Armenian Patriarch of Constantinople
Ephesians 6: 15
I would like to dwell on Ephesians Chapter 6, verse 15, where Saint Paul exhorts the believers to have their feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of Peace.
Saint Paul is clearly making an allusion to the Roman military boots, called the caligal, which was one of the most important parts of the Roman soldiers’ equipment. They were designed for long marches over every sort of rough terrain. Just like the believer is supposed to be ready for every sort of hardship during life. And this is precisely what the Gospel does. To prepare the believer for all difficulties. The Gospel gives us the stability of sure footing. We can thus march over the rough terrain of life, over the mountain passes of excruciating pain, through deserts of fear and terror and loneliness, without falling out.
We ought to be ready to carry the Gospel everywhere. The prophetic message of Isaiah in Chapter 52, verse 7, must have been in Saint Paul’s mind. Prophet Isaiah says: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Sion, ‘Your God reigns’”. To be prepared and ready at all times to carry the Gospel of Hope and Salvation everywhere – that must be at least one meaning of wearing the sandals of the Gospel of Peace.
Saint Paul refers to Peace in the middle of a passage where he talks about battle. There must be a meaning in this striking paradox. Perhaps Prophet Zechariah in Chapter 4, verse 6, brings an explanation where he says, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord of hosts”. Indeed, the only “power” the Christian can trust is the power of the Holy Spirit, and the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is love. Hence, we are called to have victory over the principalities, the powers, the rulers of the darkness of this age, and over the spiritual wickedness, by the power of Love.
Experience is the word we use to designate a remembered past. We do not have to do anything as if we are doing it for the first time. We do not have to relearn everything daily. For those of us who are Christians, the Bible is the great source book of our remembered past – our experience. The Church is where God’s people gather in order to recall and celebrate the experience. Remembering the saving acts of God is ours to remember and to make us stronger in the Lord.
It follows that, one ingredient of prayer is memory. God speaks to us through our memory, but remembering also stimulates us to speak with God. This speaking is prayer – whether verbal dialogue or the sharing of thoughts and feelings in the depths of our spirits. Jesus saved us on the Cross, and this is our weapon of incomparable power – the power of Divine Love. The Divine Love allows us to begin each day in freedom and inner peace, released from the burdens of past sin, our consciences cleansed by repentance. This is, indeed, living, not in our own power, but in the power of Christ, the Prince of Peace, who lives within us.