Catholicosate of Cilicia
Antelias - Lebanon
TO LIVE WITH THE IMPERATIVE OF THE RESURRECTED LIFE
In his epistle to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul reminds us that, “when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:12).
With the baptism, the Christian becomes member of the Church. The Church is Christ with his mystical body, his life and mission. By way of the Church, Christ is continuously being born, teaching, performing miracles, tortured, crucified and resurrected. The Christian is called on participating in every act, instance, and apparition of Christ’s life and mission.
The Gospels describe the main events and teachings that pertain the salvation mission of the Son of God. As a persecutor of the Christian faith and then a prisoner for his unbreakable commitment to becoming its witness, the Apostle Paul shows to the new Christians the fundamental conditions to follow the resurrected Christ. He reminds them that we had died because of our sins, but that God resurrected us together with Christ; hence, we are reunited with Christ and have become new persons (Ephesians 2:4-6).
Indeed, burying sin and vanquishing evil, with His resurrection Christ gave new life to man, a resurrected life. The man who has made the promise to follow Christ is called on living the resurrected life through the blood spilled by Christ and the power of the cross. Therefore, we need to die with Christ, bury our trespasses, to be able to live with the resurrected Christ. “Put away your former way of life, your old self… clothe yourselves with the new self” (Ephesians 4:22-24). This is the condition to follow the resurrected Christ. And as the starting point of a Christ-centric life, the Apostle Paul testifies through his personal example, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).
Now, what are the preconditions to live the resurrected Christ in our lives? By way of his epistles and examples of his life, the Apostle Paul gives the exact answer to this difficult question. Let us try to focus on the advice the Apostle gives to Christians of all times.
-The Apostle first urges us to examine ourselves to see if we may remain steadfast in our faith. The faith based on the resurrection of Christ is fundamental for the Christian man, because “if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). This is why the Apostle exhorts to be firm in our faith, live and act with faith and “take the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16) in the fight against evil.
-Then the Apostle urges us to turn faith into service, telling us to have compassion and kindness for our kin (Colossians 3:12). Serve those in need, the sick, the poor and the despondent, following the example of the “Good Samaritan.”
-The Apostle recommends us to be meek and humble, not to be vainglorious and not to be altered by honor and good repute (2 Corinthians 6:8). He reminds us that the incarnated Son of God shows us with his example the greatness and value of submission.
-The Apostle also exhorts us to be kind and compassionate, forgiving and tolerant with each other, and reminding us of God’s forgiveness toward the sinful man, telling us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2).
-The Apostle especially calls on us to clothe ourselves “with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14). The loving person is submissive and patient, he keeps jealousy and pride away from his life, and lives strengthened with faith and hope.
-Never get tired of doing good, and “whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all” (Galatians 6:10), vanquishing evil with good, recommends the Apostle, assuring that doing good, God “will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
-Considering hope a heavenly gift, be patient in suffering, always rejoice in hope (Romans 12:12), the Apostle says, because it is Christ who lives and acts in us. And after affirming that for him “living is Christ” (Philippians 1:21), he reminds us that we take part in the triumphal procession of the resurrected Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14) and we await his second coming.
-In his epistles sent to the newly established churches, the Apostle Paul stresses the vital importance of prayer in our lives. He strongly recommends us to always pray, to be grateful to God, our maker, guardian and protector.
This is the imperative to participate in the resurrection of Christ and live the resurrected life given by Him. With the recommendations listed above, the Apostle defines the rightful path for the Christians to live their lives.
Christianity did not become a religion founded just upon social and moral teachings, but a life firmly based on the triumphal resurrection of the Son of God, and a particular way of life to understand and live life. This self-knowledge kept Christianity strong and vital, despite all persecutions and massacres.
Christ conceived his resurrection with the cross and with his resurrection gave new life to man. To follow Christ means walking the way of the cross and live the resurrected life with its mystery and message.
On the occasion of the feast of the miraculous resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we greet with brotherly love His Holiness Karekin II Catholicos of All Armenians, wishing him a long pontificate of rich and constructive service for the Church. We also greet His Beatitude the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Nourhan Manougian and His Beatitude the Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople Archbishop Sahag Mashalian, wishing them a fruitful service in the Armenian Church.
With patriarchal blessings and fatherly love we greet the Prelates of the Holy See of the Great House of Cilicia, the clergy, the community leaders, the organizations and associations that serve our people, begging God that the beloved daughters and sons of our nation, strengthened with the Resurrected Christ, face the several difficulties of our times and renew their lives following the exhortations of the Apostle Paul.
Christ is risen from the dead,
Blessed is the resurrection of Christ.
CATHOLICOS ARAM I
GREAT HOUSE OF CILICIA