Rector's Words

Thanksgiving Letter, October 8th, 2020

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

 

As I write this letter, we are preparing the church for our Thanksgiving service. Certainly, things will look and feel a little different this year. While we were blessed and joyful reopening our church in mid-September, the current situation arising from Covid19 means that things will, and must, unfold a little differently this year.

 

It will be difficult to not raise our voices together in song. It will be difficult to look out across the church and see many of our friends missing. It will be difficult not to offer Thanksgiving peace with a handshake or a hug.

 

And yet, even in the midst of this dark and uncertain time, we have many, wonderful reasons to give thanks.

 

For many, the pandemic has urged a return to simple things - time spent with family, baking, enjoying nature, reconnecting with friends, reading Scripture with a mind free of many distractions. And so, let us look to the very beginning of the Bible, to the story of creation, for inspiration.  Of it, John writes: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)

 

Together, throughout this difficult pandemic thus far, our faith has cast a light that cannot be put out. Where there’s been need, there have been outstretched hands. Where there has been loneliness or fear, there has been comfort and support. Where there has been darkness, there has been light. You have shown courage, fortitude, kindness, and you have spread Christ’s love in a time when we all need it most.

 

Jesus Christ is the light. In John’s Gospel he declares: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

 

And so, as followers of Jesus Christ, let us give thanks for this! Let us give thanks that in addition to the wonderful, earthly blessings we all enjoy at this time of year, we have our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, shedding light on this path.

 

Tricia and I give thanks for all of you and the wonderful ways that you have shown Christ’s love. And so, while we cannot gather in exactly the same way this year, we can give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ for the blessing of one another and the spiritual gifts that we all share with one another.

 

Jesus Christ is the light of the world! Let us give thanks!

 

Blessings at Thanksgiving and Always,

 

Bahman

 

 

 

The Rev’d Bahman Kalantari

Rector

The Church of Our Saviour The Redeemer

Anglican Diocese of Niagara

Praying the Anglican Rosary
Praying with Anglican Prayer Beads & Songs

The Jacob Narrative (Gen. 25:19 – 36:43)

 

A redeeming story, I believe, possesses different layers of meaning. The Jacob narrative, as a redeeming story, displays both challenges within an individual and challenges between an individual and other individuals or a community. The Jacob narrative has occupied a very significant place in the middle of the book of Genesis. I believe that the character of Jacob symbolizes the human’s problems with regards to salvation, meaning, and liberation. This narrative portrays Jacob and Esau within every human being. But, the conflict between Jacob and Esau is not limited to the internal realm; it goes beyond individual and manifest itself in social realm as well. Every Jacob may be faced with an Esau in a community and vice versa. Dealing with his instinctive drives within himself and trying to channel and control them, the human learns how to manage his spiritual journey and to gain individual and social freedom.In my opinion, the human entity is built on the basis of a tension, a tension between two main tendencies. These tendencies are innate-spiritual tendencies versus instinctive-physical tendencies. The domination of the innate-spiritual tendency over the instinctive one, I believe, is the aim of human journey on the earth, which is regarded as healthy. But, being pulled towards the instinctive and neglecting the innate-spiritual one is regarded as unhealthy. The domination of the innate-spiritual tendencies bears freedom and salvation.The tension between the two opposite tendencies is manifested in the Redeeming Literature (the Bible stories). Jacob’s story displays human challenges, the ups and downs of the human’s spiritual journey, and the most significant one, the human’s yearn for freedom in an elaborated and illuminating way.  Jacob’s story reveals that freedom is gained through love, forgiveness, perseverance, and chivalry. I believe that Jacob’s story shows that freedom is a dynamic concept; freedom is gained and given at the same time.Deciphering the codes of the God’s message, the human being is able to become aware of his particular divine quality (innate-spiritual capabilities and tendencies) and activate them. There is a tension. The whole of human life displays the conflict between the blind forces of human’s instincts and the willful spiritual controllers.In my opinion, Jacob is one of the most significant characters in the book of Genesis and displays human everlasting problems better than any other character in the book of Genesis. Because of this reason, I have decided to contemplate on the Jacob story. In this essay, I will try to show how Jacob, as the typical human, grows in spirituality and gaining freedom. But, Jacob’s challenges never finish, but develop in the process of Liberation. This is a process of permanent transformation in individual and social realms.The birth and early rivalry of Esau and Jacob / 25: 19-34The two babies, Jacob and Esau jostle each other in Rebekah’s womb. I believe that Jacob and Esau and their jostling display the dichotomy of human tendencies that has always existed in the human’s collective unconscious (Rebekah’s womb). In my opinion, Jacob and Esau represent the spiritual and the instinctive constituent of the human’s entity.Esau is red. Red symbolizes sexual instinct, emotion (anger, shame), strength, ruthlessness, blood, naturalness. Esau’s body is like a hairy garment. His body has a veil. This may signify the lack of awareness: being one-dimensional and being unaware of spiritual qualities. Human instincts of the preservation of the species are blind and seek for limitless satisfaction if not controlled by the spiritual supervision; then, they will lead the human to self-destruction. Jacob is born while grasping Esau’s heel: This connotes that the human, who is conscious of his powerful instinctive tendencies (Esau), tries to control and exert power over them (Jacob’s grasping Esau’s heel) in order to regulate and sublimate them.Jacob is quite: it signifies contemplation, peace, spirituality, and consciousness. Jacob stays among the tents. Tent symbolizes self-spiritual preservation; the mechanism by which the psyche strives to protect itself from the destructive quality of the instinct and its waste of energy. The psyche does this in order to control and channel the instinctive tendency. Instinct functions blindly. When instinct acts freely and sees no barrier to its manifestation, it does not leave any room and energy for those drives, motives, incentive that function willfully. Anima /Animus:“A pair of related archetypes is the anima and animus. Each of us possesses biological and psychological qualities and characteristics of the other sex. On the biological level, each sex secretes hormones of the other sex; on the psychological level, each person may behave in masculine or feminine ways. In other words, the personality of a woman contains masculine components (the archetype animus) and the personality of a man contains feminine components (the archetype anima).”[1]Isaac loves Esau and Rebekah loves Jacob. Every human possesses both masculine and feminine qualities. A man has more masculine qualities and a woman has more feminine qualities. Man is hunter and shepherd. He kills games and wolves. Woman stays among the tents and performs domestic duties. She is gatherer as well. She does not kill but creates life. Masculine is more instinct-oriented and feminine is more spirit-oriented.Isaac is the supporter of Esau. Isaac symbolizes the blind force of the inbuilt-systematic instinctive pattern that tries to distribute the remained energy for complete instinctive satisfaction. This means that the weakened physical-sexual instinct tries once more to gain enough energy (Isaac’s supporting Esau) to receive pure and complete satisfaction instead of being trapped in the process of sublimation. Instinct is powerful and tries to find another channel in order to free itself from any kind of control and receive complete satisfaction.Rebekah is the supporter of Jacob. Rebekah symbolizes the superior spiritual entity (within humans) that is always in the state awareness; it acts like an inspector who oversees the movements of the instinctive part of the human entity. This spiritual entity strives to awaken the other spiritual entities in order to overcome the instinctive riot.  Jacob and Esau conversation on birthright: Jacob is cooking some stew. Esau asks for the stew. Jacob accepts to give him some stew on the condition that Esau sells his birthright to Jacob. The way that Esau reacts is noticeable:30: I am famished. (That is why he was also called Edom = red).32: Look, I am about to die. Esau said. What good is birthright to me?On the basis of the nomadic and patriarchal mentality and traditions, cooking is a feminine job. The spirit (Jacob) is providing energy (cooking stew). The instinct (Esau) is blind and impatient; it needs energy to become active and dominant. But, the spirit does not transmit energy to the instinct instantly. The spirit is exerting control and domination over the instinct. The spirit strives to postpone the instinct instant satisfaction. The spirit is taming and canalizing the wild instinct. In order to do this, the spirit has to play with time. When the strength of the instinct diminishes and it is on the verge of disappearance (I am about to die), the spirit gains control (birthright) over the distinct and transmit a limited portion of energy (some bread and some lentil stew). ‘So Esau despised his birthright’ may imply that the instinct becomes latent and inactive due to dissatisfaction; it might be in the process of sublimation.Isaac settles in Negev / 26: 1-35I believe that Isaac in this section signifies the transformation of sexual instinct into a productive-cultural-communal behavior. This process of sublimation becomes feasible through the awareness of the higher spiritual director: the Lord appears to Isaac and releases His message to him. This the first phase of the instinctive patterns’ awareness.After this, Isaac keeps digging wells (desire for sexual intercourse has been sublimated). He always receives water (the vital necessity for nomads to settle down in order to develop a culture to become more human i.e. spiritual and gain more freedom from the forces of nature). Water symbolizes the process of sublimation which bears life, peace, relief, relaxation to the instinctive pattern, including sexual appetite. When the wild-nomad human follows the divine within, the process of sublimation results in growth in spirituality and culture.Jacob steals Esau’s blessing / 27: 1 – 28: 9Isaac is old and his eyes are weak. The instinct has become weak. But, it does not mean that the instinct has given up. Esau is the extension of Isaac.The weakened physical-sexual instinct (Isaac) tries to dedicate energy to its extensions (Isaac’s supporting Esau) in order to receive pure and complete satisfaction without interruption and transformation. The spiritual inspector (Rebekah) keeps an eye on and checks the instinctive movement. Rebekah prepares same tasty food for Isaac. The spiritual inspector (Rebekah) does not want to waste the psychic energy totally only instinctive purposes; that much of energy that enable the instinct to become sublimated. She distributes the energy on the basis of basic needs. She manages to give Isaac an especial portion which is tasty (sublimated).“The energy by which the work of the personality is performed is called psychic energy. Jung also used the word libido for this form of energy, but it is not to be confused with Freud’s definition of libido. Jung did not restrict libido to sexual energy as Freud did. In fact, this is one of the essential state is appetite, according to Jung - the appetites of hunger, thirst, and sex, as well as emotions...Psychic energy...originates from the experiences that a person has. Just as food is consumed by the physical body and is converted into biological or life energy, so experiences are ‘consumed’ by the psyche and are converted into psychic energy.”[2]Jacob (the consciousness) believes that if he tricks his father (the instinct), he will bring curse (depression) on himself. The consciousness is in the state of ambivalence. On one hand, obeying the instinct’s commands brings pleasure. On the other hand, listening to the demands of the instinct and satisfying them without any control and supervision is weakening, harmful, and destructive. Rebekah (the superior spiritual entity within humans and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit within humans) has to intervene. When Rebekah tells Jacob ‘let the curse fall on me’ she means that she knows how to deal with the curse (depression). Rebekah knows when Jacob sees that the instinct (Isaac) is satisfied properly and the remainder of the psychic energy will be sublimated, he will experience a spiritual rejoicing, which in return will add to the psychic energy. So, seemingly oncoming depression does not occur.Rebekah covers Jacob with spiritual shields: perseverance (goatskin) and simplicity (Esau’s clothes). Perseverance in this case means that Jacob has to stay spirit-oriented and patient; and at the same time he must not be involved in the circle of complicated thoughts in order to escape the shaky situation (the ambivalence).The consciousness (under the disguise of simplicity and patience) lets the instinct emerges in its ultimate potency. There is no resistance on the behalf of the consciousness; it is in a ‘let it go’ situation. The consciousness shows a kind of acknowledgement and acceptance towards the power of the instinct as a necessary part of the consciousness’s life.Under the influence of the superior spiritual entity (Rebekah) and the consciousness’s (Jacob) cooperation, Isaac gives up and blesses (sanctifies) Jacob. I believe that Isaac’s sanctifying Jacob signify the appearance of a high level of awareness. The consciousness does not reject the existence, presence, and power of the instinct; instead it acknowledges that the instinct is a half of its own existence. This is how the consciousness deceives the instinctive pattern. As a matter of fact, the consciousness comes to realize that dealing with the instinct with patience, preparation and simplicity, grants awareness to the instinct. The human instinct becomes aware that it can find enough space and time to emerge. This is feasible only by sanctifying the consciousness and transferring its power to consciousness. Due to this, repression never occurs.(27:34-35) When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, ‘Bless me — me too, my father! But he said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing’.   Esau’s loud and bitter cry signifies the harsh objection and the severe outflow of sexual appetite. This is the last cry of sexual appetite. The whole instinctive pattern has already given up and become obedient to the spiritual inspector and the consciousness; it has reached its second phase in the process of awareness. Isaac puts down Esau’s riot.27:37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him (the consciousness) lord over you (the sexual appetite) and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine.When the instinctive pattern is settled under the supervision of the consciousness (through the higher spiritual director’s intervention), individual and social life are fruitful. The spiritual human and the beginning of cultural work are the outcome of this illuminating-liberating process. Hartley writes, “Responding to Esau’s pleas, Isaac composed a blessing for him. He said that his dwelling would be away from the earth’s richness and the dew of heaven. These words indicated that Esau was to find his living in a dry land. This blessing would enable him to survive in such a harsh land and prosper to some extent. He would live by his sword and serve his brother. Esau would have the skill to protect himself from hostile groups. Then Isaac gave him the promise that in time he would throw his brother’s yoke from off his neck.”[3]Esau will dwell in twilight zone, in purgatory. The sexual appetite will keep its specific quality that is harshness. In spite of this, the sexual appetite will be under the control of the consciousness; this brings benefit (blessing) for the sexual appetite. Being under the control of the consciousness, the sexual appetite (instead of repression) will be satisfied in a sanctified way and a part of its energy will be sublimated as well. There is a subtlety in Isaac’s blessing Esau. First, the strength of the sexual appetite will be maintained no matter what. Second and more important, the sexual appetite may oppose the consciousness and find a way in order to seek for constant satisfaction without being under the control. This may end in extinction. Isaac (the instinctive pattern) tries to regain the freedom he has lost by blessing Esau.In spite of receiving a blessing, Esau holds grudge against Jacob. The sexual appetite (Esau) is under control but is not pleased at all; It tries to neutralize the dominance of the consciousness. Rebekah (the spiritual inspector) has to intervene again. She hears what Esau says to himself. The spiritual inspector oversees every constituent of human existence. Rebekah makes two decisions. First, she strives to hide Jacob from Esau. Second, she knows that Esau has received a blessing. But, she knows that Isaac’s blessing includes a promise. This promise suggests when Esau becomes restless, he will throw off Jacob’s yoke from off his neck. Because of this reason, Isaac has to bless Jacob again. Isaac promises Jacob a nation and a land, a new identity.We have seen Jacob’s spiritual growth and challenges till now. Jacob had to fight in two fronts.  Esau exists within Jacob and without him. From now on, I believe, his external challenges (including nature, other individuals, and social environment) become more colorful. It is not only Esau (the manifestation of Jacob’s internal and external challenges) whom he has to wrestle with, it is the whole surroundings.Jacob will be a patriarch, the father of a new emerging nation who will possess a land as well. Now the future patriarch, Jacob has to experience social challenges in order to be prepared for the divine-ordained duty, the leadership.Jacob’s dream at Bethel / 28:10-22Now, Jacob is on his way to Aram. He stops for the night. After all those challenges he has had within himself and with his family, now, he spends time in solitude. Hartley writes,“During the night Jacob had a dream. He saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Above it stood Yahweh, who identified himself to Jacob as Yahweh, the God of his father Abraham and the God of Isaac. God grounded this self-identification in relationship to those who had followed him, not in terms of this place’s being holy.”[4]   This is, I believe, the climax of the narrative. Jung believes that “dreams are the clearest expression of the unconscious mind. Dreams...are impartial, spontaneous products of the unconscious psyche...they show us the unvarnished truth...By reflecting on our dreams we are reflecting on our basic nature.”[5] The spiritual exercises have enabled Jacob to have a contact with Godhead by the dream he has at Bethel.Even before birth, Jacob is a chosen patriarch in her mother’s womb. God tells Jacob in the dream that ‘all peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring’. At the same time, God shows Jacob in the dream that his spiritual journey will be continued as it is pictured in the dream: There is a stairway from earth to heaven. First of all, there is no hell, abyss, or unfathomable void for Jacob the patriarch. The stairway connects earth to heaven. The spiritual journey is situated on a vertical route to heaven.  A stairway implies that there are ups and downs in a spiritual journey. We are not alone on this route. Angels of God accompany us; they tread on the same route in order to assist us constantly. Angels of God are internal devices and external assistance (that is manifested in other humans, angels of God, nature, and social environment). The point is that with every going up the human will experience Godhead and when s/he returns to earth, s/he is not the same person. Therefore, coming down, (returning to earth) is not necessarily falling.After the experience of dream, Jacob makes a house for God and a vow as well. Both making the house of God and making a vow are communal-oriented. The house of God will be the manifestation of communal cause and law. The vow has a communal function as well: to pay a tithe of what God gives the patriarch. These are patriarchal-supportive vow. The outcome of coming down from the stairway (after encountering Godhead) is communal vows, a community will take the benefit.Jacob Arrives at Leban’s house to Jacob departs Leban’s house / Chapters: 29:1 - 32: 21Jacob, as a young man, “travels to a distant place, stops as well, meets a girl, and draws water for her flock by overcoming some obstacle. The girl’s father invites the traveler to stay; eventually the young man marries the local girl.”[6]In comparison with Esau, Jacob has followed the commands till now. Esau without asking his parent’s permission has already married two Hittite (non-Hebrew) women. Esau feels free and decides independently. On the basic of nomadic-patriarchal communities this kind of behavior is a source of grief for parents, especially when a son breaks the links between himself and the community by marrying aliens. Jacob follows the rules and obeys the commands and demands of the elders and the community.Jacob has no freedom and liberty to decide independently; he has been a slave to the community. But, he is with his uncle Laban in Aram now. Jacob is not in his original community. He has received blessings, he has had a pivotal-transforming dream, and he has made a communal vow. Creating a community, Jacob has to be patient, peaceful, obedient, and contemplative; he is aimed at actualizing his divinely ordained purposes. He may sometimes object to communal laws verbally. But, he never tramples them and finally accepts them (marrying both Leah and Rachel). Objection to the communal law (even emotionally and internally) result in despair and sorrow: Rachel is barren, because Leah is not loved; and this is God’s command. In spite of this, God keeps the promise and gives Jacob lots of children through the maidservants, but not Jacob’s beloved and favorite wife Rachel.I believe that personal freedom means being aware of the controlling power of different kinds of (instinctive) drives, and striving to have control over them. The human gains control over the instinctive-physical tendencies only by activating divinely devised-innate-spiritual tendencies. As we have seen till now, this process (of activating) is not feasible only by the human’s strength and struggle. In this regard, God’s grace plays the most significant role. The Spirit works within and without us. As much as we yearn for individual and social freedom, we will have more access to the Spirit and gave It more space to act. The human is a social-communal creature. Individual freedom does not make sense outside the community. Actually, individual freedom is only achieved in the community.Jacob has sought for his freedom prior to his birth. He has tried to control his instinctive drives. He has channeled his instinctive drives (has sublimated them) into productive and positive attitudes: patience, preparation, receptiveness, simplicity, peacefulness, and obedience, altogether, result in spiritual awareness and wilful transformation.In order to fulfill his divine duties, Jacob leaves the supporting home to find his other half. He falls in love at first sight with the first woman he sees. I believe that the instinctive (sexual) desire is dominant here. The Esau part of Jacob is activated within him; and Jacob pays the price for such instinctive decision all of his life. Rivalry between two wives extends to their two groups of children. Jacob is a witness to this situation and he does nothing about it but, reinforce it.Despite of aforementioned problem, Jacob stays aware of his aims. Now, his individual freedom manifest in communal (social) freedom. He has an extended family the seed of creating a community, the first phase of the process of gaining communal (social) freedom. He realizes that the time has come to get rid of Leban’s dominance over his household. “Jacob tried to make Leban more inclined to accept what he would propose by stressing how hard he had worked for him and how greatly his master’s flocks had increased under his shepherding. He also pointed out that the extraordinary increase of Leban’s flocks was a result of Yahweh’s blessing on what his son-in-law was doing.”[7]  Jacob tries to have his own flock, the second phase of the process of gaining communal (social) freedom. Jacob uses his God-revealed talents to ‘grow exceedingly prosperous’. Finally he possesses ‘large flocks, maidservants, menservants, camels, and donkeys’.Jacob notices animosity towards him. God has to reveal Himself one more time, I believe, in order to prevent Jacob from falling into the instinctive trap, which might be war, hatred, and everlasting-destructive animosity. If this happens, the Esau part of Jacob will be dominant. The Lords ‘says to Jacob to go back to the land of his fathers and to his relatives, and He will be with him’.  There is no word or expression to show how and through which device the Lord contacts Jacob. I believe that the Rebekah (the superior spiritual entity) within Jacob is activated. When Jacob says ‘the God of my father has been with me’, he refers to his Rebekah within.Jacob will be the patriarch of a new and divine-oriented; even, his flock should be distinguished and in different in order to portray the birth of a new community. Because of this reason, God through his angel, in a dream, says to Jacob “how to breed the flocks so that the numbers in his flock would greatly increase.”[8] One more time God emphasizes that Jacob has to leave Leban’s territory and ‘go back to his native land’.Rachel and Leah (despite their rivalry) feel betrayed and exploited by their own father. Leban has treated them like ‘foreigners’ and slaves. If Leban had given his daughters’ shares, he would have lost his dominance and control over Jacob and, more important, over his daughters. Leban’s attitude towards his daughters, especially, displays Leban’s betraying nomadic-patriarchal norms and codes which encourage freedom from parental dominance to some extent. Leban’s lust for power and possession reminds us of Esau; both are manifestations of instinctive-physical tendencies. But, Leban symbolizes the complicated feature of instinctive-physical tendencies. I believe that, in Leban’s case, the instinct of sexual desire has transformed into the lust for power, dominance and exploitation. Because of this reason, I believe, the process of getting rid of Leban’s dominance is demonstrated through years of hard labor, resistance, hardship, patience, forgiveness, determination, and decisiveness.Jacob convinces his wives in a peaceful-wise way in order to run away from Leban. The daughters, as we saw, yearn for liberating from their father’s mistreats. Therefore, Jacob with his family and his possessions leave Leban’s territory. Before this Rachel steals her father’s household gods.  “Three days later, Leban was informed that Jacob had fled. Immediately he gathered his relatives and pursued Jacob…Leban caught up with Jacob in the hill country of Gilead…The night before Leban overtook Jacob, God warned Leban in a dream, restricting any hostile action he might be planning. Burning with anger, Leban was intent on pressing heavy charges against Jacob, but continued to protect Jacob, the heir of the promise, from Leban’s aggression.”[9]Leban, full of anger and animosity, is ready to destroy Jacob and everything around him. Leban has lost his gods (his identity, the symbols of dominance and exploitation). Jacob has fled as a new patriarch with a new community who can support itself financially. Jacob has broken the rules of nomadic community. But, this is the outcome of Leban’s trampling nomadic rules and codes many times. Leban has not left any other choice for Jacob. Hence, Jacob flee is not regarded as breaking the nomadic rules. This means that the process of liberation has proved to Leban that a new and young patriarch has taken his right and gained his freedom from Leban. Leban does not deserve to be a patriarch any more. He has lost the war: no gods, no dominance, no slave work, even, no family interests.Rachel ‘has taken the household gods and put them inside her camel’s saddle’. When Leban intends to search the camel, Rachel says to her father that she is having her period. Therefore, Leban cannot find the stolen gods of his. Therefore, Leban has unconsciously realized that he has lost his identity and his origin: the gods who are the representation of dominance, lust, and discrimination. The existence of household gods, supposedly justifies the community’s dominance over other communities.Now, Leban has found an empty space to receive the one true God of Jacob. Because of this reason, God (the one true God of Jacob) warns him not to harm Jacob.  Leban and Jacob encounter, with God’s intervention, results in making a covenant. Jacob’s patriarchal authority is acknowledged. Jacob peaceful, step by step, and progressive approach to liberation bears individual and communal freedom.Jacob has gained victory over the communal manifestation of instinctive tendencies, the complicated one. Now, the experienced, wise, and victorious Jacob prepares to meet Esau. Jacob has become conscious of the presence and existence of the omnipotence God. This new attitude enables him to meet angels of God. Jacob gains enough bravery to send a peaceful and loving message to his brother Esau. Then, he performs whatever is needed to be done. Now, he is able to pray to God in order to fulfill what he has in his heart: consolidation.Jacob wrestles with God / 32: 1-32Jacob has left everybody across the stream and he has left alone. Now, he wrestles with an angel (a manifestation of God). I believe that Jacob wrestles with his fears, unfaithfulness, weaknesses, and attachments in order to overcome the forces which try to entrap him in his own destructive instincts and the communal (social) manifestations of the destructive instincts. He comes out of the challenge victorious and blessed. The angel formalizes Jacob’s new position a new patriarch and calls him Israel that means ‘he struggles with God’. Jacob has struggled with his instinctive tendencies and finally has come to realize that trusting his inner voice (the voice of Spirit) bear the spiritual fruit he needs to lead a new nation through which all peoples will be blessed. Now, Jacob ‘has seen God face to face’. Now, he deserves to be the patriarch of God’s chosen people.  Everlasting peace is not attainable except through detachment from earthly-destructive desires. Jacob in all his challenges has had the attack of the blind-destructive forces (that manifest themselves in individual and community) in front of him. But, he has had the constructive forces as well. Jacob wholeheartedly believes that he shall ‘find favor in his brother’s eyes’. He gives away a portion of his possession upon which a new community can be built. Finally, he consolidates with his brother. Esau accepts Jacob’s gifts. Jacob has transformed all dark, blind, and destructive forces (around him and within him) into constructive and harmless forces; he has channeled them into narrow streams which can be used in order water dry lands and still keeps flowing.Jacob and his challenges do not finish here. He continues to have different challenges, the same ups and downs. But, he is always aware of the presence of the omnipotence God and His role in the human’s everyday life.

 

[1] Schultz, Duane. Growth Psychology. New York, 1977. P91.

[2] Hall, C.S. and Nordby V.J. A Primer of Jungian Psychology.  New York, 1973. P59.

[3] Hartley, John E. Genesis. Peabody, 2000. P251-2

.[4] Hartley, John E. Genesis. Peabody, 2000. P255.

[5] Hall, C.S. and Nordby V.J. A Primer of Jungian Psychology.  New York, 1973. P118

.[6] Hartley, John E. Genesis. Peabody, 2000. P259.

[7] Hartley, John E. Genesis. Peabody, 2000. P268.

[8] Hartley, John E. Genesis. Peabody, 2000. P272.

[9] Ibid, P274.

Through the Eyes of the Magi

Written By: The Reverend Bahman Kalantari,

 

           Advent is a time of preparation, a holy period during which Christians prepare themselves spiritually, mentally, and physically for the Son of God’s coming on earth.

 

We proclaim His coming to other peoples and nations, and we pay homage to Him as the King of Kings. It is this that the Magi (the Wise Men) did and, consequently, some Eastern Christians believe that the Advent tradition was established on the basis of the Gospel of Matthew 2: 1-12.

        

The Magi are also referred to as the Wise Men or the Three Kings.  And, those who know something of the origin of the word Magi often point out how incorrect these other titles are. But, when we carefully consider the word Magi, we realize that all three titles are, in fact, right and proper.  

 

         Magi is the plural form of the word Magus, a westernized version of the Persian word Mogh. The Moghs or the Magi were the clergymen of the Zoroastrian religion at the time of the infant Jesus. The Magi existed before Zoroaster (the Persian Prophet). They served a polytheistic religion in which the sun (Mithra) was worshiped along with other natural phenomena like water (Anahita) and fire (Agni). The Magi were theologians, astrologers, historians, and clerics. They formed a social caste whose duty it was to serve the Persian religion.  They taught other social castes, were consultants to the authorities, and maintained social solidarity. But, Zoroaster was a monotheistic prophet who believed that the Magi of his time were leading the people astray.

         During the time of Zoroaster, the Magi used to perform complicated and seemingly irrational rituals and ceremonies for every simple social act.  The worship of agricultural gods through simple feasts in their honour had been replaced by elaborate and costly rituals and ceremonies. The Magi easily exerted power over the ordinary people and authorities and exploited them.

         Zoroaster converted a powerful king and his vizier to the new religion. This King fought against the Magi and converted them to the Zoroastrian religion around 1700 B.C. In time, Zoroaster’s teachings enveloped ancient Iran (Persia) and the Magi, ever adaptable, became the servants of the Zoroastrian religion. They taught the people to worship the one God (Ahura Mazda), to fight Satan (Ahriman), and to celebrate God’s gifts.

         When Jesus Christ was born, the Parthians ruled ancient Iran. They were from Parth, the north-eastern province of ancient Iran. The Parthians established an autonomous system of government. Every province had its own provincial king (Shah), provincial dialect or language, provincial religion, provincial law, and occasionally a provincial currency. This whole empire was ruled by the Kings of Kings. Freedom of religion was an essential part of the ruling system. Before the Parthians came to power, their chieftains bore the title Kaavi, meaning king-priest. Consequently, the Magi flourished in the provinces as Kaavi.

         A few decades before Jesus’ birth, the Magi compiled their holy scriptures and called it the Avesta. There are chapters in this book that clearly make reference to the coming of the Savior of the World.  It was for this reason that the Magi, local kings and astrologers, followed the star in search of the infant Jesus, the Savior of the World.  They brought three gifts for Jesus: gold, frankincense, and myrrh Gold was a royal symbol, a symbol of glory and power. In ancient Iran, local kings used to give gold to the King of Kings as a sign of obedience and homage.  They removed their crowns in front of him in a gesture meaning that the King of Kings was the real power in the kingdom. Frankincense and myrrh were used by different religious groups in the Parthian empire for anointing religious leaders, holy ones, and youth who had reached the age of puberty. The Magi were regional kings, but they did not travel with their wealth or courtiers when they set out to find Jesus.  They had, instead, a holy and specific destination, revealed to them by a star.  And they had three meaningful gifts to present to Jesus as the heavenly-ordained King of Kings and High Priest.

         In this season of Advent we begin our journey, unloading from ourselves unnecessary burdens and allowing ourselves to be directed by the light of the Holy Spirit.  We desire to visit Jesus, the Savior, to pay homage to Him as our King of Kings and our High Priest, to worship Him and follow Him.  Therefore, with faith and joy, let us, like the Magi, begin the journey. 

© 2023 Chuirch of Our Savior the Redeemer by TPF

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