The Arena
The Arena

Episode 569 · 6 months ago

Where are God's Miracles? | The Blind Man Sunday 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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Hey everyone, Christ has risen. It's father Josiah. I want to tell you about our upcoming annual patristic nectar conference. It's entitled Holy Orthodoxy, presenting the Christian faith. It's going to be June three to five here at St Andrew Church in Riverside. I'd like to invite you all to come. You can come in person or you can schedule yourself to participate in the live stream, including q and a, and you'll be able to have all of the presentations put into your account at the conclusion of the conference. We have a great lineup of speakers. The keynotes father maximus constants, but Dr t Conpino will be speaking, father bog down booker and myself. Hope you can come. God be with you. For these and other titles, please visit our website at patristic nectar dot org. And now the arena with Father Josiah Trenna. In the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, amend I've entitled my humbly this morning. Where are God's miracles? I'll tell you where I got that title in a second. We are as a nation. Our national heart has been suffering great pain for several weeks, and this week it reached new levels of sorrow as we together more in the massacre of nineteen beautiful elementary school students and two of their teachers, and also the death of the eighteen year old murderer himself, as well as the incredible suffering of all of their families. And then, if that wasn't enough, to see this beautiful husband whose wife was killed himself die of a broken heart mourning his wife's murder, and that that causing his four children now to be without parents. It was, well, just a terribly grievous, weak pain.

Pain we are commemorating this day the Sunday of the blind man, and he himself endured incredible suffering. He himself endured great pain and we reminded in the text the great difference between the blindness of the body and the blindness of the soul. Were mourning these deaths and as Christians, we also mourn the many in our nation that have lost or are losing their own faith in God and becoming utterly blind people, blind to the value and the preciousness of human life. This is what we've become. It's not surprising, since we have formally endorsed for more than fifty years, the murder of the most precious human beings that we know are children in the womb. Mother Theresa was prophetic when she warned our nation that if we tolerate this, it will simply spit violence and crime and it won't be able to be controlled. We've witnessed this, we've seen it taking place. We've lost this vision of human life. We've become truly blind and therefore we don't even know how to reflect upon tragedy. And so what we've heard? Instead of wisdom, we've heard the raising of voices about politics, as though somehow murder, mental illness and demonic influence is primarily about politics. Not So, not so. This is a truism.

When we are blind to the things that we should see, we see the things that we should be blind to. Let me repeat them. When we're blind to the things that we should see, we see the things that we should be blind to faith. Faced with this misery, this tsunami of our cultural collasp Apps, which we refused to speak about, let alone owning it or seeing it, we start talking like the People in the Gospel Account Today, when they were faced with the blind man. Who Sinned? Did He send? He must have sinned. Did his parents send? They must have sinned, completely blind to the whole cause of this man's blindness, which had nothing to do with sin at all. WHOSE FAULT WAS IT? The NRA, the COPS, the grandmother, the parents, the murderous young man, the makers of the video game call of duty, the tech titans who have addicted us and made us slaves to the digital world, the violent rappers who have glorified violence, the lockdowns. Big Farma gotta throw in big farmer somehow and there. It's really a misguided response. His Eminence, Metropolitan Joseph posted a letter of consolation and encouragement for the priests and the faithful this week. Such a breath of fresh air, in fact, calling us to live the way that Christ is asking us to live, to live lives of love and...

...peace as the solution to the violence in our society. Yes, yes, we God's children are the yeast, our Savior says, that makes the bread of our nation rise. US were the light to drive out the darkness, the salt to retard the corruption. If we don't do this, it won't be done. We have to be willing as believers, to endure the pain that true love brings. Without the cross, pain seems senseless and we don't know what to say. And so this is what we've been hearing in the commentary upon these tragedies, not much of significance. The Cross is the prism through which we understand misery. Love always involves pain, love always demands vulnerability. We've learned this, of course, from God himself, who sent his only son, our Lord Jesus, to suffer for us, to save us by his own suffering, and then to conquer death and provide the ultimate solution for our misery. There is no resurrection, though, without the AGONEA. There's no resurrection with the Stavros, without guessemone, with out the cross, no salvation, no resurrection, pain, vulnerability. This is just what love is about. Many of you, I think, have read that magnificent text that C s Lewis wrote in reflection upon his own pain. It's called the for loves for loves, and I hope many of you have read and if not, I'm encouraging you to read that text. Listen to his words.

He says this. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and probably broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements, lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your own selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable and ear redeemable. To love is to be vulnerable. What a word, what a word. This is our call, this is the model that we've been given by our men loving God, and this is our challenge. Not to hide. So much pain exists in our world, so much darkness, because of our unwillingness to endure pain, our unwillingness to endure pain. Look at the blind man, dear ones, look at the blind man. This is a man whose whole life was pain, and I don't just mean physical pain. Certainly there's a lot of physical with pain, and blind people can tell us about this. I'm only partially blind, and being partially blind has completely changed the right side of my body, the right side of my body I am bought my let you know that my lateral vision is like not good anymore, which means sometimes you're standing next to me trying to talk to... and I just walk away like a very rude person, but I don't even know you're standing there. I did not know. I thought was air. I guess it could be worse, because I could just go like that and end up smacking you by accident, but I have now like a permanent state of these kind of bruises along my body from pumping into pillars and walls and things like that. Can you imagine being completely blind? This man spent his entire life without eyeballs. He knew physical pain from his head to his toe, and he knew also greater spiritual pain, the spiritual pain of exclusion. I think mostly, of course, people looking at you, knowing that you're always on the outside, but the idea that somehow you can't really see or experience whateverybody else is seeing an experience. You know, sometimes, even when we're trying to be sensitive in the presence of a blind person, if you're watching any credible sunset, how do you not go, oh my Gosh, oh right, you don't want to say it. On a winter day, when you come out of liturgy and you see the snowcapped mountains, you want to say something. It's a life of pain this blind man live that. Yet he was simply magnificent. I stand in all of this. Man. If there's a person in the Gospel that has no name that I want to meet in paradise, it's the blind man. You know, we fall in love with him because the text that John gives us in John Nine is so long, just like last week we fell in love with the Samaritan woman because that was exceedingly lengthy interaction as well. But we know her name, we have her on the walls, Sat Puttini, but we don't know the name of the blind man. I hope you remember this when we're meeting him in paradise and you say to me, father, you told me this is the one you wanted to meet. Them like yes, what is your name? He was so straightforward, courageous, simple, he was absolutely resilient forgiving,...

...intelligent, theologically formed, thirsty, devout. He was blind, but he was a teacher of the religious teachers. What a magnificent brother and a true model of faith. He believed what he had been revealed when had been revealed to him. He believed what he had heard, and then his faith just explodes as he interacts with Christ and he goes from step to steps to step, understanding who he's dealing with, making the right conclusions about the experiences that he was having with Jesus, such that he becomes a model of faith. Noticed that he did not blame God. He was in fact, quite the theologian. About suffering and misery, matters that we don't understand, like why have I been born without eyeballs, matters that are beyond us, like why did this happen? Matters that deeply grieve our heart. They should be met in one way. St John Chrysostom and his magnificent treatise on the Providence of God. Talking about suffering, he says there is one language and one way to respond to matters that are beyond us for believers, and that is the way of silence. Don't speak, put your hand like job over your mouth and say the Lord has given and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. Never tolerate, dear ones, the extremely proud and the spiritually insane language of being mad at God. Never allow yourself... think it, let alone speak it, and parents, never allow your children to talk this way. To impugne God for the sins of men, when God himself has exercised such great, long suffering to endure human wickedness, this is an evil thought. To impugne him. Do we really want God to remove our own freedom because we ourselves sin? This is a common temptation. Something terrible happens and why didn't God stop it? What are you saying? First, he did, he brought it all on himself. He suffered more than anyone has ever suffered to redeem man. But you're asking him as a fix to destroy the human race, to steal that which is most pressures to us, freedom, because we can misuse it in horrible ways that might hurt you. God banished the thought from our minds. Why didn't God stop of course he could stop it if he wasn't a loving God, if he didn't respect his creation, if he didn't honor, to the point of his own disgrace, the freedom of human beings. No one mourns over the sins of men more than the Lord God, and no one constantly works to overcome and redeem the sins of men than God, and to do so has cost God literally everything. The blind man knew better. You didn't hear any of that language from him, none of it. The blind man also was not presented as a man who was whining about his condition. He accepted his lot... faith, even though he didn't understand it. He had incredible spiritual side, immense proportions of spiritual side, even though he had no physical side at all to grasp. Ring and what's going on in our lives takes faith, and this man had a lot of it. There's an incredible story in the Old Testament I want to mind you about. It comes from the book of judges. Yes, I remember the book of judges. Yes, five books of Moses. Moses dies just before he brings the people into the promised land. He's brought them out of four hundred years of slavery in Egypt. He dies his successor, the Righteous Joshua, the commander, who, by the way, is on that pillar on the backside. Just hear. He's given the task by God to lead the people of God into the Promised Land and to fight and to divest the land of those idol worshippers with whom God had had enough and to give that land to the people of God. Joshua conquered thirty one kings in incredible battles and then he died. As long as he was alive, the people kept the faith. As soon as he died, they fell into terrible temptation, surrounded by idolater surrounded by Pagan Idol worshippers everywhere. They fell into tremendous temptation. And then the book of judges, which fall of Joshua, is all about how a certain pattern always followed when people were influenced too much by the corruption around them and they began to lose their faith in God and to be corrupted in their way. He would allow the powerful enemies to become more powerful, and then they would become politically oppressed. Terrible things would happen, and then God would raise up a judge out of his great mercy. Once the people humbled themselves and began to cry out for redemption, he would send a judge. The whole book is about that.

One of the most impressive and great judges was a man named Gideon. This is recorded in judges six through eight. Gideon himself was a marvelous person. He was greatly grieved by the suffering of his people, by the fact that the Pagans were powerful and oppressing them. Every year the MINIONITES and the amalekites would come into his area, where his tribe was, and they would decimate the land, they would take all the produce, they would take all the seeds. They laughed the people basically with nothing. They did this year after year after year. And so the sea the scene, the opening scene of Gideon's life, is he's beating out the wheat and he's working as fast as he can so that they can hide it before they know that the midianites and the amalekites are going to come to steal their food. And while he's doing this, the angel of the Lord appears to him and says the Lord is with you, Gideon, O Valiant Warrior. Can you imagine? This man hadn't fought at all his whole life. This man was doing nothing but crying and mourning over the oppression and of his people, and here's the angel of the Lord appearing to him and calling him a valiant warrior. God sees what we don't see. God knew the faith of Gideon was going to sprout and make him truly a great leader of God's people. Gideon responded by saying to him, my Lord, if the Lord is with us, why that has all this happened to us? Where are all his miracles that our fathers told us about? This is how I got my homily title. Where are they? We heard the great miracles about Moses, what took place into Joshua. I haven't seen one. The Lord has abandoned US and given us into the...

...hand of Minion. This is Gideon's word. Catch the irony. The Angel of the Lord is the Preincarnate Frist, appearing to him, and what is the first thing that he says? God is not with us. He's literally in front of your nose, Gideon, he's literally standing in your presence and you're saying to him that the Lord is not with us, and this is why it's happened. How ironic indeed, God had not abandoned them. If he had, he wouldn't be appearing to Gideon, encouraging him and feeling, fueling his heart with courage to fight as a warrior. In fact, it was the people who were not with God, not God who is not with the people. They were with the idols there wasn't God who had abandoned his faithfulness to them, it was they who had abandoned their faithfulness to God. The empowerment, the very misery that God brought by empowering Israel's enemies, was a mercy of God himself to help the people return, return to him, to repent, to wake up. Nothing's more cruel than giving a good life to a person who's in deep sin. They'll never have a change of heart, never think now, is this not how we often react to horrible suffering? We cry where is God, when the question that we really should be asking is where are we? This should be the first thought of what's going on in our own land, dear ones, when we see the incredible misery and sorrows, a violence which, without question, have simply exploded since covid since two thousand and twenty, even here, even here, B lm didn't get a lot of us, but it was close. I heard them marching...

...from out of my bedroom window. If it wasn't for our sheriff, Chad Bianco, who arrested more than a hundred and fifty vandals after they had promised that they would go home peacefully, who knows? They were just several hundred yards from my house. It's everywhere, this violence. I think it's God asking us what he asked Adam and Eve when they were hiding in their sins. Where are you? Where are you? We should hear that now. The Angel of the Lord Ignored Gideon's doubt, he ignored his spiritual insensibility, and he simply responds to Gideon, to his query, by saying this one word. Go. This is his response to Gideon. Go and deliver Israel from the hand of MIDIAN. Stop whining and do something. Go deliver Israel from the hand of MIDIAN. Have I not sent you? Instead of whining because of the suppering and the misery, instead of doubting, if you want to see God in action, if you want the miracles of your forefathers, which you say you're missing, act like your forefathers. Do what Moses did. Follow Joshua's example. Stop Dilly Dallying. Fulfilled God's word. Go. You probably remember the rest of the story. His faith grew slowly. He tested God with a fleece. He threw the fleece out and said, Lord, if this is really what you want me to do tonight, make all the water in the dubion, the fleece and nothing on the ground. God did it. Then the next day, Lord forgive me, but could you do it one more time, and reversed it, and God Bard in his great mercy. Then, after God had strengthened his faith, he was still...

...scared and the text says he began his work of tearing down the Pagan Altars in the middle of the night so that no one would know that it was him who did it. That's least what he told himself. By the way, that's a very important thing that we have to do. We have to tear it down, a lot of altars, and we're the only ones who can do it. We have to tear down these pagan altars. They secular altars in our culture. The hypocrisy of our land to continue to talk about the ambitions and the virtues that come from people who believe in God and yet, practically speaking, to banish God from our public discourse in our society. It must be destroyed. We have to acknowledge it and we have to tear it to the ground. He worked at night. He started tearing down the altars of bail, but then the people found out right away the Gideon's faith group became stronger and stronger, and finally he mustered thirty two thousand Israelite soldiers to go fight against Midian, and God's response to him must have totally blown his mind. God looked at Gideon and he said that's too many. Get rid of them. And what are you talking about? God said. Tell the people if you have any fear in your heart, leaf you're free to leave. No let no problem for you. Twenty two thousand of the thirty two thousand had fear and left. Gideon was left with tenzero people to fight. Pretty Ironic, I think, because Gideon himself, just shortly before this, was absolutely paralyzed by fear. He had come so far, God had strengthened his faith so much that now not only did he not have fear, he didn't want anyone with him who had fear. God said about the remaining tenzero faithful, these who believed in God strongly, who trust in him and...

...didn't fear, that those were too many. He told Gideon to bring the tenzero down to the watering hole and let them drink, and to separate those who kneeled down low to drink from those who knelt and scooped the water and then lapped it likeness. And then God told him everyone who kneels down and drinks like that, with his head to the ground, send home. Of the Tenzero, Ninezero, seven hundred melt down and lap the water and they were sent home. GETEON was less with three hundred men. We already know that the tenzero had great faith and no fear, but God wanted something even more. Great faith, no fear and vigilance, zealous vigilance. And that's what you have with a person who is so concerned about the enemy that he'll never take his eye off of him, picks up the water, keeps his eye right at him while he's drinking it. Look what can be done with faith filled, vigilant people. And this is the number that God used, three hundred to conquer the MIDIANITES. This example of faith, this is what we find today in the blind men. Do you think that the blind man dear ones after he had his new eyes? By the way, can you imagine his first dinner with his family with his new eyes? He had no eyes at all. Is Not that he had eyes and that they weren't working. He had sockets with no eyeballs. And then Jesus Fashions eyes, literally recreates, manifests his divine power, spits into the earth, makes clay and fashions eyeballs and his sockets, creating from nothing, manifesting his divinity. And...

...then he goes home and sits down with his parents. What his mother done? Let me see those things, sweetie. No one. Why are they blown? Does in Jesus know that they should have been brown? What a conversation that must have been. Oh my gosh. Do you think that the blind man, after he met Jesus and worshiped him, which is the conclusion of the story, came full gamuent to worship Christ? Do you think that he was sorry that he had been born blind? I don't think so. No, I don't think that a life of misery. In fact, he regretted he had penetrating spiritual vision his physical suffering, finding fulfillment in the miracle of the Lord Work for him and through him innumerable miracles of spiritual illumination for untold numbers of men and women for the last two thousand years. His suffering was providential. By it he has been made Glorious and he will be blessing God for it forever. I think we should imitate him, especially in these days of terrible spiritual blindness in our own land, we find ourselves falling more deeply every year into the hands of the MIDIANITES. With our question our own culture has become enslaved and we sometimes find ourselves asking the same question that Gideon asked. Where are the miracles that our fathers told us about? Why has God abandoned us? Let us learn the lesson that Gideon learned and come to the strong faith, the penetrating spiritual vision of the blind man. Let us realize that it is not God who has abandoned us, it is we, our land, who has abandoned God. If we want to see the miracles...

...that our fathers have seen, we have to do the deeds of our fathers. We have to learn to go and put our trust in God to do what he's asking each of us to do, not protecting our hearts because it might hurt. Love is pain, love is vulnerability and there's no alternative that is attractive. And unloving heart produces an unredeemable heart. Here God's words. Do what I'm asking you to do. Have I not sent you carry the love of God and the peace that Metropolitan Joseph has asked us to carry. Carry it in our realm let it be the way they we live here here, let it be the way we live in our homes. Let us banish conflict and anger and the seeds that turn into violence in our homes. Let there be absolutely none of this there. Build up your faith, even if you have to make fleece tests. It's okay. God Is Merciful. He bows low to help us become a stronger person of faith. Try to also add the vigilance that makes a true warrior to your faith, like those three hundred. Don't try to lock your heart away. Instead, let's give it, our hearts to each other and to New People, to New People, even to our enemies. Mother, 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.

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