The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

The Call to Love Our Enemies in the Midst of a War for Our Nation’s Soul

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St. Luke 6:31-36. Learn more about Patristic Nectar Publications.

Ancient faith. Radio and patristic nectar publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah. TRENUM. patristic nectar publications invites our listeners to visit our website for our newest offering, four hundred texts on love by Saint Maximus the confessor. This offering four hundred texts on love is the second installment in the PHILOCALIA project and is the most famous of the works of Saint Maximus the confessor. Here, Saint Maximus expounds the very essence of the Christian life the way of love. He provides soul nourishment and direction in the imitation of Jesus Christ for both novices and the most experienced believers. This text in the Philocalia has been cherished by believers for over a millennium and is offered with a special introduction by His grace, Bishop Maxim, hierarch of the western American diocese of the Serbian Orthodox Church and an internationally renowned patristics scholar and maximologist, and now here's father Josiah, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God in Today's Gospels, Gospel Text. Brothers and sisters, you heard our Savior articulate the most fundamental Christian rule of life. We call it the golden rule. Many great teachers before our Savior had articulated this teaching in reverse, in a negative fashion, saying whatever you don't...

...want done to you, don't do it to someone else. This was common teaching amongst rabbis. This was common teaching applied from the Old Testament and also in other religions. What our Savior did was to take that and to turn it into a positive commandment, far more searching. Instead of simply saying avoid a certain type of behavior, our savior commands his followers to do positively that which you would like done to you, and that's a more searching ethic the golden rule. After stating it, he makes three applications. He shows three ways that the love of Christians must surpass the love of the Amarto Lee, the sinners. First, sinners love those who love them, and we have to do more. Second, sinners repay good deeds done to them, but we must do more. And thirdly, sinners lend their possessions if they think they will get them back or if they think that doing so will enable them to benefit some way in the future. And we must do more, our savior says. These are the three practical ways that we show, in fact, that we have his love. We love not just those who love us, but those who hate us. We repay good deeds with no thought of anyone returning them, and we give without despairing of anyone or anything. We give freely, we give without expectation, and we do this because this is the way that those in our family live. This is our family's way of...

...life, this is God's family's way of life, as like father, like son, they say. This is how our father is and therefore this is how we are. Our love is free and without condition, and we love mercy and we shareish philanthropy, because God is merciful to everyone. We love the world and we burned for it. Our hearts are aflame for the world, because God so loved the world that he gave his son Christ for its salvation. We Love the world and the people in the world who constitute it. And, interestingly, the same scriptures that call left to love the world and those men and women and make it up also calls us to despise the world, meaning, as St John Says, do not love the world or the things in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, for these things are not from the father, but are from the world, and the world itself is passing away. We have this double commandment. Love the world, meaning love the people in the world, and don't love the world, meaning don't love what the people in the world love, don't be caught up by lusts, by pride. So we have to love it and we have to hate it, love the people and despise the bad things in it. It's the same with the our saviors teaching on judgment. He tells us do not judge lest you be judged. We remember his words, that he said he did not come to judge the world, but to save it, and so we fear hardly anything more than judgment. And at the same time Jesus commands his followers to judge, a righteous judgment. Here again is the double commandment. Just like...

...when he told of to love the world and hate the world, he calls us to judge, not and yet to judge. What does he mean? He means hold no person in contempt, look down on no person. Consider every person you're superior, hope for every person, remembering who you are and what God has done for you. He does not mean fail to make proper judgments about thoughts and actions. That is not what it means, not to judge. When he commands us to judge a righteous judgment, he means a praise all according to my standards, a praise every thought, every action, according to the law of my father. This is what it means to judge a righteous judgment, and this twofold reality of love and judgment informs the Supreme Love of Christians. Are Our attitude towards our enemies, and you heard them mentioned twice in this very Short Gospel, five verses, and two times in those five verses Jesus calls us to manifest that Supreme Christian love, which is the love of enemies. Now, some would like us Christians to say we don't have enemies, and that sounds Christian, but it is manifestly false. In fact, we do have enemies. The truth is that we have enemies, but as followers of Christ, the fact that they are enemies lies on their side, not our side. God himself has enemies. There are hundreds of references in the old and New Testament to enemies of God, specifically called such, but he's not happy about that. He wants them to be friends.

He seeks their conversion of heart. The same should be true of us. We do have enemies. Only the naive or the unlumined would suggest that Christians don't have enemies, but the truth is that the fact that they are enemies lies on their side, and it's against our will. If we don't have enemies, why of Jesus calling us to love them? You know, the most quoted Old Testament passage in the entire New Testament, the most quoted Old Testament text and all the hundreds of references to the Old Testament in the New Testament, is this that cry sits at the right hand of his father until his father makes his enemies a footstool for his feet. Jesus himself promised that if we're faithful to him, we will have not just enemies but lots of them, and more than we ever had before. He promises that those who follow him will find enemies amongst the members of their own household. So let's not be naive. In good times in bad. We're always going to have enemies. What our Savior did was not eradicate the fact that we have enemies. What he eradicated was hatred for enemies. In the sermon on the mound, he said, you have heard that. It was said you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy, but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your father, who is in heaven. Good time or bad, Christians have enemies, we know it, but let the cause of that be on their side only. This is true in good season and bad season.

But, brothers and sisters, those who, I hope, know the times, it's especially true in times of particular con look like we're in now. And I'm not just referring to our brothers and sisters who are in such tremendous conflict in the Middle East. There is no piece of geography in the world where it is more difficult to be a Christian than the Middle East. Now I'm not referring just to this. In fact, I'm referring also to the secular West, to our existence, to our very life. About three weeks ago I was invited to attend a very interesting meeting in New York City. I went just for one day. I flew in, slept, spent the whole next day in meetings and flew home. Exactly I see frowns and squished brows. That is exactly how my body felt on the way home. I was in the back row of the plane and the seat did not recline. My knees were against the little table. I kept trying to go like this, maybe this way, maybe that way. Didn't work. I was punishing myself for not having bought one of those neck pillows that could have held my head and let me sleep. But let me tell you why I went to New York City and I would do it again. I went there because I received an invitation to a strategic meeting and enter a small interfaith summit hosted by...

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the most powerful Roman Catholic bishop in America, the Cardinal New York City. He hosted this meeting of between forty and fifty pastors and scholars for one reason. It was to discuss the very serious incursion in our country against religious liberty and freedom and the very serious threats to believers in our land that were facing right now. It was educational and it was strategic. Catholic clergy were there, not just Cardinal Dolan, but Archbishop Salvatory Cordo Leone, the new Archbishop of elect of San Francisco, whom I had met in doing work on propate here in California some years ago and who I have held in high opinion for some time. The Roman Catholic church is very engaged presently in an effort to defend all all Americans religious freedom, and they have called all of their churches to what the cardinal calls a fortnight of freedom. Are Catholic brothers and sisters have been praying, fasting, holding vigil, having educational seminars in their churches, mobilizing their people to stand against these very serious attacks on religious freedom in our country. They are very seriously threatened and no one has more to lose in this cultural conflict than the Roman Catholic Church. Their hospitals, their schools and universities, their ministries, their adoption agencies are under very serious attack and the government is insisting that they violate their conscience or be defunded and closed through punitive finds that will cost the Roman Catholic church hundreds of...

...millions of dollars. If you think that this could not be happening in our nation, please give me your ear. Let me educate you. It is already happened elsewhere in the United Kingdom. The largest adoption agency, the largest charity taking care of orphaned kids. Eighty percent of all a adoptions in the UK. We're done through Catholic charities, the charitable arm of the Roman Catholic Church. The government of the United Kingdom insisted that the Roman Catholic Church begin to adopt children to homosexual couples or be banned from adoption. Thank God, and we commend them for this. They did not bow, they maintained their faith. They informed the government that they would have no part in doing that which is detrimental to children, and they were shut down because the UK would rather be politically correct and accommodate the rapid activism of a tiny proportion of their population then they would to have the Roman Catholic Church take care of orphans. This is not a fantasy, this is something with historic precedent. This is something deadly serious. Christians are already being removed from foster care lists in this country, Christians who are practicing their faith and will not promise not to tell their foster children God's plan for the family are being removed as potential foster parents in this country. So the Catholic clergy are invested and our Catholic brothers and...

...sisters, all seventy million of them, are involved in something that will have tremendous ramifications upon their faith community. Besides these esteemed Catholic leaders at this meeting, they were also some Protestant pastors and scholars that I've followed for many years. I never dreamed that I would meet them, let alone collaborate with them. Was a great honor to do so. People like Pastor Jim garlow of San Diego Skyline Church in San Diego, such a Patriot for this country. Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Orange County, you know who did the invocation at President Obama's inauguration. He's the author of that very famous book, the purpose driven life, which became a bestseller. Tens of millions of copies have been sold. It's based upon the principle of dedicating forty days of your life to fasting and establishing spiritual principles in your life. I went up to pastor rick at the meeting at a break and I said to him, you know, pastor rick is knife to meet you, I said, but I have I have one thing to bring up with you. I said, you know, you really should give due credit where credit is due. That Forty Day fafting thing. You did not acknowledge where you got that a Aha. These Protestants are reading like, Oh, this is a great idea. Who came up with this idea? He got it, he got it. He laughed and gave me a hog. I guess that's payment. We could talk about the whole New Testament, for that matter, the doctrine of the Trinity. I won't go into that. Dr Albert Molar, Robert Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. These Protestant leaders are also engaged very seriously with our Roman...

Catholic brethren in this task of being faithful and preserving the freedoms of this land. For instance, one of the plans that many Protestant pastors are strategizing about it are involved right now, is provoking a response, facing down the governmental intimidation against Protestant pastors and other religious leaders that has been dangled over the heads of pastors by the IRS for about fifty years, ever since one thousand nine hundred and fifty four and something called the Johnson Bill. There was a bill that passed that said something vaguely, was never discussed in Congress. There was no debate on the floor. It was something that was very passed very quietly, that said that the pulpit could not address politics. Haven't we heard this as like a mantra, and it's complete nonsense. A not a single church has ever been prosecuted and successfully had their tax exemption removed by the IRS and the history of our country to never happened under this amendment, under this bill, but it has kept many pastors from speaking the truth about very obvious things that have serious political implications, like moral issues, strong moral issues. And so these pastors have, this is the third year running, have dedicated a Sunday in October in which they preach very strong moral slash political sermons, print out their sermons and then mail them to the IRS. And the first year two hundred and fifty pastor did it. Last your five hundred pastors did it this year. They already have one thousand pastors they already have the Christian legal team that has asked them to do that because they want to take this issue. They want the irs to prosecute them so that they can take this to the Supreme Court and strike it down as unconstitutional. Anyone who knows anything aboutt American history knows the idea that the pulpit doesn't influence politics is nuts. You...

...ever heard of abolition? Ever heard of the overthrow of slavery? Any historian of slavery knows that the most powerful force in our nation to opposed slavery was this, not Congressmen and senators. We Command these Protestant leaders and their churches, which them good strength in this effort. I met there also a representative of perhaps the religious group most engaged, most burdened by this incursion, especially by the attack on godly marriage, and that is the black community. The subculture, the black subculture in our nation, is most opposed. Just statistically, this is a demographic fact. The black community is that subculture in America most opposed with the attack on marriage and has been most assaulted by secularism and its sacrament of abortion. There have been more black children murdered by planned parenthood and its affiliates than were ever ever hurt and attacked by the K K K. The demographics are horrible and at this meeting in New York it was an honor to meet Archbishop Peter Achonola of Nigeria, listed by Time magazine as one of the world's most influential leaders in two thousand and six and the former primate of the Anglican Church in Nigeria, the largest Black Protestant Church with over twenty million members, at one time president of the Christian Union in Africa and a man with vast experience in resisting the attack in Africa on marriage. He was intimately involved in the resistance of the propagation of homosexuality by the UN, funded...

...by American dollars, and he worked very hard to help many countries established traditional Christian laws that protected marriage and did not allow homosexuality to become normative or recognized as normative under the law. For this he is persona non grata in the United States but very famous, very famous around the world, and it was an honor to meet him there and to listen to what he suggested. There was also a man there who is a young and talented sociologist professor Mark Regneris from the University of Texas some of you if you read the papers. He was in the papers about six months ago because he came out with a new family structure survey, the most indepth collection of data comparing the health, psychosomatic health and wellbeing of children over the course of their whole life, comparing those who live in a family with a father and a mother and those who live in a family with to lesbian mothers and those who live in a family with two gay fathers. The conclusions in many categories, something like eighteen categories. He Exam Amines everything from success in school, use of drugs, preponderance of going into prison. The statistics are frightening and very clear. That the the recipe for health, for love, for for wellbeing, naturally, is that recipe that God has asked for families and that when we deviate from that, the children suffer terribly from this. For this he was attacked by over forty different professors from around the United States. He had letters, email campaigns orchestrated by gay activist groups across our country asking for him to be fired from his...

...university, asking him to be banned from his academic associations. Thank God, a multi month evaluation was done by his university and they concluded that he should be commended for a very excellent study and for high academic standards. Also, I met there the attorneys that are representing proposition eight and the seven million Californians who voted for it before the Supreme Court. This is why I flew to New York City, slept very little and then flew home. It was worth it, brothers and sisters. It was tremendously encouraging and I took away from it a deep resolve and new thoughts. New Thoughts, and I want to end my homily by having told you those things, by telling you how love is at the very heart of this conflict on our side. How do you love your enemies when you are locked in a very serious conflict with them? How do we, as faithful Christians, hold on to our savior and engage in this kind of really serious spiritual warfare that has all sorts of political and economic consequences? How do we actually engage in this lovingly? This is what I want to end my homily with. First, this conflict. We are engaged in this conflict, we are in this fight for the love of God. Chiefly we love his name, we love his honor and we love his law. That's what Christians do. The real question in our country is do we want to respect the Lord God or do we want to it's not our knows at him. This is what's behind it. To put it simply, it's not a coincidence that at the same time that the Democratic Party formally incorporated...

...support for unnatural marriage in its party platform, it also stripped its platform of any reference to God. That is not a coincidence, our dear mayor of Los Angeles. Barely nobody knows how God back into the Democratic Platform, a reference to God. But it is not a coincidence that the very same conference in which they stripped reference to God, they formally endorfed what is perversion. We're fighting for the love of God and no one who loves God can just turn the other way and say, oh well, that's not possible for us. That, brothers and sisters, is indifference, that's hatred. We're fighting for the love of God. We're also fighting for the love of the Church. Those who attack the church, those who attacked and make hostile threats that have all sorts of serious consequences. These people are the enemies of the Church and we have to fight to defend her. We don't just allow our bishops and our clergy and our properties and our educational institutions and our hospitals and our ministries to be threatened by people who have no right to do so. We don't allow that. So we're fighting for the love of the Church. We're not going to be indifferent to the success of our Church and we certainly are not going to accept any concept that the American religious freedoms that are have been cherished by our forefathers mean only freedom to worship the way you want in the four walls of your building. That is what President Obama would like us to think religious freedom in America means today, and that is not what religious freedom is. Religious Freedom means you are free to be a Christian in your church...

...and outside your church. You are free to hold your faith and live according to your conscience in your profession, in your school, and you cannot be molested by the government for it. And that is exactly what the government is not allowing us to do. If you're a doctor, you have to prescribe abortion inducing drugs. If you're a physician, you have to pass them out, and we say no, no. We're fighting for the love of our Church and the love of our nation and especially for our kids. We're fighting for the love of this nation and for the love of our young people who are being indoctrinated into a way of life that is personally destructive to spiritual life and to their own wellbeing in psychosomatic health. We care about our youth. We care about what they're hearing now. Most of you do you know that we have one hundred and eighty six children under the age of eighteen in this parish. One hundred and eighty six. We have five hundred and thirty eight active parishioners in this parish. So they're not a majority, but that's a pretty big chunk. This is a youthful congregation. They are not being taught what you were taught. I'm speaking to you who are over eighteen. They are not being taught what you were taught when you grew up. I promise you. They're here in all sorts of strange stuff. They're watching TV shows that have gay lovers everywhere you look. How are they ever going to grow up knowing how valuable and precious. The love of a man and a woman is, how sanctified, why we call Marriage Holy Matrimony. How are they going to know that if we don't take a stand and invest ourselves to make sure that they're properly educated by the church and that they can make a judgment...

...and judge a righteous judgment about what they're hearing about what's happened in their country? If we don't, they're going to think it's normal. And, believe me, brothers and sisters, if you were in my position hearing confessions, and if you were if you read the data, you would see that there has been a massive spike in the last five years, a massive spike in experimentation in gay and lesbian lifestyles by teenagers. It's popular, it's fat ish. We're fighting for the love of God, we're fighting for the love of the church, we're fighting for the love of our nation and we're also fighting for the love of our opponents. We insist on engaging in this because we love those who are on the other side. There are enemies because of their choice, not because of our choice, and we can't say that we care about people who have embraced something that will lead to their misery. We don't just leave people in that condition. No, we want to engage them, we want to talk, we want to negotiate, we want to persuade, because we know indifference is hatred and silence is not love. And therefore, brothers and sisters, for these reasons, for these reasons, we pray with a greater impetus, we preach and teach with a greater resolve. We resist the encroachment of Godlessness and immral legislation. We refuse to compromise our conscience or to cooperate with immorality. We seek to recover lost ground. How in the world is it possible that gay adoption became legal in all fifty states without us even blinking our eyes? It just slipped in, none of us even knew. We have ground to recover. We urge reconsideration. We oppose with all our strength leaders of secular Zaan who have become knowingly or unknowingly servants of antichrist,...

...and we seek to limit their influence and to serve them and early retirement. We support leaders in the state who respect the Ten Commandments of Almighty God, and we do it all because of love, in love and for love and also knowing that we, every single one of us, leader or not, priest or not, will answer for how we responded to this challenge on the great and Dread Judgment Day, God help us to love our enemies and to do good to those who abuse us and take from us that righteousness killing spirit of indifference. Amend 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. Until next time,.

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