The observance of God's commandments that explicitly appear mainly as sacraments and their translation in day-to-day life activities is the backbone of Orthodox spirituality. When the first commandment in Eden failed, the other commands were added, so that God could ransom the leaf-clothed first parents and their progeny by shedding His own blood. Adam named her as Eve, instead the other way round, to show that he is the head of the family. Then God clothed them with the sheep's skin, probably sheep slaughtered for the first sacrifice offered to God, the prototype of signifying the LAMB'S SACRIFICE AFTER 4, 000 YEARS, Gen.3, 20-21. Adam must have asked his children to continue the pattern of sacrifice. Thus Cain, tiller of the ground, brought an offering of the fruit of the ground, which is against the God's command of offering a lamb, and Abel brought of the firstling of his flock, an offering that pleased God, but rejecting Cain's offering, Gen.4.1-8, on the ground that `sin is couching at the door; its desire is for you, but you must master it''.
We were taught in the Sunday school years that God was pleased with Abel because he gave a sheep-offering, not a vegetable-offering unlike that was of Cain's. He did not do well because of the offering he perhaps gave from the ground, because the sin of disobedience that waits at the door. The likely sin might have been the romance that cherished with the same girl, sibling, that Cain was courting with, but more valid reason might have been that the offering he gave was from the ground, instead of a lamb, as commanded to Adam, before. I shall elucidate this point by citing Jesus' own words. `'
.that your brother has something against you, leave your gift before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother
.'', Mt.5, 21-26. Whoever goes to the Temple of the Lord should not go empty handed. This was the reason king David purchased the land from Ornan, 1.Chro.21, 24-25, his own subject, to erect an altar, despite he was offered the land free of charge to the king, the covenant of the tithe instituted with Father Abraham in the OT time, Mal.3, 10-11.
Whoever born from man is sinful. Let us imagine either young Abel gave a sheep to Cain when asked or Cain didn't care to give an offering by the blood of a sheep. I assume that it was imperative to give an offering to God with a firstling lamb, as was told to Adam to continue likewise. I believe now Cain's sin was a pre-meditated one that ended up in Abel's death, the prototype death of Jesus, which was a premonition to us to be taken into account. The unblemished Lamb died for us, similarly a sinful Abel died symbolically for his brother Cain and his descendants who all perished in the great flood of Noah's time, yet Adam's sins ruled over Noah's generations till the blood of Jesus annulled it at the cross. So the NT believers' offerings that is reminiscent of Cain's offering of ground fruits and their contents hold valid because animal sacrifice comes to a finish by the Lamb's sacrifice. We are the prototypes of Cain, thus identifying as Cain because of crucifying Jesus again and again by our insolent sinful crimes of transgressions, by offering sacrifice with the fruits of the ground.
Thus the whole created orders of Nature and the solar system take part in the Holy Mysteries, as the fruits of the ground is nurtured and sustained by the sun and the air by photosynthesis and the process of leaves using the sun light for the plant species survive by producing oxygen and depleting carbon dioxide and help the animal species to continue its existence on this planet. We are the lost Cains who offer the sacrifice from the fruits of grounds to the Lamb, the lineage of Abel, a compendium of Nature's gift from which we are created and nourished us so far.
Despite the Adamic sins were blotted out from us, the stains of sins that is being still committed by us still crying for, the produce of the ground, the vindication of justice, because Abel's blood, Jesus' blood, is crying against us. The NT Cains, consequently, should reconcile with his brother before coming to the Temple for the receiving the Body of Christ from the celebrant who made the life-giving bread from the Nature's concoction of Bread, wheat flour, that came down from Heaven and the wine, symbolising His blood, together with oil, water and the these Nature's gifts, Ps.50. We borrow these natural gifts and offer them as an oblation to the Lord of all. Thus man is only an agent who receives everything from the Almighty; man is not a claimant of anything by which he survives on this planet. The whole universe and Nature participate in our Holy Qurbana, just like Nature and universe took part in our creation. The celebrant, a sort of catalytic agent of Jesus, celebrate it for the devotees and for himself and the Holy Spirit sanctifies the produce of the earth and transform it as the Body of Christ. While the Holy Spirit broods over the church and in human beings, the spirit of this world works as a subordinate entity under the jurisdiction of the Spirit of God in animals and inanimate objects, 1.Cor.2. Man, the crown of creation is the handcraft of God, while all other creations are the outcome of His words.
The reason for Jesus claiming that `'I am the living bread which came down from Heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh'', Jn.6, 51. This was portrayed by animal sacrifice in the OT lucidly, the unblemished animals and birds were given as a sacrifice for us to realize that the Incarnate Lamb died for us; thereby Jesus the unblemished LAMB gave His life and shed His blood for the sinners. There are living waters, life-giving trees, Tree of life, birds in Heaven and the image of the same also on earth, Rev.22; Eze.47. Hence the earthly life is an extension of the Heavenly life that again will be reunited in timelessness. A parallel of this is seen in the Hindu mythology that devas, gods, gain immortality by taking ambriosini, Amirthae that is extracted from the ocean of milk or what the bible delineate as the living waters. Therefore, the Holy Qurbana is a compendium of all the celestial and terrestrial life put together in this sojourn life and for Eternity. If my observations are incorrect, I ask for your guidance.
How this wheat flour and other components become the Body of Christ is a controversial topic that I don't try to cerebrate upon. The Photostat or e-mails that I send from my room is received in the U.S. is a mystery. If one says this is by electric circuit and other mechanical operations, it is correct. But how it works is uncertain to us. But the crude materials to make electricity and other apparatus are only the catalytic works, leaving everything as a mystery. Science says that man cannot create anything and destroy anything; everything destroyed comes back in the same form. How the bread becomes as the Body is a mystery that we have to believe blindly. The clerical celebrants are only catalysts who are the anointed by God, whereas the process of the transformation of bread as the body is an unseen process that is only by faith. Air that we breathe is invincible, but it gives an effect that we can't measure it by visible means, yet the result is there. The `cause and effect' is perceivable, but what happens in the process is a shrouded and latent secret. We feel the accomplishment by its effect. The union of sperm and egg is the feotus, but how it happens is unknown to us, so also the plant growth. Scientists, atheists, and agnostics, you do irreparable and irremediable damage to humanity by your idiosyncratic eccentricity because God gives His blessings to all faithless and faithful people because HE UPHOLDS HIS JUSTICE SYSTEM by which He judge the world one day.
Maternity is a fact, but paternity is a public opinion. Do these irreligious and intellectual stalwarts believe that the biological father is your real father. You get help from your biological father although out your life by trusting him as your father. Can't you use the same analogy and put the same trust in God who created you, because you haven't seen him at the time of procreating you? You haven't asked him to create you as a genetic elite and some others as dwarfish muffs because you can rule over them. There is no choice for you in this life or afterlife. This shows your hypocrisy of ignoring your God for the sake of the lust of the flesh that gives fleeting sensual pleasures of different dimension and magnitude. If you reject God, your father becomes automatically the Devil, Jn.8, who will teach you a lesson in the darkest land of silence. You have no freedom of asking the infernal legion, but only tormented in the flame and the biting of the worms, thereby in the gnashing of teeth.
We cannot live alone at any time on this planet; either you must be either on the side of God or on the side of Devil because neutrality is impossible in this life; an independent, free life is out of question in the modern culture of clubs, religion, politics, sports. Therefore, be on the side of God who will lead you to a sound and solid destination through fire and water, otherwise you will be dragged to the darkest continent through a wide gate of destruction. No wonder why this irreligious, self-conceited and Godless bunches are described by the Palmist as the following. `' The fool says in his heart, there is no God''. They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none that good'',Ps.52; Lk.24, 25-26; Gal.3, 1.
Will continue in part 33
E.S. John, Australia