Guided By The Ideal Model Of The Holy Family
As we prepare to put yet another year behind us and welcome the dawn of a New Year and rejoice in the Glorious Nativity and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ, we reflect on that first Christmas and the timeless and inspirational messages it brings of love, hope, faithfulness, and family. On that silent and holy night centuries ago, an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds and brought them the “good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10) that the Savior, the Messiah, had been born. The angel is joined by a heavenly host who proclaim, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” (Luke 2:14) The Son of God, the King of Kings, was born in a humble manger in humble circumstances, but brought to mankind a powerful and everlasting message of love, hope, peace, and salvation that enriched the hearts and souls of man and brought mankind from darkness to light.
During these holy days, our thoughts turn to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. God chose to reveal Himself by being born into a human family, and that family must become the perfect example and ideal model for our own families. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
When we read of the events surrounding the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ we learn of the many trials faced by the Holy Family before, during, and after the Birth of Christ. From the Virgin Mary’s unimaginable surprise at being told she had conceived through the Holy Spirit, to Joseph’s understandable emotions at hearing the startling news, to the circumstances of His Birth in a manger, the family being forced to flee to Egypt for refuge to escape the wrath of Herod, losing Jesus for three days when He was twelve years old, witnessing the growing hostility towards Him during His earthly ministry, and most agonizing of all, Mary watching Her Son die on the Cross. Throughout this lifetime of trials and tribulations, what kept the Holy Family together was love and faithfulness, towards each other and towards God.
In the Holy Bible, we read of the many instances of the faithfulness of our forefathers that led to the fulfillment of the prophecy of Christ’s Birth; from Abraham and Sarah, to Simeon and Anna, to Joseph and Mary. Throughout their struggles they could have given up on God’s promise. But what set them apart was that they all remained faithful. The love and faithfulness of the first Christians, the champions of our faith, must remain the inspiration and guide for us today in our individual and collective families. Like families from the time of Abraham, we are asked to heed God’s call for our own families, accept and trust His will for our lives, and always be ready to fulfill what He expects of us. “Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24)
Christmas is about celebrating the love and hope that was promised to mankind through the Birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and also a time to reflect on the value and sanctity of family.
When we speak of family we are not necessarily referring to blood relations. Each one of you has your own family. But as children of God, children of the Armenian Apostolic Church, and faithful parishioners of the Western Prelacy, each of you also belongs to a larger family. Thus, we must emulate the example and virtues of the Holy Family not just in our immediate families, but in the larger family of the Church of which we are all members. Moreover, as Armenians, we belong to an even larger family. The Armenian people are found in all parts of the world, but no matter the distance between us, we are all members of the same family; and we will remain so during both times of peace and especially in times of difficulty, when more than ever we need to join together and work in unity and harmony to overcome obstacles and fulfill our true potential. As one family, we share the joys and successes of one another, and we also share sorrows and difficulties. The Armenian nation has had many tragedies and afflictions throughout its history, and sadly this continues to the present day. Our brothers and sisters in Armenia, Artsakh, and Javakh still face a great deal of trials in many aspects; politically, economically, socially, and in other areas. Most disheartening is the current situation of our brethren in Syria who for more than twenty-one months have been caught as innocent bystanders in a deadly conflict. They have suffered and continue to suffer on a daily basis. Just as we have come to the aid of our brethren in Armenia, Artsakh, Lebanon and Iraq in their time of need, it is gratifying to see that Armenians worldwide mobilized to help the Syrian-Armenian community and are continuing to do so. The successes of one are the successes of all, and the troubles of one are the troubles of all. Thus, as members of this larger family, each and every one of us must continue to do our part, our share, for the greater good of the family. Guided by the ideal of the Holy Family we must continue to work together in love, peace, and harmony as a unit, with love and faithfulness to one another and to God. “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3)
Dear loved ones,
His Holiness Catholicos Aram I has proclaimed 2013 as the “Year of the Armenian Mother”. Just as the Holy Family is the archetype for our families, so is the Holy Mother of God the timeless and perfect role model for women, and especially mothers. The virtues of the Virgin Mary as a woman who lived in constant accordance with the will of God transcend both time and culture and have remained a source of inspiration for women throughout the centuries.
For women and mothers, the Virgin Mary teaches the value and importance of faith, complete trust, piety, and humility. Although she experienced times of sorrow and despair, she always trusted in the Lord and continued on because she knew it was part of God’s greater plan. She trusted the Lord fully and did not question His authority or will for her life. The Virgin Mary is described in the Gospels as most pure, most prudent, most humble, most faithful, most devout, most obedient, most poor, most patient, most merciful, and most sorrowful. Today’s woman should reflect on these virtues and strive to implement them in her own life. As the heart of her family, today’s mothers are called to follow in the ideal example of the Holy Mother of God and create their own holy family units with Christ as the core. For although we live in a different age, God’s expectations of us, His children, has not changed and will not change.
As we ring in the New Year and ceremoniously celebrate the miraculous and wondrous Birth and Theophany of our Lord Jesus Christ, we pray for Almighty God to bless our families and help us to live as the Holy Family, united in mutual love, faithfulness, and peace.
May the love, faith, harmony, and goodwill that was at the heart of the Holy Family radiate within our extended Prelacy family of Clergy, Councils, Delegates and Boards of Trustees, faithful parishioners, educators, sister organizations, sponsors and friends, guiding us in fulfillment of our collective mission as we serve for His glory and for the splendor of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Armenian people.
A HAPPY AND BLESSED NEW YEAR
CHRIST IS BORN AND REVEALED
BLESSED IS THE REVELATION OF CHRIST
Arch. Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate, Western United States
New Year and Christmas 2013