In his 2012 highly acclaimed bestseller “Why Nations Fail” Turkish-born Armenian-American author, MIT professor and one of the most prominent economists in the world Daron Acemoğlu explores why some nations are rich and others poor, why nations are divided by food and famine, prosperity and poverty, health and sickness. He dives deep into these questions that humanity has tried to understand and answer for centuries. He explores these problems from the perspectives of economy, politics, history and culture. He also reflects on the importance of institutional memory, the ability of a nation to dream, desire, form a national identity and vision.
Last week we celebrated the feast of the Holy Etchmiadzin. Holy Etchmiadzin is not a place on the map. It is not simply the administrative center of the Armenian church. It is not a mere symbol and cause of pride for our national identity as the first Christian nation. Holy Etchmiadzin is the spiritual, living and life-giving river that springs from the footsteps of the biblical month Ararat and flows, reaches to the souls of every Armenian in every corner of the world wherever they might be. It nourishes our souls, cleanses our national identity, empowers our community and national life, heals our wounds, restores, and gives us hope.
Throughout centuries as a nation, many times we stumbled, we fell. Often, those we called friends and allies betrayed us at the most critical cross-sections of history, leaving us alone and helpless against hostile armies and empires. Many times we witnessed our beloved country torn into pieces, conquered, divided and devoured. Many times it appeared that all hope is gone and our sacred fatherland is lost forever. At times it seemed that our very existence and national identity were in grave danger of elimination.
At every such point of history, the Holy Etchmiadzin stepped forward and rushed to rescue its endangered children. Like the Gospel depiction of a mother bird protecting her chicks (Matt 23:37; Luke 13:34), at the first sign of danger for the Armenian nation Mother Etchmiadzin through itself between her children and the danger, covered us with her wings, fought fearlessly and sacrificed itself for our well-being and protection.
Above and beyond all its contributions to the Armenian nation, Holy Etchmiadzin served as the institutional memory of the Armenian nation and the pure mirror of our national identity. When hope faded away, when as a nation we lost our way, Holy Etchmiadzin started to shine as a bright lantern in the darkness. It showed us the way, enlightened our paths and guided us to safety, restored hope and reminded us who we as a nation truly are. The message of the Holy Etchmiadzin from Avarayr to Bash Aparan and Sardarapat was always simple and the same, as relevant today as it was in the fifth century. Unity and faith, these are the two most important concepts that Holy Etchmiadzin continuously and tirelessly reminded us about.
Today more than ever, our wounded fatherland and we as a nation need to pay close attention to the call of Holy Etchmiadzin, embrace each other, reflect and renew our commitment to each other despite our differences, in the words of the Holy Badarak lift each other up and commit each other to God. Today, on this day of the Feast of Holy Etchmiadzin as a nation, we need to recommit ourselves to the living God, to the only and most powerful friend and ally the Armenian nation can possibly have. Let us pray and beseech our Lord to visit our nation, stand with us on this decisive moment of history, help us unite, love and forgive each other and always trust only in Him, amen.