The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 2 years ago

Save Your Neighbor - Good Samaritan 2020

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Good Deeds: Cultivating a Life of Virtue  

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.PatristicNectar.org  

Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present good deeds cultivating a life of virtue, a seven part lecture series. These lectures expound the place of good works in the salvation of the Christian the nature of virtues and vices and the traditional means for cultivating virtue in the Christian life. Saint John of Damascus, in his text on the virtues and the vices in the Philocalia, writes that every man is said to be made in the likeness of God as regards his imitation of God through virtues and God like actions. The study and cultivation of virtue is the quest both to love God and also to become a true human being. The lecture titles include Lecture One, good deeds, understanding virtues and vices. Lecture two, the Cardinal Virtue of Justice, Lecture Three, the Cardinal Virtue of Wisdom, Lecture Four, the cardinal virtue of courage, Lecture Five, the cardinal virtue of temperance. Lecture six, conquering the seven deadly sins. Lecture Seven. After God, the failure of the secular ethic. For these and other available titles, please visit our website at patristic nectar not org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trenna, the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit. A blessed Lord's Day to all of you and a very happy greeting we make to the beginning of the fast. What a wonderful month November is, not just because we start today, on the fifteen, to enter into the advent fast and we begin to feel this growing momentum to reflect deeply again upon the miracle of Christmas, not just because it holds the most valuable of all the civil feast days in our nation, which is the celebration of Thanksgiving, but even more because it's the month in which we celebrate our paternal feast for St Andrew. On the thirty of November, our patron saint will have...

...his great feast and we will celebrate wholeheartedly, as we always do. To celebrate your paternal feast is basic love and appreciation for your patron. The church calls every Church's patronal feast a second POSCA. That's how we look at it. Some of you are new to the church and your new to knowing what it means to have a patron. You've been developing relationship with St Andrew, learning to pray to him, learning to meditate upon his life, thinking about imitating him, how to be like him, how to appreciate his constant intercessions for us, how to find yourself comfortable and deeply attached to that shrine there. Know this also, dear ones, especially used for learning this. Don't miss the patronal feast of this parish, or of any Paris that you're a member of. I'm tempted to say, if you want to know what loser behavior is, loser behavior is not celebrating the Feast of your own Church's patron saint. That's, like Orthodox the loser behavior. What a great month. And also, on top of that, November is also the month in which we find the feast of our father among the saints, John Chrysostom, the archbishop of Constantinople, so dear to us. We even have a chapel dedicated to him just next door, just to the south there, or to the north weather. We celebrated his feast this last week, vigorous really was only two days ago, on on Friday, and at the end of the liturgy I can't remember exactly what I was saying, but Protodacan came up to me and said, father, you should tell, explain to the people who are here why St Andrew Church is so dedicated to St John Krysostom. And I thought to myself, you know what, you're right about that. Many of the people who are at the feast have have come to the church in the last ten years or so, or fifteen, and you don't know the history of our parish. And you made me wondering. Why do we have a chapel dedicated to St John Krysostom? Why do we dedicate our catechetical school to St John Chrysostom? Why do we celebrate his feat so vigorously? Well, there is a little history about that. I like to tell you about it. St John Chrysostom was very important in my own conversion to Holy Orthodoxy. As most of you know, I was raised the Presbyterian and Presbyterians love the scriptures and they love preaching. And when I was first engaging Holy Orthodoxy, which took place through the gracious outreach of my brother in law, Dr John Christie, who happens to be here today from New York, visiting. Doctor...

John and his lovely wife, Naudia, were the first ones who really engaged me as an adult about Orthodox Christianity and I hope you'll have an opportunity to greet them and see them after the liturgy today. But I was very concerned as a Presbyterian. I was very concerned if these Orthodox Christians took the Bible seriously. Ah, where is there a rock that I can climb under? So I began to read St John Chrysostom and I learned very quickly in reading the works of St John Chrysostom that not only do Orthodox Christians take the scripture seriously, they take it, and he took it more seriously than I had ever seen in my life. The man's words as a reason we call him Chris ast almost right golden mouths. STOMA is a mouth. It's because he opened his mouth and out flew, outflowed the holy scriptures. When he was a young man he went to Mount Silpios and he spent six years in utter seclusion in a cave. When the sun was up, he was doing one thing, reading the holy Scriptures and memorizing them, and when the sun went down he did one thing pray and hold vigil and try not to sleep, and for six years he didn't allow himself to lay flat. He tied himself to a Hook and put a rope around his way so that the few hours of sleep that he had to consent to give he would do in an upright position. That is the foundation from which this great Saint, who is the greatest preacher in the history of the church, established his heart in God and in the presence of God through his holy word and then, sermon after sermon, he was able to guide the people of God into the truth because of the reservoir of holy scripture that he had cultivated in himself. I learned that very quickly. I fell absolutely in love with St John Chrysostom and I went on pilgrimages when I found out that his holy relics are still in the possession of the church, that his right hand, that blessed so many in his earthly life, has continued to bless people, and it's a precious relic at the holy and great monastery of Philo Feu on Mount Athos. His head, that very head that guided the people of God and have for sixteen centuries, is the precious relic at the holy and great monastery about oped they and, as a matter of fact, that head still has its right ear attached to a skull, the ear that St Paul the Apostle many times appeared to St John Krassostom and whispered into his ear, helping him solve difficult theological controversies as St John was writing commentaries on his epistles. Call me doubting Thomas. We have a Thomas, but he's not a doubter. Call me doubting Thomas when...

I went to Mount Athos and venerated St John chrysostom skull. They have a they had the skull in a beautiful reliquary so that you could open the top and kiss that, the golden part of his skull on the top. But in his case they also had a side door so you could open it and see his ear. So the monk who was in charge of the relics for the pilgrims opened both and I looked in that little side door, I looked around and then I stuck my finger right in his ear. I started pulling out. It's not really could it really be? It's seriously, the first thing that falls off when you die, but not in the case of St John Krassostom. The monk began to laugh at me and he told Me Stop Rostopros, give me your cross. So I took my cross off and I gave it to him and that night, when he put the relicts away, he tucked my my neck cross, my baptismal cross, which I still wear, into that door in the ear and he kept it over night and the next day when I came back from or throws, he got it out and he gave it to me, so my cross could spend the night with the ear of St John Chrysostom. It was wonderful. I conceived after that pilgrimage the idea that if I was going to be anything as a priest, I need it. I needed time with St John Chrysostom and his writings. You know, his Corpus is the largest of any of the fathers in the Greek language. It's comparable only to the Corpus of St Augustine and Latin in the West. That's how prolific the preaching and the teaching of St John Chrysostom was. At any time when he was preaching, there would be two or three stenographers in the congregation professional stenographers writing down his sermons. This is how we have them, because he didn't preach from notes. He made more than elevenzero references to the Old Testament by memory and more than seven thousand to the New Testament by memory, just in the extant sermons that we have, and we have that all through the stenographers who would turn in their work to him, he would edit it and then it would be published. That's how we got his work. I decided that I wanted to do this, and so in one thousand nine hundred and ninety seven, I wrote to our metropolitan, who was at that time Metropolitan Philip Saliba, God rest his soul, and I told Him my vision, that I had been a priest for four or five years and I wanted to I want a time. I wanted to go study and and do do doctoral work on St Johnkrasostom. He wrote back and he said, I think it's a great idea. You promised to pray for me. He gave me his blessing. I made application for a grant and received it and I was this far from purchasing the plane tickets to take my family, which at that time, I think there were four of us for children, take my family to across the seas to England, until I received the phone call. Was a Wednesday and the phone call came from our at that time local Bishop, Bishop Joseph of Los Angeles, and Bishop Joseph said to...

...me, Father Josiah, how are you today? I said I'm fine, your grace, and he said you will be with me in Riverside on Sunday and before I could say anything, Click. That was it. That was it. I had never been to riverside. I grew up in Passadiana, as you know. I would drive through Riverside sometimes on the way to Palm Springs, but I didn't know anything about Riverside. I had some knowledge of our founding pastor, Father Paul Finlay, who served this parish for four and a half years and laid such a beautiful foundation from here from ninety two until ninety seven. I knew a little bit about him and so when I showed up and that first liturgy in the Holy Warehouse, Bishop Joseph introduced me to our small, small group at that time and he said this is Father Josiah. You're going to be seeing a lot more of him. I assumed at that moment that I was not going to go study with St John About St Johnker saw them in England anymore. It was quite clear, and in fact that's exactly what happened. I was assigned here, thank God, on May the first, one thousand nine hundred and ninety eight. But I didn't give up my idea. I wrote to my professor in England and I said, look, this is what's happened. Is there any way that we could continue our work if I could get a blessing to travel regularly out there? All I had the contents of my dissertation that I wanted to write. I presented them to the professor in England. He accepted that and we agreed to do one chapter a year over the course of six or seven years and I would travel out there every year, spend two weeks interact with him, defend that chapter, get his ideas on the next chapter and then continue with the promise that I would take a chunk of time, a sabbatical at the end and go there to finish the dissertation. And so over the course of those years, this parish labored with me, and I say that because you agreed to leave me alone from nine until noon every day. I did nothing but studied St John Chrysostin over the course of almost seven years. And then at the end you did something even more loving and more a greater investment. You allowed me to go and in the year two thousand and three, I took my family. At that time there were seven children and we went and we spend the second spent the second half of two of two thousand and three in England. We would call back. We miss this parish terribly. At that time we had a wonderful retired priest, Father Stephen Hardy, a most beloved priest, who agreed, though he was dying of cancer, he agreed to serve vespers or throws in liturgy every weekend and to teach a Bible study every Wednesday night during all the months of my absence and to shepherd and take care of this parish in my absence with the help of Deacon Eli. And then we would call back on a landline into the hall, which is where we were...

...praying at the time, every month and we would catch up by way of microphones, and this is before facetime and all that kind of thing. So, brothers and sisters, this is the reality this is why St John Chrysostom is so important to us. This is why he's always been at the forefront of our discussions about evangelization, for instance. This is why our catechetical school is named for him. This is why we have a chapel dedicated to him and celebrate his feet so vigorously here. You shared with me in this devotion to him, and he is been guiding us in many ways. In fact, today we are going to enroll, just after I finish my home only, another catechuman. This will be our forty one catechumen being enrolled into this class. I'm very thankful for this, because St John Chrysostom has taught me, and has also taught you, to be very thirsty for people. This is why our catechetical school is dedicated to him. Do you know how thirsty he was, brothers and sisters, when he was exiled by a godless empress in four hundred and four he was exiled just as he was completing the preparation of his catechumans to be received on holy Saturday, to be baptized on holy Saturday, and the empress convinced her weak husband, the Emperor Arcadios to send the soldiers down to the Cathedral where St John Krassostom was preparing the catechumans for baptism and to disrupt the baptism. And they did go down to this, to the baptistery in Constantinople, and stop the BAPTISMS and they even beat up a number of the catechumans and some of the catechumans who had to even flee. The historian said people catechumans were fleeing naked in the streets because they had disrobed to get baptized, but the soldiers drove them out. They some said there was even blood in the font. Do you know how many people see? Johnq Sausten was baptizing that year? Three Thousand Three Tho. The man was thirsty. It was another pentecost, and years before that and years after that also. This is why St John Chrysosta means so much to us. Brothers and sisters, he's had a deep impact, not just on your pastor but on your lives, and you've labored with me to be his disciples and to be his students in to learn from him. It just so happens that this day is the Sunday of the Good Samaritan, in which we read the...

...gospel of the Good Samaritan, which you just heard. And the Good Samaritan is an incredible picture of how thirsty God himself is for every man, especially for those who are down trodden, abused, mudd molested, half dead. It sets the scene, I think, this Gospel for us to discuss this question of God's thirst and especially the importance that Jesus places upon us, his people, saving our neighbors. In fact, that's what I'd like to title this homily, saving your neighbor, because that is exactly what the Good Samaritan teaching is about. The man who had gone down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fallen among thieves. There's a number of interpretive lines that the holy fathers used to describe this parable. Some of the fathers describe it as a picture of Adam and Eve being cast out of Paradise. This is the move from Jerusalem to Jericho. By the way, Jericho is the lowest city in the world, seven hundred and fifty or so feet below sea level. Jerusalem is the image of Paradise. This is in fact how God describes the New Heavens in the new earth as a new Jerusalem, and the journey of this man is a picture, some of the fathers say, of Adam, who was fashioned in Jerusalem but cast out by his sins, going down to Jerusalem and then being stripped of the raiment of the Holy Spirit and the nearness of God, becoming vulnerable to the thieves, the muggers, whom the father say are the demons, who beat us up, mal us and leave us half dead and bleeding on the road. Christ comes, who is the Good Samaritan. He attends to our wounds, he bows very low to pick us up, putting us on his own body, carrying us to the INN, which is the church, pouring on wine and oil, which are the holy mysteries, giving two pence to the innkeepers, who are the spiritual fathers of the church, who have watched the pastors, who have watch over the people's souls, and then promises to return, which is a promise of the Great Second Coming of Christ. Some of the fathers say, in a little different interpretive line, that this is a picture of every individual soul, not just Adam and Eve, but of every individual soul, and also that this Gospel shows the call of the church to identify with and care for the dre down trodden, for...

...all those who are in need, which is the point of the parable who is our neighbor, everyone near us, in our circle of influence that is in need. The thieves, we can see in our current time there's a literal application. Usually priests, when they point out the thieves in the Gospel, point out what the Fathers Do, that these are pictures of the demons. But in our own culture we can we can relate to the mugging of this this poor man, because there's so much going on, so much violence in the street, eats, people have been mugged. Last night, if you watched any of the news, there were horrible riots and fighting on the streets of Washington DC at the conclusion of a rally for the president in which Antifa and so called proud boys and many other people were literally just tearing each people to part, each tearing each other apart on the streets, many innocent people being wounded and abused. So we can see the need for a literal application and the need for corporal works of mercy. St John Krassosten was certainly dedicated to that. You know, one of the reasons that he was thrown out. One of the reasons that he was thrown out of his sea as archbishop of Constantinople was because of his radical commitment to corporal works of mercy. When he moved into the episcopal residence, he found it full of precious marbles that his predecessor, who had been a very influential senator and wasn't even a clergyman when he was called to become arts bishop, his predecessor Nectario's Archbishop ICCARILOS, had taken all of these all precious marbles and hidden them in the chancery for use and stored them there for the use of the building of churches. When Chris is the moved there, he said, sell them all and build hospitals, and that's exactly what he did. His commitment to corporal acts of mercy went all the way back to the time he was a deacon, when he was in charge of charity in the Church of Antioch. Through his writings we know that when he was a deacon he oversaw the care of over three thousand widows and orphans in Antioch. That was his life. Meta fact, he describes the life of a priest. He said had more peace than when he was a deacon because he was constantly, day in and day out, in the thick of it, helping people who were in terrible need, tangible need. He built hospitals and the final Straw was when he defended a widow's land from being seized by the empress. She couldn't take it anymore. That was the last straw that led to his exile. So our commitment to corporal...

...acts of mercy, to noticing those who are physically in need near us and not being too selfish to invest ourselves like that priest and the Levite in this Gospel text. That's obvious on the text, but Chris System points something else out. He says even more important than corporal acts of mercy are spiritual works of mercy, are caring for people who are downtrodden and beaten and bleeding spiritually even more than physically, people who are who have been literally calved away from the truth, deceived, propagandized, people who have been filled with all manner of nonsense and confusion and have lost their way. They've lost their peace, they've lost their sense of stability, their sense of their being a future at all. Brothers and sisters, are neighbors are deeply confused, more confused than they have ever been in our lifetimes. Don't project, don't make the mistake of Projecting Your Life unto the community. To be an Orthodox Christian in these very difficult days is one of it is the greatest blessing in our lives. It provides us the security and confidence every day to live knowing that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday to day and forever, that man may rage, but Jesus is on the throne of Heaven. But many people don't know that. Many people, and some people who knew that lightly have been drawn away and taken from the church. I don't know if you saw the news this week as a picture of how confused we are in San Diego County, which is, just like Riverside County, going backwards. In the governor's scheme of how to address the coronavirus. They've just gone back to purple, as we did some time ago, which means that the county is supposed to lock down churches again and ban all indoor worship, just like is the case here in our county right now, that we obviously are by conviction of faith and the US Constitution are not obeying. Superior Court Judge in San Diego issued a ruling rebuking the governor as overreached. But he didn't do it on behalf of churches, he did it on behalf of Strip clubs. He said, he ruled that the governor had overstepped his bounds and that it was a violation of the freedom...

...of the Strip club owners to have their strip clubs closed during this moving back to purple, and so he put the governor's order on stay. I never thought that I would ever say that I was happy that the Strip clubs are open. HMM. Can you imagine how lost we are, brothers and sisters, how confused we are? No, we must, we must be the Good Samaritan to our neighbors. We must hold forth the truth in times of darkness. We have to lift up the light. I want to end my homily by giving you three direct guidelines from the words of St John Chrysostom in his commenting about the Good Samaritan and how to do this. How do we actually save our neighbor from spiritual confusion and darkness? St John Never wrote a commentary on St Luke's Gospel. So you can't find in his Corpus his commentary on St Luc and just go to it. But he did reflect a number of times in his writings upon the Good Samaritan, once in his commentary on St Matthew, once at least that I know of. And his most extensive reflection is in a series of sermons that he preached as a priest called against Judaizing Christians. These were Christians who were compromising their faith. They were trying to mix Jewish practices which Christians have left the side since those have been fulfilled in Christ and in the church. Certain Christians were being very tempted by the very powerful Jewish community in Antioch at the time and they were leading people to celebrate Jewish feasts and to fast with the Jews and attend the synagogue while still claiming to be Christians. He saw this as a complete spiritual fall and he wrote a number of sermons about it, about how destructive heresy is. More than anything else, to be wounded by false belief is the most dangerous wound to receive, and he gives this kind of counsel about what to do. The first point is caring for the spiritual needs of our neighbor is the responsibility of every single Christian and not the priests. Listen to what he says. Let us not overlook such a tragedy as this unbelief. Let us not hurry past so pitiable a sight without taking pity even of others. Do not,...

...you must not, do not say to yourself, I am not a priest, I am not a monk, I have a wife and children. This is the work for the priests, this is the work for the monks. CHRYS system comments. The Samaritan did not say. Where are the priests now? Where are the Pharisees now? Where are the teachers of the Jews? But the Samaritan is like a man who found some great store of booty and gold and got the Prophet. Therefore, when you see someone in need of treatment for some ailment of the body or the soul, don't say to yourself, why did so and so or so and so not take care of him. You free him from his sickness. Do not demand and accounting from others for their own negligence. Tell me this. If you find a gold coin lying on the ground, do you say to yourself, why didn't so and so pick it up. Do not rush to snatch it up before I do. You not rush to snatch it up before someone else does. Think the same way about your fallen brothers. Consider that tending his wounds is like finding a treasure. If you pour the word of instruction on his words like oil, if you bind them up with your mildness and you cure them with your patients, your wounded brother has made you a richer men than any treasure could no fasting. This is important, since we're starting the fast today. No fasting, no sleeping on the ground, no watching and praying in vigil all night, nor anything else, can do as much for you as saving your brother can accomplish. That's point one. It's all our jobs. Number two. Caring for the spiritual needs of our neighbor is the goal of the fast. Chrysostom writes this. He says the fast will profit us nothing if we pass through it as a mere matter of course, without any tangible result. If I promised you a piece of gold, you would labor for the reform of your brother, but God has promised you much more. So don't neglect your neighbor's safety. For this reason, it is that we are placed with one another, that we inhabit cities together, that we meet together in our churches in order that we might bear one another's burdens and might correct one another's sins. You see the thick sense of community and mutual responsibility and fellowship that CHRY system has. His idea of keenoia is that thick. We're not individuals,...

...we're deeply attached. You know that proverb. Give a man of fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and he'll eat the reft of his life. It's a beautiful proverb. I think it's African. I like that, but we could even deepen it. We could say this. Feed a man for a day and you aid his temporal body. Bring a man to Christ and the Church and you feed his soul for eternity. Bring a person to the Church and Christ gives him all the tools he needs to a debt, address his own greatest yearnings, his own greatest needs. Bring such a man to the Church and Christ will feed his soul. He'll also provide him with a family to love him and help to care for him, someone to challenge him, someone to encourage him, to love him body and soul. That is eternal life. Lastly, Chry system says you're going to have to sigh and get your hands dirty. This is number three from chrysisdom. He quotes the Prophet job. He said, even if you say I don't have any money to help, I don't have any wisdom to share, I don't have any patience to put up with this person. He said you could always do something, give what you can. And then he quotes job and he said job said, did I not sigh when I saw my brother in need? Did I not grieve in my heart when I saw a man downcast? It's job thirty. It's a beautiful word. If you can't do anything, at least notice, at least sigh in your spirit, at least grieve in your inner man for the darkness and be willing to get dirty. Here's his word. Go and put a stop to the evil. has there ever been a time in your life when that is more relevant, when evil is growing at such a pace in our own society, when so many of even our own Orthodox people, and especially are young people, are being seduced by the lies of the devil and propagandized into Unchristian thinking and living about the most basic things. Go and put a stop to the evil. pull out those that are drowning, even though they descend into the very depth of the surge, and, having broken up the theater of the devil, take each one of them apart and admonish them to quell the flame and to lull the waves. Pull your neighbor from drowning, even though you may...

...descend into the very depths yourselves. You know, the Lord told the Pharisees to help even a man whose ass fell into a ditch, to get in there with him and get it out. How much more his soul. Saving our neighbor brothers and sisters, as the call of this Gospel and St John Crassostom as our guide, may the Lord help us to put a stop to the evil, to care enough about those who are downcast and bleeding to help them all. Then, 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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