On the 18th of April 2021, the Primate Bishop Hovakim Manukyan celebrated divine liturgy at St. Sarkis Armenian Church.
The Bishop reflected on a quote from 1 Peter 2:9:
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.”
The Bishop explained that the purpose of St. Peter’s message at that time was to encourage and uplift Christians in the five cities of Asia Minor that were under persecution for their Christian faith.
“People had to pay a high price to be Christian; they were crucified and killed. But St. Peter’s words were to incite Christians to take the example of Christ. Christ died but rose from the dead on the 3rd day. Today we come to Church with confidence. We do not have fear of persecution. We can worship Christ as we have human rights and freedom of choice. However, this was not the case for the early Christians, and it is not the case for many other Christians in different parts of the world” said Bishop Hovakim.
The Bishop noted that this message is very relevant to the Armenian people today as we commemorate the 106th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. As Pope Francis said on May 8th, 2014, at the meeting with the Catholicos of All Armenians, “The Armenians have given more martyrs in the 20th century than the entire Christendom in the first 4 centuries of their existence alone.”
Our people are being persecuted even today. Our wounds continue to bleed and our pain is still strong this year as Armenians also remember the atrocities which took place in late 2020 and continue to occur today in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). Armenians have been displaced, tortured and killed. Rich Armenian cultural heritage has been destroyed and historic cities and villages have been captured.
But we are Christian and we believe in the Resurrection of Christ. St. Peter’s words are encouraging because “you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
Bishop Hovakim concluded his words with hope. “At the beginning of the 20th century, our people could rise from ashes because of their strong faith. The faith inspired them to build schools, churches and community organisations in the diaspora, to thrive once again and stay strong. Our challenges are many, but we can survive this if we have strong faith.” He also invited the congregation not to forget to encourage our youth to be steadfast in adhering to our Christian faith and values.
Currently, there are disagreements and divisions among our Armenian people. Yet, Bishop Hovakim reminds us of St. Peter’s words:
“you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house…. Rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it, you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:1-3).”
World Church Sunday and Green Sunday
The second Sunday of Eastertide is also called ‘Sunday of World Church’ and ‘Green Sunday’. On this day, the Church celebrates the establishment of the Church in the upper house. It is called ‘Green Sunday’ because it reminds us that the Church is eternal. The Church is always alive and continues to birth new members and saints.
To find out more about World Church Sunday, click here to read.
By Angelika Ghazaryan