The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

The Cross

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The Empowering Yoke. Learn more about Patristic Nectar Publications.

The yoke he's asking of to bow our heads under is the cross, and crosses don't kill, they bivify. Yokes are designed to enable the beast of burden to carry the burden more easily. By putting the yoke upon you, you can bear what's on your shoulders without it crushing you. You can actually move the weight, and this is exactly what the cross enables us to do. Ancient Faith Radio and patristic nectar publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah trenem. Father Josiah is the pastor of St Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founder of Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. For more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. And now, Father Josiah, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God, we stand, brothers and sisters, with gaping jaws before the precious and life giving cross. This morning and we hear the messages of the Cross, so replete with meaning and encouragement to our souls. Just in the himnity from vespers and Orthros, message after loving message pours forth from the Cross, from our hymnity it. We say that our tears of sorrow...

...have been wiped away by the Cross, that by it we have been delivered from the snares of death and the power of death itself hath been swallowed up the through it we have passed unending joy and been restored once more to Eden. We've been raised from Earth to heaven. The hotes of the demons have been driven back, the curse utterly destroyed, our absolution effected. We, who are naked and striped bare in the garden of the garment of life, have been clothed with life. It heals the sick, it delivers from our sinful passions. It has fixed a nail into the heart of hell and has pierced hell suddenly as a wooden spear and has torn hell apart, causing its belly and senses anguish, making its personified spirit tremble and vomit forth the righteous from its clutches. It has become the table that held Christ as a sacrifice and the vine that bear us the clustered dripping mist a cool wine. And that's a brief human attempt to describe, to elucidate, the saving mystery of the Cross. As I've been meditating on the cross this week, I have been thinking a few messages myself. I was particularly encouraged to think that the cross proclaims loudly then, man is worth loving. Yes, man in his misery, man in his filth, man in his sin, man in the clutches of evil, still is lovable. And all of that mess is extrinsic to the life of Man. It wasn't created with man, it didn't exist...

...from eternity. It came into existence by the poor use of freedom. It has a temporary life and it's going to be timed out soon ended. The daycoming when evil will not exist at all is coming, when it and the evil one and death itself will be dropped by the fingers of an angel, at the command of God, into the lake of fire forever. I've also remembered this week that man does not change and then deserve God's love. God loves and then man changes the love of God on the Cross is the great change agent in our life. It's the reason that we're changing. I've remembered that the cross is a deep well that every year it comes out, it renews us in new ways. It heals new wounds, it puts bomb and a healing touch where we need it. It's a deep well and we drink life giving waters from it every year, three times a year, when it comes out and adorns our temple and refreshes our life and graces our lips. You remember from the life of the Patriarch Abraham, he and his men. They dug many deep wellst so that the Hebrews could drink clear water. And when they were away from the wells, the Philistines came and they filled them in, and then Isaac and Jacob had to Redig the wellve that their father and grandfather had doug this is exactly our life. Our forefathers dug the wells that we could drink the wells of truth, theology of the Cross. We...

...ourselves have dug these wells and every year we have to clean them out. Year by year, each time the cross comes out, we dig the well afresh that we can drink the water anew, and we can remember the most important truths of life, which are spoken by this precious cross, and we can alter ourselves, recalibrate the very orientation of our life according to the Croft, to make sure that we are adoring it, that we we remember the love of God for us, that we move in response to the love of God. We love because he first loved us. We don't get any funny ideas stuck in our head that somehow, by doing this or that, we make ourselves acceptable to God and that therefore we're better than those who have done or not done this or that. We make all those adjustments every time the cross comes out, and that's gree digging the well so that we can drink the waters of the love of God fresh every time the cross comes. I also remembered this week that prayer is the means of redeeming every fiery trial. I remembered our saviors example, not just Indiagonia of Gassee many, but on the cross itself, teaching us that prayer is the way to endure every suffering. Three beautiful prayers he made there. He prayed to his father in agony and said, why have you forsaken me? Father? He prayed for his persecutors from that Cross and beg for their forgiveness. Forgive them, father, for they do not know what they're doing. And he taught us how to die by commending his spirit to his father, saying into THY hands, I...

...commend my spirit. Prayer is the means of turning every fiery trial, every temptation, into something beautiful. All of those thoughts we're justift additions in my heart this week as I was reflecting on the cross, to what the himnity of the Church says. But if I could press one into you tonight or today, brothers and sisters, I could just press one thought more deeply, and it is that the cross which is before you. It is your relief. It's your relief. When our savior ascended the cross, he did not have a death wish, wasn't trying to kill himself. He ascended the cross because he didn't want us to die. He wanted to kill that which was killing us, and he ascended the Croft to kill death by his own death and to nullify the curse and to eradicate the power of the old man in our own flesh. He let the devil have him and then overcame the evil one in death, and it's the same for us that you heard in the Gospel lesson. Our Savior wants us to imitate his death, to be inspired by it, to do the same, to bear our crosses, to take up our cross and follow him. And it's we do this not because we have a death wish. We we do this because we believe that the grace which is poured out here will come into our life if we also bear the cross, and it will kill that which is killing us. The poison, the sins which we all, if we're honest, know are eating US alive, will meet their antidote, their cure, in the grace that comes from...

...cross bearing. This is why we do it. We want to get rid of the old man and the poisonous false self that we have fashioned so that we can get to what we really are, what we've really been created to be human. This is why we find such relief and taking up the cross. You know those beautiful words of our Savior. 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 and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. And you will find rest for your souls. This is a summons. It's our savior saying in another way what he said in the Gospel. Today, in the Gospel he's told, just told his disciples, Deny Yourself, take your cross and follow me. In the text that I just quoted to you, he's saying the same thing. The yoke he's asking off to bow our heads under is the cross, and crosses don't kill, they vivify. Yokes are designed to enable the beast of burden to carry the burden more easily. By putting the yoke upon you, you can bear what's on your shoulders without it crushing you. You can actually move the weight, and this is exactly what the cross enables us to do. The Cross enables us to go through the course of our life bearing the burdens that we have in a redempt is life giving way. The Cross vivifize, which is why we love it. It's why we kiss it, not just in Jesus, is life in our life. It is a yoke that's pleasant. Often our crosses seemed to us overwhelmingly difficult, especially...

...because we're not very tough people. There are some that really strike us as tough. When I think of tough, I think of two of our elderly women in this church. Their lives and what they have gone through in the Providence of God and their endurance. Shame me if I feel weighed down in my life. They shame me because their women who are really tough. Sometimes our crosses seemed too much for us, but think about if you didn't have it. What would you rather have do? Live close to God, taking the Croft that Jesus gives us to vivify us, to make us alive, to share a little bit in his sufferings that we can share in his glory? Or would you rather live a life with our God in the Earth, without your faith, without any confidence of what is to come? Can you imagine, without having the peace of God in your heart, to establish your relationships in a way that you can depend on, without having the assurance of the fact that your father is watching you with his eye and loves you? If you did have all of those things and the cross that comes with them, which is the easier life? Bearing the cross or living like that? Brothers and sisters, is there a more difficult life than that, dominated by your passions with no solution, no grace, no light, no hope, no eternity, no kingdom, no keen Onia, no church. That that's a hard life, not our life, not our life of bearing the cross...

...that the Lord gives us in his love. This is why our Savior describes his yoke as light and easy. St John, the beloved disciple, in his first epistle, he says that the commandments of God are not burdensome. These are his words. The Commandments of God are not burdensome. And King Solomon, in the proverbs, he says that all God's ways are pleasant and all his paths are peace many of you have mastered this truth. Many of you have borne your crosses for a very long time, and the commandments of God don't appear to you to be difficult. They appear to you to be a light yoke helping you to walk to eternal life. You wouldn't dream of violating them, and when you do, it's because you were tricked. This is how it is with many of you who have worked hard to bear your crosses. For others who are young, those who are just coming out of the world, they can seem really hard. The Commandments of God, they can seem really difficult. I'll give you an example. Going to church is going to Church of commandment. For half of you, I know you don't even have that concept in your head. I promise you I don't. The thought of not going to church just smell to me of death. I couldn't imagine staying staying home on a Sunday morning. I just could not fathom it. It would be sheer torture for me and I'm sure for many of you, because the commandments of God. You've lived with them, you've tasted how...

...good they are, that the paths of the Lord are pleasant and his ways are peace and you don't need to be told that. The yoke of the Lord is light and easy. For those who are just starting out, getting out of bed on Sunday can be a big, big deal, and they have to do it because it's the right thing to do, because it's the fourth commandment and if I don't do it, I'm committing a sin. Brothers and sisters, that paradigm of the Movement from Immaturity to maturity and the movement from thinking that it's hard to follow Christ to considering it to be sweetness, the commandments of God a delight, even to the soul. This is the movement of growing up in the Lord. Apply it, take this truth, find one of the commandments that you really delight in that you don't even need to remind yourself is a commandment in order to do and apply it to any others that you're stuck with, because it's not just the one certain commandment, certain parts of the yoke are knife. It's not true. Bearing the Cross is the easy, good way to get through this life and without it it's misery. We're not trying to lose our lives by taking up the cross. We don't have a death wish in that sense. We're trying, in fact, to eradicate that which is killing us on the inside. We're setting ourselves in opposition to the world and its lusts, because we want to gain our souls and we know that if we do, will live forever. And on the other hand, if we don't, if we gain the whole world and forfeit our soul, what do we have? What do we have? You heard in the Gospel how our Savior linked taking up the cross and seeing his...

...kingdom. He said, after he commanded his disciples to bear their cross, he told them some of you who are standing here will not die until they have seen the Kingdom of God come with power. Our Savior's cross was his glory, and are following him in the little crosses that he gives. That we can be hooked to him means we are also hooked to his glory. It is the means for your beautification to become splendid eternal. Say Maximi says this, the confessor. He says, if God suffers in the flesh when he has made a man, should we not rejoice also when we suffer, for we have God to share our sufferings, and this shared suffering confers the kingdom on us? For he spoke truly who said, if we suffer with him, we shall also be glorified with him. And SAT AF from the Syrian poses this question to himself, and I'll leave it with you. It says on that dreadful and Amazing Day, God will say to sinners, you men know well. Would I have undergone for you? What have you undergone for me? You've been listening to a presentation of ancient faith radio and patristic nectar publications. The arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah Trenam. Father Josiah is the pastor of Saint Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founder of Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed...

...to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. For more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org. Until next time,.

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