November 2009

Fr. Antony Portrait

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Truth and leniency always go together. If you want to separate truth from leniency, separate them for you, for your own self!  But then, know it, you will hear truth without leniency!

    - Archimandrite Joel Giannakopoulos

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a radical message.  In every age it is unwelcomed by prideful men and women.  The Lord was not an ideologue.  He was not conservative or liberal. Jesus does not fit into any category. He is above them all.  Truth will not be hemmed in by our pet values, ignorance, fear or blindness.  We want Jesus to be like us, to believe as we do, to justify our anger, our fear and our ignorance.  This he will not do. We do not want to recognize that we are the ones who crucify the Lord over and over again by the way we condemn, criticize and complain.  Perhaps it is I who would have cast the first stone!

"...from the things you hear against someone you should not believe anything, and out of what you see believe half. And not even half for many pretend to be fools. Do not judge anyone."
                                                                                       Fr. Dionysius of Mt. Athos

He angered the status quo, the religious authorities, the moralists.  He rescued sinners from the hands of those who thought they were righteous, ate with lepers, tax collectors and women!  The only law he applied was the law of compassion and mercy.  He showed leniency when the law called for death.  Don't you think he would do so today as well?  Do you think he is not doing so today! Are we so blind we cannot see our own ignorance in the light of his divine example?

Archimandrite Joel in the quote above reminds us that the Lord who showed leniency when he walked the earth has not changed.  If we go to him in order to condemn our neighbors, then we will find ourselves judged with the same judgment we would visit upon them.  If we show mercy, then mercy will be shown to us. If condemnation, then condemnation will fall upon us.  If we show leniency, then leniency is what we will receive.

It is a simple message.  Not rocket science.  "As you sow, so shall you reap."

Of course we are all called to holiness and we know not everyone lives up to that calling all the time.  If it were not so that we fall "often and in every hour," then for what reason is God merciful?  One of the Desert Fathers taught that if you see your brother or sister sinning, then the proper thing is to throw a cloak over their sin so as not to judge them and so that we do not fall into the same sin ourselves. Instead of creating more suffering we need to do all we can to alleviate it.  Mercy alleviates suffering.

Those who do not co-suffer with those who live in great pain are suffering from the most fatal of spiritual illnesses ... Mercilessness.
               -       Elder Paisios the New, of Mt Athos

One thing is for sure, the holy do not throw stones.

Much love in Christ,

Fr. Antony