The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 4 months ago

The Joy of Being Used | Saint Matthew 18

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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 FatherJosiah 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 muchbeloved by believers, not only for its Christological typology, in which it setsforth the death, burial, plundering of Hades and resurrection of our Lord JesusChrist, 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'sBrokenness, rebellion and grace, the love of enemies and much, muchmore. For these and other available titles, visit our website at patristic nectar dotorg. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trennem the name of thefather and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, a blessed Lord's theyto each of you, brothers and sisters. Thank you. I've entitled by Homilythis morning the joy of being used, the joy way of being used beforeI share a few words about that from the readings this morning, Iwant you to know I was going through my folder for this Sunday. Istill 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 everySunday of the year but from all the feasts and any basically any SundayI've earned week, they I've ever preached on. And I was going throughpast 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. Thiswas 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 eightand 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 allthat energy. What happened to him? You happened to him. Actually,you happened to him anyway. Little little corporate memory. There, little corporatememory. You have to day I had the joy to travel with Bresitera andOlivia and Mary Catherine and to meet and us to see a Victoria Paul andmy grandchildren, two of my grandchildren, out in Arizona for a wonderful weddingof some dear friends. And as we were pulling into Arizona on was ahundred and, I don't know, thirteen or something, we began doing theusual parent thing. All right, you guys, you know that there's goingto be a lot of important people here, and what you do when you firstshow 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 thenlook around for the priest and go greet him. And they're like andthen the first question came. But what if there's a bishop there? AndI said I said well, in that case, gold find the bishop firstand greet him and then go find the priest and say hello. But whatif there's two priests that there? I said okay, there's a bishop andtwo priests, you go see the Bishop and then you go to the seniorpriests 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 theBishop, he goes see the first senior priests, a seconds in your printand then you go say hello to the monk and then you go play withher 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 thewhole church. Why is it? It made me think about how important itis for all of us, not just for our are we ones? Ofcourse they are full of anticipation when they see their friends. They want togo run off and see their friends, right and of course this applies toparents and grandparents. We try to teach our children to be dignified and toexpress their Christian faith, to have culture, Christian culture. We're trying to bridgethe 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 ourbrains have to be Orthodox sized together with...

...our hearts and with our whole wayof life, our whole existence, our body. We have to live asOrthodox Christians, not just think that way, and sometimes bridging the gap is noteasy. Believe me, if you were eight years old, that wouldn'thave been easy. Yesterday really was a challenge, beautifully accomplished, I mustsay, but it was a challenge and it's sometimes a challenge for us rightit's one thing to believe in the priesthood. It's something else to make sure thatyou'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 knowthere is no church, there is no grace and there is no salvation forme without my bishop and my priest. That's us. That's orthodoxy. It'sone thing to think that, it's something else to let that transferring to yourway of life. That's something different. It's one thing to believe that priestsand 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 youbow your head and take a blessing. Are Those the same things? Absolutelynot. One's a head trip, another's a way of life. It's onething to think that Christ has given a mystery into the hands of priests andbishops to hear people's confessions and to literally wipe their hearts clean and remove guiltand power, the power of sin, from people's lives. It's something elseactually to go to confession to live your faith right. We have to bridgethat gap constantly. It's something to believe that the priesthood is an ordinance thatis exercised on the earth but is truly established in heaven. It's one thingto believe in the Holy Liturgy and the power of the prayers of the HolyLiturgy. 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, wehave a beautiful, beautiful ministry here, the prayer chain or prayer ministry,and I am thrilled by the responsibility that many of you take for prayingfor the needs of each other. But...

...sometimes it functions as a Protestant impositionin our church. Let me tell you when it does. It functions thatway when more effort is made to communicate to the prayer chain than to thepriests. 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 thoseprayers isn't worth one prayer of a priest or a bishop in the Holy Liturgywhen Jesus Christ is on that holy table. That's orthodoxy. This is why thewhole customs of the Church has requires pieces of paper. Every altar yougo to in every church in the entire world is jam packed with little piecesof paper with people's names on them. You know why? Because Orthodox peoplebelieve that not all prayers equal. We don't believe in the heresy of thepriesthood of all believers and therefore all the prayer chain is equal to the altarprayer. We don't believe that stuff at all. Of course, if you'repious, your prayer can become substantial as a leaver before God, even someonewho's even outside the church, like Cornelius, God was impressed with his prayer andGod sent them an angel to help him. I'm not trying to downgradethe prayers of believers. No, I'm trying to upgrade our practice so thatwe have a we don't have a huge gap between our Orthodox theology in ourminds and our actual praxy. When I send you a note and I tellyou that, for instance, we're about to start the PAROCLYSIS for two weeksbefore the door mission feast, you need to write me back and give methe 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 thehands of whoever your priest is the names of the people that you want blessedand helped. Be Orthodox. Be Orthodox, make PROSP A, learn to makeprose for a, learned to turn in slips of paper for every liturgywhen you have a burden in your heart. Then we'll bridge the gap, willreally be Orthodox in practice. You know, Saint Cosmos Atolosu. Wejust celebrated this unbelievable evangelist, who we celebrate on the twenty four of August, this man who led the great awakening of Macedonia, Greece, Albania underthe Ottomans and whose influence led to the...

...revolution of one thousand eight hundred twentyone and the overthrow of the Ottoman Turks. He used to teach the people inthe villages. He said, look, if you are out, if you'rewalking through the village and you look down the road and you see ahumble village priest and he's walking to you and then, just all of asudden, on the left side of the road you see descend from heaven aradiant, glorious angel. He said, cross the road and take the blessingof 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 andthis is why we pray the way we do. Crossing the bridge from thinkingsomething to doing it can be very challenging, very challenging. In fact, it'sway 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, tellingyour priests their names right. How hard? Is that? Not that hard?It's not that hard. It needs to be done, but it's notthat hard. But let me tell you something that is hard. But youjust heard this morning in the Gospel. What's really hard is going from thinkingthat 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 acommon theme both in the Episto lescent today and in the Gospel, and aboutbeing 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 payfor your clergy, to support your clergy, who work for your souls and youtake care of their bodies. And he lodges that principle in the OldTestament law. He says that Moses, forbade owners of oxen from muzzling themwhile they were working, because the person who treads on the grain should beable to eat from the work. He says, from that he goes.Is God interested in animal of nothing compared these interested in the church. Thisis why we pay our clergy, so that they can spend their time takingcare 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'twe have a right to have a wife? Neither Barnabas nor Paul hada wife. They consecrated their celibacy to God and they did it freely.They literally gave up a right in order...

...to serve the church better, forwhich we honor them. He said, don't, Barnabas, and I havea 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 besupported by you. He goes, but we've given up that right in orderto 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 gloryof voluntary celibacy for the sake of the Gospel. This is why we havea saint. COSMO. Say to those it's because he did. He followedin Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas's steps. But notice Paul trampling on rights.You know, everybody talks about rights today, rites rights, rights, real naturalrights and all lot em made up phony ones to in our society,the right to kill a child in the womb, please, please. Rightsaren't that big to Christians. They're big and political philosophy. But in ourpersonal 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 fromChrist and he told Peter. Peter came and said, master, do wepay the tax? You know work? Can we get a shekel? AndJesus said, let me ask you a question first, Peter. From whomdo 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 taxto earthly kings. But lest we give offense, go down to the seaand take the first fish that comes out and you'll find ash shekel in itsmouth. Lord have mercy. We bow before Christ. What a marvelous account. And so he took any paid the tax. Why? Jesus freely givingup his rights for the sake of not causing offense, for the sake ofdoing good, for the sake of advancing his cause this is how we live, this is how Paul lived. The Gospel takes the same disposition. Whatwas the right Oh the king? What the right of the king was wasto 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 whocouldn't pay and who asked for relief, he didn't ask for the debt tobe relieved, by the way, he just asked for time to payit more time. The king had such a compassionate, pity filled heart thathe forgave the man everything. That king represents God, Jesus says at theend of the parable, and that one true God, our Savior's father,the Almighty, is a God who freely...

...gives up rights and justice for thesake of mercy. And this is exactly how we're supposed to be, whichis why Jesus issues that very scary threat at the end of the Gospel textwhen he says Oooh, I mice care on. My arm sticks up whenI hear the text. So will my father do to everyone who does notforgive 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 wantsus to be. Dear ones, and I think we need in art,and especially in our day, where everyone is punishing everyone, everyone is demandingwhat's there's. That's not us, that's not us at all. We're peoplewho have a happiness in being used. Do you feel the gap between thinkingone thing and doing something else, the difference between Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy with regardsto forgiveness? I do, I do. But we need to cross that gap. We have to vigorously reject all double standards, especially the double standardthat we're tempted with to receive so graciously from the Lord and then not todo the same thing so joyously when someone else has caused US trouble. MayGod help us to live our faith and may His grace work the miracle inour hearts so that we can, like this king representing God, even ifwe're owed something really big, even if someone really really hurt us, stolefrom US things way more precious than valuables, than treasures, and did it fora 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 thecharacter of being a child of the God...

...who forgives. May he enable usto freely and fully forgive with happiness, without ever thinking about it again,be Christians. On them. We hope that you have enjoyed and have beenedified by this presentation offered to you by Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organizationcommitted 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 informationon patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dotorg. Again, that's www dot patristic nectar dot org.

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