As our Lent Reflections continue, Anna Matevosyan reflects on the story of St Gregory and how this encourages us to be patient and forgiving.
Today we look at another example of faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). This meditation from Armenia reminds us that God’s mighty power is at work — over time, and even when we are unaware.
Every believer’s faith includes a narrative, with some stories more dramatic than others. The truly captivating story of Christianity in Armenia began with Gregory, the apostle and patron saint of Armenia, who was called the Illuminator because he brought the light of the Christian faith to the state.
St. Gregory, who was born in 257, visited Rome early in his life. Along the way home, he paid a visit to his native region of Cappadocia, where, having refused to sacrifice at a large idolatrous feast, he was thrown into prison. He remained a captive in Khor Virap, in the Ararat region of Armenia, for nearly 14 years. During his entire captivity, Gregory had been praying for the diseased sister of King Tiridates. When she began feeling better, he was released from prison, and he declared the healing was by God’s grace.
St. Gregory immediately began preaching Christ and his faith for 65 days, and afterward, the Armenian Apostolic Church was established in Vagharshapat. Five of those days were devoted to fasting and praying. The people and the king deprived themselves of food with heartfelt repentances for past offenses to receive deliverance. According to the commonly held tradition, this was the way that the seeds of the Christian faith were sown in a small country, known as the land of Noah. During the season leading up to Easter, the Armenian people still observe five days of fasting and praying.
The story of Gregory the Illuminator calls us to be patient and forgiving. This voice from centuries ago reminds us how God empowers each of us and enables us to bring hope to others.
Our Father in heaven, thank You for Your presence, which has joined us together from all over the world. We pray that we are firm in faith and courageous in pursuing the light as a gift. Please equip us for every good work in Thy word. In our Savior Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
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