Kristos Haryav i merelots, Christ is Risen from the Dead!
During the pandemic of last year, one of the most devastating realities was not only the loss of life but as well as, the social and physical distancing and isolation of families and loved ones from one another. More and more individuals today, are coming out of the pandemic and the lock-downs with feelings of abandonment and loneliness. But I can’t imagine how painful and difficult it must have been for those
who witnessed their parents, children, spouse, friends, parishioners, neighbors, loved ones lying and dying in a hospital bed all alone. The physical connection of person to person is so powerful and healing that even during the pandemic, doctors and nurses broke down emotionally seeing that loved ones could not hold the hands of each other in that desperate time of need. In an attempt to comfort isolated patients, to bring emotional and mental healing, nurses in Brazil filled two disposable gloves with warm water and tied them around the hand of the dying patients, as they tried to simulate holding hands, to tell the patient you’re not alone, keep fighting.
We as humans are communal creators, and even the most introverted person benefits from some sort of human connection. Whether it is coming together, hugging, holding hands, placing a hand on each other’s shoulder, looking into each other’s eyes, all of these have healing and uplifting qualities. Often during times of trouble, war, distress, pain, or disaster, one of the key and life preserving elements is this idea of coming to each other, being in a community. When a loved one is dying or suffering, clergy and medical professionals always say, be there for the person, such as when someone is in a coma, doctors say keep talking to them. During 9/11 it was this communal strength that aided in the saving of so many lives as volunteers rushed into the rubble to save people. As the Church, we believe in the coming together as the body of Christ – which is what the word Church actually means, “Ekklesia” in Greek or Yegeghetsi in Armenian to come together. Physically gatherings and physically greeting one another is very powerful and deeply rooted in our theology. That is why every time in the Badarak we say “Voghchuyn dook meemyants, i hampoor srpootyan – Let us Greet One another with a Holy Kiss.” Again this idea of physically and tangibly coming together.
My dear brothers and sisters, God saw that Adam was alone in the garden and so He created for him a helper and an equal partner. God saw humanity was alone and said, it is not good for humanity to be this way and so we were commanded to grow, flourish, give life, love each other, be with each other – to be physically present. That is also the reason that Christ Jesus, the Word, the Logos, God the Son, had to become human – “The Word became flesh and lived among us” Why? Because our God is not a God of physical or social distancing; Our God is not a God of isolation and separation; Our God is a God of love who physically became like us in order to live like us, hold our hand, cry with us, be with us and die like us. However, God the Son, Christ Jesus did not remain dead, for we proclaim a resurrected Lord – who destroyed death by death. Holding our hand, He pulled us out of death, out of Hades, out of sin! God lowered Himself and became human in order to lift humanity up and make us like Him. And God commands us to do likewise.
This does not mean don’t follow the rules of government in the climate we live in. Rather, it means we must learn to be the resurrected body of Christ, in a different way. Call one another on the phone and genuinely care about the needs of the other. Walk by each other’s homes and greet each other! Cook extra food and share it with one another or even better with those who are homeless and live in the streets. Pray for each other by name! My dears brothers and sisters, real isolation is not that we are physically distant from each other, but rather, that we have distanced our hearts, we have cut ourselves off from each other spiritually and so we have cut ourselves off ultimately from God. For we cannot love God, be close to God, be in Communion with God, unless we first love each other.
Yes, today we are in the pandemic and must physically keep some distance. Whether we agree with it or not, these are the rules and we pray for the health of everyone. But let us not allow this pandemic to be an excuse to distance ourselves from God, from each other’s hearts and minds. Christ Jesus, knowing He came to die, did not distance Himself but became like us because of His love. A love that will heal this world, a love that conquered death and a love that will strengthen each and every one of us who chooses to accept it. Therefore, let us examine and ask ourselves, how far have we distanced ourselves from God, how disconnected have we become from one another and how can we rebuild? The pandemic will be done and gone soon, will our love also go with it or will it remain with each other? Let us always strive to build each other up and love one another at all times; let us be present with each other. And if we don’t know how, let us come to God, speak to our priest, open our scriptures and ask that our minds be illuminated. So that when we have passed from this pandemic, we can gather and Greet each other with a Holy Kiss proclaiming that the Resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is among us! Krisdos Haryav i Merelots, Christ is Risen, Blessed is the Resurrection of Christ!