The Prelate’s Sermon, September 12, 2021
Today, according to the Armenian Church Calendar we are celebrating the Feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross, based on a historical event which has took place in the 7th century. It is true that the Cross is a material object; nevertheless, the Cross has a special place in the Divine Redemptive Plan.
In the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Cross has a valuable meaning (Mt 10:38; 16:24; 24:30)․ Besides, it became the Altar of the Divine, sacrificial Love on Golgotha․ As such, it has an existential message to Christians of all ages. On this occasion, I would like to share a few thoughts inspired by the Cross which is described as the «Անբարբառ բարեխօս», the non-verbal intercessor. I would like to view its message through our 9/11 tragedy, and the pandemic experiences.
- Our Lord Jesus Christ, as an honest and trustworthy Teacher and Leader, taught us the undeniable challenge of the Evil one and the price of true discipleship to carry the Cross. It is true that He made it clear that the prince of this world has no power over Him (Jn 14:30). Nevertheless, He did not cover nor ignored the fact that “the devil roars like a lion to devour even the closest ones to God” (1 Pet 5:8). Jesus carried the Cross not only from Jerusalem to Golgotha but, likewise, the Redemptive Cross of Mankind to lead all who believe from the captivity of Sin to the Promised Life.
- The Cross, which was an instrument for punishment, by being raised on Golgotha, became the solid sign of selflessness and unconditional love which transcends all human interests. History is filled with examples of sacrificial acts both in religious and secular realms. The 9/11 experience, whose 20thanniversary we marked yesterday, and the ongoing Pandemic proved that in this materialistic society, still hundreds of firemen, police officers, physicians and public servants sacrificed their lives in the line of duty to save those who were trapped and threatened by death. No matter how powerful hatred, envy, and animosity might be, or how much they can destroy and scatter terror, lamentation and hopelessness, yet the final word belongs to sacrificial love which rebuilds, spreads peace, joy and hope. The Crucified, Buried, yet Risen Lord is with all those who walk in His footsteps.
- The Cross teaches us all the hidden tricks of the Evil One who will never cease in trying to entrap us in his snares. Until the last moment, the deceiver subtly used the people standing near the Crucified One to cry to bring Jesus down from the Cross, with the excuse that only then would they believe Him(Mt 27:42). In fact, these obscured minds and hearts were nothing else but the instruments of the Evil One to deviate the Messiah from His mission. For after having witnessed more marvelous miracles, if they did not believe, it was clear that their goal was too far from their declared intention. Being a spirit and familiar with each person’s weaknesses, the Evil One, by changing his means, eventually lures and leads us into damnation. As the Covid-19 virus constantly mutates and requires new vaccines to boost our immune system, likewise it is imperative that we are filled with the Divine vaccine to overcome all the intrigues of the Adversary.
- The Cross forges our patience when things go totally in an unexpected direction, and instructs us to trust in God’s providential care. Even the Apostles were perplexed and frustrated in their expectations by losing the sight and the power of the Cross. Their patience was unable to sustain them even for three days to witness the fulfillment of their Master’s promises. Patience is the source of producing character, as Saint Paul says (Rom 5:4). Through the furnace of Divine patience endurance, inventions, successes come forward. In the beginning of thepandemicwe thought that its disappearance would be a matter of only a few weeks or months; lo! We are crossing through the valley of terror for more than 18 months, wrestling with it more consciously and patiently, with the hope that we are closer to overcoming it.
- The Cross is the undeniable victory of life over death. We have learned from the life of the Incarnate God who became man like us, that the Cross is a new path of our journey from the womb of our mothers to the womb of Mother Nature which is the tomb, where we are buried with the hope of Resurrection. It adjusts our perspective not only with 3D but rather 4D dimensions as Saint Paul states by saying, “I pray that you may have the power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:18-19). In spite of all the negativities of our earthly life, walking with God gives us the assurance of the ultimate victory of Good over Evil and Life over Death. Through the lives of all the saints who trusted in God, we come to learn that they celebrated joyfully life while they were misunderstood, persecuted, tortured and even were killed because they clearly saw the True Way Who leads to Life.
On the feast of the Elevation of the Cross let us all elevate our souls and galvanize our will with Divine wisdom, patience, and love, to “distinguish all the flaming arrows of the Evil One” (Eph 6:16), and “bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in our mouth” (Ps 34:1). Amen.