The Arena
The Arena

Episode 582 · 4 months ago

The Way of the Cross | Sunday after the Exaltation of the Cross 2022


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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Sirach: Fashioning a Life of Wisdom | 5 Lectures

Patristic Nectar Publications is pleased to present a new five-lecture series by Father Josiah Trenham entitled Sirach: Fashioning a Life of Wisdom. The Wisdom of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus, as the book is known in the Western or Latin tradition, is a choice composition from the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament.  Written in the 2nd century BC in Hebrew and translated into Greek by the author's grandson in Alexandria, Egypt, this majestic portion of Holy Scripture combines the rich aphorisms of traditional Hebrew sapiential literature with the concerns and background of 2nd-century Hellenic culture. Jesus, the Son of Sirach, was highly prized by the Church Fathers from the earliest days of the Church. In these five lectures, Father Josiah hones in on the themes of learning and seeking wisdom, humility, work, wealth, almsgiving, friendship, social life, wives, women, medicine and physicians, youth and aging, and wise speech and the power of words. In these topical lectures, practical substance is given to the practice of the fear of God in a wide array of human activity so that the servant of God pleases the Lord and lives thoroughly and thoughtfully before Him.

Lecture #1 - Learning and Humility.

Lecture #2 - Work and Wealth in Sirach

Lecture #3 - Almsgiving, Friendship, and Social Relations

Lecture #4 - Wives, Women, and the Stages of Life

Lecture #5 - Wise Words

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Now available at patristic nectar dot Org. patristic nectar publications is pleased to present a five part lecture series by Father Josiah Trenam entitled Syrac fashioning a life of wisdom. The wisdom of Syrac, or ECCLESIASTICUS, as the book is known in the Western or Latin tradition, is a choice composition from the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, written in the second century B C in Hebrew and translated into Greek by the author's grandson in Alexandria, Egypt. This majestic portion of holy scripture combines the rich aphorisms of traditional Hebrew sapiential literature with the concerns and background of Second Century Hellenic culture. Jesus, the son of Syrac, was highly prized by the church fathers from the earliest days of the church. In these five lectures, Father Josiah hones in on the themes of learning and seeking wisdom, humility, work, wealth, almsgiving, friendship, social life, wives, women, medicine and physicians, Youth and Aging, and wise speech and the power of words. In these topical lectures, practical substance is given to the practice of the fear of God in a wide array of human activity, so that the Servant of God may please the Lord and live thoroughly and thoughtfully before him. For these and other available lectures, please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trenham, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, blessed Lord's Day to all of you, brothers and sisters. I've entitled my homily this morning the way of the Cross. I'd like to begin by a short meditation on those first two words, the way. You are familiar, no doubt, with that magnificent affirmation that our Lord Jesus makes. Is Recorded in the Fourteenth Chapter of St John's Gospel, where he says I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father but by me. Perhaps the most ancient description of our faith, dear ones, perhaps the most ancient description of what it means to be a Christian, is simply to be in the way. Four Times in the acts of the apostles, the Christian faith is simply called the way. Listen to these accounts. I'll read you three short ones. Paul entered the synagogue and continued speaking out only for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the Kingdom of...

God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the way before the people, he withdrew acts nine versus eight and nine. And again. About that time there arose no little stir concerning the way. Acts and again from acts. Felix, the Roman governor of Cesarea, had a rather accurate knowledge of the way. This is our faith. Jesus is the way. He calls all men to follow him, on the way, and those of us who are doing it, you believers, are on the way, you are treading the way, confessing the way. When I was preparing my sermon this week, I was reflecting on the very first Orthodox book that was ever given to me. Now I could qualify that and say I take that back, because I was given a Bible and Sunday school in second grade and that is the Premier Orthodox Book. But what I mean is extra biblical Book Specifically About Holy Orthodoxy. It was given to me by Presbyterrick Catherine's oldest and much beloved brother, Dr John Christie of upstate New York, just after uh we had wed when I was a young man, many, many moons ago. This incredible book was written by the recently departed metropolitan callistos where and it was entitled. It is entitled because it's a classic and it's still sell ng massively the Orthodox way. The prologue, the opening prologue of the book, is entitled Sign Posts on the way, and he begins with an incredible story from one of the famous Egyptian desert fathers of the fourth century. His name is Saint Serapion the Sindonite. He was a wanderer and he wore just a very thin covering. He came, the story goes, he came to Rome on pilgrimage. This is fourth century, and when he was there he heard about a very famous recluse who for a very long time had never left her small room. She went nowhere, but she was famed in Rome as being an incredible Christian, and St Serapian found her way of life amazing, perplexing, we might say, so he resolved to go visit her and he...

...showed up at her room and he asked her this question, why are you sitting here? And she responded, I am not sitting I am on a journey. This is what the recluse said, very apropos description of the Christian life. It's not about what piece of earth we are presently sitting above or walking upon. The course of our life is a way. It's a journey towards the Kingdom of God. God's people learned very early that they were to dwell intense that they were in fact, to walk through this life like a wilderness, that they were to set with the Great Patriarch Abraham, the father of our faith, they were set to set their eyes on a heavenly city who's builder and architect was God, not man, who had foundations laid in the heavens, not on the earth. The heavenly city is what guided Abraham, though he was a man of incredible means, he didn't build fancy houses, he was on the way, and this is what we are, people on a journey. That's my first point. The way, this is the Christian faith. My second point is that I want you to see Jesus did not say in John Six, I am a way, a truth and a life. He did not. There are not many roads to the top of the mountain, despite what the religious, a humanist or the spiritual syncretist might affirm, and certainly there are many who affirmed that some religions in fact themselves on principle, affirmed that different world religions offer important insight into the human experience. In light, no doubt, I'm not one to say all world religions are darkness and of the devil and then there's nothing good in them. It's nonsense. Buddhism has much to say about suffering, Confucianism has much to say about social harmony and duty. Islam has much to say about the vanity of idols and the submission to the one God, et Cetera. True, true, but none of them, however, are the way, the way. Our Savior explicitly teaches that he is the way, the truth and the life, and its plumb offensive to say that there are many roads to the top of the mountain. In that this affirmation trivializes our Lord Jesus himself. It turns Jesus into just another wise man, just another teacher, perhaps even just...

...another profit and on that we completely reject that idea. It's also something that can be affirmed of him only if you actually don't read his words. He leaves no room for that affirmation, and the text that I opened with is just one of many cases in which Jesus makes an affirmation that he is the way, the truth and the life. That's just one of his many affirmations. That forbid US pushing Jesus into this idea of being one of many teachers, the founder of one great world religion among many world religions. The affirmation that there are many roads that lead to the top of the mountain is also nonsensical, since it uses the singular for the top of the mountain. It doesn't say there are many roads to different tops of different mountains. That would be more accurate. It would still be wrong, but it's better than this. That statement that there are many roads that lead to the top of the mountain is nonsensical because none of the world religions agree what the top actually is. Where exactly are we going? They all teach radically different futures for human beings. Having said that, a little side note to start you on a year of enthusiasm, we very recently have been able to confirm, uh, the title of our conference for next year. I'm not going to tell you who's coming because it's going to steal the rest of my sermon make your heart pitter pattern uh, and I don't want to do that because I want you to listen to me and not be dreaming for the rest of my sermon. But we have an incredible collection of speakers, one in particular who you will be thrilled a bell coming next year, and that theme is transhumanism, the future of the human race. I think it's going to be a marvelous, marvelous conference. It is essentially addressing what is the top of the mountain. Where exactly are we going? We believers are looking to ascend to the top of the mountain Tabor, to be delivered definitively and forever from death, from Satan and the power of the demons, from our own sins, by being united permanently, thoroughly, exhaustively to our Lord Jesus Christ in the glory of the Universal resurrection at his second coming. This is what we're looking forward to. It's coming, I promise you. I promise you. We look for... I whispered to Father Jason this morning, just as we said blesses the kingdom, I wonder if the kingdom will come today. Certainly we're going there. We stand in it. Now, but I meant in its final climactic glory. We're looking for this. Yes, you're gonna say it soon, like it, maybe fifteen minutes. I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world will come. You're facing east and praying, because the kingdom has promised to come. Like lightning flashing from the east to the West, so will the coming of the son of man be. This is why you're here today, right. We're looking for this kingdom. This is what we mean by the top of the mountain. This is where are walking leads. It doesn't lead to an earthly paradise where we can have many wives and these wonderful is dropping grapes into our mouths like the Suras of Islam. Teacher. It's not an impersonal Nirvana and it's certainly not a reincarnation into some other form, probably not human. None of those appeal to us as being the top of the mountain, someplace we want to go. And that leads me to my third and last point, dear ones, which is to comment on the Gospel. Now we are on the way. It is the way, not a way. And lastly, today, our Lord, having affirmed who he is, not just in that text that I opened with, from John Fourteen, but in the text the words previous to our Gospel reading in Mark Eight, where he asks his disciples who do men say that I am? And then Peter made his Marvelous Confession Thou art the Christ, the son of the Living God. Then Jesus immediately began to teach his disciples that he was going to die, he was going to be betrayed into the hands of men, persecuted by the Elders, scourged, crucified and on the third day rise again. They were scandalized, absolutely scandalized, and Peter rebuked Jesus, and then Jesus rebuked Peter, calling him Satan, saying he has his mind on the things of men and on other things of God. This is what led up to our Gospel today. And then Jesus, having affirmed who he is, what is the way he's taking, which is the way of bearing his Great Cross for the redemption of the world, to conquer death from the inside, to make an atonement, a universal atonement, for the sins of all mankind and to literally trample on and mock the demons through the cross, tearing up the certificate of debt that they had been posting in our minds and hearts against reminding us that we are sinners and that the wages...

...of sinners death. All of those things our savior, on his way, has come to do. And then he turns to his disciples and teaches them what the contours of the way is for them, for us, what exactly does it look like to be people who are on the way? What kind of road are we walking? He answers it. The road to eternal life, looks like. This is the way of the cross, not the way of bearing our Savior's cross. The very thought of it as ludicrous. One tiny Milla ounce of the way of Jesus's cross would destroy us. No, we bear a cross of his making, a gift to share in his suffering, so that we two might share in his glory, something that he fashions. All of his disciples follow the way of bearing the Cross. If anyone wants to come after me, let him deny himself, let him take up his cross and follow me. And then you heard the epistle lesson this morning also, which was chosen for this feast, which is Paul confessing that he's living this. He says I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live with Christ, who lives in me and the life that I live in the flesh. I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me. The disciples were completely terrified when they heard this, that they too had to pick up the cross. They knew what it meant. It didn't mean that they had to go to Gallery Byzantium and order a real nice gold cross. That's not what it meant. They knew this meant suffering, death and they were adalized and terrified. They were terrified because Jesus was terrified. Jesus himself was gripped by great sobriety. Just think of the Agnia, just think of getsemone, think of his sweat, think of the drops of blood, think of his prayer that, if possible, this cut could pass him by. Please let it be, but if not, they will be done father. They knew that if the Lord was that concerned, that sober, what about them? If they're being asked also to bear across? What about them? We would have been even more terrified. At this time. The disciples were thinking that Jesus's death would just be another martyrdom, just the murder again by the world of someone...

...who was worthy. They didn't understand that it would be the redemption of the entire world, the destruction of the devil, the decimation of demons, the atonement for the world, the opening of Paradise to all people by faith. They didn't know that, that is, until Jesus actually walked it. That's why there's such a contradiction between the disciples attitude today, literally trying to stop Jesus from going that path, and their attitude after the resurrection. Why such a change? Well, because, between today and the acts of the apostles, Jesus walked the way. They saw him do it. They saw him win, they saw him embraced the cross, they saw blood and water come out of his side, they saw the empty tomb, they saw and touched Jesus in his resurrection body. This changes everything. It reversed their whole attitude towards what he had been asking them to do. We find these same disciples and the acts of the apostles, when they were being persecuted, jailed, oppressed and killed, quote, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name, unquote. What a change. They recognized that this path now had been rendered beautiful, safe, a path of victory, a path of glory, a path that he who trod it first would sustain them on, so that, through their sufferings, they would be crowned with glory. They recognized and trusted him to fashion across of his own design so that each of them could walk the way that he walked, they could in some way imitate their savior. So this is what I leave with you today, dear ones, as you think about the actual path, the way of the Cross. It is the way of denial, the denial of self, especially the persecution of self love for the greater purpose of serving Jesus and the people that Jesus cares about. This is the way for us. The way of the cross is the way of purification. It's the way that each of us is fitted for eternal glory, purified and strengthened by the trials that God sends to us so that we're ready to inherit everlasting life. The way of the Cross is the path to heaven. It's the way that leads to the father. Going down this road, which is Short, leads to the mansions that Jesus is preparing right now for us in heaven, so that where he is,...

...we can be also. Don't flee it, dear ones. The devil lures us by all sorts of pleasures. He never tells us, though, ahead of time, the pain we're going to suffer by pursuing pleasure. He never tells us. In fact, he tells us just the opposite. You can eat all of that you want. Don't worry about it, don't worry about it, no consequence at all. You could have all that sugar and don't worry about diabetes. What's that? You know he talks that way from the beginning. What did he say to eve? Thou Shalt Surely Not die? No consequences, no consequences, pursue pleasure. Our Savior is exactly the opposite. He tells us what it takes right up front, right up front. Whoever wants to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. Jesus calls US, dear ones, to be losing our life in the world's terms so that we can gain it forever. And we know that he's speaking the truth, because we've seen his own suffering and we've seen his subsequent glory. We know where this road leads. We have to renounce ourselves, dear ones, we have to learn to live like that woman in Rome. Whatever you're doing, wherever you may be sitting, you are on a journey, because you're on the way, called to bear your cross like Christ bared his God. Make us a sick followers on the way. Amen. 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. No,.

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