Armodoxy for Today: Destination
The story comes to us from the Gospel of St. John. It’s a story that translates nicely to the big screen with its drama and supernatural event. It’s the scene were Jesus walks on water:
Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going. (John 6:16-21)
Jesus walking on the water has offered Christians an opportunity to point to the miraculous and supernatural abilities of Jesus as proof of his divinity, while offering skeptics and unbelievers an opportunity to chuckle as to how anyone can defy the laws of gravity and buoyancy.
In the Armenian Church tradition this passage is offered on the fourth Sunday after Theophany for good reason. After we journeyed to and through an understanding of the “Revelation of God” in the previous sessions, it is obvious that this nifty little “trick” is not necessary as a proof of anything apart from the fact that Jesus was there for the disciples at the moment of their deepest fear of imminent danger.
In 1915 a program of systematic annihilation of the Armenian population in the Ottoman Empire began. By 1923 1.5 million Armenians were massacred and brutally murdered the Ottoman Turks in what is the first genocide of the 20th Century. Another 1.5 million were exiled from their homes and homeland.
For the survivors and their children born in diaspora, the necessity to find and set up their homes and continue with life was their destination. They had absolutely nothing apart from hope in the midst of hopelessness, faith surrounded by reasons to abandon faith. “The sea arose,” as it did for the disciples and “They were afraid” as were the twelve. This was the Church post-Genocide. To the leadership of the Church, to churchmen such as Archbishop Vatché Hovsepian, whose 40th day requiem we commemorate today, their hope was set on Jesus. And it was Jesus that came, as he did to the disciples, and calmed the sea by saying, “It is I; do not be afraid.”
“Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going.”
It was because these clergy lived with hope and set their sights on Jesus Christ, as the only means of salvation, that the Church, carrying the Armenian people survived.
Armodoxy is the testament of survival and life in the face of death. It is the testimony of Jesus walking on the water and ensuring our safety.
Let us pray, Psalm 4 “There are many who say, “Who will show us any good?” Lord, lift up the light of Your countenance upon us. You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased. I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety. Amen.”