Monday, January 07, 2008

Message Of Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch And Catholicos Of All Armenians On The Occasion Of The Feast Of The Holy Nativity And Theophany Of Jesus Chri, Armenia

Etchmiadzin, January 7, Armenpress: In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

"In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through Him." 1 John 4:9

Dearly Beloved Faithful,

Our souls are enveloped once again with the all-renewing ineffable mystery of the Holy Nativity and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ. And today, we along with all who await the Savior, rush toward the manger, to be joined in faith in the humble cave of Bethlehem with the joyous shepherds and wise magi bringing gifts to the Savior of the world; to bow down before the infant, to see the light of God's mercy descending to the earth, and praise the Holy Birth of the Son of God with the angels, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men".

It is the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, who has come to the world as love manifested. He conquered the world with infinite love, changed the course of history, and granted mankind distanced from God the grace of salvation and eternal life - grace to return to God. "In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, so that we might live through Him." (1 John 4:9)

The Holy Nativity and Theophany of our Savior has been proclaimed for two millennia through the sacrifices of the martyrs, the lives of the saints, the genuine faith of innumerable souls, and through virtuous deeds. The Gospel of hope that gives life is preached to renew the lives of men and women through philanthropic values, and by cultivating the paths of peace, justice and human rights. The recognition and understanding of Christianity through the living presence of God have born plans of transforming societal life and brought forth a world outlook and culture of valuing human life, called to serve the welfare of the world and the happiness of mankind.

However, the spheres of the life of humankind have not always been bountiful with the belief in the presence of God. Alongside the beneficial golden stalks of the harvest, we see the damaging growth of weeds. The world today resembles Bethlehem where the wise and the humble worship the newborn Christ Jesus, believing in the saving grace He gifts to us. But the world also resembles the other Bethlehem - the one which denied shelter to the Savior, where exist Herods who crave power and massacre children, Judases who betray innocents to death for thirty pieces of silver, Pilates who wash their hands in the face of injustice, and manifold modern day crucifixions - wars, terrorism, falsehoods, need and helplessness. As long as we continue in paths such as these which distance us from God, the world shall always feel the need for peace and justice, the want of kindness, humility, mercy and compassion.

Indeed dear ones, this is not the Will of God, this is not the calling of the world and man. God's gift is the life renewed by Christ. God's gift is the love revealed by Christ, which through the great and miraculous Holy Birth of our Lord and Savior has connected the four corners of the world today under a brilliant and glorious rainbow. And the star of Bethlehem which disperses the darkness, shines above the crises, intrigues and lawlessness of the world, and gleams hope with love from heaven to renew the souls of mankind with the invitation of the creation of a new life: "…and on earth peace, good will toward men".

With this sacred mystery of the Holy Nativity, it is the greatest commandment of love which is conveyed to the world, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another", says the Lord, "even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." (John 13:34). There is no greater power which transforms the life of man, nations and societies than love, which "is not jealous or boastful, is not arrogant or rude…does not insist on its own way, does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right, …it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

This is how that world shall be born, where peace and justice reign, where good and goodness are fruitful with brotherly love, solidarity among peoples, and cooperation among states. Truly, human efforts to transform life shall not be in vain with true love and the belief of the presence of God in the world. The path of the Lord is always the path of new life, always toward the better, toward the perfect, which shall become reality through man's works of faith, and the mercy and blessings of God.

Dearly pious sons and daughters,

On this joyful day of the Holy Nativity and Theophany, we offer thanks to the Lord, Who has granted His grace of salvation to our people as well, blessed our lives with the light of hope, faith and love and the spirit of creation. Relying on the Savior, it is with His commandment of love that our forefathers in the homeland and the dispersion were able to withstand the tribulations of centuries, struggled to keep their individual identity and heritage, and once again build a new and vibrant life. The spirit of love towards one another has turned into care, attentiveness, effort, devotion and heroism within Armenian life dispersed around the globe.

With that spirit today within the free shores of Armenia and Artsakh, and on the horizons of the renaissance of Armenian spiritual and national life throughout the world, the hopes and prayers of our forebears and the faith of our people are manifesting themselves as works of patriotism and love of Church - as good fruits of our lives. It is with that same spirit that we shall continue to live today as well, to triumph over the imperatives facing us, to defend the values of liberty, justice, human rights, philanthropy and honesty, though which the God-loving soul of our people shall continue to be cared for; through which our life in the homeland and the Diaspora shall be strengthened.

Therefore, dear ones, let us advance with the unflinching faith of a pilgrim and always work in unison and with one will under God's blessing, for it is truly said that through division the great become small, yet through unity the small become great.

It is with the great tiding of the Holy Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that we greet you once again, our dear faithful, and bless all of you. We extend our greetings of fraternal love in Christ to the incumbents of the hierarchal sees of our Apostolic Holy Church: His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia; His Beatitude Archbishop Torkom Manoogian, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem; His Beatitude Archbishop Mesrob Mutafian, Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople; and all of the oath-bound clergy of our Church.

We extend our pontifical blessings and greetings to the President of the Republic of Armenia, Robert Kocharian; the President of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, Bako Sahakian; to all Armenian state officials, and to the leaders and representatives of diplomatic missions accredited to Armenia.

Let us pray together that the heavenly graces and gifts of love of the Savior's Holy Nativity and Theophany increase in the world, leading all of humanity to the desired paths of goodness, justice and reconciliation.

From this holy altar of the descent of the only begotten, with prayers and appeals for the blessings of the Savior, we once again convey the renewing tiding of the Holy Nativity from the Mother See of all Armenians:

Christ is Born and Revealed, Great Tidings to you and us.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.



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