Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Muslim Assault of Christian History.

When the media writes of Christian things, it has a thousand four hundred years of Muslim falsification of Christian history to base its slanted reporting. The falsifications of Christian History extends to the text of the Koran itself.  This excellent paper examines just one false claim of the Koran, that Jesus wasn't crucified.

As Christians we need to be wise as serpents, that means cunning, holding the knowledge of the trickery of our enemy, and Islam is certain an enemy, of the very spirit of anti-christ.  When these evangelicals talk about the Roman Church as "the great Babylon" I can only chuckle, realizing that they have been Islamicized. They attack the seat of the Apostle Peter and ignore the murderous spirit of Anti-Christ that occupies the actual ground of ancient Babylon,  and now most of the middle east, and all of northern Africa. In these areas the Babylonian Whore is are slaughtering Christians daily and in history is responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of millions of Christians and other non-muslims.




Muslims and the Crucifixion
By Toby Jepson


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Introduction
Most Muslims deny that Jesus was ever crucified. I hope in this paper to examine and evaluate some of the reasons that are given in support of this assertion. 

Claims such as this are usually made for one of two reasons: either there is factual evidence, or there is a need to make the claim despite a clear lack of evidence. It is my opinion that this claim falls into the latter category, although I shall examine some supposed evidence that is sometimes given in support. 

The Opinion of the Qur'an
The Qur'an is, of course, the primary source of Muslim belief and practice. Surah 4:157 states:

And because of [the Jews'] saying, 'We killed Messiah 'Isa, son of Maryam, the Messenger of Allah,' - but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of 'Isa was put over another man, and those who differ therein are full of doubts. [1]
Here we have a clear denial of the crucifixion. Note the idea that the likeness of Jesus was transferred onto another man. We shall return to this question below.

In the Muslim mind then, the issue is sealed: the Qur'an says it, so it must be. However, for the non-Muslim observer, this is not good enough. On something so important we would expect corroboration from other reliable sources. This would then help us to evaluate whether the Qur'an, a work at best from the 7th century, has any authority to pronounce on events in the 1st century.

Supposed Historical Evidence
There are Muslims who, to their credit, claim ample historical support for their denial of the crucifixion. Consider the following quote:

There are also several historical sources other than the Bible and the Qur'an which confirm that many of the early Christians did not believe that Jesus died on the cross...The Cerinthians and later the Basilidians, for example, who were among the first of the early Christian communities, denied that Jesus was crucified...The Carpocratians, another early Christian sect, believed that it was not Jesus who was crucified, but another in his place... [2]
In attempting to dispel the 'myth' of Jesus' crucifixion, the authors appeal to 'historical sources' that refer to some of the 'earliest communities of Christians'. The implication is clearly that these groups, being near to the event, had real, historical reasons for denying Jesus' crucifixion. They are portrayed as genuine, orthodox believers, fighting for the truth against a rising tide of heresy, in particular the 'Pauline' Christians and their 'false' doctrines such as the trinity and the deity of Jesus. 

In order to judge this claim, we need to know who these groups were, what they believed and why they denied the crucifixion. Then we may evaluate whether they have any relevance to the debate.

The Basilidians
Basilides taught at Alexandria in Egypt, around 125-150AD. [3] The early church historians (Irenaeus, Hippolytus and Clement) differ as to exactly what he taught, but he seems clearly of the Gnostic school of thought. His followers appear to have expanded his doctrine after his death.

Irenaeus tells us that the Basilidians believed in one supreme God called Abraxas, who presided over 365 different heavens. Each heaven was ruled subordinately by a different order of angels, the lowest order creating the earth. The God of the Jews was one of these inferior angels. The gods of other nations (e.g. Ammonites, Moabites) were also angels of this order, whose interests therefore conflicted, resulting in fights and feuds between them and their followers. In the course of time all became corrupt and lost their original heavenly knowledge (gnosis in Greek). 

In order to rectify this situation, Abraxas sent down his Son, the Christ, who joined himself to the man Jesus, teaching mankind the knowledge they had lost. The God of the Jews, obviously angry at this encroachment, was unable to harm the Christ, yet instigated his people against Jesus, whom they therefore killed. [4] 

Along with many in the 2nd century, the Basilidians held that matter was inherently evil. They could not accept that the resurrection of physical human bodies would serve any possible good, so they denied it. Denying a general physical resurrection, they had to deny the physical resurrection of Christ. Furthermore, this obliged them to deny Christ's crucifixion, instead saying that Simon of Cyrene was crucified in his place. [5] 

The Cerinthians
The Cerinthians were an earlier group, followers of Cerinthus, one of the original Gnostic teachers in the mid to late 1st century. Irenaeus and Jerome state that the apostle John wrote his account of the gospel primarily as a refutation of Cerinthus' heresy.

Again, Cerinthus' beliefs are unacceptable to both Christians and Muslims. He taught that the creator was not the Supreme God, but a power that was ignorant of and inferior to the one true God. The divine Christ was sent by the Supreme God and joined to the man Jesus, who himself was not born of a virgin, but in the normal way via sexual intercourse. In fact, Cerinthus did believe in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, but simply taught that the divine Christ departed prior to the event, leaving the man on his own. [6, 7]

The Carpocratians
Carpocrates was an Alexandrian Gnostic from the early 2nd century. It is thought that 2 Peter and Jude were directed against early forms of his heresy. He taught that the creator was not the Supreme God and also denied the virgin birth. Jesus was portrayed as a man endowed with special knowledge from a previous existence, who rose above his fellow humans and attained his unique position as Christ. This led Carpocrates to suggest that anyone with sufficient knowledge and power could attain the same spiritual level as Christ did. 

Some of their beliefs are uncertain, but Irenaeus states that they believed in a form of reincarnation, where escape from bodily existence was conditional on seeking out every possible human experience, despising the enslaving laws of society. Although the founders may not have been guilty of the grosser impurities, their principles certainly led to them. Carpocrates' son, Epiphanes, argued that God must have been joking when he forbade Israel to covet their neighbours' wives, as it was God who had given humans the desire for multiple sexual partners. [8,9]

The Relevance of Gnostic Teachings
We must not deny the importance of this brief historical survey. To begin with, not all of these groups actually denied that Jesus was crucified. Some thought he was, yet downplayed the importance of the physical man, elevating the divine Christ who was supposedly separate. Others claimed that someone else was cunningly switched for Jesus before the crucifixion. What is clear is that they were basing their beliefs on flawed philosophy, not historical knowledge. They rejected the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ simply because it was distasteful to them. 

Even more importantly, their worldview was one which both Christians and Muslims must reject completely. Some of the major beliefs of these groups are outlined again below: 

the God of Abraham and Moses (i.e. Allah) was a created being, an angel; 
there were many other Gods of the same order as the Creator (i.e. polytheism); 
Jesus was either a man who was joined to the divine Son at his baptism and then deserted before the crucifixion, or who by his own effort attained his status as Christ; 
the physical resurrection of humans at the Day of Judgement would not happen; 
physical matter (e.g. the human body) was inherently evil; 
the virgin birth of Jesus did not occur; 
no rules governed behaviour as good and evil were imaginary. 

Not all of these ideas were held by the same group, but they give a good idea of where they were coming from. They were not 'Christians' at all but followed their own romantic idea of a 'Christ' that had no basis in history. By the same reasoning I can claim to be a devout Muslim because I think that I 'submit' to God in my own way, not according to the Qur'an. This is clearly not acceptable. 

Neither were they good Muslims; yet the Qur'an tells us that Jesus' followers were (Surah 5:111). 

And when I inspired the disciples [of Jesus] to believe in Me and My Messenger, they said: 'We believe. And bear witness that we are Muslims'. [10]
Therefore, the Gnostics' opinion on the crucifixion is frankly worthless. Their beliefs are shown to have little to do with history, Christianity or Islam. They are interesting by all means, but are of little help to honest Muslims who wish to refute the crucifixion with sound evidence. Ironically, the Basilidian belief that someone was exchanged for Jesus before the crucifixion may be a possible source for the identical idea found in the Qur'an. 

The Gospel of Barnabas
This fascinating book is seen by many Muslims as preserving an original and accurate account of the life of Jesus. Unfortunately, few have ever read it. The following quotes from the 'gospel' give the gist of its account of the crucifixion:

...the wonderful God acted wonderfully, insomuch that Judas was so changed in speech and in face to be like Jesus that we believed him to be Jesus...The soldiers took Judas and bound him, not without derision. For he truthfully denied that he was Jesus... So they led him to Mount Calvary... and there they crucified him naked... [11]
This clearly supports the Qur'anic assertion that another was crucified in Jesus' place after having been made to look like him. This would be both convenient and convincing if the 'gospel' had any historical authenticity at all. Sadly, it is nothing but a pious mediaeval fraud, whose gross blunders of history, geography, language and more make quite amusing reading. Readers should consult one of several well-written critiques. [12] Suffice it to say that it appears to have been written by a disgruntled Christian in mediaeval Europe who converted to Islam and wanted to do something in support of his new-found faith, even before he had understood it fully. A few of its more major mistakes are listed below: 

It assumes that Jerusalem is a sea port and Capernaum in the mountains, whereas the reverse is true; 
It mentions both shoes and wine barrels, neither of which were invented by the time of Jesus; 
It claims that the Year of Jubilee occurred every 100 years (biblically it was every 50), a situation that only ever occurred once in history, under a mediaeval Pope; 
Its view of Hell is at odds with the Qur'an, but strangely reminiscent of the mediaeval Italian poet Dante, in his book The Inferno; 
It claims that Jesus was the Christ but not the Messiah (this it ascribes to Muhammad) - a terrible mistake as they are one and the same, Christ being derived from Greek and Messiah from Hebrew, both meaning 'the anointed one'. 

Thus it can be seen that this witness is again totally unreliable and gives us no insight into the historicity of Jesus' crucifixion. Muslims would do best to avoid this forgery, as it is only harmful to their cause. 

Contemporary Reports that Support the Crucifixion
Having dealt with the claims against the crucifixion, it would be well to consider the positive evidence given by historians of the period soon after Jesus' life. [13] There is ample evidence from early Christian writers, but I shall include only those from non-Christians, as these authors had no vested interest in Jesus or his crucifixion. 

Tacitus, a Roman historian from the 1st/2nd centuries, said: '[Nero] falsely charged with the guilt, and punished with the most exquisite tortures, the persons commonly called Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius.' 
Lucian was a 2nd century satirist and referred to Jesus as, '...the man who was crucified in Palestine because he introduced this new cult into the world...' He denounced the Christians for 'worshipping that crucified sophist himself and living under his laws.' 
Josephus, a 1st/2nd century Jewish historian, had this to say: '[Jesus] was the Christ, and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day'. 
It appears that other references were made that have been lost to us today. Bishop Apapius in the 10th century stated: 'We have found in many books of the philosophers that they refer to the day of the crucifixion of Christ.' He then goes on to list and quote the ancient works, some of which are not known to modern scholars. 

As already seen, Muslims believe that someone was crucified and that people were made to think it was Jesus. Therefore it could be said that these quotes prove nothing. However, the Islamic view is that the early Christians knew that it was not Jesus, so it is strange in this case that all the sources speak of Jesus. We know from elsewhere that many Christians gave their life for the belief that Jesus died and rose again. This would never be the case if they did not believe it. 

Conclusion
In this paper I have dealt with some sources that are used by Muslims to lend support to their denial of Jesus' crucifixion. All have been shown to be late, unreliable and therefore of no worth to the debate. On the other hand, I have quoted contemporary sources outside Christianity that take the crucifixion as historical fact. From this brief overview it is clear that there is ample evidence for the crucifixion, but virtually none against. 

We return to my assertion in the introduction, that Muslim denial of the crucifixion is based on need rather than fact. Their only authority in this case is the Qur'an, a book far removed from the event it claims to inform us of. It is in direct contradiction to the historical material we have looked at and therefore its authority on this question must be rejected. Muslims, in taking the Qur'an to be divine revelation, are forced to claim that all other sources that disagree with it are mistaken or corrupted. Yet as shown above it may well be one of these suspicious sources that forms the basis for the Qur'an's denial in the first place. 

We are left asking why the Qur'an should choose to deny the crucifixion without good evidence. I assume that this is related to the Islamic idea of prophethood, that God would not allow his great prophet to die such an ignominious death at the hands of traitors and sinners. However, once again the problem lies with the Islamic view. The righteous can suffer, as the book of Job makes abundantly clear. God does not rejoice to see the righteous suffer, but he often has a much larger agenda and is willing to allow it when a greater good will result. We see that nowhere clearer than in the crucifixion, where the only Righteous One offered himself as a loving sacrifice in order that all sinners could have the opportunity of forgiveness. We only need to accept the Bible's perspective on the situation. I would urge all Muslims to do just that.

References 

Khan, MM. The Noble Qur'an. Riyadh. Darussalam, 1996 (15th edition) 
'Ata'ur-Rahim M, Thomson A. Jesus, Prophet of Islam. London. Ta-Ha, 1996 (revised edition). p47. 
Cross FL. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford. OUP, 1997. pp168, 169. 
Blunt JH. Dictionary of Sects, Heresies, Ecclesiastical Parties and Schools of Religious Thought. London. Longmans Green & Co, 1891. pp67-69. 
Ibid 
Op Cit. pp104-106. 
George L. The Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics. London. Robson Books, 1995. p71. 
Ibid. p66. 
Blunt JH. Op cit. pp102,103. 
Khan MM. Op cit. 
Gospel of Barnabas. Trans. Ragg L & L. No publisher or date given. Chapters 216, 217. 
E.g. Campbell WF. The Gospel of Barnabas - its True Value. Rawalpindi. Christian Study Centre, 1989. 
Material taken from McDowell J. Evidence that Demands a Verdict. San Bernardino. Campus Crusade for Christ, 1972. pp84-88.
  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cries from The Cross of Christ - The Sixth Cry


Meditations on Jesus' Words During His Suffering: 
by Priest Symeon Elias (Robinson) -copyright 1996

(This article is an examination of the cries from the Cross, and the some of the meanings one priest gives them. Originally written in 1996 as lenten articles and complied and edited for limited distribution in the fall of 2001.)


"Prepare ye the way of the Lord."
Sixth Cry

Most of us, who have lived any length of time have experienced the death of someone as a "relief." I found myself standing by my brother's death bed - the code called - the medical people rushed in - tried to rush me out - but I would not go - My brother was not going to die in a room of strangers! The surgeon held the shock paddles in his hands ready to shock my brother's heart back to life and frozen in position he began to weep. You see I had been praying for hours that they would not shock him, again. I took the paddles out of the doctors hands and laid them on the crash cart. The doctor looked at me confused and through his tears said, "It is over, I just can't hurt him anymore." That doctor in the state of Georgia was breaking the law and throwing himself open to a lawsuit and doing it in front of a witness, the victim's brother. It was an act of faith, a self sacrificing act of love on the part of a wonderful Coptic Christian Brother. I put my hand on his shoulder and he hugged me. I assured him he had done the right thing.

My heart had been breaking for weeks as I watched my brother suffer, and although that grief was not less, in the moments following the death I felt a joy like I had never felt before, a bitter-sweetness I cannot describe, I think purchased by that six weeks of suffering. The surgeon, a stranger who had worked very hard to save my brother from the handy work of a drugging and drunken "colleague" stood weeping, repeating over and over, "This should never have happened" and I stood beside him, tears streaming down my face, grieving deeply at the suffering and loss, but at the same time smiling and feeling a huge and unexplainable peace.

"It is finished." What precious sound those words held. For the Marys and John these had to have been bitter-sweet words of relief.

I sat for three hours in silence, alone in the room with my brother's body - the undertaker was delayed. I had been with him every moment I could for six weeks. It wasn't good enough just to walk away. I had to look into the eyes of the person who would take charge of that body - it had belonged to someone who meant a great deal to me. The absolute peace in the silence of that room had to have been the reality of the Crucifixion scene and what John the Beloved and the Marys were feeling. I will grant you - although it is not recorded in history - they did not leave the Cross until they left with Jesus' lifeless body. I can imagine the soldiers looking on being grieved saying at least to themselves, "this should not have happened."

I think that I understand and have even experienced the human - survivor side of these words. But what the Marys and John experienced in these words is only a tiny fraction of what they mean. The "It" in "It is finished" has to be the largest "IT" ever spoken. What was "IT"? "IT" was the Father's business that troubled Mary and Joseph when Jesus was Twelve. "IT" was history of Cosmic proportions, events that could not be preformed, foreseen or understood by angels, so daring, dangerous and risky that archangels were not trusted with ITs task. A task that required the Son of the Eternal Himself, IT required the Eternal Expression of God-into-being; the Word who was in the Beginning "with" God - the being who outrayed and "everything that had being - had being through Him and without Him there was not being." When Jesus talked (as recorded in the 5th Chapter of John) saying that the Validity of his Ministry was shown in the power the Father gave him to "accomplish" IT: The Greek word there translated "accomplish" is the same word here translated "finished" "IT is Accomplished." What was accomplished but the fulfillment of The Mystery of Mysteries. I hear Joe Pesci in the Movie J.F.K. saying, "It's a riddle, inside a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, man." That is certainly true of the "IT" that was accomplished on the Cross. Every single theological "explanation" as to the meaning - the "IT" of the Cross, breaks down in laughable anomalies when carried to their ultimate rational conclusions. A mystic knows that when the sacred theologian (different from the rational/secular theologian) begins to defend the absurd that there is great mystical truth, something real outside the human language's ability to conceptualize and verbalize.  So rational minds argue the irrational concerning the "Work of the Cross" and in every instance the "conceptualizations" fail. What happened that moment in that IT happened in Eternity, in Heaven and in the Earth, in Jesus, in the Godhead, in US. 

It was taught by the Church for a thousand years that the work of the Cross was a sort of trickery. The mythology being that Satan had taken Humanity away from God by "Trickery and deception" in the Garden of Eden, when he Tricked the innocent women to eat the apple, and that Jesus was a sort of innocent "bait" that if Satan could be tricked into killing an innocent sinless Human, God would regain "possession" of his Creation. And it is true as confirmed by the Apostle Paul who said, "1Co 2:6  Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: 
1Co 2:7  But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: 
1Co 2:8  Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 
1Co 2:9  But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 
1Co 2:10  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. 
1Co 2:11  For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. 
1Co 2:12  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 
1Co 2:13  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." 

This image was pictured in early church history many times in the symbol of the Father dangling the "hook" of Christ for the Great fish of Satan to bite. Around eleven-hundred A.D., some thought this ICON to be deficient claiming that it showed God in a less than Omnipotent light, and reduced him to play games of trickery, at great cost to himself, the humiliation and suffering of his own Son. The next concept to be floated was that God was angry with humankind and to appease God's anger, Jesus sacrificed himself for humanities sake so that no longer would the Father see the rebellious Humans when he looked our way but would only see the love of the suffering Son. 

There are New Testament texts that would appear to support both these ideas. But in the end we are left with the certainty that the Great Mystery of the Cross - the "IT" that was accomplished is beyond our grasp. We say only of this great IT, "Who for us men and for our salvation came down from Heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man;
And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried;
And the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures;
And ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father;
And He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead,  Whose Kingdom shall have no end." 

It is truly a mystery, but may be stated most clearly as the planting of THE SEED of The New Creation, in that it created the new man Adam in who's flesh and blood we who partake aright will be restored. Layer upon layer IT means these things outlined above, these levels of understanding and much, much more that we cannot grasp on our present plane of existence. What ever IT was, IT was/is the perfect expression of LOVE, to which all other expressions of love are mere shadows, mere symbols of IT. IT was/is a Cosmic Billboard Advertising the Father's love for his Children. IT was/is a "Lamb" slain for all Time so the blood sacrifice of the Ancients would be seen for the powerlessness it was. IT was/is a sacrifice that placed human thinking on a higher plane. IT was/is a symbol that stands and has stood the test of time, upon which people's lives, STILL today are changed by ITs view. There is a great mystical secret in the language "was/is". IT is the truth of things Eternal, "before Abraham was, I AM." "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to "finish" (same Greek word) His work" IT was/is the testimony of the symbolism, the ICONS of the Sacred text, the reality that in nearly all disciplines and many cultures on earth they were looking for the "IT" to come, as witnessed by the Astrologers who showed up at Jesus' birth having "read the Stars." In a thousand cultures, as a jigsaw puzzle, in the stories of Priests, Prophet, Shamans, Astrologer and Holy Men and Women of all cultures, the feeling was present and expressed in myriad way; the trace of the story found in our most ancient literature, the picture of Gilgamesh traversing the "Sea of Death" to rescue a Human from Death, the image of him obtaining an object of "eternal life" that slipped from his grasp in a storm. In the Garden of Eden, The I AM said to Eve, "thy seed should bruise the serpent's head," on down through all the history of Israel, as well as the psalms and the major and minor prophets, down to John the Baptist, the Reincarnation of Elijah, saying "After me cometh One mightier than I, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose." All THAT was now accomplished. "If I be lifted up, I will draw all humankind unto Me." IT is told in the Parable of the Feast, "IT is finished; the feast is ready, come ye to IT." IT was/is the food of our existence, the love, the grace, the knowledge to not be animal only, but to be spiritual also and "progress" in understanding, and growth, until we grow into "The fullness of the Statue of . . . . " He that was . . . . is. And when we view the Cross with sympathy, and feel the kinship of IT . . . and identify with IT . . . and take IT upon ourselves . . . . then He is Also IN US. "Take up thy Cross and follow me " . . . And in the flow of love that is "living by the Cross" . . . we will reach our time when we can say of the "Work of the Cross in us" . . as Paul the Apostle was able to say, "I have fought a good fight; I have FINISHED (same Greek word) my course; I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me, at that day." WAS/IS - I am persuaded. . . because of the Cross . . that he is able . . because of the Cross . . the keep that which I committed unto HIM . . . because of the Cross . . against THAT DAY.

My precious childhood Pastor, a Scott by birth, Dr. James A. Keillor said when I asked him what "taking up the Cross meant" (it sounded so frightening to me . . I was seven) he got a smile in his eyes, tickled at such a question from a seven-year-old, looked down from his 6'4" frame and said, "Well, Laddy, you have to learn the three L's. LIVE for Christ, LOVE for Christ and LABOR for Christ. That is the strength of the Cross, no hiding from life -but living to the full, no hiding from people, but loving to the full, and no hiding from work, but taking on all the tasks that Living and Loving demands.

I know no other reference where the Power of the Cross of Christ, the IT accomplished is more succinctly stated than in the words of Saint Patrick's Breastplate. The POWER of the Cross allows us to bind ourselves to it and that binding is power not just unto eternal life, but revolutionary change here and now for those willing to walk The Way bound to IT, and for everyone who comes into contact with them.  When one is bound to the Cross, every word has the power of The Word, hearts are broken open, wounds are healed, true healing/salvation is experienced, the supposed intractable problems find solution, the conscience that has turn to ashes is restored, the relationships damaged by sin healed, the physical handicaps filled with LIFE and purpose, our worst losses and struggles turned to our benefit.  What seems surrender to death, is Liberating, creative and eternally REAL.

 

Saint Patrick's Morning Prayer

We bind unto ourselves today the strong Name of the Trinity, by the invocation of the same, In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Three in One, the One in Three.
We bind unto ourselves this day forever, by power of faith, Christ's incarnation; His baptism in the Jordan River; His death on cross for our salvation; His bursting from the spiced tomb; His riding up the heavenly way; His coming on the day of doom; We Bind unto ourselves today.
We bind unto ourselves the power of the great love of the Cherubim; the sweet "Well done" in judgement hour; the service of the Seraphim, Confessors' faith, Apostles' words, the Patriarchs' prayers, the Prophets' scrolls; all good deed done unto the Lord, and purity of simple souls.
We bind unto ourselves today the virtues of the starlit heaven, the glorious sun's life-giving ray, the whiteness of the moon at even, the flashing of the lightning free, the whirling wind's tempestuous shocks, the stable earth, the deep salt sea, around the old eternal rocks.
We bind unto ourselves today the power of God to hold and lead, his eye to watch, his might to stay, his ear to hearken to our need. The wisdom of our God to teach, his hand to guide, his shield to ward; the Word of God to give us speech, his heavenly host to be our guard. Against the demon snares of sin, the vice that gives temptation force, the natural lusts that war within, the hostile ones that mar our course; or few or many, far or nigh, in every place, and in all hours, against their fierce hostility, We bind to ourselves these holy powers.
Against all Satan's spells and wiles, against false words of heresy, against the knowledge that defiles, against the heart's idolatry, against the wizard's evil craft, against the death wound and the burning, the choking wave and poisoned shaft, protect us Christ till your returning.
Christ be with me, Christ within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all the love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
We bind unto ourselves the Name, the strong Name of the Trinity; by invocation of the same: In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, The Three in One, and One in Three, of whom all nature has creation: Eternal Father, Spirit, Word, praise to the Lord of our salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord. Amen



Our Heavenly Father please let the wisdom and strength of this, Saint Patrick's prayer be the heart of all who wish to heal themselves, to heal their families, their relationships, their communities, their towns, their country. - Amen.

Cries from The Cross of Christ - The Fifth Cry

Meditations on Jesus' Words During His Suffering: 
by Priest Symeon Elias (Robinson) -copyright 1996

(This article is an examination of the cries from the Cross, and the some of the meanings one priest gives them. Originally written in 1996 as lenten articles and complied and edited for limited distribution in the fall of 2001.)


"Prepare ye the way of the Lord."
The Fifth Cry


"This is awful ! "
"O God The Pain ! "
"None of you understand how this crucifixion hurts ! "
"This is un-godly pain."
"You can't possibly understand if you haven't been there ! "
"This is such injustice."
"This is such a shame."
"There is such a stigma attached to crucifixion."
"We've got to organize to stop these cruel crucifixions."
"How can you know my pain if you haven't hung on my cross? >>
One type of New Ageism would have Jesus say, "Don't worry about me, I'm just here to experience everything." Another type would have him say, "If I can remember to remember that this is just an illusion, it won't hurt. 

All of these (except the last) are likely expressions of human suffering. When we suffer we tend to focus on it and it becomes too often the topic of our conversation. I am convinced that Jesus did not want us to focus on his physical suffering - other than to admit that it was REAL suffering and really happened. Every word from the Cross has deep Spiritual significance - yet he had to show the humanity of it or he would be reduced to another Greek demi-god or a super-Buddha. That humanity is pictured in a one word cry from The Cross, "Dipsao" meaning "I thirst." Cicero described the tormenting thirst of crucifixion victims as "indescribable, intense, over-powering and terrible." A friend who lost his leg in Korea told me that all he remembered of the injury was a terrible thirst. "I felt as if I were on fire, and the thirst went to my gut." I assume that this loss-of-blood type thirst is what Jesus felt, just like any other human would with severe blood loss.

As time advances, I become more convinced of the beauty and "Mystery" of the Holy Scripture. It is no accident that this single word is included in the Crucifixion narrative. For in this single word is the telling-proof of Jesus' humanity. This single word is a testament against those of the mind sciences who say that the crucifixion was "mere appearances." If you have ever been tempted to think that Jesus, "really didn't suffer" or that he "suffered less than we would suffer": Hear the plaintive cry from the Cross, "Dipsao-I thrust." This word speaks nothing of his Divinity but everything of his Humanity. This one word voids the speculation of certain early Gnostics and much of the modern mind sciences, because simply stated; "If it was 'illusional' then Jesus took part in a 'deception' on the Cross, and he lied when he said this very expected - very usual - very human - very physical thing, " Thirst." It was not an "delusional" cup Jesus prayed over in the Garden. It was the cup of bitter suffering, of an intensity we may never know. And in this word we can understand the fullness of its physical side.

At this point St. John tells us that the women were "looking on afar off." Only the soldiers were near, "one of them ran, and took a sponge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a long stick and gave Him to drink." What change of heart had taken place in the soldier(s) who hours before were beating Jesus, laughing and taunting him. It is sad that we don't know this soldier's name who came running, because if we did it would be a household name - it would have become synonymous with "helping someone who suffers." We would probably never use the term "Good Samaritan" because it would likely be replaced with this man's name - remembered for all time as the only human to minister to Jesus Christ on the Cross. There is a Gospel to be learned in that soldier's actions. It is the truth that who he helped most, when he ministered to Jesus, was himself. When we Minister to Jesus, we minister to ourselves. And by Jesus' own words, when we minister to the least of humanity, we minister to Him. The soldier ran with a drug to ease Jesus' pain. We of Jesus' family run with living water to minister to the world. Too often we spend our time ministering to one another, shut off from the rest of the world. This is simply wrong. When I think of this Centurion I hear the words of the old Spiritual/Hymn . . "I'm gonna start hauling water to the desert and gonna stop this hauling water to the sea." The people least likely the hear the Cries of the Cross are the ones who need their lessons the most. I think of the Bishops and Priests who place their crosses in the vest pocket when in public, not to offend the sensibilities of our divergent culture!  O how that action mocks Christ's great gift! It is the same when we ignore physical, emotional and spiritual suffering, when we don't take the time to answer with compassion but TRUTH those who seek our comfort and help. 

Who do we know who is hungry? Who do we know who is thirsty? Who do we know who is in need? Who do we know who is suffering? Who do we know who is dying? Who do we know who is isolated in bitterness and spiritual/emotional pain? "Dipsao" is the condition of all humankind. Are we running with a drink? Are we offering spiritual help? Are we offering the Bread and Cup, the Communion of fellowship, in the bonds of the Love displayed on the Cross? Is the work of the Cross extended to humankind through our work? OR do we offer them secular "feel-good" formulas that have already failed? I hear the Prophet saying, "Comfort ye, Comfort ye my people." They too, Thirst "Dipsao."

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in Me and I in him. As the Living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven - not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever." "Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and they are life." (Jesus speaking as recorded by John in Chapter Six of his Gospel.) The Eucharist holds a central place in the experience of the Mysterion that Jesus taught here. It is HIS physical presence in the reality of his Divine Human nature, HIS very Flesh and Blood he shares with us and all who will taste and see that the Lord is Good.  It is an offering to a world of people who burn with thirst. A point of physical contact with the power of His Spirit. Millions deny its reality - remain in their "Dipsao" state having never experienced in the Mass, His Presence and Life, sadly believing that it is symbol only or a sort of sacred remembrance. He is LIFE and we of the Mysterion meet Him and partake of His life present in the Myteries of elements of His Altar. The Divine Liturgy is where more than any other place and time, we connect with the Eternal Moment, a gateway to New Life, strength and recreation of ALL that is.  How can those claiming HIS name, neglect this?  How can those claim HIS name, deny its ETERNAL REALITY. What on earth could Saint Paul mean when he said, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?"  Try to tell the apostles and the Holy Father and Mother of every decade of the Church's history that this communion in the Body and Blood of Jesus the Christ is symbol only.

I recently had a Protestant fundamentalist tell me that the Mass was blasphemy. And in her gnostic heresy she had it all worked out, ripping scripture from context and ignoring the reality of the Church's teaching in every generation since Christ.  Such darkness shames such a one, and you guessed it, blasphemes the Cross of Christ, Sacred Scripture and this mysterious means of Grace. But like Saint Symeon the New Theologian said, "How can one understand repentance and renewal when one has not tasted this Precious Cup."  Saint Symeon rightly tied the experience of the Body and Blood in the Eucharist with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  He like Saint Paul new that this mystery of the Eucharist, the communing in Christ Body and Blood is a powerful thing. " 1Co 11:23  For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: 

1Co 11:24  And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. 
1Co 11:25  After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. 
1Co 11:26  For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 
1Co 11:27  Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 
1Co 11:28  But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 
1Co 11:29  For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. 
1Co 11:30  For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."

And this "sleep is death."  
Job_14:12; Mat_9:24; Mar_5:39; Luk_8:52; Joh_11:11-12; 1Th_4:14

So with all the evangelists of the Church, I too say, "Come and See! Taste and see that the Lord is Good!" This is not a game of philosophy, or gnostic pretensions, or some symbolic ceremony for psychological benefit, it is rather LIFE, LIBERTY and THE WAY, purchased for us through great suffering. 

Cries From the Cross of Christ - The Fourth Cry



Meditations on Jesus' Words During His Suffering: 
by Priest Symeon Elias (Robinson) -copyright 1996

(This article is an examination of the cries from the Cross, and the some of the meanings one priest gives them. Originally written in 1996 as lenten articles and complied and edited for limited distribution in the fall of 2001.)


"Prepare ye the way of the Lord."

The Fourth Cry

"It was about the sixth hour, and a darkness was over the earth until the ninth hour." The scene was surreal, like something out of a movie cast in its own dim light. This darkness gained the attention of the crowd and they were spooked. There was a stillness and silence that accompanied the darkness and in the darkness was heard a loud voice speaking with anguish and despair: "Eloi! Eloi! lama sabachthani ?" "My God! My God! why have you forsaken me?"

I knew a young man who was a horrible baseball player. He was twelve years old and awkward, but he loved the game and knew that the game would help his awkwardness. He and some other boys played an impromptu game on a Moose Lodge field, about a mile and a half down the tracks from his home. His Father lay in bed at home, recovering from a massive heart attack. His Dad was sent home with a "50-50 chance to live" - doctor's lingo for "we're sending you home to die." William had a blood clot next to his heart that might move at any moment and kill him. Our young man, Kenneth was on the way home from the ball game, walking down the Georgia Railroad tracks when he was confronted by a gang of teenage boys. Their leader was a seventeen-year-old homosexual sadist. Today Kenneth is a six-foot-one-inch tall, two-hundred-forty-pound Grandfather, now he finds it difficult to remember what being that vulnerable ninety-eight-pound twelve-year-old felt like but for years it wasn't so. He was cut with a razor knife twenty-two cuts across the back, as some in the gang laughed, some taunted him, some called him queer. He had only a vague idea what queer meant, but that day he was to learn in a gruesome fashion. He was raped by a sad and sick young man, while held helpless, bleeding and in shock. In that instant his childhood was gone. Walking home he realize that he had to summon every bit of strength he owned and he knew that he did not own enough strength to face this and he cried allow for the help of his Heavenly Father. He was certain in his deepest self that his earthly Father was going to die. He had not been fooled by the Doctor's up- beat talk. Being a spiritually aware young man he had read the truth in the Doctor's eyes as he had turned away from his parents and allowed the truth to peek through. Now cut, raped and bleeding, the thought of being the person who brought the shock that would kill his father was a burden even greater than the psychic burden of being attacked. It would have been a stigma to him worse than being raped. He could not let anyone know what had happened to him, because it would be told to his father by those of lesser sensibilities and the shock of it would surely kill him. Weak and shaking still silently praying for strength, he climbed into a bathroom window, praying that no one would see him. He bathed, knotted his bloody clothes into a bundle trying to hide the blood, Rubbed ointment into his wounds best he could, ran to his bedroom with towels rapped around his wounded body, dressed and carried his bloody clothes out behind the barn, doused them with gasoline and burned them, then he buried the ashes. "If my Father was going to die, it would not be words from my mouth that would kill him, that thought is all I can remember of that afternoon." Three weeks later his Dad died anyway. "I can tell you that I was angry, but I did not cry "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me. At this point in life I cannot imagine what could make me feel such a thing as being forsaken by God. And on that afternoon, it was the Holy Father's strength that allowed me to spare my Dad horrible pain on his death bed."

Neither can I imagine what it would take to make me feel God forsaken. My first child and his mother died in a freak auto accident, that didn't do it. My best friend was killed in Vietnam the very same month. That didn't do it. The death of my brother and very close friend at the hands of a drugging and drunken surgeon, didn't do it. I won't belabor the point but I will tell you that this is the short list. I personally don't know and have never experienced that place that Jesus experienced that made him feel forsaken by his Father. Having faced a few difficult and tragic things, I can imagine the feeling of the beating, the weakness of the bleeding, the physical shock to the body, the humiliation of the taunting, the pain, the fear, the sorrow but I can't imagine what is would be like to truly feel God-forsaken. In these sundry difficulties of living I have gained a suspicion that I will never have to go there; to that dark place of deep despair where God's presence seems absent. I have a faith that tells me that "He went there so that I will NEVER have to go there: That in His going there, to that place of absolute despair, that my worst places, no matter how tragic and Godforsaken they may appear, will never be without HOPE because my hope rests in the One who went to that despair for me."

The reality of violent assault made me more than a little fascinated with what the world would be like without the intervening of Our Holy God, coursing existence into being instant by instant by the spirit and power of His Word, present with us to help. Nearly twenty years ago I thought I had found such a place. It was the story of the prison riots in Arizona. The gruesome tale of the siege where prisoners were killing other prisoners for sport, seeing who could murder with the most gruesomeness because to be feared was power. I thought surely as I read the accounts of this sadistic cruelty of man against man that I was witnessing the absence of the Spirit of God. Then years later I read a most remarkable story that was later turned into a T.V. movie. The prison chaplain and several prison employees were herded into a 10' by 10' cell. Several prisoners fired 132 rounds into their bodies and not a single person was killed! In fact there was not a single life threatening wound! and nearly every round had hit someone! They lay still, bleeding, pretending death and all of them came out alive. One man said, "I heard the Chaplain praying under his breath, 'Our Father, Who Art In Heaven . . . ' we all joined in." If there is in store for me a time when I will think that God has forsaken me, I will accept it and bare it - that's macho talk, like the Disciples promising to follow Jesus "to the death. So in reality, I'm a human, and I can't make that statement and know it is true.  But, I hope and pray that my faith is confirmed and that I don't ever have to feel whatever Jesus felt that made him scream these words in despair. "Eloi ! Eloi ! lama sabachthani ?" I can't imagine what that feeling was like and I have some reference points to judge.

A young man, came to my door this week to deliver pizza. There was an odd movement in his motions and speech. I asked him, "Are you recovering from a stroke?" "No, a headon collision." He told me about his wreck, the violence he and his eighteen- month-old son who is now eight-years-old endured. He said, "My son took the worst of it, and hasn't walked yet. And all I can say is the Lord was merciful to us, and you can't imagine how he has blessed us." I was shocked by these words of faith from his mouth, but why should I be? Sunday afternoon, my wife and I stepped to the sun- glasses display at Walmart, to replace a pair she broke this week. I caught an odd motion out of the corner of my eye and it was the young pizza delivery man. I introduced him to my wife and he introduced me to his eight year old boy who was racing around the Walmart in a sporty little wheel chair like an event at the Paralympics. He finished his story, telling us that his wife, the mother of the Eight-year-old took a settlement from the accident and abandoned them, leaving the state with another man. He ended up marrying the woman who three years earlier had come to his rescue in front of her house where the collision had happen. They met in Sunday School and she exclaimed, "You can't be that man, that man was dead." I asked him, "Larry, have you ever felt like God was angry at you to allow these things to happen to you?" He said, "Father, I have only felt blessed because he restored my sanity to me." Foolishly I asked, "Do you mean brain damage?" He laughed at the question and said, "No. You see before the accident I was on drugs. And since the accident my sanity has been restored. You see, when I looked to the Cross, my sanity was restored and I have been clean ever since."

It is this very Grace that I am trying to teach in this fourth cry from the Cross. Here a man is injured and his eighteen month old baby paralyzed, his wife betrays him in his recovery, takes the insurance settlement and leaves with another man, leaving him with a paraplegic boy and instead of looking every day at that boy in the wheel chair as a burden or feeling guilt, he looks and sees blessings. How can this be? He marries the angel of mercy who at the accident scene held his head in her lap - holding his skull in place - thinking him dead. He finds ultimate grief and ultimate faith - It can be - ONLY when we realize the transcendent sovereignty of God the Father (Our Father Who Art IN Heaven) and the ultimate justice of All His actions. And the truth that in our worse pain, when we are wounded and bleeding and injured for life, that these wounds are healed by turning our face to the Father in trust. Our comfort coming from the one who faced the "comfortless place of the total absence of the Father's presence" who for us all, and for all time cried, "Eloi ! Eloi ! lama sabachthani ?" so we won't ever have to.

Such deep faith, held by a simple man beats all the mystigogues and all the new age gurus combined and all those who like the false prophets of old think that "faith" is a mental exercise, who prattle about THEIR greatness and THEIR spiritual accomplishments. They are like King Nebuchadnezzar of old. "Never before has there been so much information, so much spiritua" talk, so much spiritual sophistication and so little sanity. Gurus have made fortune after fortune on the spiritual pride of the spiritually insane. Daniel records the story of the Babylonian kind Nebuchadnezzar, proudly prancing the roof of his palace, overlooking the bright lights and big city saying: "Is this not the great Babylon which I have built by my power and for the glory of my majesty?" This is no different than the people of mind sciences speaking of the "levels of spirituality that THEY have accomplished." But God put the king in his place; driving him from society into the wild to live like an animal. At the end of that time, Nebuchadnezzar, went on to praise the ONE TRUE GOD who does as he pleases, without getting human permission. "Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because every thing he does is right and all his ways are just." It was only when the transcendence (raising his eyes toward heaven) was realized through "divine humiliation" that reality finally fell into place for Nebuchadnezzar. We as a society have been through are going through the time of divine humiliation - where we have lost our sanity, and we have became as animals instead of men and women, sanity is attempted through drugs, sex, therapies, mind sciences, spiritual gurus, astrology, numerology, and cause after cause. But all this lumped together fails to gain the level of "faith in the Father", and in reality it is a "closed circle of pure materialism" paraded as "higher levels and spiritual development." True higher levels and true spiritual development are possible ONLY when we rediscover OUR FATHER - the majesty, holiness and sovereignty of God.

When I compare the reality of the scene of Jesus hanging on the Cross, placing his being in harms way, willing to travel to the place of this fourth cry, against the shallow prattling of the "how to" programs, the preachers who have become nothing but motivational speakers, and the mind sciences that try to pass themselves off as "spiritual enlightenment" . . . when I hear the shallow solutions coming from the false prophets of our times, government Utopianist, the sociological, psychological, pharmaceutical, neumanistic post-modern "experts" I hear Jeremiah saying of similar false prophets of his day, "They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace' they say, when there is not peace." And indeed peace cannot come until we learn to reach to the reality of the Father and learn to pray as Jesus taught us, "Our Father Who Art In Heaven. Sacred and Honored be Your Name."

Prayer: Jesus, Our Beloved, Singular and Special, Eldest Brother, teach us the ways you know of our spiritual family, to honor our Father in Heaven, with you and all those who place their faith in His transcendent reality and justice and sovereign actions in the history of men. And on that special day, thank you for stepping into that dark night of desolation, taking the sting of death, robbing the grave of our company and facing the void of the Father's absence. Because of your great gift Saint Paul could say with conviction, understanding and certainty, "O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?" You took both, on the Cross, and removed them from "we who hope in Thee" in that moment of desolation and agony when you cried in the darkness of that day, "Eloi ! Eloi ! lama sabachthani?" Our Father who art in heaven, hollowed be Thy Name, Precious Jesus, We Love and Adore Thee! Have Mercy on us. Holy Spirit, O comfort of all who Love God, One in essence, one the same. Amen.

Cries From the Cross of Christ - the Third Cry.



Meditations on Jesus' Words During His Suffering: 
by Priest Symeon Elias (Robinson) -copyright 1996

(This article is an examination of the cries from the Cross, and some of the meanings one priest gives them. Originally written in 1996 as lenten articles and complied and edited for limited distribution in the fall of 2001.)

Third Cry

"Woman, there is your son."
"John, there is your Mother."
What a complicated story is the story of Mary! What a complicated "theology" and "mythology" Roman Catholicism has created around her! What can we know of her? How do we reconcile the Birth Narrative stories with the Woman who arrived with Jesus' Brothers (who church tradition tells us were his first cousins, the sons of another Mary) at the height of Jesus' ministry, thinking him "mentally ill." This Mary arrived with relatives in tow, wishing to rescue Jesus, her son, before he said anything else that would get him into trouble, before did himself any further harm. The gossip was in the air, everyday it was a new outrage assaulting her ears. What did she know and understand? Who can understand it, if there relationship was so close as some theologians and romantic inspiration writers try to envision, why he would tersely refuse to see her, dismissing her importance saying, "Who is my Mother, who are my Brothers, but they who do the Father's will." These cousins who arrived with Mary that day, ready to do battle with the Disciples for "possession" of Jesus; where were they on the day of Crucifixion? Apparently they were not ready to do battle with the Romans. What a weak little crew actually followed Jesus to the Cross. All the big-strapping-Males - absent. All the bravado, all the Macho talk and blustering statements, "I'll never desert you." "I'll stay with you to the death." - -All shone for the hollow sham and shame it was. What grief and anger must have pierced Jesus' heart as he listened to the hollow statements of solidarity. Is it any wonder that he turned to Peter and addressed him as Satan, "Get behind me Satan!"

"Can you drink of the Cup I will drink?"
"Oh sure, no problem. Got'cha covered, Man."
No wonder he sweat drops of blood in prayer in the Garden as he faced the reality of the night and day to come. No wonder he asked, "If it is possible take this Cup from me." - - - - but then the reality of his nature shines through the struggle with his humanity and he said, "None the less, not my will, but Thine." This submission of Jesus to the Father's will is not an act of falsehood, as some try to make our submission to the Father's will over our own will, characterizing it as - a "failure to be oneself."  This act, which seems to totally ignore himself and his own good, is not false, but in the Vedic understanding as taught in the volume of the Second cry - it is Jesus Acting upon the Truth of his own nature. For if it were not his "core" he would not have been able to choose his course of action - towards the Father's will - and hold to that decision and succeed.

We cannot understand the "on again - off again" relationship of Jesus to his mother Mary, until the reality of the statement Jesus made in the Garden is understood - "None the less, not my will, but Thine." For Jesus, this statement is the sum-total of his motivation and method of living and through the Temptations and all his life it was or became his core. It was His confession of a Faith that was the driving force of his every thought and motion, as is witnessed as early as his twelfth year, when Mary and Joseph suddenly realized that Jesus was missing and they returned to Jerusalem in a huge hurry and found Jesus in the Temple teachingt the scribes. It was a core being that created conflict in his family and in his closest relationships. When they found the twelve-year-old Jesus in the Temple they scolded him - as only parents can who are equally relieved that their child is safe and angry that he has put them through such anguish and fear. "Don't you realize that I have to be about my Father's affairs?" Don't think that Jesus' tone wasn't filled with the arrogance that only a teenager can affect when they have been "unjustly" accused. He was at a loss to understand why they would not know where he was, and what he was doing. And evidence seems to indicate that Mary had a habit of forgetting who he was and what he was supposed to be doing; culminating in a trip to "retrieve" Jesus, at the height of his ministry when the crowds were so thick around him that they could not press through. The reality of the human maternal instinct is clear in the New Testament's descriptions of Mary. This maternal instinct being a part of the "truth of Mary's nature." As all mothers should, she wished for the health and survival of her child - at all cost. What inhumanity would be pictured if Mary had coldly observed the course of Jesus' life, detached from her normal and good humanity, her natural maternal instincts, coldly resigned to his bloody fate and never uttering a word of protest.  I love her the more that she was truly HUMAN and not some demi-god, immaculately conceived as is the Roman error. And sadly there were times when her wonderful and natural instinct was at odds with the Will of the Father, which was the Drum Beat of Jesus' Life. In Mary we have a wonderful picture of the reality that the highest Human emotions are sometimes wrong in their expression, and even our Good intentions have to be tempered by an understanding of God's Will.

The group that actually made it to the Crucifixion contained the three Marys, one of them Jesus' mother and St. John the Apostle - a teenager. I can picture the heart of the Centurion Commander being touched by Jesus' prayer, "Father, forgive them." I can picture him ordering the guards to "stand aside" to allow this little group to approach very near the Cross. I can see them looking up at Jesus, and not being able to speak. There was only silence. What could they say to him? What was there to say? If you were there, what would you be able to say to him? The truth is that there is not a Christian Initiate in all of time, who is truly an initiate, who has not stood at the foot of the Cross, in their spiritual person and viewed its reality, witnessed its extreme expression of love and fallen in love with the "man of sorrow" hanging on that Cross and in their heart willed in the core their being to take their part of His suffering and in their being live the passion of the restoration of humankind. Of all the "things" that are called Christian, they only become Christian when this reality is grasped. The core of our nature, becoming akin to the core of His nature - and in the struggle and passion of our human animal that is "dying daily" we choose from that core - from that truth of our restored nature - also to follow the Father's will.

I don't have a "grand" love affair with Blessed Mary - as many Catholics do, though it grows more intense with my years. But I will tell you that on a personal level the greatest compliment I have ever received was from a radical devotee to a mind science which denies the "reality" of Jesus' suffering on the Cross. She said, "He doesn't have anything 'enlightening' to say. He's just an ego in love with Jesus." How could such a person have any comprehension of the great love that is drawn from the spiritual/human heart in the presence of the reality of the Cross. Such a person knows nothing of its reality, to her it is just an ancient myth or at best some sort of "collective symbol." For years, even as a child I could not read the Passion Narratives without tears welling in my eyes and being moved in my core being. I could not understand how people could read the narratives and not be moved in their core. But as time has progress and understanding has come, I realize how blinded people have become by the culture. There is a Modern and Post-Modern fog that hides the Cross in its reality and makes it the subject of armchair speculation and intellectual debate. The meaning of the Cross is its experience and communion, not in an ignorant way, but knowingly, where rationalism and intellectual speculation fail. Sadly, in this Culture how can we come to understand it, when we cannot understand or accept the mystical-truth of redemption itself?

"To the degree that sin is redefined as a negative attitude one has toward oneself rather than an offense against the laws of nature and God - instituted by God, to that degree salvation is going to be recast in psychological categories, according to the dogmas of secularism."  _ Father Alexander Schmemann.

"If sin and standing under God's judgment is the problem, atonement and justification is the solution. But if dysfunction, low self-esteem, and unmet needs are the ultimate problem, the solutions will be prescribed in therapeutic rather than theological language. This is not merely 'contextualizing' the Christian message for a contemporary audience; it is conforming the message and it is destroying the message."  IF such "pull-yourself-up-by-your- spiritual-bootstraps-twelve-step-program-feel-good-ism-'works/salvation'-based in therapeutic definitions" is the understanding message of the Cross, the message of the Cross is lost in the cultural fog. The cultural fog is the "conformity to the world" of which the Apostle Paul warned us, telling us that what would be required of us was a mental transformation - by the "renewing of our minds." We pray in our liturgy, "Lord, open our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit, that as the scriptures are read and the Word proclaimed we may hear with joy what you say to us today. Lord, open our minds from our age, to the ages and from the ages to the age-less . . . " Such hearing is not caught in the present culture and cultural fog which is true spiritual blindness. Such hearing when inspired by the Holy Spirit in the Word and Table becomes open to the "eternal Wisdom" the Philia- Sophia Perrenis - The Love of the Eternal Wisdom - the core Mysterion.

Jesus' relationship with Mary was strained by Intend and Purpose - by his LOVE FOR US. He turned his mother away tersely, when she arrived with his cousins, because she wished to interfere with his ministry that was THE FATHER'S EXPRESSION OF HIS LOVE FOR US. It is you and I that stood in the way of even normal respect and the dignity that ANY son should grant his mother. It extended even to his last words to her from the Cross. He did not say, "Mother, there is your son." Instead, he spoke a "dis-respect" that I would not be able to utter to my own precious mother were she alive, he called his mother by the generic name "WOMAN." He did this because of His Love for US. He knew that the scene at Golgotha would be told and retold. He knew the certain ramifications if he called her Mother.

We in Modern times have had the great debate as to Jesus' Divinity. In true a two thousand year enterprise. Sadly even those people calling themselves Christian are divided on the subject. Proving Jesus' Divinity in rational terms, has been of course impossible for modern theologians, as well it should. For if it fell into the realm of "rational only" it would loose its transcendent/eternal power. The material/only crowd has jumped on the human/only band wagon, making Jesus just another Wisdom Teacher and as I said in Vol. I, a sort of Super-Buddha. But this is a modern perspective. The real battle in the beginning was to prove his HUMANITY. Miraculous Births, Virgin Births, God-Childs were the culturally accepted mythologies of the times. What was impossible to believe, and nearly lost in the Church was the fact that Jesus was HUMAN. The trend did not stop with time. The council of the Church agreed to call Mary, Ha Theotokos - the God-bearer. That quickly was translated into Latin as the Mother of God. And so being, began the effort to Deify Mary. She then had to be "virgin born also" immaculately conceived, and so on. Each layer of Mary Mythology, chiseled away at the reality of Jesus' Humanity. It was a cultural thing - just as surely as we battle against the "modern mythology" that all human problems are amendable by therapeutic methods, they wrestled with the mythology of the demi-gods.

Please don't think that there is anything anti-female in these statements of the "deifying" Mary. I love her, and sometimes think that the best and most accurate "view of the Cross" would be from the perspective of her eyes. I think we have done a poor job of recognizing the feminine expressions of God. I take Sophia (The Holy Wisdom of God) as the Personality of the Holy Spirit and SHE lives with me and I believe Mary possessed (to this day) of Sophia in a very special way. But Mary was one-hundred percent HUMAN. She imparted to Jesus a whole and complete human nature. Knowing this battle that would arise, Jesus hanging from the Cross, in love for you and me, so that we could have a better and clearer idea of who HE really was, - truly Human, truly Divine, and so we could better understanding and picture the significance of the Cross - he cast one last insult at his mother, and called her "Woman." Yet it was with love he did so. And what he gave her was all he had left that could be called "earthly wealth." He had one disciple who followed him to the Cross, one friend who Loved him more than he feared for his own life - and that was John the Beloved. And by way of Last Will and Testament, Jesus gave Mary the wealth of that love and devotion, the youthful strength of John to care for her as his own. ** It is significant to note, that the "theologian" upon whose writing and understanding about God and God's Nature, which so much of New Ageism uses with only partial understanding - and sadly sometimes little or no understanding - gained his Wisdom and Understanding of the Nature of God who is Love from his experience at the Cross - for John The Theologian was none other than the young John the Beloved who was given charge of Jesus' mother.

What a beautiful picture of Jesus' Humanity and Divinity is reflected in these words, "Woman, there is your son." His Divinity speaking to us through the ages in his refusal to call her Mother from the Cross, His humanity shown in his wish to providing for the physical well being of his earthly mother. What tearing storms of emotion; what competing priorities, duties and responsibilities is the presence of Divinity and Humanity in the Soul of Humankind! And we who "imperfectly certainly" but with passion seek to do the Father's will, come to know these storms of emotion. It was from this understanding that Jesus said, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace, but a sword." And at the same time that on one level we are able to come to comprehend and live in "the peace that is without intellectual explanation  we purposely take part in our portion of the Cross and put a sword to all aspects of our emotional life that would hinder us from following God's will. "Who is our Father? Who is our Mother? Who is our Brother? Who is our Sister? Who are our Children? Who are our Grand-children? . . . but those who do the will of the Father.

Cries from the Cross of Christ - Second Cry


Meditations on Jesus' Words During His Suffering: 
by Priest Symeon Elias (Robinson) -copyright 1996

(This article is an examination of the cries from the Cross, and some of the meanings one priest gives them. Originally written in 1996 as lenten articles and complied and edited for limited distribution in the fall of 2001.)


Second Cry:
There is a common personality type that gloats in the misery of others. I know a woman (in fact many people) who when anyone is in trouble, difficulty, a death in the family, etc., - she is the first person to show up to "help." And indeed she is wonderful help, making coffee, cooking, cleaning, answering the phone, in fact doing anything she can to "help" - - - - As long as she can feel superior and gloat over the foolishness or ignorance or sadness or moral flaw that caused the trouble. Whatever the sordid details she will recount with glee - well with compassion in a sweet patronizing voice with glee just under the surface - always looking to catch an expression from the person to whom she is speaking that shows that they have taken in the worst of it. This person is on a life time quest to prove that all the people she knows are at their core just as base as she.

One of the thieves on the cross next to Jesus was such a one. Even in his dying moments, suffering the agony of crucifixion, he could not help but gloat in the misery of the man who "people said was somebody" - "Look at him now! He is nobody special! He puts his pants on one leg at a time just like me. For all his fancy talk and high minded ideas, look at what it got him." 

"Hey, you stupid S.O.B. if you're the Son of God, like you claim. Why don't you cast yourself down from this cross and destroy your executioners?" And in that derisive statement is an ignorant arrogance that we see every day in people who are materially minded, who believe that humans are a collection of accidentally formed cell structures, who see only the human animal and do not understand the potential of the human spirit - stamped as it is in the image of God. This mentality we see in people who think that their mental and emotional capacities are the norm - that they are the "standard" by which all humanity is judged. And ANYONE who claims to be anything better - (it doesn't matter if the claiming is implicit or explicit - in the actuality of Spirit, and in the fruit of a life) is a liar and a hypocrite. As Saint Symeon the New Theologian said, they know nothing of the renewal, of repentance, of the power of the new life in Christ.  Instead they know the bitterness of their own dashed hopes, exposed illusions, and failures. 

What need did this Thief have but to see Jesus crumble under the pressure, whine and beg for mercy, to plead for his life, to beg God for help? Hoping against hope the cynical thief taunts Jesus, because his underlying life-mythology, the "philosophy" upon which he had based his life will fail if Jesus does not crack. The very look of peace in Jesus' eyes that is the truth of the depth of His spirit, has to fail, has to falter or our cynic the thief will have to face the futility and ignorance of his own life, admit the exposed illusions that placed him on his cross. We see that spirit still at work today, in people who must try and debase Jesus the man, two thousand years later, in people who find "offense" in the telling of his goodness. We find that spirit at work in the people who have a deep seeded need to prove that Jesus was "just" a man, like they are - the thought of the truth of his "being" is frightening to them. Many spend a life time focused on Jesus the Historic Figure, trying to "place him in context" to understand how a single man (who is just like any other man - just a victim of his circumstances) could so effect history, they being hypnotized by his person while all the time trying to "debunk the myth." This thief thought he was seeing the "myth" debunked before his very eyes.

Do you know anyone like the thief? A person who "validates him/herself" by the measure of the failure of others? My friend who is the very first one to show up to help if you are in trouble, is just such a one. She has failed at every endeavor in her life. Failed employment - never able to hold a job for any length of time, failed family relationships, failed friendships, failed relationships and marriages (seven) at last count - yet she is ready to "help" and hoping against hope that in your trouble she can find some justification to "come to understand" that you are really no different than her. Such a perspective always looks on the outside world, hoping to find justification for one's inside world. It never admits wrong, it never dares to look inside itself for its own failures and its march is a march toward a dark and bitter night of the soul. There is no bitterness so dark as the failure/cynic. And for this one, how true the cynicism seems to him/her based in a "clear" vision of "objective" reality. They are objectively all hanging on crosses dying ! ! There can be little doubt about that ! So our cynic thief looked at Jesus; a semi-popular "personality" and he laughed at the "objectively observed absurdity" of there circumstances - after all that "high talk" that together, they should end up as "crucifixion buddies."

The other thief has heard enough of the taunting, "Do you not fear God?" he asked. When one is faced with death, the reality of one's core being becomes glaringly apparent. There is nothing like an impending death to clear away the things that have hypnotized us, attracted us away from our core being, the things and people who have dominated us, the ideas and causes that have consumed us. Vedic writing has a saying, "A man cannot act contrary to the reality of his own nature." This at first seems a most cynical statement, but it is not. From the very moment of Jesus' humiliation we see him acting according to the truth of this statement. In the Garden when he "should" have been willing to fight, he was healing the ear of Malkus the Temple guard, whose ear had been severed by Peter's sword. When he should have been worried for his safety and careful what he said, he said the very things of truth that sent the Pharisees and the Sadducees into fits of outrage. When he should have defended himself before Pilate he used the moment to awaken in Pilate a new sense of reality and understanding of truth. When he should have been broken, following the beating and the abuse, he was praying for his attackers. When he should have been angry, he was praying for their forgiveness. When he should have been humiliated and debased for all time, his goodness shows through the clearest, in the sharpest focus - and the Man on the Cross, instead of becoming the man of shame and a symbol of hopelessness became the man of ULTIMATE VIRTUE and a symbol of ETERNAL HOPE.

This Vedic saying was true also for the cynic thief, he was acting from the core of his nature, his reality was his cynicism and unbelief, the reality of his person to the core. It is true also for the thief who speaks up in Jesus' defense. From the core of his nature, he is not deluded and does not view himself falsely as the cynic does and he says, "We suffer justly, we received the due reward of our deeds."

This truth hits the cynic thief's ears like a drill. The reality of his delusion, "we receive the due reward of our deeds" being the last thing he wanted to hear. "This Man, Jesus - has done nothing wrong." We don't know if this statement was from personal knowledge of Jesus or a simple and honest reading of the innocence before him. I cannot help but think that he looked into Jesus' eyes and just knew. He knew because he had not given up himself to some falsehood that blinded him from clear vision. He knew because he was thoroughly aware of his own failures and never discounted them. He knew because he could believe the reality of Spirit he had witnessed when the spikes were being driven into Jesus' wrists and feet and he heard him praying for the centurions. He recognized the reality of that precious Spirit and he knew and acted upon the truth of his own nature. "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom."

What absurd talk for a pair of convicted criminals, both hanging on a cross side by side and one asking the other to be part of his Kingdom. This prayerful cry speaks of faith, he called Jesus Lord, recognizing that Jesus was different, - better - than himself. It speaks of the true objective reality that even as a condemned man hanging on a cross, Jesus had not lost his "lordly - dignity of Spirit." This man was dying, so it speaks of his belief in the after-life. It was from the reality of a spiritual nature that could see and grasp what he saw, from a ground of that faith was sparked this faith - while the self-justifying thief-cynic remained in his "observable-objective" reality and deluded himself until his last breath.

The cynic has to have felt the bitter irony, loosing his friend to a "king" who was dripping blood - hanging on a cross; his friend talking crazy talk about this man and a future they did not have. What frustration and futility must have filled his soul. But his friend was acting on marvelous faith and discernment that can only function in a person of honesty. This was no panicked "death bed repentance." It was instead a sincere, knowing, soulful, from the core of his being, in the truth of his spirit, "confession of faith."

Jesus did not "grant this man absolution." He simply stated the truth of the situation, he stated the recognition of the faith-filled spirit of this man and then stated the Obvious Fact. - "This day you will be with me in Paradise." I do not believe that Christian people experience death. (Christian people - meaning = truly spiritually alive people - people who have not given themselves over to delusion) There are too many reports from people who have been revived from "death" to doubt the reality of their stories of being in the room, watching there body as medical or rescue personnel work with them. They have not tasted death, they have merely stepped into Life. "This day you will, step into life with me."

One of the extra-canonical books (the gospel of Thomas) quotes Jesus as saying, "Seek me while I may be found, or dying you may look for me and not find me." "This day you have stepped into life with me, and we will walk to paradise." This is the reality of Catholic/Orthodoxy and indeed the Christian Faith, it is stepping into life with Jesus. Accepting the reality of the Man on the Cross and not spending a life time trying to make Him, "just like us." Yes he was like us in every positive way, in all the ways that speak of ultimate reality and all the ways that are not corrupted by our "sin." He was the first "example" of who we can all become in spiritual strength and power. We have that possibility of stepping into His Life, with him any time we choose, in the eternal Now of this life time and never tasting Death, but instead simply tossing off our "space/time/suit" and breathing the pure air of our new life. "THIS DAY" you will be with me in Paradise - the mystery of the death that is birth - and not to the same place and the same suffering and the same conflicts and the same fear and the same anger - like the low Hindu ideas - but a metempsychosis into something so much better it is called Paradise - for want of an earthly conception which could contain the description of it. And the description we are told by the Apostle Paul is in the Buddhist tradition of understanding what it is NOT:
Eyes have NOT seen.
Ears have NOT heard.
Man has NOT imagined in his deepest heart
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.

But this is not the end of it because Paul clearly states that in the Mysterion, on an intuitive level of spiritual wisdom that is beyond human comprehension and expression we may "know." "But God has revealed them (the things to come) to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes the deep things of God." Further saying, that when you are in touch with your human spirit you learn human things, but when you become "attached" to the Spirit of God, in our New Life in Jesus Christ we learn things of God's Spirit. And here is the Mysterion - because it cannot be conveyed in "rational terms and concepts" - "These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual." The Mysterion cannot be grasped by mental exercise "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are perceived by the Holy Spirit in us." These are only hints at the reality of the Paradise that the 'faith-ful' thief stepped into that day. And to the cynic-thief it is simply hogwash.

When we look at the Cross, each of us stands in our person two-thousand years later - being represented by one of these two types of people, represented by these two thieves on the crosses next to Jesus. We are struggling in our person to make him just like us, or we are by faith attaching our future to his.