If God So Loved Us, We Also Ought to Love One Another
The commencement of a New Year, with new hopes and aspirations, and the glorious Birth and Revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, with its good tidings of love, peace, goodwill, and joy, brightens our spirits, brings joy to our hearts and smiles to our faces once again. During this blessed time of the year, as we gather with loved ones around ornate trees and lavish tables and exchange generous gifts, let us remember that the real reason for our celebration is, and will always be, the incarnate Son of God.
In the stillness of that holy night centuries ago, the Lord appeared in the form of a newborn, lying in a humble manger. The most precious and priceless gift granted to mankind came not wrapped in wrapping paper, but in swaddling clothes, “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).
Yes, out of infinite and perfect love for mankind, Jesus left the glory of His throne in the Kingdom to come to this earth. He took on the likeness of man and dwelt among us to reconcile God and man, to seek and save the lost, free sinners from the binds of sin, bring light to a darkened world, healing to the sick, comfort to mourners, to bind up broken hearts (Isaiah 61:1-2, Luke 4:18-19) and transform us with His truth, joy, peace, and love. In contrast with the gifts we give and receive to one another, this greatest of gifts will never perish nor lose value.
The wise men presented to the Baby Jesus their finest gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. We cannot offer tangible gifts to the Lord nor can we ever repay Him for the indescribable gift of His Son. However, we can express our gratitude to Him through the love and mercy we show to our fellow man. The second of Jesus’ Great Commandment, which is cited in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, is “love your neighbor as yourself.” This directive is reiterated in many instances throughout the Bible, especially in chapter four of the Apostle John’s first letter where he clearly states, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11) and “He who loves God must love his brother also” (1 John 4:21).
God has been abundant in His love, mercy, and generosity to us individually and to mankind as a whole. As Christians, we are called to share His love, mercy, and generosity with others. Love is not a feeling that is expressed in words; it’s a choice that is expressed through deeds.
As you know, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I has proclaimed 2020 the “Year of Persons with Special Needs.” We don’t need to look far to see just how many people there are in need, whether physically, mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. As humans, we are all God’s creatures, created in His image. As Christians, we are all children of the same God. And as Armenians, we are members of one nation. We are family. Thus, we are to love one another and strengthen and lift one another up, for the love and care we demonstrate toward others is concrete expression of our love for God. Second, that same love must motivate us to action, to care for those in need and give of ourselves to others without expectation of repayment, reward, or recognition, bringing glory to God alone and reflecting His grace and mercy. This is the true message and spirit of Christmas.
Kindness doesn’t cost a thing, yet it’s the most valuable gift we can give to someone. In this hectic world where we are all preoccupied with our own lives, families, careers, and worries, we may forget that no matter how difficult our lives may be, there are those in more difficult circumstances. During His earthly ministry, Jesus paid special attention to the most vulnerable segments of society; the impoverished, the oppressed, the sick, the needy, and the helpless. As His disciples, in His example and with His spirit upon us, we must be mindful of the needs of others and do our part to bring more love, kindness, and joy to this world and to our fellow man, for as the Lord declared, “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).
With these thoughts and with spiritual joy, I greet our clergy, councils, parishes, educational institutions, community organizations, and faithful, extending my sincere wishes for a New Year filled with God’s boundless blessings, with love, goodness, peace, health, and happiness. May the perfect gift of His Son and His love bolster our faith and spirits and may we become a blessing to others by sharing His love and mercy. And may love and goodness take hold in people’s hearts and be the driving force of our service and mission as individuals and collectively as a nation.
HAPPY NEW YEAR
CHRIST IS BORN AND REVEALED
BLESSED IS THE REVELATION OF CHRIST
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate, Western United States
New Year and Christmas 2020