From the last post we see that after Jacob’s warring with Essau in the womb of Rebekah, Jacob now must war with God for heeding his mother and stealing the birthright that would lead to the Messiah. His war with the Angel of God left him with a new name, Israel, and an affliction. Often needed to break the pride of those destined to be united to God, the mark of Christianity. So that no one may boast. Witness how the story of the betrayal, burial, and resurrection of Christ the Messiah was subsequently foretold in the story of Israel’s son Joseph and his betrayal, burial, and reemergence (Genesis 37).
From this point the People of God urge on the coming of the Messiah, the day for God’s answer to Abraham that He will provide the Lamb of sacrifice. So that God Himself will offer up His own Blood for man. Witness how Moses emerges from purgatory and Elijah from his hiding place to urge Jesus on to His crucifixion at the mountain of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17). The dream of Jacob is fulfilled. Heaven has opened up.
The lineage cannot boast but in Christ the Messiah.
LUKE 3:8. Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.
And how could God be conceived in the flesh without the boast of parents? Witness Joseph’s humiliation from the virginal conception of Mary (Matthew 1). But to eternally protect the incarnation of our Lord from the boast of lineage, God reached back before the fall of man that came from Adam’s sin of pride. To create the most exquisite creature every created and ever will be. Who will never boast but in God and His grace, but in whom we all can be proud. Who alone has the grace to undo the knot of pride tied by Rebekah.
There is a tradition in Apostolic Christianity that interprets the abrupt change in order of the two apostles running to witness the empty tomb:
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb…
Scripture breaths the life of revelation at many layers, some yet to be known, but the traditional interpretation of this change in sequence is that while the mystic, here represented by John, transcriber of the Book of Revelation, may see first, the event is not official until God’s authority takes witness, here represented by Peter, the Holder of the Keys.
So with the visions and revelations of conditional prophesies of mystics, their manifestations’ admission await the official.
Troparion of Saint John
Apostle beloved of Christ God, hasten to deliver a people that lacks any other defense; for He accepted that you lay your head on His breast. He will also accept your prayer. Therefore, intercede with Him, O Theologian, that He may disperse haughty nations, and beg that He may grant peace and abundant mercy.
Eleven years ago in this time of the year, 100’s of thousands of Russians, including Vladimir Putin, visited the Holy Relic Belt of the Theotokos on display in Russia, believed to be knitted by the Virgin Mary herself. The belt or cincture is normally stored on Mt. Athos, where the Beloved Disciple authored the Book of the Apocalypse.
Whether or not one feels we are entering into the apocalypse before Christ’s final coming, we can see how the Church, the Bride of Christ, is lured into the beast of the end times. The beast is the system that can usher in the Anti-Christ. The method is exactly that, an incorporation. In this case a tax entity. God can do no wrong and no evil can overwhelm without disobeying God. So God must have the Word that protects against evil. Certainly the unfaithfulness of the shepherds on issues of morality is at the core, but the lure of incorporation and consolidation of the Church into the beast may be related to disobeying another, if not command, then at least, a suggestion Christ directly made to the Apostles. Pay your taxes.
The Church teaches rightly that we should pay our taxes. But why don’t they pay their share? Only the defrauded can recognize the fraud. Tax structures have the potential to create an illusion of a moral code, a self-deluded perception that we are okay. In the code of governments, Al Capone was a tax-evader, not a murderer or illicit business operator. In the code of governments, natural immunity does not exist, only immunity from regular vaccinations
Look carefully at the words of our Lord in the following Matthew passage.
Matthew 17: 23 And when they were come to Capharnaum, they that received the didrachmas, came to Peter and said to him: Doth not your master pay the didrachmas? 24 He said: Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying: What is thy opinion, Simon? The kings of the earth, of whom do they receive tribute or custom? of their own children, or of strangers? 25 And he said: Of strangers. Jesus said to him: Then the children are free.26 But that we may not scandalize them…thou shalt find a stater: take that, and give it to them for me and thee.
Jesus is stating the arbitrary nature of the tax and addressing His bride directly, He says pay it. He is saying that by not paying it, she (His Bride) becomes like the children of the kings of the earth, not of His Kingship.
Does the Church have to go underground for us to realize this? Christ is directly addressing the concept of a tax exemption here. It is time to grow up. If we want history to continue.
Kontakion of Saint Matthew
When you renounced the instruments of a tax-collector, to choose those of justice, you became an excellent merchant, rich in Divine Wisdom. You preached the Word of Truth, and you exhort us to be always ready by your vivid description of the last judgment.
The crises of our time compel us to look at the history and in the current ecclesial crisis we can look at Christ’s foundational and therefore eternal work for perspective. The Melkite Eparchy of Newton has an excellent document, The Melkite Church at the Council, in support of the argument to be presented here, particularly Chapters 5-7. This much shorter discussion will touch on the history of the College of Cardinals after primarily presenting the case for election of the Bishop of Rome by all apostolic churches.
That all the apostolic churches, including the Orthodox churches recognize the Primacy of the See of Peter is assumed here. This is generally case with the definition of primacy more the subject of controversy than its existence.
“He showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God… The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them the twelve names of the twelve Apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:10,14).
John’s reference is for the Church defined by Christ in the 12 Apostles. Most would agree that the number 12 represents the entire Church he founded. His foundation is an ecclesial mystery not founded by of the apostles, including the apostle Peter, rather by the mystery that is His presence after the resurrection. This Presence is Sacramental and in the case of the present day apostles, it is the Sacrament of Holy Orders that creates the new generation of apostles. The work and collegiality of the 12 apostles including the addition of more, not the least of whom is Paul, is well documented in the Acts of the Apostles. These works are both autonomous while in recognition of the Primacy of Peter, even with disagreements that are at worst temporary in the mystery of Christ’s Presence.
From Chapter 6 of the above reference:
“Holy Scripture affirms a power of primacy, on the part of Peter, over the rest of the Apostles and over the whole Church. But Scripture does not affirm in any way that no bishop can be constituted in the Church except through the intervention, “direct or indirect,” of Peter and his successors, the bishops of Rome. We even explicitly see the other Apostles constituting bishops without referring in any way to Peter. The same is true of their disciples, such as Titus or Timothy. If it is necessary to understand the text as applying to bishops in the strict sense, doesn’t the Scripture say that it is the Holy Spirit who instituted the bishops to rule the Church (cf. Acts 20:28)? It is difficult, without doing violence to the text, to find in the Scripture a basis which permits affirming that no bishop obtains jurisdiction over his Church except through the “direct or indirect” intervention of the Bishop of Rome, successor of Peter.”
Just as the validity of the Sacraments of Eucharist and Penance are direct works of God the Holy Spirit and are operational, i.e. valid, in all the apostolic churches and as affirmed by the Latin Church, so must the priesthood and episcopal ascendancy to Patriarchs of the eastern churches be valid. If the concern by the Latin Church under the See of Peter is that allowing full communion of the Eastern apostolic Churches with the Latin Church would compromise the Church instituted by Christ, then that same concern should be for any Sacramental event. A glaring witness of our time is the both doctrinal and personal perversion of priests and bishops, yet this does not compromise the efficacy of the Sacrament offered to the recipient. Christ guarantees His work and Presence in the Sacrament while waiting for the personal conversion of the administrator if necessary. He will confront the Bishop as he does with the seven Bishops in Asia Minor in the Book of Revelation, interpreted symbolically or literally. Therefore the ascendancy of the Bishop of Rome could involve the Patriarchy of the Eastern Churches to complete the role of the Bishop of Rome as representative of the 12 apostles. This completeness may have been wanting for over 1000 years.
This theory suggests certain degradation in those churches excluded from their “birth right” as part of the “12”. This can be the loss of the reach commanded by Christ to Peter to “feed my sheep”. Similarly, degradation to autocracy of the role of the See of Peter becomes a risk in any exclusion of the “12”.
“There is, in fact, among the bishops only one Church, only one soul, only one heart… There is, through the institution of Christ, one and only one Church, spread out over the whole world, one and only one episcopacy represented by a multiplicity of bishops united among themselves… The Church forms a single whole, whose bond is the union of bishops” (St. Cyprian of Carthage, Epistle 66, 8,3).
As a final note, we touch on the body used to elect the Bishop of Rome in our current time and for the last 1000 years, namely the College of Cardinals. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia admits that this was initially a closed group of individuals that included non-clergy and grew at the expense of the successors of the Apostles. Compare this to the notion of the “12” in full effect at the time of the Acts of the Apostles and for the first millennium.