The Prelate’s Sermon, January 2, 2022
Today on the sixth Sunday of Advent the Gospel reading is from St. Luke 22:24-30. The Evangelist narrates a dispute raised among the Disciples, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. Our Lord, with parental understanding, elucidates their words, by saying that “the rules of the Kingdom of God differ from the earthly understanding, for those who like to be leaders should be like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.”
Once again, I admire our Church Fathers’ wisdom for classifying the Sunday readings of the Advent in a such meaningful and educational way, that each reader consciously or subconsciously, following the readings, navigates toward the Living Manger to celebrate the manifestation of Humility. I would like to share a few thoughts from this short yet powerful passage, which is essential in our life next to our cardinal virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love.
- To have a better understanding of this golden rule, it’s important that we enlarge our reading including the previous scene of the Last Supper, the establishment of the Sacrament of the Holy Communion, where Jesus refers to His Atonement, and concludes by saying, “the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom He is betrayed.” Thus starts the dispute among the Disciples (22:14-23).
- The succession of a new leader is very normal in any society within tribal or national context. Our Lord does not argue this phenomenon, but rather introduces a new understanding, the qualities of a leader from a Christian perspective.
- In all circumstances, not only Christ taught but also became a role model in all aspects of His earthly life. The Apostles of course didn’t grasp the essence of this great teaching, even when their Master knelt and washed their feet, and with rebellious tone Peter boldly resisted by saying, “You will never wash my feet” (Jn 13:8). It was only by being filled with the Power and Grace of the Holy Spirit that they identified themselves with the Servant, the Master of all seasons.
- With this great commandment, our Lord Jesus Christ conveyed the everlasting charming power of Humility, the second key after Love, which unlocks the universal mysteries, and reinstates in us our original image as created by the Almighty God.
The more we explore the depth of humility we come to realize that in all cases, within a family business, social or political life, humbleness is a facilitator of harmonious and successful relationships. I remember what once a young lady, with great enthusiasm, expressed about her supervisor, saying that she gladly serves her, because she never acts like a boss, but rather as one of us. Surely it is the same feeling we experience when men and women in power behave gently with us.
I have read so many eloquent stories throughout my Seminary years, but in 1984 when I came to the United States and I was commissioned by our former Prelate late Archbishop Mesrob Ashjian, blessed be his memory, to visit different communities and in one of these, I literally stood in admiration, not to say that I was shocked, when after a banquet in a church hall, the Board of Trustees’ Chairman, who used to be a doctor, with his wife, along with the Pastor and a few Ladies Guild members, cleared all the tables, carried out the trash bags, and wrapped up the day by saying, “Thank you O Lord, for today’s blessing.”
People in authority unfortunately use the wrong way to get to their goal either to be recognized or applauded or to be respected. The true stairway to achieve the same aim is only through Humility. It may seem to go against our ideas, our convictions, yet it is the true way, experienced by the One who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
Indeed, this final stage of our Advent pilgrimage is an awesome message we get from the Source of all wisdom, our Lord Jesus Christ, which enables us to comprehend the Uncontainable One to be contained in our tiny human vessel. May the Beneficent Lord through the sacred humiliation of His only Begotten Son and with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit crash our petrified hearts, as Saint Nerses the Graceful Catholicos says, and together with a renewed heart we welcome the Incarnated Exalted One, praising the All-Holy Trinity. Amen.