Remembering Hrant Dink

January 19th, 2017    |    No Comments »

Hrant Dink

We Have Lived To See This Day: A Reminiscence, After a Year*

By Christopher H. Zakian

(From the January 19, 2008 edition of The Armenian Reporter)

Dink’s been shot?

At first hearing, the news seemed like the build-up to a joke. The name itself had never failed to amuse me, no matter the context. And pictures of the man had always shown a pleasant, expressive Armenian face, slightly ironic and confidently composed—even amid the Keystone-Coppish antics of Turkey’s legal system.

Dink’s been shot? What an improbable idea, I thought. Go on—What’s the punch line?

It turned out the punch line was rather different from what I had expected. Dink’s been shot—and he’s dead. Dink’s been shot—in broad daylight, on an open street. He was shot in the back of the head. He was shot coming out of his office. He was shot, and the punk who did it cursed him in Turkish as he ran away.

Throughout that day the details trickled into the Armenian Reporter’s offices (where I was managing editor at the time). But there was hardly time to greet them with the reverence they deserved. Energy could be spared for a sad shake of the head, an angry grinding of teeth. But what took possession of me and my colleagues in our scattered offices was the emerging news story—already developing in astonishing ways on the streets of Istanbul, and rippling outward to Armenian communities across the world.

How would we cover it? How would we do justice, not simply to the immediate event, but also to the accelerating pace of reactions and counter-developments? How would we convey it all in a timely way, with an original perspective?

In some ways the reaction was coldly forensic. But there was a touch of poignancy in the realization that the victim himself, in decidedly different circumstances, would likely have been approaching things in a similar way.

It was not until two days later, in church, that the full weight of Hrant Dink’s fate fell on me.

Already by that time, the Internet was alive with headlines and slogans seeking to encapsulate the greater meaning of Dink’s death. Dink was said to have died in 1915. He was designated Victim Number one-and-a-half-million-plus-one of the Armenian Genocide. He was the hero-martyr killed for speaking the truth.

All of these were thoughtful, helpful, even true in their own ways.

And yet—not the whole truth. Even in the Republic of Turkey, there were others besides Dink willing to speak and write about the Genocide. Some had been roughed up, threatened, sued, forced into exile. But none of them had been selected for an execution-style murder.

That distinction had been reserved for Hrant Dink, and what recommended him for that fate, in the eyes of his killers, was not the kind of man he was or wasn’t, or even what he said or did, but rather the very fact that he was an Armenian.

That thought weighed on me as I stood in our church sanctuary, among fellow countrymen, but also by myself. The sharagans came from me raspingly, haltingly. Surely there was comfort to be found in those immortal sounds—which have outlived every Armenian who ever existed, linking us with those who were, and those who are yet to come.

But on that day there was also a sense of defiance in the mere utterance of those Armenian words. More than once, when I felt I couldn’t continue a given phrase, I found myself forcing the words out, through clenched teeth, and at the expense of tunefulness, just to assure the invisible powers listening that our words would never easily be silenced.

It was just after the singing of Der voghormia that I felt my son at my side, up from Sunday School to receive Communion. Earlier that morning, I had tried to explain to him something of what had occurred in the previous days.  Now, in his wise little way, he stood close to me without any words, as if to console the troubled heart of his father.

Every child, I think, represents a parent’s desire to redeem the wrongs of the past, and to cast a vote for a better future. Certainly that’s the perspective of many Armenians I know—and my own firstborn son, named for the departed grandfathers he never knew, is no exception. But in the midst of that mostly happy thought, it came hard upon me that this same boy, freshly turned six the week before, would be no different from Dink in the eyes of the killers: equally expendable, equally worthy of extinction. Equally guilty of the sin of being an Armenian.

So are we all.

Looking back on that time now, it is still astonishing that I have lived to see a day on which such a realization could occur. For reasons of politics, which are not unworthy in themselves, we pretend that what happened in 1915 was the act of a now-defunct regime. Even the attempt to link Dink’s death directly to the Genocide seems, to me, to be an attempt to isolate it, historicize it, emphasize its anomalous, retrograde quality—as if in the passage of years the world has outgrown such things.

But what still impresses itself upon me long after the day Hrant Dink was shot is this: That the passions of hatred and contempt which made something like the Genocide possible, even plausible, a century ago, are still alive, still easily accessible, still there waiting to be unleashed today

I fear that this hatred will always follow our people. Certainly, I cannot see how all the easy talk about reconciliation (whatever that entails) will ever overcome it. Dink’s killers—an amalgam of the faceless state, and the otherwise nameless lowlifes for whom a moment of violence is the only path to notoriety—are in their typology as old as man himself. They are the images of enforced order and mindless chaos which have allied themselves throughout history, whenever the conceit of human freedom, human distinctiveness, human dignity, arise, and need to be put down—violently, carelessly, with only a token of remorse.

Certainly, there was reason for unexpected hope in the immediate aftermath of Dink’s murder. Perhaps one day it will amount to something. There was likewise reason for disappointment in the political developments (or non-developments) that would follow.

But the fluctuating highs and lows are, I fear, in the scheme of history, ephemeral. What persists is a hatred directed at our people—as it has been directed at other people, elsewhere.

It will always be with us.

By all accounts, Hrant Dink was a decent man in life; certainly a brave one. We should remember that whenever we memorialize him—and we should be grateful that we can remember him as such a man.

But good or bad, none of that mattered to his killers. Dink was shot—because he was an Armenian. That’s the terrible “punchline” that has stayed with me after the day he died.

To be honest, the thought does not keep me awake at night, or pollute the joy I find in life’s many beautiful and noble aspects.

At the same time I am all too aware that I have accepted the responsibility for bringing four new Armenians into this world, to carry on our family tradition, and to add their voices to the chorus of our ancestors. Someday, somehow, I will have to find a way to tell them that, despite their breathtaking purity and innocence, the weapon that targeted Hrant Dink is aimed at them, too.

***

Mr. Zakian is the Communications director the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church of America. The above essay (in an earlier version) was first published in the January 19, 2008 edition of the Armenian Reporter, during his tenure as managing editor.

 

Re-Introductions are in Order

December 29th, 2016    |    No Comments »

One of the wonderful things about the Christmas season is the way it re-introduces us to such interesting people. And it’s not limited to friends and family: some of the most memorable re-introductions come from the surrounding culture. Who can suppress a warm smile at their first yearly sighting of Santa, Rudolph, and the elves? Or at the Grinch, and the whole Peanuts gang?

But the church, too, is actively bringing some memorable people to our attention in the run-up to Christmas. It shares these vivid personalities with us through the feast days that occupy the weeks in the latter half of Advent.

We’ll meet King David: poet and warrior, fugitive and conqueror; a man of twists and turns who knew both the exhilaration of victory and the desolation of personal loss.

We’ll meet James: the apostle called the “Brother of the Lord,” who after Christ’s ascension led the church in its turbulent dawning days, and became the first bishop of Jerusalem.

We’ll meet Stephen: that fiery speaker who preached the gospel in the public square; who is remembered as the first deacon of the church—and its first martyr.

We’ll meet Peter and Paul: the “odd couple” of the Apostolic Age; rivals in so many matters of practice and policy, yet united in a friendship of the spirit that drew both to the heart of the Roman Empire, to preach and suffer in their Master’s name.

Finally, we’ll meet the brothers James and John: two of the most intimate confidants of our Lord. John in particular left us some of the deepest, most introspective writing in the Bible. Yet to Jesus, he and James were known as the “Thunder Boys”—a name evoking vigor and action (which would also make a great title for next summer’s superhero blockbuster).

These are the stories the church re-introduces to us through the feasts of this week (on December 24, 26, 27, and 29). In this quiet period between the two blessed celebrations of Christ’s nativity, on December 25 and January 6, devote some time to reading and thinking about them. Somehow, getting to know these figures prepares us for that greatest re-introduction of all, when we will once more welcome the infant Jesus into our hearts and lives.

The Soldier’s Psalm

November 10th, 2016    |    No Comments »

Through the centuries, soldiers have prepared themselves for the dangers of battle by reading Psalm 91—the “Soldier’s Psalm.” This Veterans Day, we offer this prayer for all who have ever found themselves in harm’s way.

THE SOLDIER’S PSALM

1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.

3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; 6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. 8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; 10 there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.

13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. 14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.

15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

We Bow Down Before His Cross

September 7th, 2016    |    No Comments »

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing. But to those of us who are being saved, it is the power of God. (I Corinthians 1:18)

This coming Sunday will be the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross: the start of the season of the Holy Cross, one of the five major divisions of the Armenian Church calendar.

The Feast of the Exaltation recalls a story about St. James, the brother of the Lord—one of Christ’s Apostles and the first bishop of Jerusalem. He was the first to exalt a cross in the likeness of the original cross of the Crucifixion, and venerate it as a symbol of the power of God, saying: “We bow down before your Cross, O Christ.” We still recite those words in Armenian: Khachi ko, Krisdos, yergirbakanemk.

From the perspective of that time, James’ act of exaltation could only be called unexpected. After all, to residents of the Roman-dominated world of the 1st century A.D., crosses were instruments of torture and humiliating death. Yet for James, its association with the miracle of Christ made the cross an object of reverence—eventually to become the Christian symbol of salvation and victory over death.

We today can only marvel at the eyes which first beheld the once-fearsome cross, and perceived it as a divine sign of Life. But perhaps we can gain an insight into the Exaltation through another story, about another cross. The story is not a part of our holy tradition (although perhaps one day it will be). For this cross was exalted, not in 1st-century Jerusalem, but in New York City, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

This Sunday marks 15 years since that dreadful event, and we can all remember the horror and outrage we felt as we confronted the incredible loss of life, and the prospect of an evil enemy who would willfully extinguish those lives. One couldn’t help wondering, at the time, whether anything could ever arise to redeem the despair of that day.

And yet, something did arise. Digging amid the ruins of Ground Zero, where the Twin Towers had collapsed only a month before, one of the rescue workers discovered something he felt to be a miracle. Two steel beams from the wreckage had fallen together, and landed in the form of a cross. The cross was set upright in the middle of the wreckage, to cast its shadow—literally and symbolically—over the scene. News spread quickly, and soon firefighters, police officers, and construction workers were making “pilgrimages” to the cross, to pray and reflect on the 9/11 attack.

In that bleak landscape of despair, the “Hero’s Cross,” as it came to be called, became a source of spiritual strength. At a blessing service before that site, a Franciscan friar offered these words: “Behold the glory of the cross at Ground Zero,” he said. “This is our symbol of Hope. Our symbol of Faith. Our symbol of Healing.”

Perhaps that’s the divine message St. James intuited, when he first raised the cross some 2,000 years ago. It’s the message of many beloved Armenian sayings: Khachi ko, Krisdos, yergirbakanemk (“We bow down before your Cross, O Christ”), and Sourp Khachn yeghitsi eents oknagan (“Let the Holy Cross be my support”).

And it is certainly the message St. Paul wished to convey, in the words which began this essay: “To those of us who are being saved, the cross is the power of God.”

As we pray for the souls of those who were cruelly taken from this world on September 11, 2001, and as we ask our Lord to grant peace to those who have suffered loss and hardship in the long aftermath of that day, let us also bow down before the Cross of Christ: the unexpected sign of God’s love for, and solidarity with, mankind—which exalts us, even in our pain and suffering.

And let us always proclaim that through the Cross, God has truly revealed His power to the entire world.

The “Hero’s Cross” at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.

The “Hero’s Cross” at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan.

Helping the Parishioners of St. Garabed Church in Baton Rouge

August 25th, 2016    |    No Comments »

Last week, we called on all our parishes to hold a special collection on Sunday, August 21, for victims of the severe flooding in the state of Louisiana. As you will recall, Vasken Kaltakjian, the parish council chair of St. Garabed Armenian Church in Baton Rouge, reported that three families in the parish were forced to flee their homes, and one parishioner his business in the wake of the flood.

At this time, we have more detailed information on the status of these Armenian families, and we are asking our parishes to conduct additional plate collections for our fellow parishioners in need in the coming weeks. Other fundraising drives parishes wish to organize as part of this relief effort are also welcome.

Individuals and parishes can make checks out to the Diocese of the Armenian Church of America (please write “St. Garabed Relief Effort” in the memo, and mail checks to the Diocesan Center, 630 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10016). Individuals can also contribute  through our Diocesan website.

Four Armenian families in the greater Baton Rouge area have been affected by the flooding:

One family experienced minor damage to their property and has already returned to their home. They are expecting to begin renovations soon.

One parishioner’s house was completely submerged in water. Everything in the house remains unsalvageable, including such basic items as clothing and other personal belongings.

A third family was forced to evacuate their home and will not be able to return for at least six weeks. The first floor of their house was completely flooded, and they lost all furniture, appliances, and other items on the first floor to water damage.

The fourth family experienced damage at their place of business, where two parking lots were flooded and 82 cars were destroyed. In addition, the family owned two rental houses and a fishing camp, all of which were submerged in water.

Two of these families did not have flood insurance as their properties were not located in a flood zone, Mr. Kaltakjian said. Those forced to evacuate their homes are now staying with friends and relatives in the area.

The parish council of St. Garabed Church has been in touch with these parishioners to provide emergency assistance. Their goal is to provide short-term relief while the families await aid from insurance companies and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

All funds collected in our parishes should be sent to the Diocesan Center no later than Friday, September 16. Please note that all proceeds—100 percent—will go to the relief effort; funds will be distributed by the St. Garabed Armenian Church of Baton Rouge. If you have any questions, please contact Vasken Kaltakjian, the parish council chair of St. Garabed Church, at (225) 413-4620.

Please give generously to support our St. Garabed parishioners in this time of need. And please continue to keep them—and all the victims of the flooding in Louisiana—in your prayers. May God be with our Armenian Christian brothers and sisters, and with all our fellow American citizens, who are enduring the effects of this disaster.

With prayers,

Archbishop Khajag Barsamian
Primate

Between Crown and Sword

July 7th, 2016    |    No Comments »

On Saturday the Armenian Church will observe the Feast of St. Thaddeus the Apostle and St. Sandukht the Virgin. The story of these two saints sheds light on the early days of
Christianity in Armenia.

Imagine a time of great political and military struggle, a pagan kingdom ruled by a powerful royal family—this was once Armenia. The kingdom strongly clung to the inherited pagan practices until a strange man ventured to Armenia.

His name was Thaddeus. He was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. He preached in people’s homes, in hidden underground chambers, in marketplaces, and in the streets. The Holy Spirit spoke through Thaddeus, bringing the words of Christ to his followers. People listened intently, eager to hear; moved by the Good News, many converted.

Rumors of this unusual man reached a young girl named Sandukht, the daughter of Armenia’s king Sanatrouk. Sparked by curiosity, the princess disguised herself as an ordinary woman and followed her nurse to a Christian gathering.

Sandukht learned about Christ, and when her nurse confessed her commitment to the Christian faith, the princess promised not to tell her father. Intrigued, Sandukht continued attending the Christian gatherings.

The Christian faith made such an impact on Sandukht’s life that she decided to convert.  She declared her belief in Christ and was baptized, and a sign from heaven designated her as a holy virgin. But when the king’s spies reported the news to her father, Sanatrouk was enraged. In an attempt to dissuade his daughter, he promised to allow her to marry the man she loved—an exceptional horseman named Zareh—and to enjoy life in a comfortable palace, surrounded by endless riches.

Sandukht was not tempted by the lure of this extravagant life. Infuriated by his daughter’s stubbornness, Sanatrouk sentenced the princess to jail. Even Zareh could not change Sandukht’s mind. He visited her in prison, begging her to return to him and to her old faith, but nothing could sway Sandukht.

Meanwhile, the news of Sandukht’s imprisonment spread throughout Armenia. Increasingly, people began to accept the Christian faith, and they prayed for Sandukht’s release.

Moved by his love for his daughter, Sanatrouk summoned the princess to his palace to give her one final chance to renounce her new faith. He asked his daughter to choose between the crown and the sword—either she would renounce Christianity and serve as a pagan princess or face death. Sandukht chose the sword, knowing that Christianity would soon blossom in Armenia. Sanatrouk pitied his daughter, but he could not bring himself to turn back on his word.

The young princess was subjected to torture and ultimately ordered to be executed. During this difficult time, she drew strength from St. Thaddeus, who encouraged her to be firm, reminding her that she would soon be with her Savior. Shortly after Sandukht’s death, Thaddeus was also executed by the king.

Zareh was among the many Armenians who were moved by Sandukht’s faith, and who also converted to Christianity. King Sanatrouk continued the orders for the executions of Christians, including Zareh. Their sacrifice planted the seeds of the Christian faith in Armenia—a faith that 300 years later would become the foundation on which Christian Armenia was to be built.

This week, consider the sacrifice of these martyrs and the lessons their lives bear. Think about St. Sandukht’s strong faith despite her father’s efforts of dissuasion, and reflect on the role of this same faith in our lives today.

—Kiersten Johnston interned in the Diocese’s Communications Department three summers ago

St. Thaddeus, St. Sandukht, and other imprisoned Christians by the 19th-century Italian artist Juliano Zasso.

Narek’s Festal Works, for the First Time in English

May 19th, 2016    |    No Comments »

The Festal Works of St. Gregory of Narek: Annotated Translation of the Odes, Litanies, and Encomia
By Dr. Abraham Terian
Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN, 2016

St. Gregory of Narek (945-1003) is one the most revered saints of the Armenian Church. He has been widely influential due to his penitential flavor of prayerful expression, particularly through his renowned and deeply introspective Book of Prayers. He has also gained the popularity of those outside the Armenian tradition. Last year, on February 21, 2015 Pope Francis declared St. Gregory a Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church, joining the company of 35 other important figures and saints such as St. Augustine, St. John Chrysostom, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Athanasius, St. Ephrem, and St. Teresa of Ávila.

Besides St. Gregory’s new status in the Catholic Church, his influence lives on in our own tradition. Thanks to Abraham Terian, Professor Emeritus of Armenian Theology and Patristics at St. Nersess Armenian Seminary, the Armenian faithful now have the chance to discover–for the first time in English—our beloved mystical poet, philosopher, and theologian through the newly published Festal Works of St. Gregory: Annotated Translation of the Odes, Litanies, and Encomia.

The poetical odes and litanies vary in length ranging from 10 to 165 lines, with headings such as Ode for the Blessing of Water, Ode for the Coming of the Holy Spirit, and Litany for St. Gregory the Illuminator. The assumption is they were composed for public and liturgical use, but how the festal works of St. Gregory were employed (if they were used at all) is unknown. Similarly, we do not know the setting of the encomia: lengthy prose texts dedicated to praising subjects such as the Holy Virgin, the Holy Cross, and the Holy Apostles.

Gregory’s poetry is replete with vivid imagery and descriptors, drawn from his panoramic view of Scripture. Additionally, each of the genres included in the volume embody a sense of the worshipping community’s joyful praise, serving as a perfect supplement to Gregory’s penitential Book of Prayers.

Read, for example, these lines from his Ode for the Raising of Lazarus (p. 43):

The Gift able to transform the speechless, dead body,
The dead body wrapped in burial clothes, to be clothed and sealed with breath again by the Caller to Life.
The seal of death was broken as were the torments of hell,
The torments by the (evil) one who cannot harm the blessed assembly.
The great Hebrew assembly, a galaxy of thousands, praises in song the glory,
The glory of the One who bestows light, now and eternally.
Amen.

Although the subject of the ode is the raising of Lazarus, St. Gregory is able to link that event with Christ’s entry into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday, and ground the entire theme in the divinity of Christ. This ode affirms that it is not the story of the person of Lazarus that draws the attention for Armenians, rather what it tells us about Jesus Christ, the Caller to Life, and the temporary chapter that is death.

As a mystic, St. Gregory developed an extraordinary intense sense of God’s presence. Consequently, his language and worldview were different from the experiences of most people today. His festal works bear witness to the profound message of the Gospel transmitted through the Armenian Church.

This book belongs in the library of every clergyman of the Armenian Church, and is of equal interest to specialists in the field of liturgics. But it is also accessible to anyone interested in personal edification, and in enhancing their experience and understanding of the feasts of the Armenian Church.

—Eric Vozzy works in the Eastern Diocese’s Christian Education department.

The Festal Works of St. Gregory of Narek

The Festal Works of St. Gregory of Narek

In Memoriam: Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian (1925-2016)

March 18th, 2016    |    No Comments »

The Eastern Diocese mourns the passing of His Eminence Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian, the former Primate of the United Kingdom, and a long-serving pastor among the churches of the Eastern Diocese. He lived to find himself the eldest clergyman of episcopal rank in the Armenian Church, and was a true spiritual father to his people. He passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of this morning, at the age of 90.

Archbishop Gizirian answered the call of our Lord as a young man, inspired by the examples of holiness he saw among such great figures as Catholicos Karekin Hovsepiants, Patriarch Shnork Kaloustian, and Archbishop Tiran Nersoyan. In turn, Yeghishe Srpazan became an example of holiness to subsequent generations, through his faithful, humble, loving service to God.

His preaching conveyed authority; yet his personal example was one of humility and quiet grace. He was a leader of great inner strength and conviction; yet his greatest strength was the tender com­pas­sion­ he showed to all—a quality that made him beloved wherever he served.

In Yeghishe Srpazan, one per­ceived those remarkable qualities exemplified by our Lord’s earliest followers: the apostles who illuminated the world, including our homeland, with the Light of Christ.

As a teacher, a pastor to many parishes in the Eastern Diocese, and as Diocesan Primate of the United Kingdom, Archbishop Yeghishe Gizirian touched the lives of countless people. Our Diocese—indeed, our entire church—was blessed to have had his holy example before us. His noble spirit will linger in our community, and in our hearts.

During the past few years, Yeghishe Srpazan agreed to share some of his wisdom and life experience in video interviews. At the following links, our faithful can listen to his life story in his own words, and hear his wise thoughts on the meaning of prayer. Click here to read a brief biographical sketch of Archbishop Gizirian.

We offer our prayers for the repose of Yeghishe Srpazan’s soul, and ask our Lord to receive him into the precincts of God’s kingdom—there to dwell in the radiance of our Lord for all eternity.

Sunday of the Advent

March 11th, 2016    |    No Comments »

Early in our journey through Great Lent we observed the Sunday of the Expulsion, which retold the story of mankind’s first disobedience, our exile from paradise, and the beginning of humanity’s long history of separation from God.

In a nice expression of symmetry and resolution, Lent concludes with the Sunday of the Advent (March 13): that is, the coming of Jesus Christ, through whom God entered human history and restored what had been lost in the exile from Eden.

The Advent calls to mind the birth and revelation of our Savior, his subsequent sacrifice for mankind, and his victory over sin and death. As the last Sunday of Lent, this day is especially devoted to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, reminding us that he is our eternal Lord and King, and that just as everything once began with God, so too will everything one day end with Him.

Click on the following links to learn more about Lent in the Armenian Church, and to view our archived Lenten video series.

Sunday of the Judge

March 1st, 2016    |    No Comments »

A common image runs through the Gospel reading for Sunday, March 6—the Sunday of the Judge, in Great Lent.

In one parable, our Lord tells the story of a widow who would not cease calling on a judge for justice—and we are meant to think about our own prayers to heaven. In a second parable, a Pharisee and a tax collector pray in the Temple, displaying very different attitudes towards God.

Both of these stories are offered in the context of Jesus telling about the end of the world, the coming of God’s kingdom, and the judgment of all mankind.

Listening to these passages, we are forced to realize that as human beings, every day, we stand before God. Indeed, one day, at the coming of His kingdom, we will stand before Him as our judge. And so we must ask ourselves: How should we stand before God?  How should we prepare to show ourselves to Him?

Sunday of the Judge