The Generation of Vision
And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him. Luke 2 .-39-40
In the beautiful infancy narratives of the Gospel of Luke, our imagination is captured by this holy family and their blessed child. After all the miraculous events unfolded, Mary and Joseph returned to Nazareth. Here, steeped in the faith of their fathers, they raised Jesus in the shadow of God's grace until he reached the age of thirty and stepped into the Jordan River to be baptized.
His Incarnation and Baptism changed the course of history.
Jesus, Son of God, began his earthly ministry at the age of thirty. This was a traditional age to begin things. From the Old Testament book of Numbers, (chapter 4: verse 3) we are told that this is the age when men became priests. At thirty, Joseph began to serve the Pharaoh, and King David began to reign over Judah.
Until that age, Jesus' life is contained in those two telling verses of Luke. He grew in wisdom and grace. He sat with his elders, asking questions (Luke 2:46 ). He also overturned a temple table or two; he challenged hypocrites, blasted the hard of heart, and loved the unloved.
We would not blaspheme to imagine what God Incarnate might have been like as an old man. Interestingly, this was not his plan; he came to us, was born of a woman, and spent his time with us as a young man: a visionary savior in a world that had lost its way.
It has been said that for a church to be truly potent it has to have the presence of three generations- the generation of memory--our elders; the generation of the present--the "middle age' men and women who are the backbone of most everything; and the generation of vision: the young. How blessed the Armenian Church is to have all three.
And it is to this last generation, in the spirit of our Lord, that we dedicate 1996--The Year of the Youth.
The youth cannot be celebrated in a single year, for without the passion and vision of young hearts, the ship of the church is without its rudder. It might plow the waters capably, its sails filled with strong winds, but what direction? This is the immeasurable service our young people provide, which--we cannot stress enough--is not about tomorrow, of some distant future, but concerns the here and now. They--you--dear young people, are not our future; you too are the Church--charting the course for us today.
In this marvelous symbiosis of the generations, each has privileges and obligations to the others. This year above all, let us listen to the young church and work energetically to support our young people in their organizations, in their efforts, in the concerns they articulate. Let this indeed be a "new era," the theme of His Holiness' impending visit, a visit which will itself be dedicated to our youth. While here, His Holiness Karekin 1, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians will bless the newly-renovated St. Nersess Armenian Seminary Ouzoonian House and meet with great numbers of children and young people, not just formally, but to have meaningful dialogue about their lives, the Church, today, the years to come.
Let this indeed be a new era for our young people, a new beginning of more participation, increased leadership roles, and dearest to our heart, deeper faith--born in trust but nurtured by the gifts of insight, compassion, generosity and love. Let this year be, as the Book of Proverbs tells us, a year that we "may know wisdom and instruction and give knowledge and discretion to the youth.” this will be our gift to you, to our cherished generation of vision.
But what will your gift be to Him?
This year let us, more fervently than ever before, join hands with one purpose and one hope as we share in the angelic chorus:
KRISDOS DZUNAV YEV HAYDNETSAV - TZEZ YEV MEZ MEDZ A VEDIS
Christ is born and revealed Blessed Is the Revelation of Christ.
Archbishop Khajag Barsamian
(Editor’s note - the Catholicos’ and Primate’s Christmas messages were received after the publication of our Ani Christmas issue)