The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 9 years ago

The Lord Christ Speaks to Money, Sex, and Power

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Ancient faith radio and patristic nectar publications, present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah Trenham, knowingthe ten commandments and what they mean. This is not for experts, thisis not for monks and nuns or priests. The Ten commandments are for every Christian, educated or uneducated. We should know the ten commandments, like weshould know the nicene creed, so that when we lie at that moment,we become co laborers, literal collaborators, with the devil in the work ofhis kingdom of darkness. How shameful is the false teaching, so often banteredabout today by irresponsible clergymen, that the church has nothing to say about thebedroom? What this really means is that this very significant area of human lifewill remain unredeemed, consigned to existence outside of Christ. The light of Christilluminates all. There is no aspect of human life, let alone one sosignificant and influential as human sexuality, that is not ennobled or inspired, guided, purified and redeemed by our Lord Jesus and his teachings. What you havejust heard our sound bites from some of the lectures in a ten part lectureseries entitled do this and you shall live, an exposition of the Ten Commandments forthe twenty feet century. patristic nectar publications invites you to download the firstof these ten lectures here at ancient faith radio. For more information and forthe remaining lectures, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. And now here's father Josiah with the Sunday homily. The name of thefather and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Whata pious young man we hear about in the Gospel lesson. Brothers insisted aman who came to Jesus, which is where the pious go, with hisquestions. He knelt in front of cries. He showed that he was thinking aboutthe important questions of life, everlasting life, and how to get it. And he asked Jesus that beautiful question, what good deed must I do toinherit everlasting life? What a beautiful man. G Jesus answered his questionin a way that many, I think,...

...would not answer it. He didn'tlook at the man and say just believe in me. He looked atthe man and said, if you wish life, if you want to enterinto everlasting life, observe the commandments. This is an exceedingly important principle andpoint for us to remember. The path to life comes by the keeping ofGod's Commandments. No one goes to the Kingdom of God without the keeping ofthe commandments of God, and Jesus even named six right off the spot.You want to enter life, keep these commandments. And then Jesus posed aquestion to him. He had his thoughts. Jesus had his thoughts, and Jesussaid to him, why do you call me good? He looked atJesus like a rabbi, and educated rabbi in the law, and he calledhim good teacher, and Jesus stopped him and he said you ought not bespeaking about good like that. There's only one who's good, God, hewho dwells in heaven. A good rabbi, and we could say a good priestor, a good bishop or a good monk is not good, notin the sense of God being good, not at all. You, ofall people at St Andrew should know this story, know this truth. Ispend many years trying to convey it because it was so profoundly conveyed to meby one of my dearest teachers. God rest his soul. He passed awaytwo years ago at ninety five years of age. His name was Dr RogerNicole. He was from the French speaking partition of Switzerland. He was aman of brilliance. He did graduate worked at his master's degree at the Sorbonnein Paris. He did his PhD at Harvard. He wrote more articles inbooks than one could number. It was a godly man. He donated hispersonal library to our seminary. Well, I was a student. I rememberbeing in the library when the two eighteen wheeler trucks pulled up loaded, fromthe top to the bottom to the back, twenty thousand volumes from his personal library. It doubled the holdings of the seminary library instantly and he had allof those books in his home in Boston.

I'd like to know his wife.Really I'd like to know his wife. Dr Nicole was lecturing in his retirement, which he did for over twenty years, on theology, and hewould be in the middle of lecturing and he would fall asleep. He hadnarcolepsy. When he would awake to continue his lecture, he would do itin any one of the languages he knew and we would wait for a fewminutes and then raise our hands at excuses. Doctor Nicole, could you speak andthe rest of the lecture in English? Oh Yes, I'm very sorry,very sorry. I was passing him one time in the hall on abreak. It was a three hour night class. We had a big breakin the middle. I had gone to get a glass of water or coffeeand I was passing him. He had his glasses on like this and heasked me in his beautiful French accent. He said, which I can't do, but he said hello, brother, how are you today? And Isaid, Oh, I'm good, and he stopped and he pulled his glasseson to his nose and he looked at me and he said no, no, brother, goodness is a moral quality. We must leave God to judge youare well. Since that time, this was twenty something years, Iknow I am not good and I have never answered that question that we askevery day. By saying good. He, like our Savior, took one ofthe everyday interactions of life and he impressed it so deeply upon me I'venever been able to shake it. Thank God and I remember every time someoneasks me a question about how I am not to say good, because there'sonly one. There's only one who's a good and I'm trying to be goodsometimes. So it's better to say something like hoping to be good one day. or I like it even better from King David in the PSALTER where hesays I am wretched and in trouble from my youth. That's more appropriate.That's more appropriate. Now. Many of you have heard this story before andI have told it more than I can remember, but I followed the Princeof the Apostle, Saint Peter, who, in his second letter, says tosay the same things to you again. Is No trouble for me and itis very helpful for you. And I'm following the Prince of the apostlesbecause it's too often the case that we forget what our pastors and teachers teachus. REPETITION is the mother of learning.

I rose reminded that this weekend wehave the Charles family visiting us. Thank God. Will used to beso active in our parish and nick their son, who has only been outof my pastoral care for five years. That's it, and I asked himwhen I saw him Nick, how are you? Guess what he said?You got it. Oh, I'm good, father. I almost pulled my hairout. I thought to myself a priest's work is never done and Ibetter repeat the story again so that we get it. Remember, brothers andsisters, the patristic dictum, the teaching of the fathers, that whenever wesay something like someone is good or holy or loving, we mean that Godis not saying Gregory the theologian says this if you say that you exist andGod doesn't, because what you mean by existence and how existence exists for Godare two completely different things. We ought not project onto the uncreated, allholy God created categories of our creaturely fallen existence. It is true that Godis love, that God is holy, that God exists, but he isloved, holy, good and exists not like us. Think about your ownexistence. You exist dependently. You don't exist by yourself. If God didn'thold you an existent at this very moment, you wouldn't exist. You'd fall outof existence. He upholds the very respiration that's going on at the heartbeat. These things aren't just on their own, they're sustained by the grace of Godand by his goodness. No one sustains God. So we have tobe careful not to project what we mean by existence onto God. It's thesame. What about a holiness? We know people who are holy, butit's a derivative holiness, a holiness that they've learned in the overcoming of sin, receiving it from God. God didn't receive His Holiness from anyone. Heis holy. The same with love. We know people who are loving,and it's okay to say that such and such is loving, but don't thinkthat such and such is loving like God is loving. Our love is alwaysmixed, at best, always mixed. It's never one hundred percent pure.God's love is a river that never ceases to flow, that is never mixedwith self interest, not even a little tiny bit. Jesus took a occasionwith this pious young man to teach him something very important about how great Godis, and pastors try to do that too. Our Savior, you sawin this Gospel Account, did not avoid...

...sensitive subjects. You know that commonsaying in polite society that in conversation you should always avoid religion and politics.You want to have a peaceful conversation. Well, if that is in anysense true, Jesus certainly didn't follow it. He was someone who spoke about reallysensitive subjects a lot. The three things that we avoid most in talkingto people that we don't know well money sex and politics and power. Hetalked a lot about the most pressing and controversial issues facing us today morally inour country are issues of sexuality. And I've heard more times than I'd liketo hear this statement matterfit. I've heard it from some of you, solisten carefully. Well, Jesus doesn't talk much about sex. Heard this alot. What it really means on the surface is the only people in theNew Testament really talk about sex are the apostles, and therefore it couldn't bethat important if Jesus didn't talk about it. And therefore what that statement really meansif I or someone I like happens to be out of a cord inthe area of sexuality with the teaching of the church, it's really not thatbad because they can still be in good with Jesus because Jesus never talked aboutit. That's the kind of the idea behind this comment. Very common.I've seen it actually even in academic papers. It's that ridiculously prevalent in society.But allow me to pour a massive decanter of ice water upon this notion, right here and now, the notion that Jesus doesn't talk about sex.In fact, he talks about matters of Sexuality Constantly in Today's Gospel. Besidestalking about the very sensitive issue of the man's personal money and possession, whichhe counseled if the man wanted perfection, he should dispossess himself as a pathto holiness in the Kingdom of God, he also talks about adultery and forbidsit. He quotes the seventh commandment and tells the man, if you wantto enter into life, don't commit adultery. That would appear to me to betalking about sexuality quite Rawly, quite blatantly. Elsewhere in the gospels hetalks about marriage, about divorce, about the sanctity of marriage. What Godhas joined together, no man should be allowed to separate. He talks aboutcelibacy, he talks about sexual abstinence. He talks about immoral fantasies which defilethe heart and mind, which proceed from the inside. He talks about lostnow someone might say, since this is...

...the real issue at hand in ourculture today. Well, that may be true, father and all of thosecategories, but he never talks about homosexuality. He never does. I still havea little ice water in might decanter left. Let me just pour thereft of it on that ridiculous comment, because in fact it's not true.He does in fact talk about homosexuality. In fact, he uses a commonscriptural top US and image, a paradigm that is used by the prophets todescribe the scariest kind of judgment. What you want to miss, what youwant to avoid, and that if the judgment that's coming upon Sodom and gomora, Jesus and facts. Takes this topic top US and applies it,warning some people about what was coming to them. He took the image ofjudgment upon Sodom and Gomorah and all of its frightfulness and he applied it tothese people and he said, you know what, as bad as that willbe, there's one thing worse, and that is being indifferent to my wordsand miracles. He said, the judgment for the cities where I went andperform miracles and made my teaching and they didn't care enough even to take meseriously. The judgment on those cities will be worse than the judgment on Sodomand go mora. So it's not true, in fact, that our savior doesn'ttalk about sexuality, and it's certainly not true that he doesn't talk aboutit in detail or that he doesn't talk about homosexuality. He most certainly does, and I would also suggest, brothers and sisters, that on all thesesensitive subjects, money, sex and power that he talks about so much,he doesn't just talk to us in the Gospels. If you don't find himsaying something about an important subject in the gospels, it does not mean thathe does not speak to the matter. You cannot separate Jesus's voice in thegospels from Jesus's voice in the apost in the apostles, in the Prophets,in the psalms and in the law of Moses. You can't, because hedidn't. He owned all the words of scripture. He said that these wordswere the very words of God, the speech of the Holy Trinity. Heappealed to them as the authoritative guide and moral norm in the world constantly inhis teaching. To listen to the psalms is to hear the Voice of Christ. To listen to the prophets is to hear Jesus speaking. The apostles whowrote so many beautiful letters that follow the Gospels in our New Testament, inwhich so many matters of Christian living are...

...detailed for us. We're speaking inplace of Christ, not in their own authority. Their authority came from him, and Jesus made it abundantly clear. Whoever receives them receives me, andwhoever does not receive them does not receive me. And let me take itup step further. Not only do Jesus's voice come to us not just inthe gospels, but in the entire Old Testament, law, prophets and Psalms, in all the apostolic teaching. Jesus's voice is also heard authoritatively and clearlyin the church herself, his body, because when the church speaks, Jesusspeaks in her ecumenical counsels, in her sacred canons, in the writings ofthe holy fathers, in the lives of the saints, in our Sacred Hymns, in our hymnography, in the ICONOGRAPHY, the sacred art of the church.All is a symphony, a common symphony of truth and the Voice ofJesus. Let's not think that we can pick. Oh, Jesus says this, but that's just St Paul, or that's just Moses, or that's justthe bishops. It's not the case. Sometimes it's uncomfortable for us, brothersand sisters, I know it. I hear it in your confessions and inmany conversations. As Society of challenging US and challenging our way of life.Since we love our neighbors, we love our coworkers, we love our friends, we're getting into many sticky circumstances. We're finding ourselves challenged in our familiesand in our neighborhoods with those who are becoming more and more confident and boldto articulate to us that they think our whole way of life is nuts.That's okay. I had an interaction this week. I end exchanged correspondence withan episcopal priestess in town who set a very nice letter of invitation to participatein a collaborative ecumenical a choir fest. So I have my letter that Iwrote back. I want to read it to you just as an example ofour time. Dear Reverend Cushnw, thank you very much for the kind invitationto participate in the International Carol Service at St George Church. Our choir hasoften participated in an ecumenical choir fest at...

St Thomas, the Apostle Roman Catholicchurch in the past. However, we Orthodox Christians are not at all happywith the episcopal church for it's abandonment of Fundamental Christian morality and do not wishto share forums with it. To do so communicates to the community and impressionof agreement that we do not wish to make. Again, thank you verymuch for your kind invitation, Father Josiah. I receive back this message. DearFather Josiah, appreciate your Frank Response, wishing you God's blessing. Thought wasa very nice response. But, brothers and sisters, we are disciplesof the master. We can't play nice just to keep a smile on ourface. We have to be willing to follow the church, especially in thoseareas of difficulty where we might actually come into conflict, those sensitive subjects involvingmoney, sex and power that are the obsessions of our culture. We haveto hold on tight to two things, to the truth and to love.If we can hold them both together, then we can be confident that theLord will guide us down the road of following him, and then we canhear also those words from our savior when he says, if you want life, if you wish to enter into everlasting life, keep the commandments. Godhelp us to do that. 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.Until next time,.

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