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GOAA - Archpastoral Reflections August 2003

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Fri, 08 Aug 2003 20:24:48 -0700

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Archpastoral Reflections August 2003

Our American society is comprised of persons from an exceedingly wide array
of cultures, races, religions, and ethnicities--persons with whom we live
side by side as neighbors.  This reality, a social phenomenon known as
pluralism, is perhaps one of the most distinguishing and valuable
characteristics of our nation.	Pluralism is more than just a social
phenomenon, however; it is an entity that entirely surrounds us.  As such,
pluralism presents us with particular challenges, in the most positive
sense of the term.  These challenges come from the understanding that our
Orthodox Christian voice is but one of many voices within an ever diverse
and complex American society.	 In the face of this reality, we are
challenged as Greek Orthodox Christians living in the United States of
America to consider courageously the question, "Where is the strength of
our Orthodox Christian voice when it is but one of many voices in a diverse

In considering this question, we bring to mind the manifold diversity of
Roman society during the days of the Apostles, who surely asked themselves
the very same question.  Their voice, like that of our own, was the voice
of a minority; yet its strength revealed itself in universal and
unequivocal terms.  The Book of Acts gives us a sampling of the tremendous
diversity of people who were present and who each heard the message of the
Gospel in their own languages at the miracle of Pentecost: "Parthians and
Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappodocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya
belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,
Cretans and Arabians..." (Acts 2:9-11).  The significance of this miracle
rests in the knowledge that it is the Holy Spirit who alone imparts to us
every strength and ability to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in
universal terms, no matter how diverse the audience.

The voice of the Gospel has not only encountered pluralism since Apostolic
times; it has repeatedly demonstrated its inclination to thrive especially
within pluralistic societies such as ours.  This was the case also with the
Apostle Paul, who preached Christ's Gospel of love and salvation to people
from all walks of life, "becoming all things to all people, that [he] might
by all means save some" (1 Corinthians 9:22).

In living our Orthodox Christian faith in contemporary America, each of us
is encouraged to follow in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul, to recast,
with new eyes, our everyday encounters with pluralism as tremendous
opportunities for preaching the Gospel through demonstrations of love and
kindness for all persons--encounters which take place in even the most
routine or leisurely of daily circumstances.

As we continue to live in this incredibly diverse and beautiful land, and
as we consider the true power of our voice amidst the many voices of our
neighbors, let us not forget its tremendous relevance and proven ability to
speak to all people.  Let us grow in the knowledge that the strength of our
voice, which we proclaim every day through our love for others, rests not
in its sheer volume or raw intensity, but in the gentleness and universal
truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Lord.  May that truth embrace,
guide, and liberate you; and may it impart unto all humanity an ultimate
freedom and eternal salvation.

Archbishop of America


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