Ambrose said the best way for...

...the building up of the church andthe propagation of the faith is for the believers to accept the responsibility of parent, Tony, and to put their hearts into it. We're very happy tocelebrate this day. It's been a hundred and two years in America that we'vebeen keeping father's Day, since one thousand nine hundred and ten started and spokein Washington in the Y MCA. It took about forty years for our presidentsfinally to declare it with the power of the executive, but we've been holdingcelebrations in honor of our fathers for a long time. Mothers had a lotlonger history. Fathers are okay with that. We're okay with that. We knowwhere the honor lies, more than fatherhood. We're happy to raise ourvoices in honor of our fathers and those of our families who are embracing children, those of our young couples. You know, that other precious child,little Jude I was holding, was a number two, but he was anumber two and how many years marriage? Maybe the same, maybe the samebrothers and sisters. We honored these fathers. They don't know how they're going toprovide for their kids, but they trust God, they know he willprovide for them and they're willing to work and they're willing to lay their livesdown for their children. We honor fathers like this. We praise them andwe pledge don't we are support for families in the parish. We know thatthey are not here to raise their kids by themselves, but together. Everyfamily in this church struggling to raise their children is dependent upon the older peoplein this community, the single people in this community and the young ones.We're brothers and sisters, Father's and mother's, Auntie's and uncles to each other.The process of accomplishing this task is a process that we're doing together,with mutual support, and we trust the Lord's in it. He will helpus, he will help us. Yesterday I was giving counsel to a distressedmother, not an unusual thing for a priest to be doing, and Ithought too. I thought to tell her one piece of advice. I said, sweetheart, look, I'm listening to everything you're saying. I understand.There's one thing I suggest you do. She said what father I said,learn to smile when you're tired. Learn to smile when you're tired. Thatis what the apostles did. This is why St Paul could being after beingmugged and left half dead and put in prison, and at midnight he wassinging the hymns of the Lord. That's the Christian way of life. Lord, here I am. Let me be your servant. I pledge to acceptthe responsibility of your guidance in my life, and not only will I do it, but I'll do it with joy. While I'm tired, God help usto smile when we're exhausted. Comen, you've been listening to a presentation ofancient faith radio and patristic nectar publications, the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflectionswith Father Josiah trenum. Father Josiah is the pastor of St Andrew OrthodoxChristian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founder of Patristic NectarPublications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachingsof the Holy Father's for more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit ourwebsite at www dot patristic nectar dot org.

Again, that's www dot patristic nectardot org. Until next time,.

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