As most of you know, my teenage idol was Bruce Lee. But my childhood idol was Popeye. People still enjoy Popeye cartoons up to now. The story varies but the plot is always the same: Popeye and Olive living together in peace and happiness; and then Brutus comes along, beats up Popeye, and the spinach comes forth, and then Popeye’s muscles are flexed; Brutus is defeated. Sweet revenge ends every Popeye episode.

As you can see, my teenage idol and childhood idol are both violent men—violent people whose passion was to win over people by flexing muscles, by using brute force in order to redeem. I must admit that I still have that tendency to be violent and to get even by force. That is why I chose “PAX” to be my motto as bishop. It was not so much a recognition of what I have lived for but what I need to overcome in me, which is thirst for revenge, which is a disposition for violence.

It is very obvious that the morality of Popeye is not the morality of Jesus. The way Jesus deals with Brutuses is not by taking spinach and then annihilating Brutus. The morality of Jesus in promoting peace is rather befriending the enemy, not annihilating evil, but making sure that evil is transformed into good. It is hard, but who said Christianity is easy.

Up to now, we have not really given the gospel of peace and non-violence a chance in our lives. You have seen my name in the newspapers, on television, over the radio, as a conspirator, as a plotter, as whatever. I am not Popeye. So, I will not destroy those who spread calumny against me. I am another Christ. Therefore, my energy is not spinach. My energy is the Bread of Life. I am not Popeye. I am supposed to be another Jesus. My language is not revenge. My language is conversion.

I am not a pacifist. I do not just seek peace by playing blind to injustice. I am not a sadist. I do not find pleasure in pain. It takes more strength to overcome evil by the power of good than to seek revenge and get even with Brutus. Love is more powerful than revenge. Did not the Servant of Yahweh say:

“The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue,
That I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them.
Morning after morning,
he opens my ear that I may hear;
And I have not rebelled, have not turned back.
I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting.
The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced;
I have set my face like flint,
knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”

Mt. 5:38-42
Love Like Jesus

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