Christ is Risen!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is Wednesday 4 May 2022 and Ukraine is already suffering 70 days of brutal war which Russia has unleashed against our homeland and against our people.
Yesterday, the whole of Ukraine was rocked by large and powerful missiles attacks. In just one evening, 20 cruise missiles were fired at Ukraine. There were attacks in eight regions of Ukraine. We can say that in one evening Ukraine was hit as many times by missiles as, for example, in Syria during the 11 years of war there.
We see that a military confrontation of unprecedented force and intensity is unfolding in our lands since the end of World War II.
But the Ukrainian people are showing unprecedented examples of heroism. Defending their homeland, defending their native land. The whole Donbas and the south of Ukraine are under fire. Once again, Kharkiv and Mykolayiv were bombed and fired upon. Thank God that we managed to save several hundred people from Mariupol, from Azovstal. But our defenders are courageously holding their ground, not even being able to evacuate the wounded who are slowly dying from their wounds.
The Ukrainian people amazes the world with its heroism, its zeal, its love for God and country.
I would like to reflect on another Beatitude today which is very deeply connected with all the previous Beatitudes, and with the mission of Christians, in particular, in the modern world. Christ says to His disciples: “Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil word against you falsely because of Me.” We see this it is a gift, a gift of eternal life. The gift of the life of the risen Christ, which we received in baptism and must witness and show to the world. And every time we are attacked, despised, slandered, persecuted, this gift begins to shine more and more for the whole world.
Christ told His disciples, “You will be led before the mighty rulers of this world. And that will give you a chance to testify about me.” The Lord says, “Do not worry about what you have to say before those unjust judges. Because at that moment I will give you such wisdom that no one can rely on.” We feel that this has happened and is happening in the destiny of our people and of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.
We have already said that great war is connected with great falsehood. But the Lord God reveals us to the world as a great treasure shining with His truth. In particular, when we suffer for the truth, when we witness to Christ in the suffering of Ukraine.
Today I want to remember one dramatic but heroic event. Exactly on 2 May, our Odesa was once again subjected to a missile attack. And then, a 14-year-old boy, Vyacheslav Yalishev, died a heroic death. Hearing the air raid sirens, he ran to the neighbours, the elderly, to warn them, to help them go to the bomb shelter. He saved them, but died himself. This is an heroic act of this teenager, who gave his life, rescuing his elderly neighbours from Russian missiles in Ukrainian Odesa. It reveals another page of the heroic testimony that the Ukrainian people give to the whole world today.
O God, bless Ukraine! O God, give us the strength to witness to You in the world today! O God, through our suffering and patience, even through the denigration that our enemy pours out on us, may we have the opportunity to witness of You, our God and Saviour! O God, bless the heroic people, even these children and teenagers, who give their lives out of love for their neighbour!
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!