“Refer back to your old self, which is corrupted by its deceptive desires; to be renewed in the spirit of your spirit; put on the new man who was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness ”Ephesians 4: 22-24
On the threshold of the New Year and the Feast of the Nativity, we are invited by Almighty God to reject and renounce our old being, “corrupted by his deceptive desires”.
From the first glance, it seems easy to let go of the old, dilapidated, demoralized and ungodly things that make us vulnerable every step of the way. However, one who wanders the wide path of wickedness will find it extremely difficult to surrender and break free from the snares of darkness and to walk the narrow path of righteousness without repenting. The latter is accompanied by remorse, confession and retribution, associated with prayer and good deeds.
Dealing with the old man requires spiritual maturity, courage, and honesty as we become the target of our own criticism. It is extremely difficult to let go of your ego, overcome shame and save face, because to reject the past means to erase the pseudo-image that we have created for ourselves and presented to others. Christ, however, declares “No one puts new wine in old wineskins, otherwise the skins break, the wine spills and the skins are ruined. But they put new wine in new wineskins, and both are preserved ”(Matthew 9:17).
A year ago, as a nation, we suffered a devastating loss. Our tears have not yet dried nor our wounds healed. Armenia and Artsakh are still suffering. Did we have the courage to reflect on our flaws, analyze our shortcomings, shed light on the corrupt, inhuman and negative aspects that had infiltrated our lives causing collateral spiritual and moral damage? Were we able to wake up from the deadly sleep that had obscured our eyes from reality? Do we understand the heaviness of defeat or do we continue to live intoxicated by our triumphant past?
Without a doubt, we must repent and pray fervently as a nation, so that we can get rid of the “old me” and give birth to the “new person” in Christ. Otherwise, we will not be able to fully embrace the greatest miracle of all, namely the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Often, by observing current events, people will say that the world has changed. However, the truth is that the world is unchanged. It is humanity that has changed. Man has moved away from God and stripped himself of the virtues of the Spirit. Therefore, it is imperative that we seek the path of righteousness and true holiness and return to the bosom of All-Merciful and All-Loving God. When Saint Paul the Apostle speaks of “the new man” in his letter to the Ephesians, he specifically emphasizes the need “to be like God in true righteousness and holiness”.
Divine justice and true righteousness are the constant values in this changing world where falsehood is presented as the truth, the corrupt as the righteous, oblivion as knowledge, immorality as the new moral standard. Humanity seems detached from real life, remaining in a parallel reality.
What is going on around us? Why is there great social injustice? Why is society so polarized? How many more lives will COVID-19 claim? Should we trust vaccines or not? Should we expect another economic collapse?
These are questions of perplexed humanity. In order to provide answers, the “new man” must be the bearer of the Christian value system where divine justice and holiness are at the heart. These two will be our guides. Let us never forget that we are the temples of God and that our words and actions will reflect His Will. Therefore, let us follow the commandments of God and live our lives according to the way defined by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Only then can we perceive the gift of life in all its splendor and glory without darkness, fog or deceptive illusions. Let us order our souls, our minds and our hearts with golden messages radiating from the Gospels and restore within us the image of God. Further, let us cast off a life of apathy, greed and revenge. Let us live with a vision of holiness, knowing that we are the adopted sons and daughters of God.
The New Year and Christmas oblige us to live according to the commandments of Christ our Lord. We love each other. Let us love our homeland Armenia and our Mother Church. Faithful to the vocation and character of a true Armenian Christian, let us be humble servants of these two anchors of our identity. Indeed, we live in difficult times, full of temptations. Mother-country Armenia and the Armenian Apostolic Church are in great pain and suffering. However, we are the descendants of Hayk, Vartan and the New Martyrs. Therefore, we will reject all weaknesses, making our faith the foundation of our life. It is time for us to come together and make unity the testimony of our faith. With this deep sense of understanding and resolute faith, Saint Vartan and the generations after him knelt before the Holy Altar of Etchmiadzin and strengthened by Holy Communion, illuminated the pages of Armenian history.
Beloved faithful, be born again with the miraculous birth of Christ, so that the life of the “new man” may be filled with goodness, love, mercy, hope and faith. This was the expectation of our ancestors and of the young martyrs who lived their lives for Christ and for the Fatherland.
Christ is born and revealed! Blessed be the Revelation of Christ!
Bishop Hovnan Derderian Primate