Der Vasken's Sermon on July 2, 2017

Jul 3, 2017

In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

On Thursday the Armenian Church will observe the feast of two of the Holy Translators.  It's a day that Sts. Sahag & Mesrob are recognized and appreciated for inventing an alphabet for the Armenian people and providing them with a written language for the first time in their history.  The goal of Sts. Sahag & Mesrob was ambitious.  Their goal was to translate the Bible into Armenian so that the teachings of Christianity could spread into every corner of Armenia and change Armenian lives forever.  The Holy Translators gave all that they had to God.

  • They offered their talents and energy.
  • They offered their heart.
  • And they offered the work of their lives to the treasury of the Armenian Church and culture.

Because of these men, the men, women and children of Armenia were able to read the Words of the Bible in their own tongue and Armenia found its place among the literary nations of the world.  We celebrate the work of Sts. Sahag & Mesrob on this feast day because the work they did was fundamental to the development of the Armenian Church and culture.  Up to that point in history, Armenians had existed for 2,000 years and more without an alphabet. St. Sahag Bartev and St. Mesrob Mashdots were the type of leaders who thought that what they did was needed for the good of their people with purely selfless motives.

Sts. Sahag & Mesrob led a team of young and eager scholars and together, they translated the Bible into Armenian within a lifetime.  And today it remains as the most important example of the Armenian written language ever created.  But creating a working alphabet and translating the Bible would have been for nothing if there were no people who could read and understand what they had done.  So the work of these two translators was not complete.  They had more to do.

Church historians tell us that the translators traveled from region to region gathering people together to teach them the letters of this new alphabet and open the world of the Bible to them.  The Holy Translators enabled us to survive as a nation and as a people with lasting contributions to offer the world around us.  If they hadn't done what they did, it is believed that Armenia would have long since disappeared.  

Here's a fact that I'm sure we all know.  Armenia has historically received very little support from her neighboring countries.  We survived all these centuries because our literature served as our weapon and our faith was our hope and our culture was our strength.  St. Mesrob faced challenges in his effort to invent the alphabet.  In fact, he knocked on many doors looking for support of this invention.   He knocked on the doors of the church.  He knocked on the doors of the king's fortress and ultimately he knocked on the doors of Armenian homes all across the land.  And he did so to open the door of Christianity to the people of Armenia.  St. Sahag did no less in his efforts to translate the Bible.  He wanted to make God live eternally in Armenian souls.  Armenia's king, King Vramshabouh, supported their efforts because he believed that his nation would not survive without the existence of literature that was uniquely Armenian.

Today in this 102nd anniversary year of the Armenian Genocide, we need to keep this spirit alive.  The Feast of the Holy Translators should be a constant reminder of survival for all of us. Armenians exist today as an ethnicity because of what those translators did.  The celebration of the Holy Translators is a call for us to appreciate who we are and what we are all about.  So on this feast day, as we honor Sts. Sahag & Mesrob, ask yourself:

  • What talent has God given you?
  • And where in the life of His Church does He want you to use it?

May the Feast of the Holy Translators inspire us all so that the Words of the Bible, the Words of Jesus Christ and His Apostles and the spirit of saints like Sahag and Mesrob and the Martyred Saints of 1915 live on through our lives. 

  • What talent has God given you?
  • And where in the life of His Church does He want you to use it?

 Something to think about for all of us.

Amen.