Passages: Isaiah 19:1-11; Galatians 2:1-10; Mark 12:35-44
Եսայ. ԺԹ 1-11; Գաղ. Բ 1-10; Մարկ. ԺԲ 35-44
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen!
Many of us know Armenian and/or English, and we may also know Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Turkish, Hebrew, Russian, etc. We know many languages and each of them is unique and special because they hold characteristics about the culture and the people they are used by. Not all of us understand all those languages but we know that people from all over the world speak and express themselves in languages.
As Armenian Christian’s, majority of our Badarak and our songs and culture, even here in the United States, remain in Armenian. The reason for this is many but because we try to keep our traditions and unique identity as Armenian’s no matter where in the world we go, we try to maintain the language at least in the Church. Yet, as important as it is to learn and want to learn Armenian or any other language, what is more important is a desire to understand and grow from it.
Yesterday, the Armenian Church celebrated the Feast of the Holy Translators. And we know their names such as St. Mesrob Mashtots, St. Sahag Partev, St. David the Invincible, and many-many others. The reason we remember them is because these great saintly thinkers dedicated their life to God’s commandment. On this feast day we also remember our teachers, our priests, and our parents. Why do we remember the saints along with our teachers, parents, and priests, and how did they all answer God’s commandment? Approx. in 405 AD, St. Mesrob Mashtots and those Holy translators began their work, the first thing they translated was the Holy Bible and the first sentence translated was Prov. 1 – “To know wisdom and instruction, understand words of insight, receive instruction in wise dealing, righteousness, justice, and equity;” (vv. 2-3)
Ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ.
This sentence became the driving force behind the work of the Holy Translators because in their understand it was the beginning of our daily Christian faith. For these saints, translating the Holy Bible into Armenian was more then just changing the language. For them it meant that everyday people, young and old, rich or poor, could open their own Bibles and read the words and teachings of God – they could pray in their native language. People learned about God’s love for us and we also learned how to love Him back by loving one another, being kind and respectful to one another. We learned how to pray, how to feed, how to care for one another – in essence we learn God’s language of love. As St. Paul teaches in 2 Timothy, “All scripture is the breath of God for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (v. 16) That is why in Armenian we call the Holy Bible the Astvadzashunch (Աստուածաշունչ), which means? “God breathing” or “breath of God.”
But why do we on this day also remember our teachers, priests, and parents along side these saints? They didn’t translate the Bible into Armenian. My dears, the word translate in Armenian does not mean only to change language but to transfer knowledge. To teach and illuminate in the same spirit by which those saints made the word of God accessible and relatable. In the Gospel today we read of how we must be careful of false teachers and leaders, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places…” (v.38) Christ is instructing us to be careful, because a real teacher, a real leader and a real translator is not someone who looks for recognition, pomp or glory, but rather, a true teacher is someone who is humble and does everything they can to teach others about the love of God. Someone who illuminates our minds to the truth.
My dears, we are all called to be teachers and translators, whether younger or older. We as Christian’s from our baptisms begin to learn that God loves us, and we must therefore, likewise, teach the world about God’s love. Some of us are teachers, some of us are priests, or parents, but all of us can teach by the life we live and it doesn’t matter if we translate and teach in Armenian, in English, French or Spanish. God understands all of us and with the Holy Bible has given us the instructions to understand Him. Yes, as Armenian Christian’s we have a special language that we pray with, we sing with and share God with. As Lord George Byron, an English poet from the 18th century, said, “If you sing, do it in Italian; if you confess love, do so in French; if you command, do it in German; but when you pray, pray in Armenian.” However, regardless of the language we feel comfortable using, God commands all of us to translate his message of love to others, to teach, to love and care no matter the language, no matter our age, no matter how smart we think we are, regardless, of our titles, stature, position, education, brokenness, pains and darkness, no matter who we are, God’s love is for all of us and He sent Christ Jesus for us, to give us life, to lift us up and to instruct us with wisdom.
Therefore, on the occasion of the Feast of Holy Translators we ask for the Holy Spirit to guide our teachers, parents, priests, students and all of us so that we will have a heart open to learn God’s wisdom and love and that we use what we have learned to teach other’s. Let us also ask for the intercession of the Holy Translators, Sts. Mesrop, Sahak, Yeghishe, Moses the Poet, David the Philosopher, Gregory of Narek and Nersess the Graceful and many others. May the love of God our Heavenly Father, protect us, fill us and lift us up. Աստուած օրհնէ Հայ ուսուչիչը, Հայ ուսանողը, Հայ Ազգը, մշակոյթ ու ժողովուրդը եւ մանաւանդ Հայոց լեզուն։ Amen!