Tag Archive for: Forgiveness

God’s Forgiveness: Peter

Armodoxy for Today: Reinstatement of Peter

As part of the Passion narratives, most everyone knows that Simon Peter denied Jesus three times. At the most critical time, as Jesus is being tried, convicted and sentenced to death, Peter, his close friend and disciple, denies that he knows Jesus. Few may know that, after the Resurrection, Peter had an opportunity to show his remorse by expressing his love for the Lord. In the Gospel of John (21) we follow a dialogue between Jesus and his disciple, Simon Peter:

 So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”

He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”

And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.  

Some refer to this episode as the Reinstatement of Peter, that is, he denied Jesus thrice and now he acknowledges his love thrice, and the sheep metaphor referring to his pastoral position within the Church.  We call it forgiveness, pure and simple, in a manner that only God can give and only God can understand.

Jesus was about forgiveness. The message of forgiveness was taught with words and then he demonstrated the same from the Cross and after the Resurrection when he forgave his friend Peter. Often in life, we hear about horrendous acts committed by people, but their forgiveness is between them and God.

Let us pray, Searcher of secrets, I have sinned against you, willingly and inadvertently, knowingly and unknowingly. Grant forgiveness unto me a sinner; since from my birth through the holy baptism, until this day, I have sinned before you Lord, with all my senses and in all the members of my body. Have mercy upon your creatures, and on me, a sinner. Amen.

Cover: Envato Elements

The Brother’s True Gift is Yours: Lent Day 16

Lenten Recipe

Recipe 16: Cherry Walnut Chews

Lenten Journey Day 16 – The Older Brother

For the past two days we looked at two different characters from the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). Today we will continue looking at the parable and this time focus on the actions of the older brother.

Of the three characters in the prodigal son, perhaps it is the older brother with whom we can best identify. Perhaps it is because, well, basically he is a good guy. He is a friendly guy. He is the one who did the right things and stayed faithful. He stayed home and did not squander the money that his father had given him. He was loyal. He was obedient. But mostly we see in him the man, who like all of us, recognizes the unfairness of life. There was an injustice that was being played out because when the younger brother came home, there was celebration. It was almost as if he was being rewarded for his breach of discipline.

The older brother also asked some questions that could have arisen out of simple jealousy. Why not me? Why is it that good things happen to bad people? Why are the actions of the bad person being rewarded while my goodness goes unnoticed? I have been loyal. I have been the model son any father would be proud of. Now this son of yours comes home, after squandering and abusing what you have given him. How can he being worth the fatted calf? A celebration? The ring of authority on his hand? Simply: Why not me? Perhaps it is this expression that rings the bell of familiarity in all of us.

There are many examples of unfairness in our lives. Often, we see people who seemingly do not deserve to be rewarded, yet they are honored with privileges and rewards. Why not me? is only a natural question to follow this inequity. Not only is it natural, but it is also logical if we believe good should be rewarded, well, I’ve done it right. I’m a good guy. Sure, I have faults but basically, I’m a good person. Why isn’t my goodness being rewarded?

The father in the story gives a very simple answer. His is an answer that comes from the vantage point of parenthood. “Son,” says the father to his oldest, “I have always had you. Whatever I have is already yours. But this, my son, was lost and now he’s found; was dead and now he’s alive.” In so saying, the father is asking his son to see the bigger pictures. It’s not just about this moment, but there is a bigger “project” so to speak. Ultimately, God’s aim is to have us all His children reconciled with all of His creation. It’s about a state of love and harmony so that everyone may share that Kingdom.

Now let’s push this little further and challenge ourselves, because, after all, there is true injustice in the world. But as this Lenten Journey unfolds, we’re understanding that the real problem is with our perception of the goal, of the prize. We’re looking at those excesses and material goods as the prize and lose sight of the true treasure that is already a part of our life. Proof? Take a deep breath. Can you feel it entering your lungs? That’s a gift from God on which you cannot place a price tag. Do you love someone? Someone you can look to – a child, a parent, a husband, a wife, a boyfriend, a girlfriend? That is a gift. Do you have the ability to smile? Do you have the ability to look out at the flowers, at the trees, at the mountains, at the sea and stand in awe for a second and realize that there is something far greater than material goods we consume ourselves with. That is a gift. And that is the gift that has been given to you by God. He says, don’t abuse it. Don’t be like the prodigal. Don’t squander what I have given you. And now, don’t look for more. Because anything more are the excesses that you have to fight off anyway. Don’t look for those extras because you’ve already been given the gift of life. What greater gift is there? You have the gift of love in your heart, along with the ability to take that love and share it with others.

Today’s challenge in the Lenten Journey is to dismiss any jealousies that may be consuming us and preventing us from taking another step forward. As the father in the parable challenged the older son, we receive a challenge from the Parable itself, to take a walk in the shoes of the father. We’ll note that in his unconditional love for both his sons there is no room for jealousy. The Love of God trumps everything, no matter how strong those feelings of jealousy or envy may be.

Remember, God has placed love in our heart. It’s up to us to use it, not abuse it. It’s up to use to share it with the ones we love, with our family, our community and with this world.

We conclude with the prayer of St. Nerses Shnorhali,
All Merciful Lord, have mercy on all your faithful. On those who are mine and on those who are strangers. On those whom I know and on those whom I know not, on the living and on the dead. Forgive all my enemies and those who hate me the trespasses they have committed against me. Turn them from the malice they bear toward me that they may be worthy of your mercy. Have mercy upon all your creatures, and upon me, a great sinner. (I confess with Faith, 23/24)

The Prodigal’s Father: Lent Day 15

Lenten Recipe

Recipe 15: Suonomo (Cucumber Salad)

Lenten Journey Day 15 : The Prodigal’s Father
Yesterday we were introduced to the story of the Prodigal Son. In the 15th chapter of the Gospel of St. Luke, Jesus offers this parable which touches so many different dimensions of our lives.

Yesterday we reflected on the sin of the Prodigal son; that is, the “prodigalness” of the young man. His sin was that he abused the gifts that were given him. We share in that sin by abusing, which includes not using, the talents given to us by God.
Today we look at the character of the father. The first thing we learn about him is that he gives completely, without restriction or condition. His younger son says, “Give me my inheritance so I can go out and establish and begin my life.” The father, being a wise man, certainly understands that the son may lose or squander the money, but does not argue with his child. There are times in our lives when we need to let go. Even though we may know better than our children, their life is theirs. Yes, making mistakes can be painful, but it is in those mistakes that children learn. This father understand this rule and lets go of his son. As difficult as it is, he allows his son – the one that he loves – to leave. He allows his son to establish his own life.
The second time we see the father is when the son returns. Remember the son is remorseful, or at the very least he understands that he can have a better life by returning to his father’s house. No matter what the son’s intentions may be, the father seeing the son return goes out to meet him on the road and does not even allow his son to ask forgiveness. He does not play a game of pride. He does not foolishly say, “Let me wait and see what he has to say.” He is there to accept his son. He does not say, “I told you so. I knew you would be back.”  Instead he recognizes his loved one – the son that he cared for, gave birth to and nurtured – had now returned! How excited he must have been. Of course he came running up to his son and embraced him.
Now there are two dimensions to this. Let’s follow each of them. First, the father in the parable is an expression of our Heavenly Father. God in heaven waits for us to come home and when we do turn back, He does not wait for us to beg to return to His Kingdom. His patience lasts for us to make that first turn-around. It’s then that He approaches us, embracing and grabbing us, He takes us in, giving us Life! That’s what this father did and that’s what our Heavenly Father does.
God accepts us as true children of his Kingdom. His acceptance of us is a given. The requirement is for us to say, “Yes, I have sinned. I have gone the wrong way. I have squandered what God has given me. I want to find the peace. I want to find that love that God has created me in.” God waits for us to say, “I’m ready.” The rest takes place – it actually falls into place.
Second, the father’s actions tell us what is required of us in our relationships, not necessarily with children, but with one another. There are people who have hurt us. The degrees of hurt are not consequential. Perhaps we have cried over a misspoken word, or we have been devastated by betrayal. The hurt has left a chasm in our relationships with others. We have all created divisions between ourselves and God by virtue of our actions or inaction,  yet God has given us a way back. We too must do the same and leave doors open for those people to return back to us. In other words, an end to grudges is in order. Don’t get caught up in foolish pride. Leave doors open without expecting someone to walk through. Don’t wait for those who have hurt you to return, just know that deep down there are many desires that may not be understood. If the door is open, they may return and when they do you will embrace them.
Know that the heart is speaking to you. Do not think with your mind. Be ready to take in. Be ready to embrace, to hug, to suffocate them with the love that is in your heart. This is the example that Jesus gives us through the character of the father. It’s a double-edged sword, isn’t it? On the one hand it is showing us what our Heavenly Father does, and the example for us to do likewise those in our lives.On the other hand we have prayed, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.” God forgives us. We, therefore, have to be forgiving of others.

Finally, the third time we see the father in this story is when he talks to the older brother. He comforts him and he reminds him that we are all equal. In the sight of God it does not matter if you come back today, or if you come back in a hundred years. It does not matter if you came back yesterday. What is important is for each us to turn back to God. And that is the caring Father that we have in heaven, who does not prejudice his decisions by who we are, where we are, or what we’ve done. What matters is the “right now”. Are we willing to be at one, in harmony with Him, with the love and the universe that he has given us.Tomorrow we will continue with the theme of the Prodigal Son as we take a look at his older brother.

We now pray there prayer of St. Nerses Shnorhali, from the “I Confess with Faith”:
I confess with faith and adore you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, uncreated and immortal essence, creator of angels, of humans and all that exists. Have mercy upon your creatures and upon me, a great sinner. (1/24)

Image by Edgar Gonzalez from Pixabay

Balancing our Dreams, Faith and Works: Lent Day 13

Day 13: Balancing our Dreams, Faith and Works

Lenten Recipe

Recipe 13: Stir -Fried Asparagus 

 The Apostle James writes that faith without works is useless. Many times, we are challenged to really put our faith into action. At those moments we realize that only by virtue of our actions does our faith have meaning. That is, our faith has value and structure because of our actions. Conversely, works without faith leads to a confusing mixture of ideas, motives and goals.
This balancing act between faith and works is usually defined in logical terms. When we think and act according to the principles set forth in our brain, we are acting by reason, based on the wisdom that we have acquired through life. While this is very important in practical terms, the Christian needs to excel in the area of dreaming – to dream of the impossible dreams.
When you think and act according to your heart, then and there, you understand that your movements and actions are based on the passions you have inside of you. This is the faith that can move mountains. Think with your heart and not with your brain when it comes to doing the impossible.
At his Crucifixion, Jesus did the impossible. He forgave of people who had betrayed and handed Him over to death. He forgave the people who were nailing Him to the tree. He forgave the generations of people that had ignored the pleas for peace, disregarded the expressions of love and were paying back love with hatred. Jesus did the impossible. He forgave with His Heart. Likewise, when we think of all the actions that are demanded of us as Christians, rise to the higher occasion. Push yourself, particularly during this Lenten Season, to look for those opportunities to find the truth that is beyond reason.  Pay back everyone with love. To offer kindness to those who are kind to you, is only human. To pay back evil and hatred with kindness and love is surely divine. In this state, we come to find that our actions are built on a solid and strong foundation namely, on Jesus Christ, that is Love incarnate. When faith is based on love, we have the ability to open our heart to impossible possibilities. They are all around us.
God is calling you during this Lenten Season to do the impossible and build your actions on Christ. Pay back hatred with kindness and evil with love. If you think about it, whatever your goals may be you can reach those goals – you can make impossible goals possible – when you put love as the center piece of your heart, your life and all of the actions that you take.
Let us now offer a prayer from St. Nerses Shnorhali:(Dedicated to the Holy Spirit)
Spirit of God, true God, who descended into the Jordan and into the upper chamber and who enlightened me by baptism in the Holy font, I have sinned before Heaven and before You. Cleanse me with Your Divine Fire as You purified the Holy Apostle with fiery tongues. Have mercy upon me and a great sinner. Amen.
Image by Gidon Pico from Pixabay

Praying Sideways to God: The Greater than God Experience. Lent Day 11

Lenten Recipe

Recipe 11: Roasted Potato Fans!

Lenten Journey Day 11 – More Important than God
The eleventh day of Lent is a special one in the journey. Eleven is the first and only prime number of equal proportions. It reminds us of the delicate balance between body, soul and mind. It reminds us of the uniqueness of the primes as well as the uniqueness of our lives. Finding that balance in our lives, of course, is one of the reasons we are taking this journey.

Today’s message comes to us from the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 5. Here Jesus is addressing a large crowd in what is known as the Sermon on the Mount. In the Sermon Jesus outlines a way of life and living. His message is very clear. He speaks of our relationships with one another. In so doing, he mentions that there is something more important than God.
Matthew 5:21, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said of men of old, you shall not kill and whoever kills shall be liable to judgment, but I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment and whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council and whoever says you fool shall be liable to the Hell of fire.”
Christianity is really a very difficult religion to practice; in fact it has been argued that Christianity has never really been practiced because of statements such as what we read. Jesus tells us that it is not enough to say that murder is bad, but when you have evil in your heart, when you harbor that anger towards your brother, you are committing those acts of evil, those acts of murder. He is saying, “If you have anger and act upon that anger and insult your brother, or if you are angry and talk down to your sister you are already committing murder,”
If we’d like to wipe out hatred and anger from our life, then we have to pay attention to this message. It is so necessary to understanding the revolution Jesus brought. And now, if we read further, we find something even more important. In fact, it’s what Jesus says is even more important than God! As hard as that might be to believe, the Holy Scriptures points to Jesus’ words, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there you remember that your brother has something against you leave your gift, leave your offering, and go! First be reconciled with your brother and then come and offer your gift.”
Reconciling with our brothers! Jesus is telling us it is more important than the worship of God, that is, the celebration of God. Leave your gifts at the altar. Leave God! Go reconcile with your brother and then come back to the altar! He demands that we love one another. To be able to love others is the expression that God demands of us. In that love we begin to understand the unique relationship between us and our heavenly Father.
The Christian message is about people. It’s about harmony and that peaceful existence comes about when we become part of the solution. It’s not about looking up to heaven, but reaching out to one another here on Earth. If there is going to be harmony in our lives, if there is going to be peace in this world, it’s not because I am offering a prayer upwards, but because I am offering a prayer sideways. I am reaching out to my brothers and my sisters and I am going to be the vehicle of love. I’m going to be the one who reaches out and becomes that means of reconciliation. True peace, true harmony, true existence is about us loving with one another.
“You cannot say,” say’s the evangelist John, “that you love God who you do not see when first you do not love the brother who you do see.” It is so critical in the life of the Christian that we understand this very clearly and plainly. God is Love. So let’s repeat that, “You cannot say that you love God who you do not see when first you do not love the brother that you do see.”
Our first obligation is to love one another. By this Jesus tells us we become Christian. By loving, people will know that we are truly His children.
On this eleventh day of Lent as we find harmony and balance, as body soul and mind come together, keep in mind where God wants us to be. The relationships that need to be nurtured, that need to be mended in our lives, this is a perfect time take action on them. The Lenten period is some time to go out and reach out sideways, not only vertically with God, but horizontally with God inside each of us. Reach out to the people around you to say that yes I have faltered, I have sinned. We all make mistakes, but I’m willing to rise above that imperfection and become a child of God.  
By loving one another, put away old habits and problems. Begin each day as a new creation and find that new creation in the loved ones all around me.
Let us conclude with the prayer of St. Nerses Shnorhali:

Uncreated Essence I have sinned against you in mind, soul and body. Do not remember my former sins, for the sake of Your Holy name, have mercy upon your creatures and upon me a great sinner. Amen (I Confess with Faith 6/24)

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Conditioned Forgiveness – Lent Day 10

Day 10: Forgiveness

Lenten Recipe

Recipe 10: Red Cabbage Slaw

Lenten Journey Day 10 – Forgiveness

Jesus instructs us to pray the “Our Father” prayer. We say, “Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be Thy name…” Along with the request to give us this day our daily bread, there is another request that is uniquely qualified. That is, the fulfillment of the request is dependent on our actions.

We pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” This is a conditional request. Very plainly, we are saying that forgiveness from God is dependent on our willingness to forgive. Additionally, we ask for forgiveness by the same standard by which we forgive. “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against up.”
In the “Our Father,” (sometimes referred to as the “Lord’s Prayer”), Jesus has us focus on many different concepts… “Thy kingdom come thy will be done.” Or, regarding temptation, “Deliver us from evil.” Now consider this, that all of the ideas that he introduces in the prayer – heaven, God’s Will, His Holy name, deliverance from evil, temptation, and so on – and consider the complexities involved in these concepts, there is only one area of the prayer that he amplifies. After teaching the prayer (Matthew 6) Jesus continues his instruction about forgiveness. He says, “For if you forgive men of their trespasses your heavenly Father also will forgive you, but if you do not forgive men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses.” It is conditional. It is the one request we make of God on which there is a condition – put upon us by God (by virtue of Jesus’ instruction) and confirmed by us (by virtue of us reciting the prayer). What we are saying is that I expect to be forgiven by the same standard by which I forgive others.  This is a rather difficult one to understand and requires a more mature approach to our faith. In fact, we’ve been taught that God gives, God gives abundantly. We’ve been taught that God forgives. We’ve forgotten, however, that His forgiveness is dependent on our forgiving all those around us as well as forgiving ourselves.
Sometimes the word “debt” is used in place of the word “trespasses” and it offers a better metaphor for understanding the dynamics of forgiveness.  “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…”  Let’s move from the spiritual to the secular. For the sake of this example let us think of it in terms of banking. Who can forgive a debt? Only the one who holds the note. Since the bank holds the note, only the bank can forgive the debt. How?
There are two ways of wiping the slate clean. Either, you have to pay off the debt (we call that a “mortgage” or a “ransom”) or the bank decides on different terms – renegotiating, adjusting, or completely forgiving.  That’s what God has done with us. God says, I hold the note on life. You are indebted to me for this beautiful thing that you have and enjoy. You have the smile of your children, the air that you breathe, the mountains around you and the spray of the seas. You owe Me! But I know it seems overwhelming and you feel you can’t pay Me back. So, I will work out a payment schedule so that you can pay off your debt. Here’s the deal: Love people.  Forgive people. That’s it. Love each other and We’ll call it even.
That’s it.
How will God forgive us our sins? By the same standard we use on other people. “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” We’re driving the bargain. If we forgive, God forgives.  If we do not forgive others neither will He forgive us. Thus, we begin to understand that if we really want peace and if we want harmony, if we want to find the happiness in life, it is dependent on us and does not come about from some outside force. Many times, we think of peace coming from above. We pray for peace, failing to understand that real peace begins with each and every one us resolving to living in harmony.
God has already given us all of the ingredients for peace.  The recipe for that harmony is in the breath that we take. It is a blessing from God. And all of God’s blessings are the ingredients for peace. That includes the love that we see in the eyes of our children, the majesty of the mountains, the delicate nature of a flower or the crashing waves at the ocean. They all signal the presence of something Great, Awesome and Creative. That tells us that everything has been given to us. The entire universe is there to be enjoyed and to exist with in harmony. Therefore, the only direction where we must look for love and for peace is within. We need to reconcile with brothers and sisters, share the love that God has given. And this road to harmony and reconciliation begins by forgiving.
During Lent I’ve asked you to inventory different aspects of your life. Today I ask you to look to those who have hurt you. Who are they? Remember to look within and include yourself if necessary. Once identified, begin to forgive. Forgive yourself. Forgive others their trespasses, now you have the certainty, which comes from Christ himself, the one who cannot lie, that once you do forgive, God has forgiven you.
Let us pray the prayer of St. Nerses Shnorhali:
Beholder of all I have sinned against you in thought word and deed erase the record of my offenses and write my name in the book of life. Have mercy upon your creatures and upon me a great sinner. (I Confess with Faith 7/24)
Cover: The Peace Spiral – Created July 7, 2007. Gregory Beylerian
To learn more about Forgiveness visit us at http://7×77.org

Advent 27-50: The Forgiveness Imperative

Advent Day 27 or 50: The Forgiveness Imperative

In the “Our Father” there are very few requests we have of God. We ask for our daily bread, forgiveness of our sins, to be spared from temptation and ultimately from evil. It’s a short list with huge demands. Of these, the forgiveness of sin stands out from all others because it is the only request that is conditional. As Jesus teaches the prayer, the words he uses are “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

Our debts, or sins, are forgiven by the same standard upon which we forgive the debts, or sins, of others! In fact, this is such an important aspect of the Our Father prayer, that Jesus reinforces it with a statement following the prayer in verses 6:14-15: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Our sins are forgiven as we forgive others their sins. Forgive a person only half of their debt, be certain that God will forgive only half of your debts, or sins.

More important than figuring out percentages of sins and fractions of forgiveness, Jesus is asking us to take responsibility for harmony in the world.

The greatest obstacle to living a good, meaningful and fulfilling life is our sin. In the Church we define seven “deadly” sins: Pride, Anger, Envy, Greed, Lust, Gluttony and Sloth. Today, take a moment to identify the reasons and obstacles to living a godly, good life. You’ll find that one or several of these noted sins are at the root of your difficulties. You have it within you to be forgiven of your sins. The condition is singular, forgive others. In other words, Jesus asks us to live in harmony with everyone.

There is no one who does not sin. Only Jesus is sinless. As such, only Jesus has the right to judge others, but he chooses not to. Now the turn is our. Forgive.

Let us pray,
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.


Armodoxy for Today: Reciprocity

Jesus gives a specific instruction on how to pray. He says to make it concise, that God already knows our needs and therefore pray like this: Our Father, who is in heaven, may Your name be holy. May your kingdom come, and may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread and forgive us the wrong we have done as we forgive those who have done us wrong. And keep us away from temptation and deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:9-13)

Of all the requests that we make in that short prayer, Jesus emphasizes forgiveness by adding to the prayer, For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

At one point, Peter asks him “How often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” and Jesus replies, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:21-22)

And he shares a parable in which a wealthy man, in this case a king, who wants to settle his accounts. A servant of his owed him $10,000 and was unable to pay his debt. The king ordered a repayment plan that would put severe hardship on him, his wife and his children. The man, fell at the king’s feet and begged him to be patient and he would take care of the debt. The king was so filled with compassion that he forgave the servant his debt.

In turn, the man went out and found a fellow servant who owed him a much smaller amount, about $100, and demanded – even manhandled him – “Pay me what you owe!” The person fell to his knees and begged the man to be patient and promised to pay the debt soon. Instead of showing even a small bit of compassion, he ordered the person be thrown into prison until he should pay the debt.

When others saw what had happened, they reported this the king. The king called him and said, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?” In his anger, the king had the servant delivered to torturers until he should pay all that was due.

Jesus summarizes the parable by saying, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Matthew 18:23-35)

Forgiveness is the cornerstone of Armodoxy. Understanding, compassion and love are all built upon the foundation of forgiveness. It is so essential to the understanding of Christianity that Jesus reiterates it at the end of the “Our Father” prayer and shares this parable asking us to put our feet in the shoes of others. Don’t let the use of personalities, such as kings and servants, file this story under irrelevant, understand that we all fall into the trap of the servant. God has forgiven us our trespasses. He has forgiven the greatest debt we hold. We start with a clean slate at baptism and each opportunity to commune with Christ. Accordingly, we don’t have the right not to forgive others.

As the world comes to terms with the wars and abandoned diplomacy, we build a life of prayer which begins with forgiveness, both ours and those of others who have hurt us.

Let us pray, Lord our God, we ask that you heal the wounds and the ills of this world. You stepped out of the comfort of Heaven to place your feet in the shoes of humanity. You forgave without reservation. In that spirit, help me to understand the pain and struggle of my fellow human being, to forgive those who have hurt me. Keep your example ever before my eyes. Amen.

Cover photo: 4/24/2005

Bulleted Cross

Roots of Armodoxy: The Bulleted Cross

This week on the Roots of Armodoxy, we are looking at memories from different vantage points that we discovered in Gyumri, the second largest city in Armenia. This is the fourth of five episodes of this mini-series of daily messages.

The manner in which a memory is articulated can honor the past, while at the same time bring healing, so as to ensure a forward movement from the event.

Outside the front doors of the Church of the Seven Wounds is a brass cross that looks like it was used for target practice at a firing range. Sadly, it was. In 1937, a group of clergymen of the Armenian Church were executed in an area called Haykadzor, a small section of Ani that is in Armenia proper, near the Armenian Turkish border. The Cross, with bullet holes and all, is displayed atop a brass sphere, which is also riddled with bullet holes. It casts its shadow on the names of a couple dozen clergymen, inscribed on large marble slabs below the cross.

An engraved marker proclaims, “The Cross of Haykadzor’s St. Gregory the Illuminator Armenian Church fired on by Turk and Soviet atheists. The cross is moved here in memory the priests from the Diocese of Shirak who were shot.”

This monument, with the relocated cross and the inscription was placed in Gyumri in 2018.  The choice of words on the plaque was interesting to me, specifically identifying the culprits as “atheists.” With this word a very strong and meaningful sentence is imposed on the evil doers. It identifies the intention of the perpetrator and lays blame on them. There is no doubt, after reading the statement about what happened and for what reason.

Many times, our memories, especially memories of horrid events or traumatic episodes in our life, are areas that keep us stuck and living in the past, particularly in the case of unresolved conflicts. To label them for what they are, for instance with the phrase “by the atheists,” brings resolution to the trauma. The motive of the Turks and Soviets, in this case, is clearly defined with the phrase and we can understand that it was to eliminate the Christian clerics. The memory is identified, expressed and honored. This is a necessary step to live life in the moment and not to be hampered by the weights of yesteryears.

Jesus addresses a group of people (Luke 13:1-5) who were questioning a tragedy which befell some others when a tower fell over and killed them. “Do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?” Jesus asks. He answers his own question concisely, “I tell you, no; unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” The past is over and there is nothing that can be done to change it. What is important for Jesus, and for us as followers of Christ is that we manage ourselves and change those things that we have control over. In other words, live for today.

Let us pray, Lord our God, you have given us a chance to renew each and every day, each and every minute of the day. Keep my eyes focused on the moment. Help me to move on from the past in a spirit of repentance, knowing you have forgiven me for past wrongs and the moment of today is before me to grasp and live in peace and harmony, in accord with your commandment to love. Amen.

The 7s have aligned again

Next Step #777 – July 7, 2023 – Kicking off the 16th year of the Next Step podcast, Fr. Vazken shares the message of the original “7”s and forgiveness and gives a preview of the year to come on Epostle.net.
Produced by Suzie Shatarevyan for http://Epostle.net
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