|大帝 on the man's shoulder, read ‘Da Di’ (Daddy)|
literally means ‘Great Emperor’
As always, he reads his homily. Coming to America recently from Greece, he expresses himself better when he has time to measure his words and match what they say to the words of holy and divine Scripture. As always, he speaks, but it is Christ’s voice we hear.
Be perfect. We are not called to be good. We are called to be perfect. This is impossible for human beings who are merely trying to be perfect, trusting in their human strengths, for those strengths are incapable of perfecting us. Only Christ can perfect us.
Be perfect. What can this possibly mean? We hear the words of Jesus, ‘He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:45-48).
The single word that sticks in my mind that I heard Fr Demosthenis say, is ‘categorize.’ It stayed with me because he spoke it, giving it the Greek accent, ca-TE-go-rize, placing the stress on the third syllable from the end. It also stayed with me because I know its meaning. It is actually a Greek word taken into English, and it means ‘to accuse.’ It also made me think of the description, in the book of Revelation, of satan as ‘the accuser of the brethren.’
Yes, the message of Jesus Christ is very simple. Love your neighbor as yourself. Do not accuse each other. Do not judge one another. True, there are doctrines to be believed, laws spiritual and commandments earthly to be followed. Christ is risen from the dead. He is with us now, and to the end of the age.
That is exactly why we can, and indeed we must, follow Him, do what we see Him doing in the holy gospel, speak as He speaks, to comfort, not to slay. Our words can do either of two things: bring life, or bring death. They issue out of what we have inside us. Rather than ‘accusers of the brethren’, let us be ‘menders of the breach’ and ‘rebuilders of the ancient ruins.’ For such is the human world, the people around us. They, as well as we, need mercy, expect mercy.
Yes, be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.