The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 10 years ago

Receiving and Embracing the Great Responsibility


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

The principle of Christ calling us to his service is common to us all, and every one of you in here has heeded the response, the call of our savior to his service and baptism in age of every condition. What the Lord is asking 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, an office, the management of persons, whatever it is, you take it and you make it an outpost of his presence. Ancient Faith Radio and patristic nectar publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah trenem. Father Josiah is the pastor of Saint Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founder of Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet 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 Father Josiah. They anim of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Brothers and sisters, you heard in the Gospel, this Gospel for the second Sunday after pentecost, a very short, a pungent account of our saviors calling his first four disciples, Andrew, Peter, James and John. It's an amazingly unlikely account. Our Savior calls the most unlikely folks to build the Greatest Organization, the most magnificent divine and heavenly institution in history, and he's going to establish it upon two sets of brothers who are fishermen, simple, uneducated men, who would think? No one would believe this today. God's wisdom is certainly not man's. What was involved was a divine call, a radical request from Jesus to them, articulated in just two words. Follow me. But they knew what he was asking. They knew enough about him, having been disciples of the forerunner, have him been with John The baptist, having already had some interaction with Jesus, they recognized that this was just not a call to come listen for a little while. This was a radical call to unearth. It was a call to break bonds in order to re establish a much more significant, bond with Jesus primarily and then, through him, with everyone else. It was a reorientation of the most extreme 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 imagine that first night in Zebode's house? Hello, dear, the boys are not coming home tonight for dinner. They weren't. Uproot yourselves from family, leave your job, leave your home, your town, embrace new geography altogether. They left their biological families for the family...

...of disciples. They left fishing at the Sea of Galilee to become fishers of men, and they left Bethseda to embrace the whole world. Some of you are avid travelers, but I can assure you nothing compared to the Holy Apostles. They had immense faith. They had immense faith even though it was in such colonel form, in Jesus that they followed him. He had already impressed them enough. I once heard us a 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 was the mission that Jesus was calling them to? Let me say a few words about that. The first thing that Jesus was asking of them is that they'd become his disciples by a thoroughgoing repentance. They showed that practically by a one hundred 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 Saint Matthew'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 the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. This calling of the disciples is in the context of his preaching of Repentance, and this is the first thing he's calling them to in the mission, a thoroughgoing repentance, establishing themselves as his disciples and entering into a three year whole life catechism in which they would learn to live with and serve the savior. And their future success as apostles was built upon these three years of intensive twenty four hour a day, seven day a week, three hundred and sixty five day a year catechism at the hands of our savior. This was the best seminary that ever existed. The second part of their mission, having first done this becoming formed through repentance and this three year catechism, was to preach the Gospel to the entire creation, oversee the conversion of the nations and plant and shepherd the entire church. Has that for a job description. This is what Jesus was asking those fishermen, those young fishermen, to do. Convert the world, sanctify everyone and joined them to me by the mysteries and shepherd the whole church. Okay, Lord, they were to free the world from darkness. They were to break the grip of Satan on men and women across the Globe and eradicate slavery to Sin. They were 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 and to 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 be done and complete in the future. This is what our savior was calling them to do, and he had a strategy, a very detailed strategy. He had a 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 for discernment about who he should call as disciples, he did that before he called his disciples, recorded in St Luke's Gospel. He made this call and he established the very numbers of his disciples with an evangelistic strategy in mind. I'll call it the seventy twelve three one strategy. Seventy twelve, three one strategy. This was our Savior's plan. He called seventy apostles. These were not the twelve, they were lesser apostles. He gave them a measure of authority and power, gifts and miracles, and he sent them in front of him into towns and villages to announce his presence, to proclaim in the city squares the fulfillment of the promises that were given by the prophets and to get everyone ready for when Jesus would come. We know who these seventies are. They are wonderful people like St Luke, the Apostle and evangelist, St Barnabas and others. He did this because, as you heard in the Gospel, he was going about every town, in village, preaching the Kingdom of God and healing all manner of disease and sickness. How did they know what to bring their sick? The seventy were there. They were saying, if you want your sick healed, get them in. The rogue of Jesus is coming at three o'clock to this town. Maybe they weren't so German punctual, but that was 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 to them the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. He told them things that no human ear had ever heard. He explained his teaching and his mysteries to them and he made them the very foundation stones of the church. He gave them the signs of the apostles, even the ability to triumph over demons, to heal the sick, to raise the dead. And then, within that twelve, which was the fulfillment of that sacred number in the Old Testament of the trys of Israel, he chose twelve to be the new foundations for the new Israel, for the New Testament Church. And within that twelve he chose three, Peter, James and John. As an inner circle. These three accompanied Jesus 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 the rest of the world. Peter, he made the Prince of the apostles, James, he made the First Apostolic Martyr, and John He was the one in the 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 the one granted to rest his head on the bosom of Christ. That resting was a 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 his Gospel, penetrated the heavens in his...

...account that he gave in the spirit, in the apocalypse and the revelation, and establish the ethos of the Church as a community of love for God and neighbor in his epistles. Through these men, these seventy, these twelve, these three and this one, the faith has spread over the whole earth. This was our savior strategy called by Christ. 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 little bit further to Sumaria, and then to the ends of the Earth. They established churches in every place. They ordained bishops and priests to carry on their Gospel Ministry, laying their apostolic hands on the heads of sinners and conveying to men the grace of the mysteries and the Authority of God to forgive sins and retain them. They inspired monks and nuns, men and women who, in a quest to imitate the apostolic life, made also a radical departure from attachments to this world. They infused the whole body of the church with a spirit of service to the Lord, and men, women and children who became Christians chose to Labor for Christ, to put the service of the Lord above every earthly thing, to cooperate in a symphony of service, to March as the army of Christ, under the general ship of the clergy, against the forces of the evil one, and to wait for, to eagerly anticipate and to seek, first above everything else, the second coming of their savior, the climactic breaking in of the Kingdom of God, the fulfillment of history and the establishment of Heaven on the Earth. We in the twenty one century. We're living in the church established by them. Brothers and sisters. Our life is a direct fruit of their obedience to the call of Christ that you heard about in the Gospel. Today we live the faith that they preached and we seek to live the same discipleship to the master that they manifested in their own callings and their own willingness to, without hesitation, follow. Let me say now a few 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 fulfilled and 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 do what 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 and against it the apostles bear witness. I fear that we are all terribly threatened by this temptation to think that the more responsibility we have, the more in shackled we are, to think that the more things we embrace in the service of God, the less free we are. This is a terrible lie. The path of responsibility, the embrace of responsibility, is the sign of greatness of soul, it's the sign of dignity...

...and it's the way to freedom and happiness and exhaustion. Who Cares? We accepted it when we were baptized. We pledged our service to the Lord. We enrolled ourselves as spiritual warriors and his army. And every one of us, brothers and sisters, has a part to play. Every one of us has a calling. It's not as dramatic as the apostles, no doubt there unique, but the principle of Christ calling us to his service is common to us all, and every one of you in here has heeded the response the call of our Savior to his service and baptism. You make said, you made sacred vows, you made a pledge for your life to be his servants, to follow him in each and everything you do, to make all aspects of your life ways that his face could shine, a means by which his kingdom could be manifested. And it doesn't matter if you're a mother at home bandaging knees, giving baths and using the MC guffy reader, or if you're a retired person free from the responsibilities of work. Doesn't matter in each of every condition. What the Lord is asking 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 you make it an outpost of his presence. You take it and you make it his, you make whatever it is Christian. I love the eighth chapter of the eight acts of the apostles. It's a fantastic chapter because we've just witnessed Saint Stephen's martyrdom in chapter seven, which has shocked the church the Lord told them to convert the nations. He told them that in the process many would respond and many would resist, even unto the point of killing us. But they hadn't actually seen it yet. When Stephen was slaughtered, this was the first time the seriousness of our Savior's words and of our mission became manifest to the 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 a general persecution broke out against the church, not just Stephen, and all the apostle 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 most of the believers to leave. And it says in Acts Chapter Eight that the believers left Jerusalem and they were scattered abroad. So here is an initial division between the generals declared to the Holy Apostles and the Faithful, and the faithful left. 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 from the beginning brothers and sisters, a concept of mission that was not just a work of the apostles. They knew who their leaders were, but they knew they were in the army, and all of the believers embraced the mission of Christ. Wherever they were leaving their homes scattered from Jerusalem, they were busy making where they were belonged to God.

Today we honor the apostles and we honor 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. A father worthy of praise is a man who has accepted responsibility from God. You know 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, men who like to sire children but not raise them, men who don't have any problem doing the deeds of fatherhood to bring children into existence, but won't lay down their life to raise their children up in beauty. We stand against this great betrayal of fatherhood. We honor like we did this morning. We honor the fathers of our children. What a joy for me as a priest to hold in my arms, to precious children, and especially I want to commend the couples. You know, one of those children was a fifth. Yes, do you hear that? We honor them, we support our families who are accepting the responsibility that the Lord is giving them. We know that to do that, the father say, is a small type of martyrdom. That's how 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 a service to God and it's an acceptance of responsibility that brings with it as the loud, vocal support of the church we are we know our future lays there. 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 did and do you know that pretty much this last twelve months we have made as many catecumans by children of the believers as we have a people from outside the church. Running neck and neck. I wouldn't doubt, really I won't doubt that they'll come a time in the growth of our parish that will be making more 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 those to 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 responsibility of taking children and raising them floor the glory of God. This isn't just because of numbers, but it's because, the means of formation, we can take an adult from outside the Church, preach the Gospel to them, bring them into an experience of the church, wash away their sins and baptism build them up through discipleship. But that still is giving them only a tiny fraction of 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 is why seet Ambrose said the best way for...

...the building up of the church and the 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 to celebrate this day. It's been a hundred and two years in America that we've been keeping father's Day, since one thousand nine hundred and ten started and spoke in Washington in the Y MCA. It took about forty years for our presidents finally to declare it with the power of the executive, but we've been holding celebrations in honor of our fathers for a long time. Mothers had a lot longer history. Fathers are okay with that. We're okay with that. We know where the honor lies, more than fatherhood. We're happy to raise our voices 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 a number two and how many years marriage? Maybe the same, maybe the same brothers and sisters. We honored these fathers. They don't know how they're going to provide for their kids, but they trust God, they know he will provide for them and they're willing to work and they're willing to lay their lives down for their children. We honor fathers like this. We praise them and we pledge don't we are support for families in the parish. We know that they are not here to raise their kids by themselves, but together. Every family in this church struggling to raise their children is dependent upon the older people in 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 help us, he will help us. Yesterday I was giving counsel to a distressed mother, not an unusual thing for a priest to be doing, and I thought 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. That is what the apostles did. This is why St Paul could being after being mugged and left half dead and put in prison, and at midnight he was singing the hymns of the Lord. That's the Christian way of life. Lord, here I am. Let me be your servant. I pledge to accept the 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 us to smile when we're exhausted. Comen, you've been listening to a presentation of ancient faith radio and patristic nectar publications, the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah trenum. Father Josiah is the pastor of St Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founder of Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Father's for 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. Until next time,.

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