Archbishop Anoushavan, Prelate, joined in the Service for Peace organized by the National Stop the Violence Alliance last Sunday. Below you may read the full text of his plea for peace in Ukraine, Armenia, and the world.
I am honored to take part in this Service for Peace, and I thank Dr. Stephné Coney, Founder and CEO of National Stop the Violence Alliance, for this opportunity to address you as we all watch helplessly how a brutal war is raging in the geography that saw the breakout of two world wars.
As I speak to you, and we Christians in this time of Great Lent evoke the somber last days of our Lord’s earthly life, tragically mirrored in the events that have the world on edge, my mind wanders to the Garden of Gethsemane on the day when Jesus sees a detachment of soldiers coming to arrest Him, accompanied by Judas, his betrayer.
Within this agonizing situation we find the phrase that encapsulates one of the most eloquent statements of our Lord against violence, addressed to Peter, his Disciple: “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Mt 26.52).
We can agree that anyone would find it hard to follow the advice Christ is giving us here. But given what we know about the history of humanity and the endless rivers of blood that are still flowing, I sincerely ask: What is the history of warfare if not the repetition over and over, and over again, of Matthew 26:52, with people who take the sword to perish by it? Empires, powerful armies, have been fighting each other for power, territory, or economic advantages for millennia. Shall we keep insisting on the old ways of responding to evil and hatred with more of both? That has only begotten more evil and more hatred. Where has that got us?
So, I pray that all soldiers in the world unload their guns and put their swords in their place. May God grant peace to Ukraine and to every corner of the world that is suffering from senseless violence. I also pray for my compatriots in Armenia and in Artsakh, Nagorno Karabagh, whom Azerbaijan, after a genocidal war two years ago amid the indifference of the world, has recently been depriving of natural gas at a time of subzero temperatures in the region, with people, especially children and old people, slowly freezing to death.
Instead of shedding the blood of our brother, like Cain, let us be the generation fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, “The wolf shall be live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid. The calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear should graze, their young shall lie down together, and the lion eat straw like the ox…They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters over the sea” (Is 11:6-9).
I call on everybody to undertake the titanic effort of understanding and loving each other. It is incredibly hard, but we know that the alternative, hatred, makes us hateful too, and that, as we tragically still see in the 21st century, brings only more suffering and death to all of us.
May the Spirit of the Almighty and Compassionate Lord prevail on us, and grant His Wisdom to guide the leaders of the world in these perilous times toward a brighter future for mankind.