Հինգշաբթի, Փետրուար 2, 2023

Շաբաթաթերթ

Primate’s Christmas Message

“Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; be renewed in the spirit of your mind; put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” 

EPHESIANS 4:22-24

At the threshold of the New Year and the Feast of the Nativity, we are invited by the All-Benevolent God to reject and relinquish our old being, “corrupted by its deceitful desires.”

From the first glance, it seems to be easy to relinquish the old, dilapidated, demoralized, and unholy things that make us vulnerable at every step of the way. However, one who wanders on the wide path of wickedness shall find it extremely difficult to abandon and emancipate himself from the snares of darkness and walk through the narrow path of righteousness without repentance. The latter comes with remorse, confession, and retribution, coupled with prayer and good deeds.

Facing the old self requires spiritual maturity, courage, and honesty as we become the target of our own criticism. It is extremely difficult to forego one’s ego, overcome shame, and save face, for rejecting the past means to obliterate the pseudo-image that we have created for ourselves and presented to others. Christ, however, states “No one puts new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved” (Matthew 9:17).

A year ago, as a nation, we experienced a devastating loss. Our tears have not yet dried nor have our wounds been healed. Armenia and Artsakh are still hurting. Have we been courageous enough to reflect on our flaws, analyze our shortcomings, shed light on the corrupt, inhumane and negative aspects, which had infiltrated into our lives, causing collateral spiritual and moral damage? Have we been able to wake up from the lethal sleep that had veiled our eyes from reality? Do we comprehend the heftiness of defeat or do we continue to live intoxicated by our triumphant past?

Undoubtedly, we need to repent and pray fervently as a nation, in order that we may get rid of the “old self” and give birth to the “new person” in Christ. Otherwise, we shall not be able to fully embrace the greatest miracle of all, namely the Birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Often times, by observing current events, people make the statement that the world has changed. However, the truth of the matter is that the world is unchanged. It is humanity that has changed. Man has distanced himself from God and stripped himself from the virtues of the Spirit. Therefore, it is imperative that we quest the path of justice and true holiness and return to the bosom of the All-Merciful and All-Loving God. When St. Paul, the Apostle speaks about the “new man” in his Epistle to the Ephesians, he specifically emphasizes the need “to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

Divine justice and true righteousness are the constant values in this mutating world where falseness is presented as the truth, the corrupt as the just, obliviousness as knowledge, immorality as the new moral norm. Humanity seems to be detached from the real life, dwelling in a parallel reality.

What is transpiring around us? Why is there great social injustice? Why is society so polarized? How many more lives shall COVID-19 claim? Shall we trust the vaccines, or not? Shall we expect yet another economic collapse?

These are questions of perplexed humanity. In order to provide answers, the “new man” should be the bearer of the Christian value system where divine justice and holiness are at its core. These two shall be our orientors. Let us never forget that we are the temples of God and that our words and deeds shall reflect His Will. Therefore, let us pursue God’s commandments, and live life in accordance to the path defined by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Only then we may perceive the gift of life in all its splendor and glory without darkness, fog or deceitful illusions. Let us adorn our souls, minds and hearts with the golden messages radiating from the Gospels and restore in us the image of God. Moreover, let us reject a life of apathy, greed, and vengeance. Let us live with a vision of sanctity, with the knowledge that we are the adopted sons and daughters of God.

The New Year and Christmas oblige us to live in accordance with the commandments of Christ, our Lord. Let us love one another. Let us love our Motherland Armenia and our Mother Church. Loyal to the calling and character of a true Armenian Christian, let us be the humble servants of these two anchors of our identity. Indeed, we are living in trying times, full of temptations. The Motherland Armenia and the Armenian Apostolic Church are in great pain and suffering. However, we are the descendants of Hayk, Vartan, and the new martyrs. Hence, we shall reject all weaknesses, making our faith the foundation of our lives. It is time for us to come together and make unity the testament of our faith. With that deep sense of understanding and resolute faith, St. Vartan and the generations after him knelt before the Holy Altar of Etchmiadzin and strengthened by Holy Communion, illuminating the pages of Armenian history.

Beloved faithful, be born anew with the Miraculous Birth of Christ, in order that the life of the “new man” may be filled with kindness, love, mercy, hope, and faith. This has been the expectation of our forefathers and the young martyrs who lived their lives for Christ and for the Motherland.

Christ is born and revealed! Blessed is the Revelation of Christ!

Archbishop Hovnan Derderian

Primate

December 2021
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