Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today we celebrate this Mass on the feast of the Church fathers of the 2nd ecumenical council which took place a long time ago, in the year 381AD to be precise. The objective of the meeting that gathered bishops and clergy of the oikumene in Constantinople was the unity of the Church. Because of the teachings of the Macedonians over the question of the Holy Spirit, the unity of the Church at the time was under threat and the Church fathers were trying to find a remedy to heal the wounds. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ said “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me”. (John 17:21)
Christians, all those who believe in Jesus Christ, do not have the right to be divided. Rather, they are united because they are the Children of the same God. I am pleased today to celebrate this Mass in this beautiful Anglican Cathedral of Guildford. Today, we not only celebrate divine liturgy for our people but also, we celebrate our unity in Christ. Our relations are historical. This year we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the presence of the Armenian Church in England through the establishment of the Holy Trinity Church in Manchester. There have been many exchanges between our two Christian churches since then and we continue to build on the history of our relations. After the massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman empire late 19th century and especially after the Armenian Genocide of 1915 the Anglican Church has not only helped our people in need and agony but also provided us their Churches to celebrate mass for the Armenian refuges and survivors. Yet today we celebrate another liturgy for the Armenians and their friends living in Surrey and Sussex.
Dear brother and sisters in Christ,
Today’s Gospel reminds us that “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand” (Mt 12:25). In our world where there is much division and divisive powers are trying build walls between cultures, nations and countries; ongoing war in Syria, crisis in Lebanon and alarming messages coming from this region regarding the persecutions and replacements of Christians are alarming. Since last century the Christians in the Middle East have given more martyrs than during the first few centuries of its existence when they were not a recognised religion. The hatred, dehumanisation of the victims, antagonism did not come in one day. They are results of ill-education, false information, fake news and the ideologies that people were taught for decades.
Christians have a much greater responsibility to work to overcome the divisions. Another verse from today’s Gospel reminds us “Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see” (Mathew 12: 22). Jesus’s ministry is a healing ministry. It heals our wounds spiritually, morally and physically. Because Jesus is the only person who can change the hearts and minds of people.
Today this ministry has been entrusted to all of us. However, our journey is not an easy one. It is challenging as there is a lot of destruction in the modern and secularised society. However, St. Paul says in his second letter to Corinthians “We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God” (2 Cor 6: 1-7).
On this joyous day we should comprehend that each of us has a gift of healing, uniting and doing good things. This is an invitation especially at the beginning of the poignant season Great Lent which starts from next Monday in the Armenian Church.
Thank you for joining us for this beautiful Armenian service. I thank the dean of the Cathedral and Father Paul, Irma and everyone who was involved in making this day possible.