The Prelate’s Message, April 4
Today, Christendom celebrates the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the awesome victory of the Divine, invincible power over all heavenly and earthly powers, in a most unique and amazing way, as we read in the Scriptures, “My ways are different from your ways” (Isa 55:8). By Friday, Jerusalem, the city of peace, was in turmoil and confusion. Maddened crowds, instigated by their leaders, were yelling, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” (Mt 27:23). The perplexed governor in vain was pretending to have authority to overrule the verdict, and the followers of the betrayed Master were in total despair. By Saturday, the spiritual rulers, not content with the crucifixion, asked Pilate to seal the tomb, claiming that the fearful and hopeless Disciples, who fled away upon their Master’s arrest, might come and steal the body from the guarded tomb. This was the last of all ironies, which Pilate reluctantly accepted and imposed in order to please them. When all human means were exhausted to silence and annihilate the Righteous One, Lo! On Sunday, the Buried One who once taught “I am the Resurrection”, now proclaimed it in action by rising from the dead.
The Resurrection, the eternal dawning of Faith, Hope and Love, girded the dispersed and despairing disciples, who in their turn, illuminated the minds of people everywhere dwelling in the darkness of ignorance. Going out into the world, the disciples transformed mindsets to transcend the visible and material approach to human existence and to understand life’s ultimate goal in the light of Divine perspective. Indeed, the Resurrection unveiled the mystery which lies beyond death, and filled the hearts of the human beings with joy that we, mortals, are rejuvenated in our immortality with our heavenly Father’s Grace, and are pilgrims from life to Life.
And today, here we are to celebrate the renewal of our faith in the spirit of the Risen Lord, who spared nothing for our redemption. He literally took upon Himself our sinful nature and cleansed it with His sacred blood. For our sake He carried the wages of sin (Rom 6:23), and through His death, crushed the stings of death (cf. 1 Cor 15:55), providing us with tangible signs that He is alive and always with us, as He promised to His Disciples (Mt 228:20). Moreover, He speaks to us, and patiently waits for our positive reaction in response to His sacrificial love on the Cross.
In this context, I would like to draw a picture derived from the world of science. One of the marvelous inventions of technology is the GPS, which speaks and helps us to get to our destination, and always recalculates when we fail to follow its instruction. By changing the wording of this wonderful instrument G(lobal) P(ositioning) S(ystem) to G(od) S(peaks) P(ersonally) to us and never gives up when we sin and we distance ourselves from Him, we will discover the harmony between Intellect-Science, and Soul-Faith. Indeed, God always had personally spoken with mankind, the crown of His Creation. In the Garden of Eden, God personally spoke to our foreparents. God personally spoke to the Patriarchs Noah and Abraham. God personally spoke to the Prophets Moses, David, Isaiah, and through them with His people. And in the fulfillment of time, God personally spoke in the very person of Jesus Christ, and through the apostles to the world at large.
It is so amazing that in the Armenian Church we practice a very unique feature: the reading of the Gospels is always preceded by the choir’s brief solemn chant, “ Ասէ Աստուած – God speaks,” reminding us that not only in past but also today, God is speaking to each of us. Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, God always speaks with us through different means, by Mother Nature, our consciousness, the Scriptures and moreover through our Lord Jesus Christ, who solemnly announced, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6). Of course, there are many ways to think and to act; there are many religions teaching us about truth; and there are many sciences promising us prosperous life. Yet, as the shining sun, penetrating the very heart of the earth and oceans, gives life to each species and preserves their uniqueness, likewise the Risen Lord, penetrating each person’s life, transforms our personality, character, behavior, and makes us more perfect in our outlook, in our relationship with our spouses, children, peers, neighbors, colleagues, and with society at large.
By committing ourselves to our God-“GPS,” He does not merely lead us from border to border, from land to land, from planet to planet, but from time and space to eternity and infinity, to enjoy and celebrate life forever in Him. With this understanding, let us celebrate the Resurrection of the Crucified and Risen Lord. Let us welcome the Risen Lord and with renewed faith follow Him who promised “That you may have life, and a more abundant life” (Jn 10:10). Let us truly sing the song of Hope and Life “even though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me” (Ps 23:4), and with thankful hearts, let us praise the life-giving All-Holy Trinity, Amen.