Do As I Have Done To You (John 13:15)
The blessed Easter season is upon us once more, filling our hearts with exultation and enlivening our spirits with the uplifting message of the triumph of good over evil and life over death trumpeted by the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Come, let us rejoice, for “Today the angels are descending from heaven; they give the good news to mankind announcing that the crucified Christ is risen from the dead, and with Him arose you all” (Hymn). Let us give grateful praise for the promise of a new and abundant life in Him and for the hope of eternal life with Him exclaiming, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
The earthly ministry of Christ was the greatest affirmation of God’s unconditional and unlimited love for us, His children, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The Crucifixion was the epitome of our Lord’s incredible self-sacrifice, and the Resurrection, the pillar of our faith, the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the institution of a New Covenant.
Jesus came to serve, “to give His life a ransom for many,” and love and self-sacrifice were at the forefront of His ministry. In the Scriptures we are given numerous examples of Christ’s love and service for all, and especially for those segments of society often overlooked by others, the outcasts, the poor, the oppressed, the sick and disabled. Perhaps the most powerful, inspirational, and beautiful expression of the love, humility, and service of our Lord is the washing of His disciples’ feet, and it is this spirit of service that we are called to emulate, for in the words of Christ Himself, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (John 13:14-15).
And so, Easter is an invitation not only to renew and revitalize our faith in Him, but to reaffirm our faithfulness to serving Him by serving others, in His ideal example, through the course of our lives and especially in this “Year of Service” as proclaimed by His Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia. Jesus is the embodiment of a true servant, a perfect model which we cannot replicate, but we can strive to be more Christ-like in our daily interactions with others. As Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and explained why He was doing so, He said to them, “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them” (John 13:17). We have all the tools we need to fulfill what is required of us as Christians; we have His holy Word and His holy example. And as He came to serve, it is now our time to serve Him and the living Body of Christ through our service to one another. Our Lord was obedient to the point of death on the Cross. We are not expected to sacrifice our lives in that same manner, but we are expected to give of ourselves in service, inspired by His example, and we are to do so joyfully, with a pure heart, with good intentions, and without ulterior motives for personal gain.
We all have our individual families, but we also belong to one larger family as children of God and of the Armenian nation. We are a part of something bigger and we are to show greater concern for the interests of the whole than for our self-interests, to have the mindset of a servant and use what we have for the glory of God and for the good of the collective body, for the body is only as strong as its members. There is no such thing as trivial service. Even the smallest of service done in the name of Christ is sanctified. Therefore, let us strive daily to spread the love of God to those around us, to bring joy, comfort, strength, and inspiration to another, with love as our motivating force, “as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us” (Ephesians 5:2).
Our Lord Jesus Christ served selflessly, humbly, willingly, dutifully, and most important of all, He served to bring glory to God the Father. For our redemption and salvation He endured untold torture, was beaten, spat upon, a crown of thorns placed on His head, and ultimately suffered death on the Cross. And He did so out of immense and infinite love for us all.
Let us follow in His ideal example and also in the example of our forefathers who gave of themselves fully for love of God and love of nation. So deep and pure was their love that many even paid the ultimate price of martyrdom. The undeniable truth of the Resurrection, the authoritative Word of God, and the example of our Lord Jesus Christ transformed and enlightened our forefathers and they in turn transformed and enlightened the Armenian nation. Let us today carry on that legacy of faith and service, armed with the triumphant message of the Resurrection, with love as the root of all our endeavors.
May the life-giving and timeless message of Easter reinvigorate us in our faith and impel us to joyful service for the glory of God and for the advancement of our church and nation, with utmost trust in our Lord, our refuge and our fortress, Who is with us always, to the end of the age, for He has risen from the dead, blessed is the Resurrection of Christ. A happy Easter to all.
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate, Western United States