Sword – Fire – Paradise

In my last post I wrote about our intrinsic longing for the paradise that seems to have been lost. In fact it is a paradise that still surrounds us but is hard to see. In fact we can’t see it on our own. We need new eyes. We need the new Adam, Christ to unveil it for us. It is only He that can enter the gate to the tree of life and paradise guarded by the Cherubim and the flaming sword. (Gen 3:24) It is only He that can reveal the Holy Spirit to us in a way that won’t destroy us.

I say that paradise still surrounds us because in a very real sense, nothing has changed since the days of Eden. It is still the same raw material that makes up the structure of this world. We have, photons, neurons, atoms and electrons flying around now just like back in the day. In a way there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9). What changed or rather, what was bent, was our disposition towards Paradise or lets just call it what it is, Reality. Paradise is another word for what is truly real. Our disposition towards reality changed from just enjoying the reality and mystery of it to wanting to control and know all the aspects of it. It is this desire for control and knowledge that still roams around and reeks havoc in many a place. When Adam and Eve wanted to control reality they lost their sense of what is real.

With the assumptions that we still long for something real, for paradise and that our bodies are a manifestation in the material of our spiritual person, we may draw the conclusion that it is our disposition towards the material that will heal the wound in our soul. When we start to view the material as something real and good. I’m not talking about materialism I’m talking about realism proper. It is from this disposition that we may start to see the fingerprints of the Creator all over creation. This can only happen by us becoming one with the One Who can actually reveal the way because He Is the Way and He is the inaugurator of Paradise. We cannot pass through the gate of the secret Fire (Holy Spirit) without Christ as our Shepherd. When the verdict is spoken, when Christ reveals the truth about our own person, then we will realize the true color of our person. The fire of the Spirit prepares us for eternal life by burning away impurities and pretense.

If there is something that fire does, it is to reveal the true substance of something. A trial by fire is a trial of purity. It is only the pure, unsoiled material that remains. When we look for paradise surrounding us we must realize that we won’t be able to see it if we do not invite a trial of fire, the Holy Spirit. We won’t be able to see anything truly real if we do not accept that it will cost us greatly because to live in paradise is to die to everything pretense. It is to die to everything that does not hold eternal quality. If we die to self and put our hope in that Christ will not let us down, He will not fail us. The trial itself can become light (!) with Him. It may also be heavy as the Holy Spirit works in different ways with every person but always in the way that is most effective for our healing.

It is not mere chance that a pillar of fire went ahead the Israelites in the desert before they could reach the Promised Land, paradise. (Exo 13:21) It is not mere chance that the Cherubim are guarding the access to the tree of life with the flaming sword. (Ibid.) It is not mere chance that the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles as fire before the Church (Acts 2:3) , was established and it is not a mere chance that a huge sphere of fire (a star) guides the way to the One who can leads us through the fire. (Matt 2:1 – 12) Jesus came to inaugurate a Kingdom of peace (in heaven) but to do that He brought a sword (Matt 10:34), and maybe that sword is made out of Fire?

Establishing the Kingdom of God, the body of Christ in the world was never about subduing other people’s hearts to your own by the power of the sword. It is about offering up your own heart to God so that His fire, The Holy Spirit, the flaming sword that burns through your thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb 4:12) can burn away the impurities that keeps you from seeing paradise surrounding you. Once these impurities are burnt away you will begin to see that everything is made out of His light. It is interesting how modern science has focused on mapping the particles (photons, bosons) of light to understand the structure of the universe…

“Abba Lot came to Abba Joseph and said: “Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and, according as I am able, I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingers became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not become fire?”

Our desire to do something more, to strive for something real, to seek paradise lost is not evil but, we can only do those things by letting the Holy Spirit cleanse our person by His fire, and that can only happen when we trust Christ as our Shepherd.

I welcome the season of Advent because it prepares us for the arrival of light and fire, of the Kingdom once more.


Why do young people join Isis?

In the wake of the events taking place in the Middle East, West Africa and Ottawa it is easy to lose hope and faith. When confronted with the ugly reality of how far humans are prepared go in cruelty towards each other to further their agenda we, well at least I, have feelings of apathy rising up in my heart. Why care? This world is not our home anyway right? Wrong.

I would suggest that this world is created to be our eternal home, albeit in a restored fashion. I believe that down deep, in our nous, we know that we are created for eternity. We know that this world is created good and with eternal quality. It is this consciousness, this nagging awareness that drives us ever faster either towards the outer darkness or towards the Light. This feeling of paradise lost, this faint scent that we only smell in moments of glory, reminds us of a purpose that somehow have been overshadowed by another more sinister smell namely; the rank smell of us believing that we can accomplish our eternal purpose on our own.

What drives, what seems like perfectly happy Western youth, to become mercenaries in the ranks of Isis? What is that causes Vladimir Putin to invade Ukraine? Why does it take so long to rally help to aid Western Africa? Why do we see lone gunmen in Ottawa and Oslo? I believe it is because the persons involved in these situations believe that they know what paradise should look like and since paradise is the ultimate purpose, nothing must stand in the way. Our paradise lost is a terrible force. The kingdom of heaven still seems to elude us. We know in our bones that we must somehow get there to find peace but our conviction is misplaced. It is placed on the altar of self, Pride performing the most terrible of actions. The stench from the wound of our hearts carries over right into material reality. Our good earth becoming a perfect reflection of the reality of our hearts.

There must be another way back home. Regulated religious states, be it Christian, Sharia or Atheistic ones, have never brought us closer home. (Yes, Atheism is a religion but that is another post) Truth is that there is nothing we can do to become whole again. There is no plan that we can conceive that will absolve us from our predicament. There is no plan only the Man. “Stop!” you say; “This is just the Christian religion offering up their version of a solution. You even claim that your solution is the solution. Any absolute claim like that is gonna turn bad.” I must agree that much within the “Christian” realm has turned bad because of different persons having different interpretations and agendas about Christ. That however, is beside the point, Christianity is not a plan it’s the Man. It is not a solution it’s a Person. He is the Inaugurator of our paradise lost. He is in His very nature the peace we are looking for. We do not find peace and eternal purpose in the Kingdom of God by following a plan. We find the Kingdom of heaven by becoming a part of the Man. By letting the Kingdom and its King find us. It is this that happens in the Eucharist. We become a part of the Kingdom of heaven, we can not follow Christ with our mind only. We can not come up with a Christian plan or doctrine of how to follow Him, the only thing we can do is to allow Him to enter our hearts and become apart of Him. It is an ontological transformation that incorporates the spiritual and physical realities of your person. Once a part of Him, your whole person is transformed. Once a part of Him you are able to be Him to other persons. Christ does nor force Himself on people, He gives His life for people.

Paradise was lost because we tried to control it. It was never meant to be controlled, enforced or planned out by us. It is and was always present as gift within us, ready to appear when we accepted it as such.

The Kingdom of heaven was never about convincing anybody with a logical argument, it was, is and always will be about serving everyone with the reconciliation of the King. It is when the Church fails, when I fail, at this that the cult(ure) will start to look towards other “solutions” to appease that eternal longing to be seen and to have purpose that rests within each and every one of us, that remnant of the Kingdom. The Church needs to live like Her groom. The Kingdom will grow by default when we live like Christ. Until we find peace by being reconciled to our Source through Christ, we will always radicalize the tools we have been given to the point of either our own or someone else death. The Kingdom of heaven is gift and can only be presented and received as such.

A true witness is a person who reports what he or she has seen and experienced, they do not offer an opinion or interpretation of what they have seen or experienced. The intrusive testimony that never awaits or listens to the question, or respects where people are on their journeys, is counterproductive to the Kingdom of Heaven. So let us be martyrs, that is, witnesses to the Kingdom of heaven. Then, and only then, will the insecure, broken and lonely people looking for purpose find it in the Way that will appease our eternal longing and heal our wound.

In Christ,

fr. Jakob