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Homily

The Acquisition of the Holy Spirit


Fr. Josiah Trenham, Pastor
The Sunday of All Saints 2000
St. Andrew Orthodox Church - Riverside, Ca.

Introduction: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
One God. Amen. The goal of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit! All
of our Orthodox life is animated by the Holy Spirit, and without Him all is empty form
and ritual! He is the One Who sanctifies! He is the One Who works in and with the
priest in the Holy Sacraments! He is the goal and purpose of our spiritual disciplines!
Christianity is not a moral code, or a set of ideas, or a social program. Christianity is the
supernatural union of God and man together by the Holy Spirit. Christianity is the
divinization of man by the Holy Spirit coming into him and changing him! Orthodoxy is
man’s healing and his transformation into all that God is!
This week I was in the bookstore and came across a very fascinating book entitled
The Millionaire Mind. It was written by an economic statistician. The author researched
the mentality of America’s millionaires, and then presented the results of his research
under certain fixed categories: what millionaires drive, where millionaires live, how
millionaires invest, what millionaires think about education, etc.. A very fascinating
study indeed. The bottom line in the book is that millionaires have their minds and their
lifestyles oriented around one thing: the preservation and increase of capital. America’s
millionaires think and act in certain ways designed to maximize the preservation of the
money they have, and to increase what they have.
We Christians have a book very similar to The Millionaire Mind. It is called the
Synaxarion, and it consists of the official lives of the saints. In it we discover The Mind
of the Saint There we learn how saints live in this world, how they think, what they
think about education, where they live, how they invest, etc.. An even more fascinating
study! The bottom line in the Synaxarion is that saints have their minds and lifestyles
oriented around one thing: the preservation and increase of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

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Saints think and act in certain ways designed to maximize the preservation of the grace
they have been given, and to increase the presence of the Holy Spirit within them.
The Presence of the Holy Spirit Within Us Varies. One thing we must
understand is that all Christians possess and are filled with the Holy Spirit in differing
degrees and measures. All are given the Holy Spirit in Holy Baptism. This is the
testimony of St. Paul, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, ,whether
Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1
Cor. 12:13). We all begin the same in Holy Baptism. We are all given the grace of God
and the gift of the Holy Spirit when we are baptized and chrismated. But from the
moment following baptism and chrismation the presence of the Holy Spirit within each of
us depends upon our co-operation with the Lord in our salvation. Spiritual growth is
synergistic. Those who seek the Lord grow in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit,
and this manifests itself in a spiritual life: a life ruled by the Holy Spirit and evidencing
His fruits such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,
and self-control (Gal. 5:22ff). Some come from the baptismal font less focused, less
intent on working out their new found salvation with fear and trembling, and so they do
not grow in the Holy Spirit as they should. Some even forget God altogether and give
themselves up to wanton lusts and immorality, and in so doing completely drive the Holy
Spirit away from themselves.
This last type of person is truly most pitiful for the last state of this man becomes
worse than the first. Describing just this type of person our Savior says, “Now when the
unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through waterless places, seeking rest, and does
not find it. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came’; and when it
comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes, and takes along with
it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there; and the last
state of that man becomes worse than the first” (St. Matt. 12:43-45). Discern the
tragedy. The person has been freed from the unclean spirit through baptism so that the
Holy Spirit can take up residence within the newly baptized. The unclean spirit leaves
but then later attempts reentry, and what is the tragedy? The tragedy is that the unclean
spirit finds the Christian unoccupied! What a horrid state! The unoccupied Christian is

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the Christian who has driven away the Holy Spirit from his life by his indifference and
sinfulness.
We are not called to be unoccupied Christians. We are called, rather, to be
Christians filled with the Spirit of God. This is the word of St.Paul, “Do not get drunk
with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Do you
see the intended contrast? It is a matter of internal influence and control. We ought not
be drunk because to become drunk is to put ourselves under the influence and control of
alcohol. Instead we ought be influenced and controlled by the Holy Spirit! There cannot
be two captains at the wheel of the ships of our lives.
Everything depends on the free exercise of our will. One of the great dignities of
being a human being is possessing a free will. We rejoice in this great reality, but this
great privilege can also produce a great catastrophe. With that free will each of us can
become saints! There is nothing holding us back from becoming such except our own
wills. This is greatly encouraging. At the same time with our free wills we can also
become great sinners, and drive away the Holy Spirit of God completely from our lives.
King David expresses this dynamic relationship we have with the Holy Spirit in
that most beautiful of Psalms, Psalm 50. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew
in me an upright spirit. Do not cast me away from Thy presence and take not Thy Holy
Spirit from me” (vv. 10-11). TAKE NOT THY HOLY SPIRIT FROM ME. This was
something King David was very worried about because he had committed a very serious
sin, and was writing this Psalm in repentance for that sin. He remembered what
happened to his predecessor King Saul. The following is written in the 1st Book of
Kings/1 Samuel 16:14, “Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit
from the Lord terrorized him.” Saul had been wavering in his fidelity and had lost his
fear of God, and as a result the Holy Spirit left him, and Saul’s unoccupied space quickly
became the lair of the demons.
Become a Spiritual Millionaire. The Lord is entreating each of you today to
become millionaires. I am not speaking about money. The Lord is not interested in you
joining the ranks of the Forbes 400, and if by the slight chance that He is interested in
you doing that it is so that you can become a conduit of His resources to the Church and
to the poor and needy. The Lord is entreating each of us today to become millionaires in

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a currency that does not pass away, and can not be stolen. We must become millionaires
spiritually. We must become rich in the Holy Spirit.
But how do we become Spiritual Millionaires? How does one increase in the
Holy Spirit? By asking for Him and by making decisions in your life that make the
indwelling of the Spirit of God natural for you. St. Seraphim of Sarov gave this advice
when he was asked what one must do to acquire the Holy Spirit increasingly. “So that our
spirit will have freedom to uplift itself there and be nourished by sweetest conversation
with the Lord, one must humble oneself with constant vigils, prayer and remembrance of
the Lord. And I, humble Seraphim,’ said the Starets, ‘for this reason go through the
Gospel daily. On Monday I read St. Matthew, from beginning to end; on Tuesday, St.
Mark; on Wednesday, St. Luke; on Thursday, St.John; the other days I divide between
the Acts of the Apostles and the Epistles of the Apostles. And I do not for a single day
neglect to read the daily Epistle and Gospel, and also the readings to the saints. Through
this not only my soul, but even my body rejoices and is vivified, because I converse with
the Lord. I hold in my mind His Life and Suffering; and day and night I glorify and give
thanks to my Redeemer for all His mercies that are shed upon mankind and upon me, the
unworthy one” (Little Russian Philokalia, Vol. 1, St.Seraphim, p. 67).
Spiritual millionaires invariably fill their minds with the words of God and the
lives of the saints, and are thereby transformed. It is impossible to become spiritually
rich without giving ourselves to Scripture and loving the saints. How often must we
confess saying, “I haven’t been reading my Bible like I should.” Anyone who has ever
read Scripture and the lives of the saints knows the immense life-changing power of the
Word of God. The Holy Spirit inspired every word of Scripture and when we read it in
our desire to obtain Him He works literal miracles inside of us. Reading Scripture is
intended as a supernatural act. It changes us and drives away evil for the demons cannot
bear to hear Scripture. It is no wonder that St. John Chrysostom says, “The root of all of
our evils is the ignorance of Holy Scripture.” This very point is something that our own
beloved Bishop JOSEPH has often stressed saying, “To maintain the pattern of the
Biblical and Patristic teachings we have to be perpetual students of the Sacred Scriptures”
(Address to the Clergy at the 1998 Clergy Symposium).
Become rich dear ones. To the Comforter Who dwells in us, and to the Father from Whom He
proceeds, and to the Son through Whom He proceeds, be all glory and praise forever. Amen.

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