The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 10 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, knowing the ten commandments and what they mean. This is not for experts, this is not for monks and nuns or priests. The Ten commandments are for every Christian, educated or uneducated. We should know the ten commandments, like we should know the nicene creed, so that when we lie at that moment, we become co laborers, literal collaborators, with the devil in the work of his kingdom of darkness. How shameful is the false teaching, so often bantered about today by irresponsible clergymen, that the church has nothing to say about the bedroom? What this really means is that this very significant area of human life will remain unredeemed, consigned to existence outside of Christ. The light of Christ illuminates all. There is no aspect of human life, let alone one so significant and influential as human sexuality, that is not ennobled or inspired, guided, purified and redeemed by our Lord Jesus and his teachings. What you have just heard our sound bites from some of the lectures in a ten part lecture series entitled do this and you shall live, an exposition of the Ten Commandments for the twenty feet century. patristic nectar publications invites you to download the first of these ten lectures here at ancient faith radio. For more information and for the 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 the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. What a pious young man we hear about in the Gospel lesson. Brothers insisted a man who came to Jesus, which is where the pious go, with his questions. He knelt in front of cries. He showed that he was thinking about the important questions of life, everlasting life, and how to get it. And he asked Jesus that beautiful question, what good deed must I do to inherit everlasting life? What a beautiful man. G Jesus answered his question in a way that many, I think,...

...would not answer it. He didn't look at the man and say just believe in me. He looked at the man and said, if you wish life, if you want to enter into everlasting life, observe the commandments. This is an exceedingly important principle and point for us to remember. The path to life comes by the keeping of God's Commandments. No one goes to the Kingdom of God without the keeping of the commandments of God, and Jesus even named six right off the spot. You want to enter life, keep these commandments. And then Jesus posed a question to him. He had his thoughts. Jesus had his thoughts, and Jesus said to him, why do you call me good? He looked at Jesus like a rabbi, and educated rabbi in the law, and he called him good teacher, and Jesus stopped him and he said you ought not be speaking about good like that. There's only one who's good, God, he who dwells in heaven. A good rabbi, and we could say a good priest or, a good bishop or a good monk is not good, not in the sense of God being good, not at all. You, of all people at St Andrew should know this story, know this truth. I spend many years trying to convey it because it was so profoundly conveyed to me by one of my dearest teachers. God rest his soul. He passed away two years ago at ninety five years of age. His name was Dr Roger Nicole. He was from the French speaking partition of Switzerland. He was a man of brilliance. He did graduate worked at his master's degree at the Sorbonne in Paris. He did his PhD at Harvard. He wrote more articles in books than one could number. It was a godly man. He donated his personal library to our seminary. Well, I was a student. I remember being in the library when the two eighteen wheeler trucks pulled up loaded, from the 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 all of 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 he would be in the middle of lecturing and he would fall asleep. He had narcolepsy. When he would awake to continue his lecture, he would do it in any one of the languages he knew and we would wait for a few minutes and then raise our hands at excuses. Doctor Nicole, could you speak and the rest of the lecture in English? Oh Yes, I'm very sorry, very sorry. I was passing him one time in the hall on a break. It was a three hour night class. We had a big break in the middle. I had gone to get a glass of water or coffee and I was passing him. He had his glasses on like this and he asked me in his beautiful French accent. He said, which I can't do, but he said hello, brother, how are you today? And I said, Oh, I'm good, and he stopped and he pulled his glasses on 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 you are well. Since that time, this was twenty something years, I know I am not good and I have never answered that question that we ask every day. By saying good. He, like our Savior, took one of the everyday interactions of life and he impressed it so deeply upon me I've never been able to shake it. Thank God and I remember every time someone asks me a question about how I am not to say good, because there's only one. There's only one who's a good and I'm trying to be good sometimes. 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 he says 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 and I have told it more than I can remember, but I followed the Prince of the Apostle, Saint Peter, who, in his second letter, says to say the same things to you again. Is No trouble for me and it is very helpful for you. And I'm following the Prince of the apostles because it's too often the case that we forget what our pastors and teachers teach us. REPETITION is the mother of learning.

I rose reminded that this weekend we have the Charles family visiting us. Thank God. Will used to be so active in our parish and nick their son, who has only been out of my pastoral care for five years. That's it, and I asked him when I saw him Nick, how are you? Guess what he said? You got it. Oh, I'm good, father. I almost pulled my hair out. I thought to myself a priest's work is never done and I better repeat the story again so that we get it. Remember, brothers and sisters, the patristic dictum, the teaching of the fathers, that whenever we say something like someone is good or holy or loving, we mean that God is not saying Gregory the theologian says this if you say that you exist and God doesn't, because what you mean by existence and how existence exists for God are two completely different things. We ought not project onto the uncreated, all holy God created categories of our creaturely fallen existence. It is true that God is love, that God is holy, that God exists, but he is loved, holy, good and exists not like us. Think about your own existence. You exist dependently. You don't exist by yourself. If God didn't hold you an existent at this very moment, you wouldn't exist. You'd fall out of 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 God and by his goodness. No one sustains God. So we have to be careful not to project what we mean by existence onto God. It's the same. What about a holiness? We know people who are holy, but it'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. He is 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 think that such and such is loving like God is loving. Our love is always mixed, 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 mixed with self interest, not even a little tiny bit. Jesus took a occasion with this pious young man to teach him something very important about how great God is, and pastors try to do that too. Our Savior, you saw in this Gospel Account, did not avoid...

...sensitive subjects. You know that common saying 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 any sense true, Jesus certainly didn't follow it. He was someone who spoke about really sensitive subjects a lot. The three things that we avoid most in talking to people that we don't know well money sex and politics and power. He talked a lot about the most pressing and controversial issues facing us today morally in our country are issues of sexuality. And I've heard more times than I'd like to hear this statement matterfit. I've heard it from some of you, so listen carefully. Well, Jesus doesn't talk much about sex. Heard this a lot. What it really means on the surface is the only people in the New Testament really talk about sex are the apostles, and therefore it couldn't be that important if Jesus didn't talk about it. And therefore what that statement really means if I or someone I like happens to be out of a cord in the area of sexuality with the teaching of the church, it's really not that bad because they can still be in good with Jesus because Jesus never talked about it. 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. Besides talking about the very sensitive issue of the man's personal money and possession, which he counseled if the man wanted perfection, he should dispossess himself as a path to holiness in the Kingdom of God, he also talks about adultery and forbids it. He quotes the seventh commandment and tells the man, if you want to enter into life, don't commit adultery. That would appear to me to be talking about sexuality quite Rawly, quite blatantly. Elsewhere in the gospels he talks about marriage, about divorce, about the sanctity of marriage. What God has joined together, no man should be allowed to separate. He talks about celibacy, he talks about sexual abstinence. He talks about immoral fantasies which defile the heart and mind, which proceed from the inside. He talks about lost now someone might say, since this is...

...the real issue at hand in our culture today. Well, that may be true, father and all of those categories, but he never talks about homosexuality. He never does. I still have a little ice water in might decanter left. Let me just pour the reft 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 common scriptural top US and image, a paradigm that is used by the prophets to describe the scariest kind of judgment. What you want to miss, what you want to avoid, and that if the judgment that's coming upon Sodom and go mora, Jesus and facts. Takes this topic top US and applies it, warning some people about what was coming to them. He took the image of judgment upon Sodom and Gomorah and all of its frightfulness and he applied it to these people and he said, you know what, as bad as that will be, there's one thing worse, and that is being indifferent to my words and miracles. He said, the judgment for the cities where I went and perform miracles and made my teaching and they didn't care enough even to take me seriously. The judgment on those cities will be worse than the judgment on Sodom and go mora. So it's not true, in fact, that our savior doesn't talk about sexuality, and it's certainly not true that he doesn't talk about it 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 these sensitive 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 him saying something about an important subject in the gospels, it does not mean that he does not speak to the matter. You cannot separate Jesus's voice in the gospels 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 he didn't. He owned all the words of scripture. He said that these words were the very words of God, the speech of the Holy Trinity. He appealed to them as the authoritative guide and moral norm in the world constantly in his 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 who wrote so many beautiful letters that follow the Gospels in our New Testament, in which so many matters of Christian living are...

...detailed for us. We're speaking in place of Christ, not in their own authority. Their authority came from him, and Jesus made it abundantly clear. Whoever receives them receives me, and whoever does not receive them does not receive me. And let me take it up step further. Not only do Jesus's voice come to us not just in the gospels, but in the entire Old Testament, law, prophets and Psalms, in all the apostolic teaching. Jesus's voice is also heard authoritatively and clearly in the church herself, his body, because when the church speaks, Jesus speaks in her ecumenical counsels, in her sacred canons, in the writings of the 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 of Jesus. 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 just the bishops. It's not the case. Sometimes it's uncomfortable for us, brothers and sisters, I know it. I hear it in your confessions and in many 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 families and in our neighborhoods with those who are becoming more and more confident and bold to 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 with an episcopal priestess in town who set a very nice letter of invitation to participate in a collaborative ecumenical a choir fest. So I have my letter that I wrote back. I want to read it to you just as an example of our time. Dear Reverend Cushnw, thank you very much for the kind invitation to participate in the International Carol Service at St George Church. Our choir has often participated in an ecumenical choir fest at...

St Thomas, the Apostle Roman Catholic church in the past. However, we Orthodox Christians are not at all happy with the episcopal church for it's abandonment of Fundamental Christian morality and do not wish to share forums with it. To do so communicates to the community and impression of agreement that we do not wish to make. Again, thank you very much for your kind invitation, Father Josiah. I receive back this message. Dear Father Josiah, appreciate your Frank Response, wishing you God's blessing. Thought was a very nice response. But, brothers and sisters, we are disciples of the master. We can't play nice just to keep a smile on our face. We have to be willing to follow the church, especially in those areas of difficulty where we might actually come into conflict, those sensitive subjects involving money, sex and power that are the obsessions of our culture. We have to 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 the Lord will guide us down the road of following him, and then we can hear also those words from our savior when he says, if you want life, if you wish to enter into everlasting life, keep the commandments. God help us to do that. 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. Until next time,.

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