Christ is Risen!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is Tuesday 3 May 2022 and the Ukrainian people are already pushing back 69 days of daily attacks from the Russian aggressor. Our nation is flowing with blood, but is defending the independence of her homeland. In the east and south of Ukraine there are fierce battles. The intensity of these battles is difficult to compare with any other circumstances since the end of the Second World War. Large military losses are felt by both sides. Unfortunately the enemy does not cease to attempt to invade Ukraine in order to steal new Ukrainian lands. But Ukraine is defending herself, and doing so quite successfully. And we pray to the Lord God that He might Himself, with His strength, defend Ukraine.
This night there was another rocket attack on Odesa and on the Dnipropetrovsk region. This rocket terrorism continues further. We all pray for the evacuation of the peaceful civilians from Mariupol. We thank God for every rescued person, but we feel this is just the beginning. Those people who are waiting to be rescued are in the tens of thousands at the Azovstal plant known throughout the world.
But Ukraine is standing, Ukraine is fighting and amazing the whole world!
Today I would like to reflect on yet another Gospel Beatitude with you, one which we in Ukraine are deeply experiencing. Christ says, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It is interesting that this Beatitude very closely echoes the first Gospel Beatitude about poverty of spirit, because in both of these cases, the one who experiences this Beatitude, theirs is the kingdom of heaven. What truth is spoken of in this Beatitude, which says “blessed are those who are persecuted for the truth”? Of course, it does not speak of a private truth or a personal conviction with regard to this or that reality. That Truth with a capital T, which makes us blessed when we are persecuted for its sake, is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (cf. John 14:6). Precisely in the resurrection of Christ, this truth is granted to us, to every person, as the truth of our life in Christ. For Christians, truth is not something, but someone, that person of God, the Son of God, Who dwells in each person who believes in Him, is the standard and content of our life. Christ say, “who loves me and keeps my commandments, him the Father loves. And we will come to him and make our abode in him” (cf. John 14:23). Precisely this Gospel Beatitude tells us that, according to God’s divine plan, the person is created as a temple of the Holy Spirit, as a God-bearing creature, and we are called to bear within ourselves the one God in three persons. As in Christ all fullness of the divinity resides, so all of us are called to be bearers of this fullness. And blessed are we when they persecute us, not because of some kind of personal transgressions or crimes, but blessed are we when we are persecuted for being bearers of the Most Holy Trinity. For every such persecution does nothing other than reveal that which we bear within us, in our inner most being.
For this reason we today in Ukraine ask: O God, Father, O Holy Spirit, Only-Begotten Son! Dwell within us! We, believing people, are ready to witness to You, even with the price of persecution which the enemy prepares for all of us. Persecuted for the sake of truth are those who have the courage to proclaim this truth, who do not renounce this truth before the mighty of this world and do not exchange it for their own mercantile interests or change truth in order to find an ordinary piece of bread.
Today Ukraine is dying for the truth. Ukraine today is proclaiming this truth, which our Apostles Cyril and Methodius taught us, this truth which we received in the baptismal waters of the baptism of the holy Prince Volodymyr here in Kyiv in the Dnipro River. May this truth be life-giving for us! No one is able to say that they have grasped and known this truth. Each one of us is called to strive toward this truth. Precisely growing in truth makes us blessed.
May this Beatitude in a world of post-truth be the call and duty of every person who believes in Christ.
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you through His grace and love for mankind, now and always, and for ages of ages. Amen.
Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!