Fr. Mesrop Parsamyan
In the calendar of the Armenian Church, the third Sunday following the Glorious Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ is known as Red Sunday. The color red is symbolic of the blood of the martyrs who were sacrificed for Christ, His Holy Church, and their Christian faith. Martyrdom forms the whole narrative shape of our history and continues today in the Middle East and in Nagorno-Karabagh, where Christians are being killed for their faith.
The persecutors of Christians have always seen them as a threat to their own societal order. Christians were seen as a threat to pagan Rome. They were a threat to the Muslim conquerors, first the Arabs and then the Ottoman Turks and Azeris. The current persecutors of Christians are functioning in the same way—their vision of a new Caliphate for Islam in the Middle East and Pan-Turkism in the Caucasus has no room for Christians.
So why are Christians a threat? It is because they believe in the Resurrection. Christianity is the only faith in the world whose defining event is the death and resurrection of the God whom we worship. And we believe that we can be joined to His conquest of death and also His resurrection. And if death itself can be conquered, that means that no king, no emperor, no premier, no president and no caliph can claim ultimate power over us. Just look at the responses of the martyrs: They sometimes laugh in the face of martyrdom. Sometimes, they sing. They go out with joy!
So while we feel the pain of their loss and grieve in our hearts for them and their families, and while we pursue all that we can to bring peace to those troubled lands, we do not "grieve as those who have no hope" (1 Thess. 4:13). An earthly power may slay the bodies of Christians, but this can have no ultimate power over them, for they have joined their risen Savior in the conquest of death itself. Amen.
Christ our God, you crown your saints with triumph and you do the will of all who fear you, looking after your creatures with love and kindness. Hear us from your holy and heavenly realm by the intercession of the holy martyrs. Hear us Lord, and show us your mercy. Forgive, cancel and pardon our sins. Make us worthy thankfully to glorify you with the Father and with the Holy Spirit. Now and always and unto the ages of ages. Amen