The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 2 months 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, DadOrg, patristic nectar. Publications ispleased to present a four part lecture series. My Father Josia Trinum,entitled God's Prodigal Prophet An exposition of the prophecy of Jonah. This text is found amongst the minorprofits of the Old Testament and is much beloved by believers, not only forits Christological typology, in which it sets forth the death, burial,plundering of Hades and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, but also becauseit is simply packed full of spiritual themes like obedience, repentancesinful nationalism, God's call to mission, the enlightenment of thenations, brokenness rebellion and grace the love of enemies and much much morefor these and other available titles visit our website at patristic nectar,not a work, and now the arena with Father JosiahTrene, the name of the father and of the sonand of the Holy Spirit, a blessed Lord's they to each of you,brothers and sisters. Thank you. I've entitled my homily this morning, thejoy of being used, the joy of being used before I share afew words about that from the readings this morning. I want you to know. I was going through my falther for thisSunday. I still use real folders when I say for that, I'm in computer folder a real Manila folder in my real filecabinet. I have one for a not just every Sunday of the year, butfrom all the feasts and any basically any Sunday or week they I've everpreached on, and I was going through past Sundays for September fifth, and I found this bulletin and I thoughtto myself. I wonder how many of you know what our bulletins I used to looklike they've gone through numerous versions over the years, differentshapes and sizes. Sometimes they were veritable books. Wewere evidently in the book mentality. This was we used to print icons on the fronttill I banished that print practice. This is from August the twenty, the onethousand nine hundred and ninety eight, and it has all the usual things, thebeautiful readings in the hypnologic. I also found in there my complete sermon written out every wordI thought to myself. She...

...who was this young priest with all thatenergy. What happened to him? You happen to him. Actually, you happen to him anyway little little corporate memory, therelittle corporate memory. Yesterday I had the joy to travel withpresise and Olivia and Mary Catherine, and to meetand us to see a Victoria Paul and my grandchildren, two of my grandchildrenout in Arizona for a wonderful wedding of some dear friends and as we were pulling into Arizona An.I 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 importantpeople here and what do you do when you first showup at the wedding you go and you greet the priest. Don't just go and look foryour friends we're going to go there and then look around for the priest andgo greet him and they're like and then the firstquestion came. But what, if there's a bishop there- and I said I said well in that case- go find the bishop firstand greet him and then go find the priest and say hello, but what if there's two priests there? Isaid: Okay, there's a bishop and two priests. You go see the Bishop at thenyou go to the senior priest and in the next scene, your priest, but what, if there's a monk there- and I said well in that case you go seethe Bishop you go see the first senior priest, the second senior pring andthen you'll, go say hello to the monk an then you go play with your friends. Well, what? If the bishops? A monk I said, same policy, same policy, andthen we talked a little bit about why? Why we have these sacred customs, whythese customs are universal in the whole church? Why is it it made methink about how important it is for all of us not just for our we ones. Ofcourse they are full of anticipation when they seetheir friends. They want to go, run off and see their friends right and, ofcourse, this applies to parents and grandparents. We try to teach ourchildren to be dignified and to express their Christian faith to have culture. Christian culture were trying to bridgethe gap between thought and action between Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy. You know, dear ones, if we just thinkOrthodox that doesn't make us Orthodox. I mean I'm glad that our brains got getOrthodox sized, but our brains...

...have to be Orthodox ize together withour hearts and with our whole way of life. Our whole existence, our body. Wehave to live as Orthodox Christians. Not just think that way, and sometimesbridging the gap is not easy. Believe me, if you were eight years old, theywouldn'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 thatyou're here, when our bishops here to actually move from Oh yeah, I'mOrthodox in my mind I know bishops are extremely important. I know there is no church. There is no grace and there is nosalvation 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 transferenceto your way 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 elseto form in yourself to insist of yourself that you bow your head andtake a blessing. Are Those the same things? Absolutelynot one's a head trip another's a way oflife. It's one thing to think that Christ has given a mystery into thehands of priests and bishops, to hear people's confessions and to literallywipe their hearts clean and remove guilt and power the power of sent frompeople's lives. It's something else actually to go to confession: to Live your faith right. We have the bridge of that gap, constantly it's something to believe that thepriesthood is an ordinance that is exercised on theearth but is truly established in heaven. It's one thing to believe inthe Holy Liturgy and the power of the prayers of the Holy Liturgy. It'ssomething else to make sure that when you have a prayer need youactually communicate it to the church. THAT'S ORTHOPRAXY! You know we have a beautiful, beautifulministry here, the prayer chain, our prayer ministry and I am thrilled by the responsibility that many of youtake for praying for the needs of each...

...other, but sometimes it functions as aProtestant imposition in our church. Let me tell you when it does it functions that way when more effort is made to communicate tothe prayer chain than to the priests? That's nonsense! You can pray your prayer chain. All youwant. You can make a thousand prayers, but Ipromise you a thousand of those prayers, isn't worth one prayer of a priest or a bishop in theHoly Liturgy when Jesus Christ is on that Holy Table, that's orthodoxy. This is why the whole customs of theChurch has requires pieces of paper. Every altar you go to in every churchin the entire world is jam, packed with little pieces of paper withpeople's names on them. You know why, because Orthodox people believe the notall prayer is equal, we don't believe in the heresy of thepriesthood of all believers and therefore all the prayer chain isequal to the altar prayer. We don't believe that stuff at all. Ofcourse, if you're pious, your prayer can become substantial as abeliever before God, even someone who's even outside the church, like Cornelius, God was impressed with his prayer, andGod sent him an angel to help him, I'm not trying to down grade the prayers of believers, know I'mtrying to upgrade our practice so that we have a. We don't have a huge gapbetween our Orthodox theology in our minds and our actual praxi. When I sendyou a note- and I tell you that, for instance, we're about to start thePAROCHUS for two weeks before the door mission feast, you need to write me back and give methe names of your loved once this is a. This is a basic thing. I want to help. You understand howimportant that is to get into the hands of whoever your priest is the names ofthe people that you want blessed and helped the Orthodox the Orthodox make prospera learn to make prospero learn to turn in slips of paper forevery liturgy. When you have a burden in your heart, then we'll bridge the gap will reallybe Orthodox. In practice. You know Saint Cosmos, atols. We justcelebrated this unbelievable evangelist who we celebrate on thetwenty fourth of August, this man who led the great awakening ofMacedonia, Greece, Albania under the Ottomans on whose influence led to theRevolution of eighteen, twenty one and...

...the overthrow of the Ottoman Turks he used to teach the people in thevillages. He said. Look if you are out of yourwalking through the village and you look down the road and you see a humblevillage priest and he's walking to you and then just all of a sudden on theleft side of the road. You see descend from heaven, a radiant glorious angel. He said cross the road and take the blessing of the humblepriest and then go greet the angel if yourOrthodox, this is Saint Cosmo's. This is ourfaith. 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 wayeasier to do the things I'm suggesting right now I mean how hard is it to help your friends and loved ones, yourchildren, grandchildren and people that you love for and need by asking yourpriests telling your priest their names right? How hard is this? Not that hard?It's not that hard. It needs to be done, but it's not thathard. But let me tell you something that is hard. What you just heard thismorning in the Gospel, what's really hard is going from thinking thatforgiveness is super important to actually doing it, especially when you're getting reallyreally used as the king was, and the Gospel to day.There's a common theme, both in the Epistole en today and in the Gospel andabout being used. The epistles on is from Saint Paul'sfirst letter to the Corinthians to marvelous text, in which Paul talksabout how it's absolutely normative, to pay for your clergy, to support yourclergy who work for your souls and you take care of their bodies, and helodges that principle in the Old Testament law. He says that Mosesforbade owners of oxen from muzzling them while they were working because the person who treads on thegrain should be able to eat from the work he says from that, because it isGod interested in animals. Nothing compared is interested in the church.This is why we pay our clergy so that they can spend their time taking careof our souls, and then Paul says this amazing thing he said: Don't I have a right and Barnabas mypartner in the Gospel. Don't we have a right to have a wife, neither Barnabus norPaul had a wife, they consecrated their celibacy to God,and they did it freely. They literally...

...gave up a right in order to serve thechurch better for which we honor them. He said Dont Barnabus and I have aright to take along a believing wife like the rest of the apostles, and he said, don't Barnabas and I havea right to be supported by you. He goes but we've given up that rightin order to preach the Gospel better. It's a marvelous text, a marvelous Texan. You can see throughit the the vision of the Church for voluntary, the glory of voluntarycelibacy for the sake of the Gospel. This is why we have a Saint Cosmo Se tolos it because he did he followed in St Paul and Saint Barnabas's steps, butnotice Paul trampling on rights. You know everybody talks about rights today,rights, rights, rights, real natural rights and a lot of madeup, phony ones too in our society, the right to kill a child in the womb.Please please right Ark, that big to Christians,they're, big and political philosophy, but in our personal dealings in ourimitation of Christ, what place of rights did Jesus have just think of thetime when they were trying to get tax from Christ, and he told Peter Peter came and saidmaster. Do we pay the tax? You know we're going to get a shekel and Jesussaid. Let me ask you a question first Peter from whom do the kings of theearth take taxes from their sons or from their subjects, and he says notfrom their sons from their subjects. Exactly we don't have to pay the tax onGod's son. I don't pay tax to earthly king, but lest we give offence, go downto the sea. Take the first fish that comes out in your Bunder Checke in itsmouth, Lord have mercy. We bow before Christ, what a marvelous account, andso he took and he paid the taps why Jesus freely giving up his rights for the sake of not causing offence forthe sake of doing good for the sake of advancing his cause. This is how welive. This is how Paul lived. The Gospeltakes the same disposition. What was the right of theking? What the right of the king was was to repay ten thousand talents,that's his money. It was taken from him. His right was to get it back, but whenhe saw a man who couldn't pay and who asked for relief, he didn't askfor the debt to be relieved by the way he just asked for time to pay it moretime. The king had such a passionate pity filled heart that he forgave theman, everything that king represents God. Jesus says atthe end of the parable and that one, true God, our Saviour'sfather,...

...the Almighty is a God who freely givesup rights and justice for the sake of mercy, and this is exactly how we're supposedto be, which is why Jesus issues that very scary threat at the end of theGospel text when he says Oh, I'm, mice, hair on my arm, sticks up. When I hearthe text so will my father do to every one who does not forgive his brother fromhis 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, butrefuses to give it to some one else. But the Lord is a God who is who lovesmercy to triumph over justice, who loves, pity and compassion to take theday so that justice is completelyunnecessary. You much rather forgive outrageous sums, and this is exactly what he wants us tobe dear ones, and I think we need an art in, especially in our day whereevery one is punishing every one, every one is demanding. What's theirs, THAT'S NOT US! That's not us at all.Were 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 andOrthopraxy? With regards to forgiveness, I do I do, but we need to cross thatgap. We have to vigorously reject all doublestandards, especially the double standard that were tempted with toreceive so graciously from the Lord and then not to do the same thing sojoyously when someone else has caused US trouble. May God help us to live our faith andmay His grace work the miracle in our heart so that we can like this king,representing God, even if we're owed something really big. Even if someone really really hurt USstole 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 forforgiveness. May God help us to fully without a second thought joyously, because it's a joy to imitateGod. It's a joy to show forth the character of being a child of the Godwho forgives may he enable us to freely...

...and fully forgive with happinesswithout ever thinking about it again it be Christians on. We hope that you have enjoyed and havebeen edified by this presentation offered to you by patristic nectar,publications, a non profit organization committed to nourishing the spirituallythirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. If you are interested in otheravailable titles or if you would like more information on patristic nectarpublications, please visit our website at www, dot, patristic, nectar, dot,Org, again, that's www dot, patristic nectar, Dodo a.

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