Friday, July 15, 2011

Quo vadis Domine?

Crucifixion of Saint Peter
Caravaggio (1571-1610)1601
Cerasi Chapel, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome.

The conquest of the entire world by the King of the Kings did not seem to start very well. In fact, it began with catastrophe after catastrophe as if there was an invisible enemy doing everything a Red Dragon can do to kill that woman and her male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
Revelation 12:1-6

It really did not go well. The people of God prepared for almost two thousand years for this event officially rejected the Son of Man, asked that He is executed and then turned on His followers. They were driven away from the Synagogue and when that Jewish guy Stephan publicly told Sanhedrin that he believes Jesus of Nazareth is the King of the Jews he was promptly stoned to death as a blasphemer. And other local followers of the King in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, Galilee were persecuted, some thrown to prison, some flogged forty minus one and some killed.

There was an active search among the Jewish people by religious authorities looking for the followers of this damned sect among their own – and there still is today, for example in the form of the Ministry of Interior of the modern State of Israel.

What kind of start of world domination was this supposed to be?

The key characters in the planned conquest of the world by the Kingdom of Heaven were almost systematically wiped out first in the Holy Land by the same authorities that had their King executed as a criminal and then by those executors, the representatives of the Roman Empire.

For the Jews the problem was in the religious identity of the people and adherence to the Covenant of Sinai. What is this Paul telling the Gentiles that they can be in a new Covenant with God of Israel without even circumcision? This is not Judaism; this is another religion, a dangerous sect.

For the Romans the problem was different. Their huge ancient Empire was made up of so many different nations and cultures living around Our Sea, Mare nostrum, as they proudly called the Mediterranean, that they had serious problem keeping the nation together. Religion was understood as a possible solution and so each and every citizen was required to pray for the Emperor and to sacrifice for this god of the gods. And those damned Christians refused to do so and thus were not really good citizens but source of discord and perhaps - Jupiter forbid – even rebellion.

Emperor Nero ordered a general persecution of this dangerous sect of human blood drinkers, worshipers of crucified criminal and hot headed pyromaniacs who may have even lit those old quarters of Rome into fire in 64 after the birth of Christ. In these persecutions Saint Paul was executed by sword and Saint Peter crucified head down.

Quo vadis Domine?
We have in many ways illuminating case of historical research and religious tradition in the story of Peter’s martyrdom.

Leucius Charinus has written five books towards the end of the second century A.D.
Acts of John
Acts of Peter
Acts of Paul
Acts of Andrew
Acts of Thomas

We know about him and his books mostly from the famed Church historian, Patriarch of Constantinople Fotios I (810-893). These books reflect the growing hagiography among the persecuted Christians living in the times of Roman martyrdom.

Accordingly, the Acts of Peter is full of praise for this primus inter pares, the leader of the Twelve, and the sentences and expressions are already from a different era in the Church than the New Testament.

The story is nevertheless so truly Peter that we can separate the original story from the cream whip and halos added by later devout Christians in order to make the rough thing into something more palatable for the Church.

If we strip the story in the Acts of Peter from this iconography, we get a rather simple and very powerful picture of what happened in Rome about 63 or 64.

Namely, that faithful to himself, Peter escaped from the persecutions and was walking Via Appia south. He saw Christ walking and asked “Where you are going, Lord” – Quo vadis domine? And Jesus answered “I am going to Rome to be crucified again”

Peter understood, turned back to the city and was promptly crucified – head down as he had asked since he is not worthy to die like his Master.

You can read this very true story from Acts of Peter and see how it has been softened by believers in later generations in Vercelli Acts XXXV XXXVI.

What a strange way to start the conquest of world: get your Number One man killed, the one you call Petrus, Rock, and on whom you want to build your church that the gates of hell cannot overcome.

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.   And I tell you that you are Peter,  and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades  will not overcome it.   I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be  bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be  loosed in heaven.”   Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
Matthew 16:17-20 NIV

But it worked.

Indeed, Quo vadis Domine?
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
John 21: 17-19 NIV

Lord, we do not understand you, but we believe in your leadership and we trust in you.

It has been quite a trip.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

De Civitate Dei

And he said, Whereunto shall we liken the kingdom of God? or with what comparison shall we compare it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, is less than all the seeds that be in the earth: But when it is sown, it groweth up, and becometh greater than all herbs, and shooteth out great branches; so that the fowls of the air may lodge under the shadow of it.
Mark 4:30-32 KJV

Single mustard seed

In a very rough chronology of the world we can say that something fundamentally important happened to humanity about four thousand years before the birth of the King, about two thousand years B.C. Abraham was taken into divine covenant with God, Jesus was born at the beginning of our chronology and now we are living time about two thousand years after the birth of the King.. 

4000 B.C.
The long easy life in the paradise of Stone Age changed and began an exponential growth, the rise of first high civilizations in some great river valleys of the world with the ability to read and write.

2000 B.C.
After some two thousand years of early civilizations from the very heart of Sumerian glory, the Third Dynasty of Chaldean Ur Abram begins his journey to the Promised Land. God the Creator makes with him a covenant marked by circumcision and gives him  a new name, Abraham:

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
Genesis 17:1-8 KJV

0 A.D.
After some two thousand years later about 7-4 B.C. the King was born in the city of David, in Bethlehem Ephrata, as prophetized seven hundered eyars early by Micah in the name of the God of Israel.:

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
Micah 5:2  KJV
The people of God rejected the King of the Jews and the House of God was brought down and the people of Israel dispersed among the pagans around the world - the Time of the Gentiles started.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
John 1:6 -14 KJV 

2000 A.D.
After some two thousand years later the Time of the Gentiles is coming to an end and a new age upon Earth is about to begin. The turning point was June 1967 when the deeply and widely hated people of God retook the City of the Great King under their rule and will not relinquish it again.

But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
Luke 21:23-24  KJV 

The secret of the Kingdom is such that cannot be seen with natural human eyes as it is a kingdom that is inside human beings - Christ conquers hearts. Through the conquest of hearts He begins to rule individuals, families, communities, tribes, kingdoms and multinational states. The Kingdom is now invisible so we can follow the victorious work of the invisible King only with eyes of faith. This faith He donates to us freely from His grace.

And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Luk 17:20 -21 KJV

The days will truly come when the Kingdom is visible indeed! But first, humiliation and rejection of the King of Kings
And he said unto the disciples, The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it. And they shall say to you, See here; or, see there: go not after them, nor follow them. For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.  But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.
Luke 17:22 -26 KJV 

How can we follow the history of an invisible King and the growth of His invisible Kingdom?
We follow the baptism.

This way I am going to discuss the Conquest of the world by Christ through the early history of Europe concentrating on the sequence of events that culminate in the baptism.


Earth from Apollo 17

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:16-20 KJV

My prayer is that these studies in the battles and victories of the Kingdom of God would encourage someone to invite Lord Jesus Christ to rule also his or her life.