On October 15, 2022, a Prayer and Spiritual Сoncert were organized in the Church of the Armenian Catholic Congregation of Mekhitarists as part of the 2022 Aurora Prize Ceremony events on San Lazzaro Island. Guests were greeted by members of the Armenian global Christian community, including Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, Representative of the Armenian Church to the Holy See Pontifical Legate of the Western Europe.
“In this gathering of prayer and meditation, I am reminded of the following words of Jesus Christ, recorded in the Gospel of Matthew: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Jesus speaks these words as part of a beautiful teaching on reaching out to the hungry, the thirsty, the strangers, to those who are poor, or sick, or held captive. He reminds, Jesus reminds his listeners that Christ himself lives in each of those people who suffer, that whenever we minister to such people, we are, in fact, showing compassion to Our Lord.
Today, as I reflect on those words, I remember how the concept of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative began. Ruben, you remember our conversation in New York around the coffee table. I remember how my good friends, late great Dr. Vartan Gregorian, Noubar Afeyan, and Ruben Vardanyan, had the extraordinary vision to respond in a productive way to the painful memory of the Armenian Genocide – to reach out compassionately to others on behalf of the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide and in gratitude to the survivors. And I remember, too, how they put this concept into action by creating the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative.
Aurora’s key principles, Gratitude in Action and the cycle of giving, truly resonate with the powerful message expressed by Jesus, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” The Initiative lends a helping hand to the most vulnerable – to children, women, refugees – and in doing so, it promotes the idea that gratitude compels us to do more for our brothers and sisters, wherever they may live, for we are members of the same human family. Yes, we are members of the same human family.
A hundred years ago, during the Armenian Genocide, the Armenian nation endured the darkest period of our history, with millions of our sons and daughters being persecuted and forced to leave their homeland. But at the same time, a multitude of kind-hearted strangers, compelled by the spirit of humanity, reached out to our ancestors with a helping hand, soothing their pain and saving them. That was the will of God, and thanks to the Lord, we are here today. As Jesus showed us, God wants our lives to overflow with mercy, love, and compassion. It is a tragic fact of life that disasters, wars, conflicts continue to bring loss and suffering to the world, but with kindness and compassion to guide us, we can walk a pathway to a better future – one of renewed hope and definitely, vision. That is the vision that the creators of Aurora Prize have placed before the entire civilized world – to take action to eradicate atrocities and human suffering. Today, we express our thanks, our appreciation to the founders of this important and God-pleasing initiative, as well as to all its supporters.
May you have continued success in your life-saving mission. What you are doing is a mission, and may the grace of our Lord be with you all. Amen.”