“When the nobleman returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered his servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business.” (Lk. 19:12-28)
According to the Armenian Ecclesiastical calendar, the Church New Year begins on January 6th. This is the last Sunday of this year and next Sunday we will be in the new year, with a new beginning. This begs the question, why does the Armenian Church calendar begin its Ecclesiastical calendar with Christmas and what does today’s Gospel reading have to do with the New Year? The most likely reason for the Christian New Year to begin on January 6th is because the birth of Christ is a new beginning and from that time on we all live in a new life, in Christ. Every year, right around this time we begin our life all over again by giving account to ourselves, and today’s Gospel has the same theme as well. It says that a nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and before he summoned ten of his servants and gave them ten pounds and commended them to do business with the money until he came back. As soon as he returned he asked of his servants to give him account. The first one brought ten more pounds and his lord assigned him in charge of ten cities. The second servant approached and showed five more pounds and his lord assigned him to rule over five cities. Then the other arrived, and presented to his lord his one pound and said ‘Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth and did not invest it.” The Lord ordered to take that one pound from him and give it to the one who had ten.
What does today’s Gospel reading mean for us today as we approach the end of 2019 and begin a new journey towards 2020? First, the lord who went to get his royal power is our Lord God who became incarnate, and brought salvation for His sons and daughters and went up and sat next to His Father. Second, just as in the Gospel reading so also in this life, God gave us many pounds, talents, virtues and blessings. He endowed and blessed us all with all these so that we may bear fruits throughout the entire year. Thirdly, today as the end of 2019 is near, we give accounts to ourselves; how as servants of God did we do last year? How did my spiritual life grow and how many pounds did I earn or lose? As we begin giving account to ourselves we see that in a couple of days we begin a new year in the Church and in our lives as well. This new year reminds us that, if we claim to be Christians, we need to live according to the new day that our Savior has brought to the world and use our pounds to multiply them.
If we are truly united personally with the Lord, then our lives need to manifest the Good News of Christ to the poor, sight for the blind, and liberty to the captives. No matter what kinds of poverty, blindness, and captivity they experience, we have to become living witnesses that something new and holy has begun upon the earth. But if we are so pathetically weak from the ravages of sin, if we are blinded spiritually or totally enslaved by our passions, we will hardly be in a position to bear witness to others of the new life of the Kingdom or use our pounds given by God. If we are not living proof that a new era has begun and is going to begin in a few days, in which death is slain and evil is vanquished, then we will have nothing to offer the world in either word or deed. Why should anyone believe that something new has begun if we keep living according to the old standards of the corrupt world, just as the one who wrapped up his one pound in a piece of cloth and did not invest it.
Today, as we give account to ourselves let us ask ourselves, am I faithfully supporting the ministry of God’s holy Church through generous offering of my time and talents? How am I using the pounds given to me by God? Am I the one who earned ten more pounds or am I the servant who added another five pounds or am I the one who did not earn any at all? How again am I using the pounds given to me by God? Which, by the way, are not mine at all, but are God’s and belong to Him. And He’s only lending them to me to give me an opportunity to grow in faith and love towards Him and my neighbor.
Today as we give account to ourselves we also set a goal in front of us, that in this coming year we definitely will earn more than ten pounds. And so let us all use the new church year as a time to receive as fully as we can the good news the Lord has proclaimed, to participate as much as we can in the freedom from sin that He has brought to humanity, and to open the eyes of our souls as fully as possible to the One Who brings sight to the blind. And as we do so, let us show His mercy to others, treating them with love, forgiveness, and generosity in ways that demonstrate that something really, truly new has begun in Jesus Christ, who wants all to be saved and to see us earning as many pounds as we can, to come to the knowledge of the truth, and to share in the great blessings of His Kingdom.
Blessed New Year to All! Amen!