The Arena
The Arena

Episode · 10 years ago

Three Things Reveal a Man…

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

...how he dresses, walks, and laughs: Sirach 19:30. Learn more about Patristic Nectar Publications.

There are three things that show forth a man how he dresses, how he walks and how he laughs. Ancient Faith Radio and patristic nectar publications present the arena Sunday homilies and theological reflections with Father Josiah trenem. Father Josiah is the pastor of Saint Andrew Orthodox Christian Church in Riverside, California. He is also the founder of Patristic Nectar Publications, a nonprofit organization committed to nourishing the spiritually thirsty with the sweet teachings of the Holy Fathers. For more information on patristic nectar publications, please visit our website at www dot patristic nectar dot org. And now, Father Josiah, in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, one God, brothers and sisters, this week I had a conversation, a beautiful conversation, with a family that I had never met before, husband and wife and beautiful children, and in the midst of our conversation I was asking them about their backgrounds. They're both from Mexico and there are Catholic family, but the husband began to relate to me some of what's happened religiously to his family here. His mother has left the Catholic Faith and become a Jehovah's Witness and some of his sisters have left the Catholic faith and become various types of Evangelical Protestants, and he has been the one member of the family to remain Catholic. And he was describing to me what this has meant in his family for functions and celebrations and kind of the normal routine of holy days and birthdays and and has turned it completely upside down. And I thought, as I was as I was talking to him, I thought to myself what an illustration this is of the the ferment, the the thrashing, the the intellectual and religious thrashing of our age and especially of our nation. In this nation, it says though we're moving our hands trying to find something, going from this to that in a constant quest for the authentic. And as I was listening and attempting to sympathize, trying to put myself in his shoes, I couldn't really at the same time as feeling compassion, also feel tremendous joy. I felt tremendous joy because that is not my...

...life. We are blessed to be a people, a peculiar people, rooted in the holy fathers of the church. They're like a magnificent anchor that keep us from blowing here and there, from getting uprooted by this storm or that storm. We celebrate today the three hundred and eighteen holy fathers at the first Ecumenical Council, such an illustrious gathering. These fathers have provided the ant todote, the true solution for us. There are the reasons that we can not have to go through such tumult. We follow in their footsteps and we don't dare move their landmark that they established. We honor it and we considered a glory and a joy to inherit the faith from them and a whole way of doing life. We take it from them and we seek to inculcate it, to incarnate it in our own lives so that we can bear the same beautiful fruits that they bore. Today we re member specially magnificent people like Saint Nicholas, the wonder worker, who was there at the first council saying Spirridon of trimuthus, who worked miracles on the floor of the council to defend the Orthodox faith against heresy. Bishop Alexander, Saint Alexander of Alexandria, who brought with him Deacon Athanasius the great, became Saint Athanacios, sat pough Nucius, who literally came from the Egyptian desert and rose to speak to the fathers, to defend the married priesthood when a number of the Roman delegates attempted to insist on priestly celibacy. Can you imagine a better defender? The one of the greatest ascetics, one of the greatest monks of the desert, who said, don't become more apostolic than the apostles. These are wonderful men and of them evagrious, that great former of monastic life at the time he said this, these things he said, do not merely speak with pleasure about the deeds of the fathers, but demand of yourself also the accomplishment of the same amid great labors. He's encouraging us, brothers and sisters, not just to admire them, not just to esteem them, not just to praise them, to copy them, to think the way they thought, to love the way they loved, to live the way they lived. Now, you and I know that this is a task too great for us, too great, but it's our ambition,...

...it's what we're about, is to become rooted, fruit bearing trees like them, not blown here and there by the thrashing of our day. And so I'd like to having mentioned the fathers and our need to imitate them, I'd like to specifically talk about one aspect of light where I think we can make progress in imitating them, and this is the aspect of laughter. I want to talk to you about laughter this week. If you were reading through your through the Bible in the year readings, you were in ecclesiasticus or Sirac and you would have read chapter nineteen and you would have heard a magnificent verse in that chapter, The last verse of the chapter, which says there are three things that show forth a man how he dresses, how he walks and how he laughs. The magnificent text. These are three things, not the only three things, but these are three things that bear witness to who a person is. Now I'm tempted to give three homilies on dressing, walking and laughing, I really am, but pentecost is next week, so I as I contemplated, I can't do that. So let me just say two quick things about dressing and walking, and then I want to hone in on laughing. By the way, none of these things are believed in by our contemporary culture. The common wisdom of our day is that how you draft is irrelevant about who you are, that these are just externals disconnected from the person. It's not true. We all know that uniforms have a lot to say about us. They can tell you some things that are very obvious. That man is a policeman, that man is a priest, that girl over there is a doctor, this young woman is a nurse. It tells you things, for sure, but more a person's simplicity or vanity can be sometimes discerned by what they're wearing. What they think about themselves. If they have discretion, can be manifested in clothing. If they are her the church, can be manifested in clothing. Modesty on the outside is an expression of modesty of the heart. This is why, and this is a special note, I'm not picking on anybody, I am not as a loving father. I am simplest...

...making this reference. Especially our young people and especially our young ladies, should take note of this. If, in fact, how you dress manifests your heart's condition and who you are as a person. There should be an obvious distinction between how pious, believing Orthodox Christians dress and how the world dresses. And this is a critical moment now, because it's very hard for we who love modesty and bow down before the Virgin Mary. It's very awesome hard for us to find clothing. Almost every shop you drive by have in their windows the clothing for horse. Forgive me, but this is true. You would never see the Virgin Mary wearing what's mostly in the window of forever twenty one or whatever. Would you ever see her with those clothes on? Know, and it's not because she was a prude and Glum and she was always looked this. That's not the case. She's the the epitome of radiance and enjoy and beauty. No one looked like her, but she had modesty of heart. You know, this week I have a very special meeting planned. I'm thrilled about it. It's my second meeting with a religious leader from other religious traditions in Riverside in an attempt for us to have a collaborative function. Guess what that function is? A fashion show. Yes, yes, I am trying to meet different religious leaders in our community who would go in with us on a collaborative fashion, so so that we can draw to our town textile producers who will make something dignified that we can hone in some wonderful, beautiful but respectable clothing. You're welcome. By the way, this is not completely novel idea. Both the Catholic Church and the Mormon Church have actually arranged these shows in the past with Nordstrom's and have actually got it done. We're not trying to create something out of nothing. That's just the word about clothing. What about walking? Think about how much you can tell sometimes what a person's thinking by how they're walking. Are they focused or they are they meanderers walking kind of encircles, going nowhere? Do they walk with chest out, with head high, or are they walking with their heads down? Are they peaceful, walking at a normal gait, or distressed? Really moving walking can tell...

...us a lot. But I want to focus on laughing now. The first thing I have to do is justify even speaking about laughing to you, because it is true, and you've heard me say it in the congregation, that we do not have a single account in any of the four Gospels of the Lord Jesus Christ laughing, not a single account, and this is made use of by many of the holy fathers to call us to sobriety, to seriousness about life, and this should be a quality of every since you're Christian, we're serious right. We have the judgment on our mind, we have the Kingdom of God on our mind. We know that this life is exceedingly important, we know that eternity depends on it, and that produces in US serious mind. However, because we don't have any accounts of Jesus laughing, do not think for one moment that our savior was a person of Dowur disposition who did not appreciate and constantly use humor, because he did. He both appreciated it and constantly used it, and many of his teachings are impossible to understand authentically. If you do not get it, if you do not get it that he had a huge smile on his face while he was saying it, if you take everything he says literally and you don't understand when he uses paradox, when he uses outrageous exaggeration, when he uses irony, you won't get it. All sorts of nutty interpretations of the Gospels have been foisted on religious congregations because of the interpreters insistence that Jesus did not appreciate humor. Let me just show you a few examples of how he did. We follow our savior in sobriety. We remember that he is a depicted in the gospels, often sad, weeping, compassionate, serious, even angry, but also he was a man of immense and radiance, radiant joy. Just like children. He was a grown up child, just like the Virgin remained a child our whole life. The Lord and his mother remained what they call us to become, to revert from the complexity of adulthood into a childlike simplicity so that we can enter the Kingdom of God. This is the condition. And children they know how to laugh. They know how to laugh innocently, pleasurably, in a godly way. There's an example. Try reading the sermon on the mount to your children or grandchildren if they're young, between the ages of say three and eight. I will promise you, if you read it slowly enough, there...

...are several places that they are going to smile, if not break out in complete laughter. And let me give you an example. Chapter Seven. The Lord is encouraging us not to be judgmental. He's forbidding it and he says this or how can you remove the speck out of your brother's eye while having a beam? Sometimes it's interpreted log in your own eye. Now we are so used to standing on every of our Savior's words very seriously we're missing the image. Think about what he's saying. He is saying something so outrageously absurd. Can you imagine a telephone poll sticking out of my eyeball? Right now? I turned left and I smack the pillar. I turned down, I hit the bottom and in that condition, with a telephone pole sticking out of my eyeball, I'm over here telling you you know what, you were five minutes late to church. I'm very concerned about that and I'm trying to get a spect. He meant it to be outrageous. He meant it to be completely ludicrous and ridiculous and to cause us to go oh, that's how crazy it really is. What am I thinking? Judging anyone? It's nuts. It's crazy. Think about his use of the image of the blind leading the blind and both falling into the pit he especially used irony and paradox when dealing with the religious leaders. Here are the religious leaders who are confident that they themselves know the right way. They're so confident that they're done teaching themselves and now they're teaching everyone else. And yet they are in fact completely blind and can't see anything. But they've got people behind them by the hand and confidently they're walking, not knowing where they're going, saying, trust me, I am the teacher in Israel. Come on, I will show you how it's done. Poop right into the hole. The blind leading the blind. Those are just a couple examples. This kind of humor is uniquely human, brothers and sisters, it's sublime. Our ability, in the midst of the greatest sorrows, to have a smile, to tease, to laugh, is an incredible gift from God that we do not share with any part of creation. None of the animals laugh like us. It's human and it's beautiful. A camel going through the eye of a needle. Huh, here's a good examples...

...that. That teaching about how a rich man can't enter the Kingdom of Heaven and any more than a camel will hump and all is going to fit through this little dirtything. I can't even get with my glasses on the thread through the eye of the needle. And our Savior says, if you can get a camel with us, I'm through that, then a rich man can enter the Kingdom of God. It's so ludicrous, it's so outrageous, and may he makes his point. He wants you to smile. But some have said, well, what this really means is that there was a gate somewhere on the wall of Jerusalem. It's called the camel gate and it was made a pretty low so camels would have to band down on their knees in order over, completely missing the point because they didn't understand what Jesus was saying and what he was employing. Now, brothers and sisters, are encouraging you in this into a godly joy. And laughter doesn't mean, of course, that all laughters good and a lot of laughter isn't. We don't coarsely jest, we don't make light of sin. And you know, a lot of the stand up acts, a lot of the famous comedians in our society, not you, Basil, you are great. A lot of the stand ups in our society make jokes about sin and we can't laugh. We can't laugh about what hurts people. We don't joke coarsely or make light of sin, and we also don't play indiscreetly with holy or mysterious things. We don't make really beautiful churchly things the objects of our jokes to trivialize them, and we don't use jokes to tear people down or just say jokes and make humor for humors sake. Some people have to tell jokes constantly because they're tormented by seriousness. They're so afraid of quiet and being able to examine listen to their own voice of conscience that they have to tell jokes constantly. This is not what we like, but avoiding those types of that type of foul joking does not mean that we're dismal and a matter of fact, and that same sermon on the Mount, our Savior said these words as a command, in the imperative do not be dismal. The context was fasting, something it's very easy to allow to make us dismal, grumpy and irritable, but it applies to all of our life. If we're not to laugh like that, how can we laugh? Let me suggest just a few things. First, laugh as an extension of the joy of the Lord and the presence of his kingdom in your life. Laugh because he laughs. Laugh because you know that the things that threaten you, the sorrows of life, death was just a coming upon you and your...

...loved ones, is not the end. This is why Christians have always had a gayety that have marked us out for twenty centuries. We've always had a joy that can be taken away even in the most difficult circumstances. How can Paul and Silas be in jail, beaten up at midnight rejoicing? They knew, because of the Kingdom of God, that none of these earthly things was the end or ultimate. This produced in them, in the midst of great sorrows, tremendous rejoicing and gaiety. We laugh innocently, we tease innocently, and the best way to do that is to tease yourself and to make yourself the brunt of your jokes. This is a uniquely Christian thing to do. I'll give you a perfect example. This morning, Deacon, knowing in fact that I'm going to be preaching on that and his immense humility, chose to read the wrong gospel text. I had to come down and correct him. That is how humble he is and how willing he is to allow a distraction to come so that he could become the brunt of the joke. Isn't that right? Deepon, this is the best way to do it. We tell jokes also, and we tease in order to protect others, to remove sometimes when when someone is under the microscope, was or being unfairly treated. This is a fantastic time, without judgment, to be able to deliver someone from an uncomfortable circumstances through the use of a good piece of humor, to draw someone from an unduly serious mill you into a lighter context and escape someone from being judged. And we can also use it to teach, as our savior did. These are godly ways to laugh, brothers and sister, and to combine within ourselves at the same time that true spirit of harmoleipy, joyful sorrow. A man can be determined by how he dresses, by how he walks and by how he laughs, and there is such a thing as a godly and radiant joy and a humor that comes from being united to the Lord, the triumph for the king, the conqueror of Sorrows, glory to his name. 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.

In-Stream Audio Search

NEW

Search across all episodes within this podcast

Episodes (590)