The War of First-Borns and the Limp of Jacob

The war between first-born brothers is from the ages, beginning with Abel and Cain (Genesis 4). It is ongoing. A war was even apparent in the womb of Rebekah as Jacob grabs Esau’s heel (Genesis 25:26). The title and blessing of first born in this chapter was forfeited by shallowness first and then stolen through deception (Genesis 27). An often despised story, but nonetheless leading to Christ the Messiah.

Why did God keep silent? Or did He? Did He not confront the birthright thief as the Angel of God resulting in a handicap (Genesis 32) for him and a reminder for us of his deception? And until when?

Romans 3:25. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. 26 He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

1 Corinthians: 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that NO ONE may boast before Him.

If the Messiah came from Esau’s first-born birthright, one might be weakly able to say His descendants could boast. But descendants of Jacob’s deception could not. We are justified by Christ, not His lineage.

Hebrews 12:22-24. What you have come to is Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem where the millions of angels have gathered for the festival, with the whole Church in which everyone is a ‘first-born son’ and a citizen of heaven. You have come to God himself, the supreme Judge, and been placed with spirits of the saints who have been made perfect; and to Jesus, the mediator who brings a new covenant and a blood for purification which pleads more insistently than Abel’s.


Troparion of Saint James

O Holy James, as a disciple of the Lord, you received the Gospel. As a martyr, you displayed an unyielding will. As a brother of God, you have special power with Him. As a hierarch, you have the right of intercession. Intercede therefore with Christ God that He may save our souls.

Before the Crucifixion

On the night of Jesus’ betrayal, a small army of soldiers appeared in a disproportional display of force against the King of Kings, Himself unarmed and ready to offer the Eternal life-giving sacrifice for mankind.

John 3 : Judas therefore having received a band of soldiers and servants from the chief priests and the Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. [Douay-Rheims]

Why would Providence allow this disproportionate display of force right before His sacrifice for mankind? Could this be to articulate the only means to end the warring ways of nations, against the innocent and defenseless. Indeed His response to Peter’s not unreasonable reaction to the situation of attempting to defend Him speaks across time:

10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it, and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.

 11 Jesus therefore said to Peter: Put up thy sword into the scabbard. The chalice which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

Hereby Jesus tells the true and only way for wars to be avoided so that the innocent need not even take up their sword to defend themselves. Namely it is His offering from the cross, His flesh and blood from the cross in the Mass and Divine Liturgy, the Sacraments, that is the remedy for avoiding war.

This is why the Virgin Mother’s apparitions of Fatima occurred to remind the faithful of the means to avoid World War I and then World War II. This is why the principalities of the world had to attack the priesthood before forcing the Iraq war on nations. This why the orchestrated pandemic had to limit the offering of the Divine Sacrifice in preparation for the war looming on our doorstep in current times, even to the point of canceling the Easter celebrations all over the word in 2020.

The remedy is so simple.

And lest anyone think that Jesus’ declaration to Peter to put away his sword was in anyway a message to deny the right to self defense, as the cowardly media and propagators of wars would have you believe. Think again. Because that would mean that Jesus, God in the flesh, must have “forgotten” to tell Peter or anyone of His disciples to put away his open carry during the three years they might have carried it during His public ministry.

Judith 16

“Begin a song to my God with tambourines;
    sing to my Lord with cymbals.
Raise to him a new psalm;
    exalt him and call upon his name.
For the Lord is a God who crushes wars;
    he sets up his camp among his people;
    he delivered me from the hands of my pursuers.

Institutional and Private Mercy (Part 3)

The last two posts (1,2) on Divine Mercy have as a central theme the Institution of Mercy. Mercy sanctifies the soul and protects from hell but this is a physical and institutional Mercy, not just a private confession of sins like what the Bible-only proponents preach. It is both. A Church that includes the gamut of relationships we can have with God, secret, private, communal, AND public, cannot be beyond the reach of an Omnipotent God. The sins are forgiven privately in the Sacrament of course but with more protection than just a private plea for mercy. To omit the institutional component of Holy Repentance leaves us more susceptible to worldly institutions, since the mercy granted had now become an objective truth.  When Jesus forgave the paralytic, the world attacked Him for saying he was forgiven.  So Jesus gave them a physical sign. He healed the paralytic which silenced His critics.

A personal plea to God for forgiveness can be believed, whether or not God granted it, but a sacramental act of forgiveness is real, whether or not the sinner believes it. It has become an objective truth. Part of a timeless deposit of mercy. A part of God’s historical ledger.

In case you have not noticed, the powers of this world live off the attacks and defamation of character of people. Take a politician running for office as an example. A political career can be completely destroyed by media defamation. Never mind that the attacks are always selective and for political purposes. No one of us is innocent. A Sacramental  confession affords us additional public  protection while protecting our privacy.  Jesus offered His physical Nature for this: Body and Blood. If a Sacramental confessional will not save a political career it will at least manifest in some other physical way.  As a witness to God’s Glory. Thy Kingdom Come. And phony institutions slowly go away.

Paralleling the private and Institutional component of Divine Mercy is the Church’s endorsement of private and Institutional prayers for Mercy. We privately pray to God in His Mercy. We also have prayers offered to us by the Church, said with the communion of faithful (physically present or not) to give our conversion a public dimension. An example is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy from the Roman rite and the Trisagion Prayers from the Orthodox tradition. Both have the following words in common, a witness to the work of the Holy Spirit:

Holy God! Holy Mighty One! Holy Immortal One! Have Mercy on us (and on the whole world). (said three times).

The Institution and Mystery of Holy Repentance (part 2)

In the last post, the link is made between the the Sacrament of Holy Repentance and the re-institution of the Kingdom of God on earth. Mercy sanctifies the soul and protects from hell but Mercy is also the institutional foundation of the Church. Mathew 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. Peter’s sin was at the very least denial of the kingdom during the trial of the our Lord by earthly authorities. The crucifixion and resurrection is all about the rebuilding of the temple in three days as prophesied by Jesus in John 2:13-25.  When Peter realized his sin, he repented with a spirit of contrition and remorse. Later, after the resurrection, Jesus asks him to respond to His question “Do you love Me?” three times (John 21). Notice that this approach parallels the repetitive nature of the prescribed penance by the priest in the Sacrament , a practice often ridiculed by those inside and outside the Church. The prescribed penance is not a punishment for the sin, but a medicine to heal the soul.

Between the resurrection and the ascension, Jesus appeared to His disciples primarily on the first day of the week (Sunday, See Matthew 28:1). After the ascension, Jesus appears through Sacrament, also primarily on the first day of the week meetings (Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2) which is Sunday Liturgy. This was enacted during and after the multiplication of the loaves, when after the blessing, Jesus asks the apostles to distribute the bread (Matthew 14:13-18). He visits the assembly, then appears like a “Ghost” to the apostles (Mathew 14:25). This enacts the appearance of Christ Himself to the people (His physical Presence in the meal) and the power of Holy Ghost to the apostles. Similarly, the power to forgive sins is given to His apostles (John 20:22). So since the ascension, the instrument of confession is primarily the priest, making the forgiveness of sins and objective act. Just as David received mercy through the prophet Nathan.

This “engine” that defines the Church cannot operate by denying or changing the definitions of sin. There are shepherds in the Church who believe that ignoring and denying sin is the way to  proclaim God’s Mercy. This is like proposing a new solution for disease by denying treatment and amounts to exactly the diminution of the Church and the amplification of evil.

“Repentance is the door of mercy, open to those who seek it diligently; by this door we enter into Divine Mercy and by no other entrance can we find this mercy”

Saint Isaac the Syrian

Get it? The door to mercy is repentance. Without seeking repentance THERE IS NO MERCY!

Hence we have some background behind the messages from Fatima, the practices of Lent, and the general benefits of frequent visits to the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The Institution of God is established. Thy Kingdom Come. Counterfeit institutions slowly go away.

Part 3.

“Enter into the Church and wash away your sins. For this is a hospital for sinners and not a court  of law”

Saint John Chrysostom

How to Help Korea (updated) or Institutional Divine Mercy Part 1

Saint John Paul II consecrated Russia to the Immaculate Heart of the Theotokos decades ago, as instructed by Our Lady of Fatima. The consecration included the Orthodox Bishops. As instructed. The Soviet Union turned away from communism, ending the cold war. So what gives in the revival of the threat of nuclear war between the tiny North Korea and the former leader of the free world?

The warnings of Fatima included the spread of atheism through out the whole world. With the historical rise of communism, this occurred. These errors, like demons, found a home  throughout the whole world. They established themselves in people and in institutions. They are around us and in us.

The defeat of communism had the moral side of history, but also made many institutions and governments very wealthy. So established, entities and institutions can solidify these errors through payment schemes, where money is circulated in a closed loop, effectively living in the past, in a perpetual sense of entitlement. They live off the revival of conflict, effectively blocking out Mercy.

To combat this, the second message of Fatima is that of personal conversion to sanctity. To paraphrase the Theotokos message, one could say it is the likes of Francisco and Jacinta Marto that will guide history in their conversion. Or one could say that the evil powers of this world, including the main stream media, have your personal sin as their greatest asset.

This can be defeated with the sacrament of Holy Repentence. While many in the Church pay little respect to her teachings and sacraments, and many outside the Church believe God is so impotent as to be incapable of creating a formal Church, believing in personal religion or Bible-only philosophies instead, the fact remains that Jesus Christ established an institution. This institution is immune even to the personal errors of her administrators. Confession establishes the Kingdom of God on earth, begun with the first confession after the crucifixion, namely that of Peter. The sacraments recognize the institution God created as well as sanctifing us, making God’s kingdom manifest. Thy Kingdom Come. This sacrament also imports an immunity into the recipient. Mercy sanctifies the soul and protects from hell, freeing captive souls. But Sacramental Mercy also has a ripple effect in time and in culture.

Maybe God has already decided nuclear war will never happen again because of the prayers of these souls:

link1 or

link2 or

link3 or

link4

now in Heaven. Or maybe we can help by praying with them or in their eternal memory, in our conversion.

 

Part 2/3 of this series is here.