In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Christ is Risen, Krisdos Haryav i Merelots!
A man walking through the desert saw a large snake trapped and in peril. Deciding to help, the man picked the snake up but it immediately bit him. The bite caused excruciating pain, the man dropped the snake, and the reptile fell right back into its trap. The man tried to pull it out again and again the snake bit him.
Finally the man pulled the snake out of its trap and set it free. Someone who was watching approached the man and said: “Excuse me, but don’t you understand that every time you tried to get the snake out, it was going to bite you? Why didn’t you quit? The man replied: “The nature of the snake is to bite and attack, but it is my nature is to help.”
My dear brothers and sisters, I am sure many of you at home have heard this story. Whether you have or not, this story invite us all to truly examine our lives through its teaching, especially today. When we are in pain or in comfort, what is in our nature? Who defines us? Each and every one of us has limitations and boundaries. When those boundaries are pushed or our limits are tested, how we react ultimately stems from who we are. Today, with the continued spread of the pandemic, with the lack of direction from political and social leaders and with the unknown of what will come next, it is easy to see how all of us can fall into disarray and confusion. Adding insult to injury, we are cut off from each other, our families, our friends and even our Churches, places where we normally go to rejuvenate and refocus in times of need. Therefore, I ask what will be our reaction, what is our in our nature today?
Our martyred ancestors faced a dire unknown over 100 years ago. Each day, they witnessed the manifestation of evil, the serpent that drove them from their homes, lands, families and Churches into the desert – where the sting of death and torment flew above them like vultures. Yet, my dear brothers and sisters, our martyred ancestors did not deny their nature, they did not deny who they were. What defined them above all else was not their age, job titles, skin color or any socially defined category. What drove them was not flesh and bone alone; What unified them was their faith in Christ Jesus. A faith that kept them alive as they marched into certain death; A faith that paved the way for life to be born out of a barren desert; A faith that took them from the pain of victimhood to the crowned joy of victory.
Yes, the pain and injustice was real. The atrocity of Genocide was perpetrated against men, women and children and their blood was spilled over the soil of their homes. However, their blood became the fertilizer of the foundation, the ground in which Christ Jesus Himself was buried in, was planted into and from where Christ was resurrected. Likewise, they were planted and their faith gave life to new fruits – each and every one of us. One of our Church Fathers Tertullian is famously quoted for having said, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of our Church.” Yes, the blood of our martyrs gave life to each of us because there is not one Armenian, not one Christian, not one child of God that was not impacted by the atrocities of the Genocide. Thus, there is not one Armenian, not one Christian and not one child of God who is not the fruit of the faith and blood of those martyrs. It was the blood of the martyrs, which also gave strength to all those who did survive the Genocide to live on and pass on their faith, hope, wisdom and love to each one of us. It was the blood of the martyrs, which gave strength to all those who did survive to build homes, Churches, families and communities. As the anecdotal proverb teaches, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. My dears, we have not fallen far from our ancestral trees therefore, I ask again what is in our nature today? Who are we, if not the fruits and the descendants of that faith.
My dear brothers and sisters, we are the children of that living faith in Christ. The undying flame, which engulfs this entire world and fills it with light. We are the ones, who have been baptized once, as Christ died once – and with Christ we have been raised to life. We are the descendants of those martyrs, we are the descendants of those survivors and fighters in whom the seeds of faith were planted and blossomed. And in order for us to give life, to bear fruits of that faith, in order for us to also blossom we must realize that our nature and what defines us each is not our ages, not our job titles, not our skin color, not even the “ian” or “yan” of our last names. What defines and unifies each of us, what give us life is our faith in Christ Jesus. And it is through that faith that we will overcome all pains and trials of life. It is through that faith, by which even if we are repeatedly attacked by the serpents or even die, we shall live on. As we read in scriptures, the snake will bite the heal, but the heal will crush the serpents heads. Yes, our resurrected Lord has crushed the head of that serpent.
But that faith must be part of our nature, must be what drives us forward and fuels our actions, thoughts, hopes, dreams, ambitions and personhoods. As we have seen throughout the centuries and the stories of the Armenian people, each time our faith has been under attack, one thing has remained the same, just a heifer cannot change it’s own skin, likewise, as Armenians’ our skin is equally unchangeable as our faith in Christ Jesus Because that faith today lives on through each one of us, even if we are cut off from our Churches. That faith lives on today through each one of us, even if we are in quarantine and unable to gather together. That faith lives on today through each one us, even if we were dying in the desert, because our faith is in our nature and the nature of our faith is to love, to hope, to sing, to dance, to live and fight for justice and strive to bring light into a darkened world.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, what is our nature? If like our martyred and saintly descendants our nature is founded in our faith in Christ Jesus, let us live accordingly through our decisions and treatment of ourselves, our families, of each other and all creation. Do we glorify God our Heavenly Father or do we cast doubt and darkness? Faith brings life and light. In this season of Easter, as we greet one another with the command of Christ is Risen, let us believe and know that through faith lived, we too will rise with Him from our tombs and from the ashes. We will rise and continue to live. Therefore, let us live a life that gives thanksgiving and glory to our Heavenly Father, with the Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Christ is Risen!