BY REV. FR. KAREKIN BEDOURIAN
The forty day fasting period of the Great Lent is the perfect opportunity for the believer to assess and evaluate his/her life.
During this period, the believer waited in front of the draped altar… waited with prayer, with repentance, with the desire to return home again, while knocking the doors of the Heavenly Kingdom, waiting for God to respond.
The church altar drapes have hidden God’s glory from the believer’s sight, the human sight has been deprived of God’s glory and allure of the Kingdom. Instead of all that, the picture depicting the crucified Jesus is visible on a small scale altar in front of the drawn drapes, and on which, even the Gospel that brings the good news has been veiled, in other words, nothing reminding of God’s Glory is visible, except the Crucified.
For forty days, the faithful has lost the light and the bright star of God in his heart, and has unceasingly sung about the light, has glorified the light, the light of justice and truth – Christ. Stunned by the light of sunrise, the believer confessed Christ as the Sun of life. The faithful, being self-contained within the inner person, confessed that truth and life are only personified in Jesus Christ, and can be attained only through Christ.
Even more, the faithful found the ultimate peace and comfort in Christ, and through the passion of Gregory of Narek (Krikor Naregatsi) and Nerses the Gracious (Shnorhali), reached the depth of human heart, to speak with God and to supplicate, and to admit human unworthiness, and ask for God’s mercy and compassion. The faithful person invited God the Father to look upon His handmade creation with affection, and always asks the intercession of the Saint Mary – the Holy Mother of God.
However, the faithful did all these, always looking at the Crucified… praying and singing “Der Voghormya”, “Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Crucified Lord have mercy upon us”.
By looking at the Crucified, the faithful only sees his/her unworthiness. The purpose of fasting, and particularly fasting during the Great Lent, is to see the unworthiness of human beings because of sin, and to desire to live the perfect life. What we see through the depiction of the Crucified Christ is, how enormous and limitless is God’s love toward humanity – His own creation.
By looking at the Crucified, the faithful finds hope. In a life full of storms, it is only hope that may lead mankind through troubles, difficulties and injustices in life. The Crucified Christ did go through all those, and more… The hope upon the Crucified encourages the faithful in the stormy ship of life, to see the lighthouse, which guides the ship of life with its beam of light, to navigate with the good Captain’s guidance toward the calm harbors. This means that the faithful will not be hopeless, as long as he/she looks up to the Crucified.
By looking at the Crucified, the faithful sees resurrection and redemption. Christ’s life did not end on the cross, but a new life began instead. With His arms stretched over the cross, the Son of God invited humanity to partake life, the life of the cross, to which, life of resurrection and immortality follows.
For us Armenians, the cross was and is a daily presence in our lives. From the first days of Christianity till now, the Armenian people stare at the Crucified, to see in Him hope, determination, the courage to fight life’s battles and to see the glimpse of light and peace in a life full of strife. By looking at Him, we see bravery, unwavering journey towards justice, triumph and resurrection.
By looking at the Crucified, the faithful sees the glory of God, where the Son was glorified, so that everyone who believes in Him will attain the life of glory, the everlasting life, singing and praising God’s glory: “Glory to Your Holy Cross, Alleluia”.
Let us look at the Crucified…
and see the Resurrected…