The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 1 year ago

The Joy of Being Used | Saint Matthew 18


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 a four part lecture series by Father Josiah trenum entitled God's Prodigal Prophet, an exposition of the prophecy of Jonah. This text is found amongst the minor prophets of the Old Testament and is much beloved by believers, not only for its Christological typology, in which it sets forth the death, burial, plundering of Hades and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also because it is simply packed full of spiritual themes like obedience, repentance, sinful nationalism, God's call, Timission, the enlightenment of the nation's Brokenness, rebellion and grace, the love of enemies and much, much more. For these and other available titles, visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trennem the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, a blessed Lord's they to each of you, brothers and sisters. Thank you. I've entitled by Homily this morning the joy of being used, the joy way of being used before I share a few words about that from the readings this morning, I want you to know I was going through my folder for this Sunday. I still use real folders. When I say fold that I'm in computer folder, Real Manilla folder in my real file cabinet. I have one for not just every Sunday of the year but from all the feasts and any basically any Sunday I've earned week, they I've ever preached on. And I was going through past Sundays for September five and I found this bulletin and I thought to myself, I wonder how many of you know what our bulletins used to look like? They've gone through numerous versions over the years, different shapes and sizes. Sometimes they were veritable books. We were evidently in the book mentality. This was we used to print icons on the front till I banish that print practice. This is from August the twenty three, one thousand nine hundred and ninety eight and it has all the usual things, the beautiful readings in the hymnology. I also found in there my complete sermon written out, every word. I thought to myself, sh SH,...

...who was this young priest with all that energy. What happened to him? You happened to him. Actually, you happened to him anyway. Little little corporate memory. There, little corporate memory. You have to day I had the joy to travel with Bresitera and Olivia and Mary Catherine and to meet and us to see a Victoria Paul and my grandchildren, two of my grandchildren, out in Arizona for a wonderful wedding of some dear friends. And as we were pulling into Arizona on was a hundred and, I don't know, thirteen or something, we began doing the usual parent thing. All right, you guys, you know that there's going to be a lot of important people here, and what you do when you first show up at the wedding? You Go and you greet the priest. Don't just go and look for your friends. We're going to go there and then look around for the priest and go greet him. And they're like and then the first question came. But what if there's a bishop there? And I said I said well, in that case, gold find the bishop first and greet him and then go find the priest and say hello. But what if there's two priests that there? I said okay, there's a bishop and two priests, you go see the Bishop and then you go to the senior priests and then the next thing your priest. But what if there's a monk there? And I said, well, in that case you go see the Bishop, he goes see the first senior priests, a seconds in your print and then you go say hello to the monk and then you go play with her friends. Well, what if the bishops a monk? I said, same policy, same policy, and then we talked a little bit about why, why we have these sacred customs? Why these customs are universal in the whole church. Why is it? It made me think about how important it is for all of us, not just for our are we ones? Of course they are full of anticipation when they see their friends. They want to go run off and see their friends, right and of course this applies to parents and grandparents. We try to teach our children to be dignified and to express their Christian faith, to have culture, Christian culture. We're trying to bridge the gap between thought and action, between Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy. You know, dear ones, if we just think Orthodox, that doesn't make us Orthodox. I mean I'm glad that our brains got get Orthodox sized, but our brains have to be Orthodox sized together with...

...our hearts and with our whole way of life, our whole existence, our body. We have to live as Orthodox Christians, not just think that way, and sometimes bridging the gap is not easy. Believe me, if you were eight years old, that wouldn't have been easy. Yesterday really was a challenge, beautifully accomplished, I must say, but it was a challenge and it's sometimes a challenge for us right it's one thing to believe in the priesthood. It's something else to make sure that you're here when our bishops here, to actually move from Oh yeah, I'm Orthodox in my mind. I know bishops are extremely important. I know there is no church, there is no grace and there is no salvation for me without my bishop and my priest. That's us. That's orthodoxy. It's one thing to think that, it's something else to let that transferring to your way of life. That's something different. It's one thing to believe that priests and bishops convey and carry the blessing of Jesus Christ uniquely. That's one thing. It's something else to form in yourself to insist of yourself the that you bow your head and take a blessing. Are Those the same things? Absolutely not. One's a head trip, another's a way of life. It's one thing to think that Christ has given a mystery into the hands of priests and bishops to hear people's confessions and to literally wipe their hearts clean and remove guilt and power, the power of sin, from people's lives. It's something else actually to go to confession to live your faith right. We have to bridge that gap constantly. It's something to believe that the priesthood is an ordinance that is exercised on the earth but is truly established in heaven. It's one thing to believe in the Holy Liturgy and the power of the prayers of the Holy Liturgy. It's something else to make sure that when you have a prayer need, you actually communicate it to the church. That's Orthopraxy. You know, we have a beautiful, beautiful ministry here, the prayer chain or prayer ministry, and I am thrilled by the responsibility that many of you take for praying for the needs of each other. But...

...sometimes it functions as a Protestant imposition in our church. Let me tell you when it does. It functions that way when more effort is made to communicate to the prayer chain than to the priests. That's nonsense. You can pray your prayer chain all you want, you can make a thousand prayers, but I promise you a thousand of those prayers isn't worth one prayer of a priest or a bishop in the Holy Liturgy when Jesus Christ is on that holy table. That's orthodoxy. This is why the whole customs of the Church has requires pieces of paper. Every altar you go to in every church in the entire world is jam packed with little pieces of paper with people's names on them. You know why? Because Orthodox people believe that not all prayers equal. We don't believe in the heresy of the priesthood of all believers and therefore all the prayer chain is equal to the altar prayer. We don't believe that stuff at all. Of course, if you're pious, your prayer can become substantial as a leaver before God, even someone who's even outside the church, like Cornelius, God was impressed with his prayer and God sent them an angel to help him. I'm not trying to downgrade the prayers of believers. No, I'm trying to upgrade our practice so that we have a we don't have a huge gap between our Orthodox theology in our minds and our actual praxy. When I send you a note and I tell you that, for instance, we're about to start the PAROCLYSIS for two weeks before the door mission feast, you need to write me back and give me the names of your loved ones. This is a this is a basic thing. I want to help you understand how important that is to get into the hands of whoever your priest is the names of the people that you want blessed and helped. Be Orthodox. Be Orthodox, make PROSP A, learn to make prose for a, learned to turn in slips of paper for every liturgy when you have a burden in your heart. Then we'll bridge the gap, will really be Orthodox in practice. You know, Saint Cosmos Atolosu. We just celebrated this unbelievable evangelist, who we celebrate on the twenty four of August, this man who led the great awakening of Macedonia, Greece, Albania under the Ottomans and whose influence led to the...

...revolution of one thousand eight hundred twenty one and the overthrow of the Ottoman Turks. He used to teach the people in the villages. He said, look, if you are out, if you're walking through the village and you look down the road and you see a humble village priest and he's walking to you and then, just all of a sudden, on the left side of the road you see descend from heaven a radiant, glorious angel. He said, cross the road and take the blessing of the humble priest and then go greet the angel. If you're Orthodox, this is sint cosmos, this is our faith, this is our faith and this is why we pray the way we do. Crossing the bridge from thinking something to doing it can be very challenging, very challenging. In fact, it's way easier to do the things I'm suggesting right now. I mean, how hard is it to help your friends and loved ones, your children, grandchildren and people that you love for in need by asking your priests, telling your priests their names right. How hard? Is that? Not that hard? It's not that hard. It needs to be done, but it's not that hard. But let me tell you something that is hard. But you just heard this morning in the Gospel. What's really hard is going from thinking that forgiveness is super important to actually doing it, especially when you're getting really, really used, as the king was in the Gospel today. There's a common theme both in the Episto lescent today and in the Gospel, and about being used. The epistle lescent is from St Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, to marvelous text in which Paul talks about how it's absolutely normative to pay for your clergy, to support your clergy, who work for your souls and you take care of their bodies. And he lodges that principle in the Old Testament law. He says that Moses, forbade owners of oxen from muzzling them while they were working, because the person who treads on the grain should be able to eat from the work. He says, from that he goes. Is God interested in animal of nothing compared these interested in the church. This is why we pay our clergy, so that they can spend their time taking care of our souls. And then Paul says this amazing thing. He said, don't I have a right and Barnabas, my partner in the Gospel. Don't we have a right to have a wife? Neither Barnabas nor Paul had a wife. They consecrated their celibacy to God and they did it freely. They literally gave up a right in order... serve the church better, for which we honor them. He said, don't, Barnabas, and I have a right to take along a believing wife like the rest of the apostles. And he said, don't, Barnabas, and I have a right to be supported by you. He goes, but we've given up that right in order to preach the Gospel better. It's a marvelous text, a marvelous texts, and you can see through it the vision of the Church for voluntary the glory of voluntary celibacy for the sake of the Gospel. This is why we have a saint. COSMO. Say to those it's because he did. He followed in Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas's steps. But notice Paul trampling on rights. You know, everybody talks about rights today, rites rights, rights, real natural rights and all lot em made up phony ones to in our society, the right to kill a child in the womb, please, please. Rights aren't that big to Christians. They're big and political philosophy. But in our personal dealings, in our imitation of Christ, what place of rights did Jesus have? Just think of the time when they were trying to get tax from Christ and he told Peter. Peter came and said, master, do we pay the tax? You know work? Can we get a shekel? And Jesus said, let me ask you a question first, Peter. From whom do the kings of the Earth take taxes? From their sons or from their subjects? And he says not from their sons, from their somethings exactly. We don't have to pay the tax on God's son. I don't pay tax to earthly kings. But lest we give offense, go down to the sea and take the first fish that comes out and you'll find ash shekel in its mouth. Lord have mercy. We bow before Christ. What a marvelous account. And so he took any paid the tax. Why? Jesus freely giving up his rights for the sake of not causing offense, for the sake of doing good, for the sake of advancing his cause this is how we live, this is how Paul lived. The Gospel takes the same disposition. What was the right Oh the king? What the right of the king was was to repay ten thousand talents. Does his money. It was taken from him. His right was to get it back. But when he saw a man who couldn't pay and who asked for relief, he didn't ask for the debt to be relieved, by the way, he just asked for time to pay it more time. The king had such a compassionate, pity filled heart that he forgave the man everything. That king represents God, Jesus says at the end of the parable, and that one true God, our Savior's father, the Almighty, is a God who freely... up rights and justice for the sake of mercy. And this is exactly how we're supposed to be, which is why Jesus issues that very scary threat at the end of the Gospel text when he says Oooh, I mice care on. My arm sticks up when I hear the text. So will my father do to everyone who does not forgive his brother from his heart? Is God, a god of Justice, s he will have vengeance upon every one who is the worst kind of hypocrite, who receives from him forgiveness but refuses to give it to some one else. But the Lord is a God who loves mercy to triumph over justice, who loves pity and compassion to take the day so that justice is completely unnecessary. He much rather forgive outrageous sums, and this is exactly what he wants us to be. Dear ones, and I think we need in art, and especially in our day, where everyone is punishing everyone, everyone is demanding what's there's. That's not us, that's not us at all. We're people who have a happiness in being used. Do you feel the gap between thinking one thing and doing something else, the difference between Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy with regards to forgiveness? I do, I do. But we need to cross that gap. We have to vigorously reject all double standards, especially the double standard that we're tempted with to receive so graciously from the Lord and then not to do the same thing so joyously when someone else has caused US trouble. May God help us to live our faith and may His grace work the miracle in our hearts so that we can, like this king representing God, even if we're owed something really big, even if someone really really hurt us, stole from US things way more precious than valuables, than treasures, and did it for a very long time and then came to us and asked us for forgiveness. May God help us to fully, without a second thought, joyously, because it's a joy to imitate God. It's a joy to show forth the character of being a child of the God...

...who forgives. May he enable us to freely and fully forgive with happiness, without ever thinking about it again, be Christians. On 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 www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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