The Arena
The Arena

Episode 572 · 7 months ago

The Calls of God | Saint Matthew 4


The Arena Podcast is the flagship of Patristic Nectar Publications and contains the Sunday Sermons and other theological reflections by Father Josiah Trenham delivered from the ambon of St. Andrew Church in Riverside, California and begun in 2010. Currently there are more than 550 sermons and lectures covering ten years worth of preaching through the liturgical calendar.

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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present the proceedings of the twenty twenty two annual P and p conference entitled Holy Orthodoxy, presenting the Christian faith. This seven lecture series is designed to present a broad exposure of the contours of the Christian faith, both to prepare inquirers and catechumens for holy baptism, as well as deepening and renewing the faith of believers. These lectures are delivered by a collage of Catechists, for by the deeply respected petrologist are commandrite Maximus Konstas, with additional single lectures by Father Josiah Trenum, Father Bogdan Bukur and doctor t conpino. For these, as well as other conferences and available titles, please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trenna. In the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, a blessed Lord's Day's all of you, brothers and sisters, and also a very happy feast they of the Saints of North America. You know in our tradition we celebrate pentecost, of course, fifty days after the resurrection of our Savior. Pentecost is the outworking in time of our saviors saving deeds, the application of His grace to our life by the giving of the Holy Spirit that produces saints, which is why the Sunday after pentecost is always all saints. But it's not just saints in Lucky places. It's not just saints in the East, thank God, it's saints everywhere the church goes, because the church is a factory that makes holiness, that makes love, that produces saints wherever she is. If she's not making saints, then she's decreasing in the Lord's blowing out her candlestick and he'll go someplace else with people who want to cooperate with the grace of God, with him to make saints. And so the Sunday after all saints is the Sunday of the saints of a particular locality, and in our case, most of our churches celebrate the saints of North America. I'm thirsty to have them on our walls. We have a few who are on our walls now, but the reason we don't have the majority of the American saints is because they're slated to be in there, in the Baptismal Chapel. You'll see on the walls of that Sacred Chapel God being our helper. If the world continues and if we change our attitude about Russia and that part of the world as a nation will have the saints painted in there, together with the icon of Jesus is baptism, the theophany icon, the icon of the Great Commission, Jesus giving the Commission to go into all the world and make disciples of all the nations. Those will be two massive iconic murals in the Baptismal Chapel and then the rest of the space will be the saints of North America. It was supposed to be done a couple of years ago, but we delayed in order to give our attention to the St Andrew Academy, and since then this horrible war has broken out, and so now I know, since the icon painters are from Russia, I have serious questions about exactly when that's going to be able to be completed. There's zeal is high and they're very full of ingenuity. So if there's anyone who can get here, even in troublesome times. It would be our collage of icon painters led by Misha, and God bless them and may he bring peace so that we can see the saints...

...this last year, this last summer. You know, for more than twenty years now, almost twenty five years, we've had a tradition in our parish in the summer of taking a bunch of our teams on a summer camp out. It's a torture to the clergy's body, but it's great for the soul and great for the heart. Last year we had the splendid trip up to gold country and we got to stay there near where gold was discovered in California, and we got to take Whitewater rafts down the American river. But the highlight of the trip was visiting Saint Sava Church in Jackson, California, which was built by one of our American Saint, Saint Sebastian. Saint Sebastian is the first fruit of the Holy Spirit from American soil, the first American born boy to become a priest, the first to become a monk and now a saint. He built that church. That church was built, in fact, by miners who came to mine for gold in two minds, and they all came from a portion of Serbia, portion of Montenegro, including many that would become the flock of Saint Sebastian. We were hosted by and very wonderful and warm priest, Father Marco, who is the priest of Saint Sauba, who hosted our whole fifty person group, fed us, I should say his ladies Fed us, and did they ever, and then he gave to us magnificent icons of the American saints. That's the icon that's a back on the Antalogean in the NARTHEX. That's the icon that he gave to me. It has the largest collection of American saints I've ever seen on a single American saint icon. I think there are sixteen saints on that icon, including Saint Sebastian. Saint Sebastian was an apostle of modern times and I'm hymning him because you heard in the Gospel the call of the apostles this morning our savior calling Andrew the first, called our patron and his brother Peter James and his brother John and they left everything and followed Christ. That Apostolic Spirit is inspired by the Holy Spirit in every generation, in every place that the church goes, and St Sebastian was just that. He was a zealous apostle to America. He was born in eighteen sixty three, during the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, in San Francisco. As a boy he went to the only church there was no resident priest. You know how he was baptized a marvelous monk, Hira monk, who was the chaplain of a Russian ship came into harbor and San Francisco and he went on board. His parents and all of the Orthodox families, since they knew that there would be a priest chaplain on board that ship, they all took their kids there and that's where they were baptized, in San Francisco Bay, in the chapel of the Russian ship. He grew up, though, in a beautiful, truly Pan Orthodox Church, the first in San Francisco, where he was an altar boy, and he ended up becoming a priest and his life is just a wonder, and absolute wonder. As soon as he became a priest, he asked if he could become a circuit rider and visit the Orthodox from as far south as San Diego, all the way up to Vancouver. He went up and down because so many Orthodox families had come...

...either by ship or across land and had come to those parts and they had no priest and he spent his life missionizing. He himself built ten churches and helped many others be built. He helped many orthodox who had come to this land to survive, to recover their faith, because they were being so influenced by Protestant heretics and Roman Catholics and they had no clergy, and so he helped them established churches, he helped them affirmed their faith. He also helped large numbers of Americans, both Catholic and Protestant, become Orthodox. He was a great zealot. He completely wore himself out. There's lots of great stories which I'm tempted to tell you. He actually met President Mckinley, was actually invited to the White House. When he was finally completely worn out, he returned to his parents homeland. He returned to Serbia. He went to Zecha, to the monastery and Zeza, and he was being cared for by another American Saint, Saint Nikolai Velimirovitch, who served here in America for so many years and died at Saint Tico's seminary in one thousand nine hundred fifty six. Saint Nikolai, the author of the PROLOG. Many of you know him because you have a copy in English of the prologue, this marvelous to volume lives of the saints. Saint Nikolai was sitting with Father Sebastian as Father Bat Sebastian was breathing his last he was caring for him and Father Sebastian could hardly talk and Saint Nikolai asked Father Sebastian, father, do you have need of anything? And he said only the Kingdom of Heaven. That's Saint Sebastian. Forty eight years of priestly service. And our faith is built here in California upon the heart of a young man who listened to the call of God on his life. He opened his ears all the way to his heart and he heard the call and he said yes, this Sunday is all about God's call. Matter of fact, I entitled my Sermont the calls plural, the calls of God, so universal call that God makes to every human being. And there are particular calls as well. He asks everyone to heed this call when he says come to me. Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, learn from me, for I'm gentle and humble and heart, and you'll find rest for your souls. This is Jesus is called to every person. He's calling everyone to discipleship, to become his God is seeking men. God's son is here to reclaim the human race. He wants us, yes, US, US. He didn't say that the perfect people. He said that to idiots like me and you. He said it to flubs. He's asking us to respond to him, to come to him and to let him put his yoke on our shoulders. You know, yoke, a yoke, is powerful, unto control and training. This is why we put it on oxen, so that they don't just wander all over the place and stamp on all the corn or destroy all the product of the fields. Right. We want them to go a certain way so that what they do is actually profitable and helpful. This is exactly what the teachings of Chris is do for us.

The Yoke of Christ keeps us, dear ones, from wandering off into the fields of death, from going into darkness, from pursuing paths that will not save us and will not help us. This is the universal call to be his, to let him govern us, to let him ride us, like he wrote, that donkey right into Jerusalem. Let him have the reins of our life, not just in those areas where we happen to agree with him, in every area, especially the areas where we don't agree with him, because we know he's the word of God, he's the light of the world. Anything that he says, and there are certainly many things that Jesus say, it says that are extremely hard for us to accept and extremely shocking. But whose problem is that? Is that his, or is that ours? This is ours. We have to receive his call. Let his yoke be put on our necks. Trust him, trust him to walk the way that he says is good on this Sunday of the cause of God. This is where it all state starts. The first call to universal discipleship for every person can be immediately followed then by particular calls to service. Jesus doesn't just make one blanket call so that you become his, you become bound to him, joined to him, and then says go wherever you want. That's not what he does. Instead, he gives you particular guidance throughout your whole life, particular calls to service, especially about big things in your life. You're not on your own. You don't have to make this all up by yourself. There is a plan, a providential arrangement in a way that we never could have done. You know, we parents, we try to do everything we can for our children and our grandchildren to help them make the way. That's just a small, Pale reflection of the competence of the Lord God to call us constantly into aspects of service that are best for us, that are glorious and will end in a glorious way. Paul, St Paul describes big things under this framework of call because his, his apostolic heart, was so aflame. He yearned for every one of us. St Paul yearned for every one of us to sell everything and to give up everything, even marriage. This was Paul's heart. He wanted us all to be undistracted in one hundred percent service to Christ. That's what he said. He said I wish that all men were, even as I myself am living the way he was living, he says. Nevertheless, every person has his own calling from God, one in this manner and another in that. And then he would he describe the life, the family life, marriage and he described those who would become are monks and nuns. They have a common goal, which is to serve God. One's more intense than the other, one's a harder cliff face to scale than the other. But this concept of call is what I want you to see. It's not just the first call to become God's it continues. The Lord is constantly calling us into particular aspects of service, not just big things like should you get married or not, should you become a monk or none or not? But you have a particular calling before you get married or can make a decision. Young people have a calling on their life to use their youth. Well, people who are married to have lost their spouses have a...

...particular calling which is unique. It even had an office in the early church, a calling to become a widower or a widow and to serve God particularly in that way. We all have an incredible and final calling to die. Well, in each case, God is the God of calls. He's before us. He's calling us to follow him, to serve him, and I want you to see a third and last calling, also not the universal call to discipleship, the continuous call to service. Whatever you're doing, do it for the sake of Christ. Whatever you're doing, he also has a call for us to fish. Of course. You see it most magnificently in the life of the apostles, right they particularly were called to stop fishing in the oceans so they could start fishing people. The Lord said, follow me and I will make you fishers of men, and so they were and so they are. That's what Saint Sebastian was in our own time and other saints that God has given to us in our own land. Who is it that God wants you to real in? I promise you. I promise you, you're called to fish people. Some of us that's a very scary prospect. We think to ourselves, ooof sometimes we're living in such a way we don't even want our neighbors to know that we're naming the name of Christ because we know we're embarrassing him. If we're being mean to people in the work place or to our neighbors, then it's good in fact not to make your cross in front of them. Please don't. Don't repent. Instead, repent. But who do? Who Does God want you to real end? You do know that he is the great fisherman. He won't be satisfied until every person has come to the light, until every person has become his son or his daughter by grace in the church. Baptism is for everyone. It's not just for the good people. Baptism is for bad people. That's why it's baptism. It washes away all our felth. It joins us to the singular good one. But he wants this for every person. Who Does God want you to reel in your life? I think that's a very important question to ask and to answer. Write it down. Write it down. Certainly, if you have relatives, he wants you who aren't close to God, he wants you to work. There children, grandchildren, God children. You've taken responsibility for them and if you're not going to reel them in, who's going to reel them in? I'll collaborate with you. I love to collaborate with you to help you in any way possible in your fishing expedition and I appreciate all your help in my fishing expeditions as well. We're working together, but this is a Ye, are art our common task. Dear ones, you need to think about it. Who is God going to ask you on the last day about Jesus? Says, if any one serves me, he'll follow me.

That's important. If any one serves me, he will follow me, and whoever serves me the father will honor. This is our future, dear ones, not just to hear Christ, not just to come to church to hear him. He doesn't say if any one hears me, he says if any one serves me, he will follow me, and whoever serves me the father will honor. This is the future. Let's respond to the call of God. You heard in the Gospel text. The Christ is the great light. He called his apostles. He went into the Galilee of the gentiles so that the people who sat in darkness might see a great light. Were the bearers of the great light. That's what you're doing, that's who you're carrying. That's why you have the ability to fish. Is because the one who loves people and loves you is with you in this task. He's recalling the human race. Never give up, never think that we're so bad as not going to be. It's not going to happen. The Gospel triumphs over all. The great light conquers every darkness. So carry it, dear ones, carry it. We had a huge infusion, a huge infusion of light, on Friday yesterday. I went down last evening to our sister perish, Saint Anthony and San Diego all praised to the Lord for what he's done in that community. To Day, at this very moment, His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph and His grace, Bishop John, and that whole community are consecrating their Holy Temple to the glory of the Holy Trinity. They're turning a piece of land into heaven. That's what they're doing. They're literally doing to the building what we do to human beings. They're baptizing the church with holy water. They're literally Chrismating the walls. They're enthroning the bones of martyrs into the Holy Table and placing the Eucharist on top of it and opening the dwarf to the world. Come all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. That church today is becoming a beacon, a beacon of the Kingdom of God. His Eminence grabbed me after vespers, together with father, to Beale litee. He grabbed us both and he pulled us over to the throne and he said listen, he said, this miracle yesterday, this glorious overthrow of this most atrocious, ridiculous, murderous row versus weight. He said, this miracle that took place yesterday. He goes, we can't stop there, we can't stop all this has done is return the question of abortion to the states, he said. You remember, he said, father, do you remember when they were coming after us just a few years ago? And they were I don't know if you remember, but our state assembly passed a bill, never became a law, thankfully, requiring priest to reveal confessions to the government. Yeah, right, sure, whatever you say, Mr Legislator. Mrs Legislator, how ridiculous, but that is how far gone our leadership is in this state, how godless. But we organized and we collaborated, Metropolitan...

Joseph caw collaborated with the Roman Catholic Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles and we sent a very beautiful rebuff and it was very effective and they dropped, at least for the last you know, eight or ten years it's been dropped. It hasn't come back up into our legislative assembly. But His Eminence said to me this is exactly what we have to do now, and he looked at father nebile and I said write something. And when he walked away, I looked at Father Babille and I said write something. But I appreciated so much his emmet his eminences perspective. We've had a signal, gift, a tremendous blessing and already, literally already, the lives of the unborn are being saved because of this. Glory to God for that. But, dear ones, we have a task. We have a task before us. We have to carry the great light of Christ. We all have to do our jobs, we all have to labor and respond to the call of God, not just to be his but to serve him in everything, to carry his light so that those who sit in darkness and look half of our country sits in darkness about some of the most important things. We have to carry the light so that those who sit in darkness might see that great light and might join us in the worship of God, to become part of his family. This is what we desire. I wish you all a wonderful, wonderful feast. They of the saints of North America. May God look on us in our misery and, by his by His mercy, make saints in our own parish them. 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 W W W dot patristic nectar dot org.

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