«Այլ իմ առեա՛լ զամենայն, և առաւելեա՛լ եմ.
ընկալայ՝ և լի՛ եմ ՚ի ձեռն Եպափրոդիտեայ,
որ է ՚ի ձէնջ հոտ անուշից,
One day, an angel appeared to a man and said: “Tell me, what can I do for you?” The man answered:, “Show me the Wall Street Journal one year from today so I will know where to invest and become a multimillionaire.” As strange as the request was, the angel snapped his finger, and out of nowhere, a Wall Street Journal issue from the following year appeared. The man eagerly started to flip the pages, taking note of all the stocks and their future values. But then something unexpected happened when he flipped to another page. It appeared as if lightning had struck the man, his facial expression changed, and tears began to roll from his eyes. On that page, what he came across was his own obituary.
How would we act, and what would we request if we met an angel willing to fulfill any wish we had? Would we ask for gold, silver and wealth, or perhaps for something entirely different? Money is undoubtedly essential in securing the safety and well-being of our families. And, of course, it is quite normal to turn to God for help and guidance in times of financial crises and hardship. But how often do we pause and reflect on the spiritual importance of money in our life and not what God can do for us but instead, what we can do for God.
In today’s Scripture reading from St. Paul’s letter to Philippians, we find an interesting perspective of money and stewardship, one that probably we have not considered before. In his letter, the apostle thanking Philippians for their financial contribution and stewardship calls it “a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18). The ancient classical Armenian translation uses the word ‘Badarak’ here, calling their sacrifice and stewardship “Պատարագ ընդունելի” Badarak ountuneli. But wait a minute, how exactly is our stewardship a fragrant offering, a badarak acceptable and pleasing God?
Badarak is the celebration of God’s ultimate sacrifice, when His only begotten Son was crucified for the salvation of humanity. It is an eternal reminder that God gave His very best – His own son for us. Our stewardship is transformed into a fragrant, God-pleasing Badarak when we contribute from the financial resources we work so hard to earn. Both Badarak and stewardship are called to be joyful encounters with the divine. We rejoice during Badarak when Christ is revealed among us through His life-giving body and blood and we are invited to give, pledge and support joyfully the ministries that proclaim the Gospel in the life of our community. Badarak and stewardship are both corporate acts in nature. We come together every Sunday to pray together for each other, and we also give together for the same common good and goal that supports the mission and ministries of our parish. Badarak and stewardship are both instruments of Divine mercy. We are healed and made whole through the Eucharist, and through our stewardship, we ensure that our church remains relevant and vibrant for all the members of our community by spreading hope, love, and healing to everyone in need and support.
We just launched our stewardship campaign for 2023. This week, as our families come together for the celebration of Thanksgiving and we pause to reflect on all the blessings of our lives, I hope that we will also prayerfully consider what we have to offer back to God, our parish, and works of charity and mercy in general. May the Lord bless you and transform your pledge and offering for our beloved parish into a fragrant offering, badarak acceptable and pleasing to God.