Those Who Mourn Will Be Comforted
My story begins over one hundred years ago in what was once the Ottoman Empire. My great-great-grandfather Sarkis Mouradian lost his son Madiros within the first week of the Armenian Genocide and, overwhelmed with grief, committed suicide two days later. Madiros's brother, my great-grandfater Krikor, fled to the United States with his new wife, Satenig as non-English speaking illegal immigrants. My family still has the fake passports that they used to gain entry to the United States.
They began to build a life for themselves here in America. They had two daughters and a son, Albert, who fought in the Marines during the Second World War and was KIA at Okinawa. We still have copies of Albert's letters home to his parents, as well as the letter from the military informing the family of Albert's death.
When I see what has been said about the immigrant, about the marginalized, about the oppressed in this election cycle, I not only know that it flies in the face of the vast quantities of Scripture that exhort us to protect and uplift such peoples, I also know that it is eerily and ghastly similar to the same sort of rhetoric that was deployed in the buildup to the Armenian Genocide. Armenians were called disloyal, not true citizens or even true people. In utter disregard for truth, we were portrayed as clannish, loyal only to our own people rather than to any sort of greater good and incapable of being the ideal that the Ottoman Empire wanted in its citizens.
Does such ideas, such rhetoric, such propaganda sound familiar to you after this election? Because it does to me.
I mourn today, then, not only for the Gospel, and the Christ who came to teach it and the God who inspired it. I mourn also for the memory of my great-grandparents, of how they moved heaven and earth to escape extermination. I mourn for my great-uncle Albert who died defending ideals that I am worried are at present being thrown out with the bathwater. But most of all, I mourn for all those who share in such similarly ghastly experiences that are part and parcel with being seen as the eternal bogeyman of the "other."
For it is the other whom Jesus sat with, dined with, welcomed, blessed, and uplifted.
For it is the other that the Way, the earliest church, began as.
And for it is indeed the other who mourns, and the Gospel message is that those who mourn will be comforted.
So mourn away, my brothers and sisters. Mourn away. May we one day find our comfort. Together.