The Arena
The Arena

Episode 589 · 2 months ago

The Christian Inheritance | Sunday of the Rich Fool


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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My Life in Christ: The Life & Teaching of Saint John of Kronstadt | 9 Lectures

Patristic Nectar Publications is pleased to present a new 9-part lecture series entitled My Life in Christ: The Life and Teaching of St. John of Kronstadt. This series consists of two parts. The first consists of four thematic lectures given in 2022 by Fr. Josiah to the St. John Chrysostom Catechetical School in Riverside, Ca. The second part of this series is five talks given by His Grace, Bishop Basil of Wichita, at a men’s retreat in Kansas in 2008. St. John of Kronstadt, the Wonder-Worker, served God in Russia during the second half of the 19th century and fell asleep in Christ in 1908. His life, miracles, and teaching have been cherished by believers as God’s love gift to the Church and to the world on the cusp of the 20th century, the most violent century in the history of humanity.  These lectures and discussions reveal the beauty of a life lived supremely in and for Jesus Christ the Lord.

Lecture #1 - The Life of Saint John of Kronstadt

Lecture #2 - On Prayer

Lecture #3 - The Eucharist and Divine Liturgy

Lecture #4 - On the Priesthood

Lecture #5 - The Russia of St. John of Kronstadt

Lecture #6 - Confession and Communion in St. John's Teaching

Lecture #7 - Q&A (Part 1)

Lecture #8 - St. John Counsels and Teachings on Prayer

Lecture #9 - Q&A (Part 2)

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Now available at Patristic Nectar dot org. Patristic Nectar Publications is pleased to present a nine part lecture series entitled My Life in Christ, The Life and Teaching of Saint John of Kronstadt. This series consists of two parts. The first consists of four thematic lectures given in twenty twenty two by Father Josiah Trenham to the Saint John Chrysostom Catechetical School in Riverside, California. The second part of this series are five talks given by His Grace, Bishop Basil of Wichita to a men's retreat in Kansas in two thousand eight. Saint John of Kronstadt, the wonder Worker, served God in Russia during the second half of the nineteenth century and fell asleep in Christ in nineteen o eight. His life, miracles, and teaching have been cherished by believers as God's love gift to the Church into the world on the cusp of the twenty century, the most violent century in the history of humanity. These lectures and discussions revealed the beauty of a life lived supremely in and four Jesus Christ the Lord. For these and other 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 to all of you, and good strength for the fast. I've entitled my homily this morning the Christian Inheritance, and I'd like to deliver it on the gospel text that you just heard, that marvelous text of the Rich Fool from St. Luke Chapter twelve, Versus thirteen to twenty one. Notice that the Gospel, yet again, as it has been for week after week, is about wealth, and as a commentary on money. Jesus spoke constantly, regularly thematically on the subject of possessions and wealth. Why because he knew how tricky wealth is, how potent it is as a distraction to the spiritual life. He knew that in our position of insecurity, we're terribly tempted to try to find some sense of stability, offsetting our own fragility through money. He knew that it was a great temptation for us to miss what he was really here to offer, and instead to try to somehow satisfy ourselves by the acquisition of funds. The Church is constantly working against that. She does it in readings like this, but she does it most potently in the funeral service when she has us there standing before the corpse, are loved one, and we read those marvelous hymns of St. John of Damascus about the futility of gathering possessions and how death is the ultimate equalizer stealing them. This is why, this is why Jesus is regularly talking about wealth and acquisition. I want you also to see that the context here is the context of inheritance. The gospel lesson that you just heard started from verse sixteen, but the whole pricope actually starts from verse thirteen and... you the introduction of a man approaching Jesus with a request. He asked, goes right to Jesus, and he says, Jesus, order command my brother with with regards to our inheritance, make a rabbinic ruling about our late parents estate and make sure it agrees with what I want. This is what he was asking Jesus to do. The context is inheritance and a man coming to Jesus to use him so that he can get the money, the assets, whatever, he was hoping to inherit. Jesus was going to be his means of getting that done, and Jesus was not very friendly with him. He said, man, what do I have to do with that? Now? That might be a little shocking thing to say, since in fact, plenty of rabbis participated in the division of the states, plenty of rabbis when it wasn't clear from the law exactly how in a state should be divided, And the law does have a lot to say about inheritance. I'll say a word about that in a second. When there was a confusion, then people would go to the rabbi, and the rabbi would make a judgment. So the man probably was a little bit shocked. He went to Jesus, and Jesus said, I don't want anything to do with it. This is a big, big change. He's letting people know, Hey, I'm a lot more than a rabbi, and that which I have to teach you is not about the earth. The scriptures has a lot to say about inheritance. If you actually open up a concordance and you look through, look for the word inherit and inheritance you'll find over three hundred references in the scriptures Genesis to Revelation, literally, Genesis to Revelation lots to say about inheritance. Most of the focus of the law was on inheriting the land, the land that God had promised to Abraham. Much of the emphasis in the Wisdom literature is about inheriting glory or folly, based upon being a wise person. If you're a wise person, you inherit honor. If you're a foolish person, you inherit folly and disgrace. Jesus picked up the language of the scriptures on inheritance and completely shocked people. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. A little bit later, that's Matthew five. A little bit later in Matthew in nineteen, he says, whoever gives up land, something that you normally inherit, and possessions and even spouses and children for my sake, will inherit eternal life. And a little bit later in chapter he addresses the issue of inheritance again, and he says to those on his right side, the sheep, calm, you, blessed of my father inherit the kingdom which has been prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Jesus picks up on the emphasis on inheritance and he changes the focus from the things of the earth to his eternal kingdom. That is continued by the Apostles as they developed Jesus, his teaching, and in fact the Apocalypse. The last text in the New Testament addresses inheritance several places, but especially in Revelation. As the new heavens and the New Earth are descending and the whole Christian vision is coming to climax,...

...we hear these words from God. Come inherit the Kingdom, for I will be your father and you will be my son. What is the ultimate inheritance, the Kingdom of God and intimate familial relations with God. This is what's coming there ones. This is the glorious future that we have. And this is the background to this incredible interaction with the rich fool that we see. This man came asking for Jesus to involve himself in earthly riches, make sure that he would be able to secure, through Jesus's help, his earthly inheritance, or what he thought was his. And then Jesus uses it immediately to say, you're being so foolish, and he tells the parable of the rich fool. Let's look at the rich fool for a second. The rich fool has four insane thoughts. For bad thoughts of the rich fool, four Logi's me that he bound himself to that ruined his life. The first is his possessiveness, which is shown by that word repeated five times in just the short two verses. My my crops, my grain, my fields, my barnes, my soul, my my my mind. The man was all about my That's the first bad thought. The first bad thought was possessive thought, a greedy thought. Another bad thought was that when God blessed him, and by the way, this wasn't He didn't become rich because he was a great farmer. It says in the text, the land brought forth great crops. This was the blessing of the earth that God gave. This man was the recipient of that. And didn't say that he worked any harder. Didn't say he invented some great agricultural instrument which multiplied his fields. It's not what it says. God gave him a special blessing. And his second horrible thought was pure greed. God gave him more, and he have a chance to respond to that graciousness one way or another. And what was his thought, I'm gonna lay this up. I'm gonna build bigger barns, larger things, so that I can have more stuff. He had covetousness, and it turned into this acquisitive disposition. He just wanted more and more and more. God gave him a great bumper crop right then and there. When you receive something great, you have an option, don't you. It doesn't say the man was suffering in any way. It doesn't say that he needed anything. As far as we know, he's perfectly happy. And then God gave him this rich blessing. And what did he think? Only about himself? I'm just gonna keep this myself. And how am I going to do that. I'm gonna build bigger barns and just stick all the stuff in there. That's just his second bead thought. There's a much better thought. If God multiplies something great for you, he just sends you some special blessing, why not distribute it in a way that honors him? Why not give it away to those who can be benefited? Why not think about how best to use it? Not...

...this man, not the rich fool. Why does it always have to be larger? You know? The principle that the Church gives us is expenditures should reflect necessities. If God blesses you, let your expenditures reflect what you have, what your responsibilities are. When you have growing responsibilities, you're gonna need more income. And then there's a blessed second half of that life. When your responsibilities go down, you need less less, You can slim down. Why not smaller instead of larger? This man needed to hear that word. That was the second therrible thought. His third thought was, after I build my barns and I filled them with what God has given to me, I will take my ease. I will take my ease. His thought was God has given me all this so I don't have to work anymore. So I can just spend all my time seeking pleasures one after the other, and I don't have to worry about it. Two evil thoughts there. One is that God gives that so that we can pursue pleasures, and that somehow only having pleasures and not responsibilities is a good thing. Where do you get that idea? You know, pleasure loses its pleasurable quality if it becomes too abundant, just disappears. What's the value of having a great steak at posca? If you have a great steak every night, it's nothing to you. It's nothing to you. It's only great because lent existed. Why does everything taste so great? Impossible because you haven't tasted it for forty days. Pleasure has a place. God bestows it. Right the priest stand here and pray for you that the Lord would multiply the weak and the wine and the oil in your homes for your blessing. We want that for you. We're happy when we hear that you have what you need and that you're drinking wine and enjoying bread in the Thanksgiving and God and sharing it with all your neighbors. That's one thing. That's one thing. But to live for pleasure like this man, to think the goal is just pleasure after pleasure after pleasure, that that ruins any pleasure at all. And then the fourth built into that, there's a very bogus form view of retirement and of old age. I like the idea of retirement myself, I really do. But that's not so that you can do nothing. No, there's a drumbeat that fits a person when they're twenty five. There's a work drumbeat that fits when you're fifty. And there's something else when you're seventy five. Who wants to be doing that stuff that we were doing we were twenty five. When you're seventy five years old, nobody wants to be doing that. Plus it's a whole different world. Remember that beautiful image. I think I shared it with your years and years ago, which means half of you know nothing about it. It comes from that incredible book they say it, Duday on old Age by Cicero, the great Roman senator. He says in there, he's writing a poem about how great it... to get old. This is a very valuable book in our day. More people should read it. And he says, look, everybody's always thinking that when you get old, you don't do anything. He goes, imagine you see a ship, and on that ship you have all the people working, and you you come onto the deck of the ship and you see this just these handsome sailors, strong and vigorous, and they're running up and down the mass and they're throwing sails and they're throwing anchors, and you know, doing all the work. And then you pan and you come to the wheel of the ship, and there you see an old, gray bearded man and he's not moving at all. He's sitting there with his hand on the wheel. He's the captain. What fool Cistero says, looks at that man and says, Oh, he's not doing anything. Who would think that he's not doing what the young man does. He's not running up and down the mast, he's not doing all sorts of physical exercise. But he himself is one massive collection of wisdom that has come from his whole life. He has experience, he has knowledge of the seas, of the dangers and the blessings of the sea, and he can bring success to that ship like none of those young sailors can't. That doesn't mean he's doing nothing, but he's not doing what they're doing. This, i think, is a beautiful vision of old age and beautiful vision of retirement. To be able to you know how this church got built. One of ours, named Sabbath Saba retired. He worked full time until we built this church, full time, business after business after business. He loved things, but then he retired to do what only he could do. He came here five days a week. He negotiated the contracts as an old man. From his experience, he knew how to do that in a way that none of us could. Instead of paying a certain amount for this building, we paid half what anyone thought that this church could be built. Because he took his experience, he to put his hand in the wheel. Instead of negotiating three contracts for in the subs for every different area ten ten, and he pitted them against each other. You know how to do this kind of thing. That's a good view. Work, Yes, work. Retirement is not for pleasures, just sitting around pleasure after pleasure. No, it's a time to use your life, invest in your kid's life and your grandkids life, in the church's life. Make the contribution that a person younger than you, without your experience can't make. Now, let me say a closing word about wealth, true wealth. Let's make sure that we have our ambition fixed on the eternal inheritance. That we've heard Jesus's words. We don't live in the Old Testament. Thank God. There's a lot of wonderful stuff I would have liked to have seen in the Old Testament. I would love to have seen these men, some of those women doing their incredible things in the Old Testament, having so much faith. But for us, we're so much more blessed. The shadows have become the reality. That which was hoped for has come to pass in a way that no one hoping for it could have even imagined it would have been this rich to live with Christ in the Church, and with our ambitions, not to obtain a little piece of land next to the Mediterranean Sea, but to inherit the new heavens and the new Earth, the Kingdom. That's our true inheritance. Dear ones,...

...this is what we're after. Let's make sure that that's what we're seeking. Richest that can't be taken away, and let's avoid the four evil thoughts of this rich fool, and let's obtain wealth that we won't lose, that death literally can't pry out of our hand. I want to recommend to you an incredible account for you to read. I think in the history of Patristic literature, it is the greatest teaching on true Christian wealth that there is. It comes from not the nineteenth century, and it comes from the life of Saint seraphimusarof Most of you may be familiar with the incredible conversation that he had with his spiritual son, a man named Motovlov. Motovlov, ever since he was a little boy, wanted to know what the purpose of the Christian life was. What's the purpose of being a Christian? And he asked many priests, and he asked many monks, and he was never satisfied with the answer that he got. He usually got an answer like this, We'll go to church and do good, and it didn't make sense to him. So he came to St. Sarah Fhim and he asked St. Seraphim about this. And St. Sarah Fhim looked at him and he said, you know, it's been revealed to me by God that you've been asking this question since you were a little boy, haven't you. And he said yes, he goes, I'm going to give you the answer now. He said, all of those things you heard about going to church and keeping the commandments and doing good, they're all wrong. None of those things are the purpose of the Christian life. Those things are the fruit. They they're they're born in the Christian life and they help you get to what you're trying to get to, but that's not your destination. He says. The goal of the Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit in your life. This is the goal of the life. And then Motovlos responded to him and said, I don't understand what you mean. How what does it mean to acquire the Holy Spirit in your life? And St. Sarahim looked at him and he said, a very simple thing. He said, you know how to what the idea is of acquiring money is, don't you. He used just this image of earthly riches. He said, you know what it's like to acquire money, don't you. He goes, it's quote exactly the same way all of the things that earthly people do to acquire money. If you take that same approach to acquire the Holy Spirit, you will in fact acquire him and you will become eternally rich. He said, there's many kinds of capital. There's monetary capital, health capital. He lifts three or four and he goes, but there's also spiritual capital and spiritual capital. Wealth which God gives is his presence. It's the Holy Spirit in your life, and you can increase and acquiring the Holy Spirit and possessing Him and possessing the Kingdom of God in your life. You can if you seek it like the world seeks money. In the process of doing that, he explained to him, he said, look, the number one way you do that, the number one way you acquire eternal riches, is whatever you do good, do it for Jesus's sake, he goes. If you do good, but you don't do it for Jesus's sake, you won't gather one spiritual penny, not one. But if you do the simplest thing, he goes, and you should figure out how to trade. You should find out what you're good at. Some people are good at money making money this way. Some people are good at making money with this way. A matter of fact, Saint Seraphim told the story of how he himself, when he was a little boy drew up. His dad was a merchant, and when, saying Saraphin was only ten eleven years old, he used to go...

...out and sell his dad's wares. He said, we always sold whatever sold best. We would go to this market and to that market, and we would find out what they really wanted, and we learned to sell those products, because that's how we made the greatest living, He goes, you have to do the exact same thing in your life spiritually. You may not be good at this and that, so focus on this. You may not be a great accomplisher of fasting, but you are really great at hospitality. You can get rich spiritually speaking, you can grow and acquire God by learning how to trade. You can grow in your faith, and those riches will never ever be taken away. And you know what he says is the best way to become rich spiritually. He says the number one way, he goes, And this is better than all the other things I told you, All the good deeds I was describing for you, sometimes you have the occasion to do them, and sometimes you don't. When you visit a sick person for Jesus's sake, you become rich. When you visit a prisoner for Jesus's sake, you become rich. But sometimes there are no sick to visit, and you're not near a prison, he goes. Let me tell you the number one way together riches, and that is to pray for Jesus's sake. Not so you feel good, not so you fulfilled your rule, not because you want to not be embarrassed when you go to confession, no to pray for Jesus's sake. This is the greatest way to acquire the Holy Spirit yourself. Please read it. If you just google St. Saraphim's conversation with mtov Lov, you'll bless yourself to see what true riches are. What a Christian inheritance is, how we ourselves can be rich in the things that can never be stripped away from our hands. This is the message of today's gospel. Don't like that, rich fool, concern yourself too much with the things of the earth. The idea that somehow your life is going to go on forever, and that it couldn't end today. That's an evil thought that that man bought, and it ruined his life. Now, let's forget all those evil things instead, let's pursue that which our Savior has promised us, the new heavens and the new earth. Let's be able as a parish. This is my hope. When Jesus looks at us, and you know he does look at us. You know that he looks at every parish with his beautiful eyes of fire. He looks at every parish. He evaluates every parish. I want him to look at us, just like he looked at the church in Smyrna. Revelation too. He looked at that church in Smyrna, and he had a beautiful word for them. He said, I see your poverty, and I see your tribulation, but you are rich Revelation to nine. That's how I want Jesus to see us. May it be so of lit 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. There mainly made movie and the by d N Busted.

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