Once again–we welcome the New Year with aspirations and good wishes–as our hearts are filled with spiritual joy on the Glorious Epiphany and Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ.
On Christmas Eve–the glory of the Lord shone and the angel joyously proclaimed the tidings of "the great and marvelous" mystery to the world.
The modest–faithful–obedient and gentle shepherds–as if being recognized for their dedicated service–were granted the privilege to be the first to hear the revelation.
During the silent and Holy night–the angel and the multitude heavenly host trumpeted praise to the Lord throughout the universe a message for upholding peace on earth and wishing love and good will among people:
"Glory to God in the highest–and on earth peace–good will toward men." (Luke 2:14)
The tidings of the great joy was the birth of the Savior in the city of David–and the good shepherds were invited to go to Bethlehem and bare witness to the Lord’s message.
Undoubtedly–the shepherds were wondering about their forefathers Abraham–Moses and Amos–who too were shepherds. They remembered all the promises that were given to them made about the Anointed one of the Lord. What a blessing! They could see with their own eyes and join in the great joy!
They immediately went to Bethlehem and according to the angel’s message they found a newborn wrapped in swaddling clothes–placed in a manger–next to his parents Mary and Joseph.
What a blessed moment! What a joyful moment! They saw the Holy Family filled with love–as role models for humbleness and gentleness–and especially as obedient beings to God’s will.
"And when they had seen it–they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child." (Luke 2:17)
Joseph already knew about the circumstances of Jesus’ birth. The angel of the Lord had appeared to him–informed him of the Lord’s will–and he had obeyed to the Lord’s plan (Matthew 1:18 – 20). "But Mary kept all these things–and pondered them in her heart," (Luke 2:19) because she knew about the miracle of the birth of baby Jesus.
As the greatest miracle of God was proclaimed to the world during the peaceful and quiet night–its sign–the Bright Star was leading the Wise Men–the magi–to Bethlehem to bow to the Newborn King.
Yes–the Lord of Heaven and Earth was revealed to us (who was born from the virgin’s womb as God).
During the Holy Days of Christmas and the Feast of Epiphany–with our spiritual eyes do we enjoy God’s visit into our lives–our families and our communities?
Do we live our lives as God’s creatures following the example of the Holy Family–who showed ultimate obedience to God’s will?
In return for God’s love and sacrifice–do we uphold His image in our lives by living peacefully–justly and lovingly?
The year 2004 is a year full of new hopes–new wishes and new expectations for all of us. Unfortunately–true justice and peace have lost their meanings and significance. Even so–let us seek true justice and peace–by accepting the Divine visit.
These days–more than any other time–our national life in Armenia and Karabagh–and throughout the Diaspora–should follow the Holy Family’s example.
The start of the New Year and Christmas bring us a special message from His Holiness Aram I–Catholicos of the Holy See of Cilicia–who proclaimed the year 2004 as the "Year of the Armenian Family".
According to Khrimian Hayrig–the Armenian family becomes a "Family of Paradise" when God’s commandmen’s are followed–when modesty and love form the pillars of the healthy family–uplifting it to holiness.
During the year 2004–may our families follow the Holy Family’s example by adhering to God’s Commandmen’s.
May "the great and marvelous mystery" of the Feast of Epiphany reinvigorate us by the role model of Joseph–Mary and baby Jesus to lead our family lives in a God-pleasing manner with love–faith–obedience–justice and peace.
Hence–this is the gift of the New Year and the tidings of Christmas.
Our prayers and wishes are that we lead our diocese–parish–educational–organizational and community lives according to the Holy Family’s example.
May the year 2004 and the Revelation of Christ put an end to our suffering and evil in this world–and may love and goodness take hold in people’s hearts.
Happy New Year
Christ Is Born And Revealed
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate–Western United States