The Resurrection Is Our Rebirth
“Today the angels are descending from heaven; they give the good news to mankind announcing that the crucified Jesus is risen from the dead, and with Him arose you all.” (Hymn).
If there is one day of the year that is holiest to Christians, it is Easter Sunday. And if there is one day of the year next to Christmas and Easter that the Armenian people hold dearest to their hearts, it is April 24, the day the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1923 is commemorated.
This year, in a startling irony, these two significant dates in history fall on the same day: Sunday, April 24.
It is fitting that we, the Armenian people, are commemorating one of the darkest days of our modern history on Easter Sunday, for just as mankind was redeemed and reborn by the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, so were the Armenian people resurrected and reborn from the ashes of the Genocide.
On this April 24, we are concurrently celebrating with great joy Jesus Christ’s victory over death and mankind’s hope for eternal life, and somberly commemorating the memory of our over 1.5 million martyrs and the rebirth of our nation.
The Resurrection of Christ provides the most powerful source of inspiration in the history of mankind. The Easter message is a truly remarkable and beautiful one, telling us that the Lord has power even over death, and that from God’s perspective death simply means the continuation of life on a higher lever. It is a timeless and evocative message of salvation, hope, spiritual rebirth, personal renewal, rejuvenation and revival.
Before His death, our Lord Jesus Christ had promised eternal life to those who followed Him. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die”. (John 11:25-26). If the story ended at His death, Jesus would be like any other mortal religious leader. But the fact that He rose on the third day and conquered death, he gave us hope of rebirth and of eternal life. Through the Resurrection, we are reborn, and we too can pass from death to life. “Christ is risen from the dead. He conquered death by death and with His Resurrection He granted life to us. Glory be to Him forever. Amen.” We die time and time again in sin, only to rise again in the forgiveness of our Lord. Through the dying of the old self, the resurrection of the new man is accomplished. Our daily pain and struggle against sin brings us closer to a new life.
After the pain of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, we find the love and forgiveness of our Lord on Easter Sunday and are reminded that our lives must be that of transformation and resurrection.
Through the Resurrection we are born anew, we are changed, we are blessed and filled with the grace of God and the Holy Spirit. Christ rose from the dead so that we might also rise from the dead. “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). Our hope arises from being born anew, and this new birth comes through the Resurrection of Christ. When we are spiritually armed with the life-giving message of the Resurrection, we truly have nothing to fear for we know that pain and death will not win in the end. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15-54-55)
There is new life and rebirth after death, and this is something that the Armenian people know well.
Since the beginning of our Christian journey, there have been countless attempts to take our faith away. But always, our steadfast faith in our Lord Savior Jesus Christ sustained us. Many tried to repeatedly massacre us and obliterate us from the pages of history, but our faith gave us the strength to defend ourselves and our rights. Time and time again we, as a nation, rose from the ashes of tragedy and were born anew. Death could not keep us down. More than 1,700 years ago, our forefathers received the Resurrected Christ as their Lord and Savior, founded their faith on an unshakeable foundation, the Truth of the Resurrection, and remained true to their faith always for the salvation of our nation. The miracle and the marvel of the Glorious Resurrection changed the life of our people because our ancestors not only perceived it, but lived it through their faith and deeds, thus renewing the life and spirit of the Armenian people and nation. The Armenian people embraced the promises set forth by the Resurrection of Christ as national values and ideals, and have survived and thrived amid great adversity because we are armed and fortified by the spirit of the Resurrection. We have had our fair share of trials and tribulations, but we have never shirked from challenges in defense of our faith and people.
As we commemorate the 96th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, as children of a resurrected nation we pledge to honor the memory of our martyrs who walked the path of the cross and witnessed the Armenian Golgotha and vow that the spirit of survival that is so characteristic of the Armenian people will never die.
The Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ is the conquering of death and the dawn of a new life, the assurance that good will triumph over evil and hope will abound. The Armenian people have experienced rebirth and renewal and the transformative and enlivening message of Easter continues to resonate throughout our nation. As our history has proven, no matter what may come before us, the Armenian people, unshaken in our faith, will be resurrected from the ashes of destruction and will be reborn stronger each time. As the Resurrection of our Lord is the ultimate triumph of good over evil, of life over death, the Armenian people too, will triumph over evil.
Our Lord Jesus Christ conquered death and gave us the message of hope in times of despair and peace in times of conflict. He gave us the promise of redemption and salvation, and of a new life. During our Easter celebrations, let us give thanks and praise to Almighty God for granting us this glorious gift. As we rejoice in the Resurrection of our Lord, let us pray for Him to restore and renew our spirits, embolden our faith, and grant us courage and vigor as He leads our path as a nation to justice. And may He grant peace to the souls of our beloved martyrs who gave their lives for love of faith and love of nation, and make them worthy of His eternal Kingdom.
On this holiest of days, we extend our paternal love and well wishes to our clergy, Executive Council, Parishes’ Delegates and Boards of Trustees, schools and educators, sister organizations, and our faithful parishioners, praying that the glory of the Risen Christ bring new life and new hope for us individually and as a nation.
May the miracle and promises of the Resurrection fill our hearts with everlasting joy on this blessed Easter as we proclaim;
CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD
BLESSED IS THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST
Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian
Prelate, Western United States