(The Prelate’s Nativity Message, January 6, 2021)
Today on January 6, the Armenian Apostolic Church celebrates the Nativity and Theophany, as well as the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and the Anointed One. As it is impossible to contain the waters of the oceans and the seas in a small glass, likewise it is impossible to grasp and to comprehend the Mystery of God’s love in action, which took place in Bethlehem. The name “Bethlehem” literally means “the house of bread”, and through the Revelation of God became the house of the Living Bread. Even if we are unable to fill all the waters of the oceans into a glass, nevertheless there is a positive approach in order to derive benefit from analyzing that small portion of the water, and from there to draw a conclusion about the substance of what is uncontainable in the glass. Similarly, as much as this great Mystery is beyond any human understanding and comprehension, yet when we meekly approach and identify ourselves with the One laying in the Manger, amazingly all the mysteries will be unveiled. The Great Mystery will be accessible to all those who are ready to explore the truth and to commit themselves to the course of the journey, until all are gratified with the solemn reward for their sacrifice.
With this understanding, let us follow the three Magi, who in their search of the heavenly bodies’ movements, were provided with a sign to follow. They committed themselves to a long journey, which culminated with an unusual scene by worshipping a baby lying in a manger.
The origin and the length of the journey have been studied by scholars over centuries. What concerns us most on this solemn feast is the fact that these three Magi in their search of the celestial mystery were gratified with a response. They committed themselves to substantial responsibility by setting out on a pilgrimage. They did not have any clue of the identity and the location of the one to be revealed. Nevertheless, their trust in heavenly revelation led them to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah who six centuries preceding them announced that “Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn” (Is. 60:3). As much as the commitment of these three outstanding figures is astonishing, their unquestionably worshipping of the humble creature, which did not meet any criteria of their expectations, was truly amazing. At the end they knew that they have made the right choice when they were alerted to take a different way leading back to their home country (Mt. 2:12).
The Magi who are identified as Wise Men, kings, men of science, were the elite within their respective communities. As much as they were honored for their authority, wisdom and expertise, they were truly outstanding for their openness to learn for the benefit of their own growth as well as for their followers. Indeed, to be ready to learn is the beginning of wisdom; as Socrates has said otherwise, that “I know one thing that I don’t know anything.” In our journey of learning, the more we open ourselves to the Source of all wisdom, the more we will be gratified, for He will reveal and lead us to know and enjoy tremendous things which are beyond our expectations, as the Apostle says (Col. 2:2). The Divine presence, revealed through a star, led the Magi to acknowledge that God’s thoughts and ways are different from men’s thoughts and way (Is 55:8). When they found a king, a newborn infant lying in a humble manger, their entire perspective of worldly greatness, honor, glory and all values was changed.
It is true that the Magi started their journey to greet an earthly New King. Their expectation was not too far from those 12 Disciples who were chosen by the King to be. They followed His call, expecting to greet Him as the king of their nation, until they walked through the thorny and sorrowful path of the crucifixion and entombment of their Teacher and their dreams as well. It was only after the Resurrection, but mostly after the Pentecost, that their spiritual senses started to function by the Holy Spirit. In His physical presence they were unable to know Him, while in His absence they recognized Him as He is, the Love God who out of His Love humbly lowered Himself, shared our sinful nature to reinstate us in our original image, and to share His Divine glory with us.
Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, caring and sharing are the twin dimensions of Love which sustain Creation and most especially mankind. The strength of the growth and the spread of Christianity, as much as it has originated out of Divine Revelation, but Love with her Caring and Sharing wings has attracted and elevated those who were drowning in the waves of selfishness, hopelessness, and in the mud of this worldly and temporally sinful life. Our Lord Jesus Christ, as a perfect man, taught us that our call as His followers is neither an escape from this world nor passivism in turmoil, but rather it is to be light in darkness, to be the salt of the world, to be the reflection of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
We do not need to look backward to read about the lives of the Apostles and the saints in order to convince ourselves that Loving, Caring and Sharing are the foundation of a healthy society. Look around you, especially at this time of pandemic, and see how many volunteers sacrificed their own lives to save the lives of others. But let me tell you a recent example which touched my heart, and which illustrates the reality of God’s caring and sharing love.
Five days before Christmas, a police officer in Massachusetts was dispatched to a local Stop and Shop grocery store, where two women with two small children were accused of shoplifting. After hearing the story from the women that they were in dire need to prepare Christmas dinner for their children, and after checking that they had not taken anything but food, the officer, instead of arresting them, bought a 250 dollars gift card to cover the entire cost of their groceries, leaving in shock the store employees, but mostly the two women.
When the officer was asked about this unusual behavior, his response was: “The two children with the women reminded me of my kids …I just did what I felt was right. It’s not about me, I just tried to put myself in that family’s shoes and show a little bit of empathy.”
Who does not applaud and praise this police officer, Matt Lima, who dignified those two women?
Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, Jesus Christ is Love par excellence, because He cares for us. He humbled Himself, and He put Himself in our shoes. He did not come to condemn us, but instead to save us from the bondage of Sin, to lift us up, and to share with us His Divine glory.
Who does not admire and worship Jesus Christ who gave Himself as a ransom (Mt. 20:28; Mk. 10:45; 1 Tim. 2:6), and saved us and made us the heirs of eternal life?
We do not need to travel across countries, deserts and valleys like the Magi to meet the King of kings and the Lord of the lords. He is knocking the door (Rev. 3:20) of our minds, hearts and souls. Let us welcome Him. Let us embrace Him as a brother, counselor, and moreover, as our spiritual GPS who leads us from life to Life, to enjoy the eternal blessings of the loving, caring and sharing heavenly Father, with whom to the only Begotten Son and Holy Spirits befits dominion and honor, now and always. Amen