Glory to Jesus Christ!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is Sunday 26 June 2022 and the Ukrainian people are courageously resisting the full-scale military invasion of Russia for already 123 days.
Heavy fighting is taking place along the entire front line.
Yesterday, the whole of Ukraine, the entire territory of our homeland, became the epicentre of the most massive missile strike inflicted by Russia during all these last days of the war. More than 45 cruise missiles were fired across Ukraine from the territory of Belarus and from the Black Sea. This morning at 6 o’clock a rocket attack was inflicted on our city of Kyiv, on our capital. Black smoke rises over Kyiv.
But Ukraine is standing. Ukraine is praying. Today is Sunday and Ukraine is preparing to stand in her holy temples before the face of God to raise our hands in prayer and to ask the Lord God, the creator of heaven and earth, for protection, peace, and victory for Ukraine, to ask that the joint efforts of the entire world community might stop the murderous hand of the bloodthirsty Russian attacker.
In such difficult and dramatic circumstances, I want to invite you today to reflect on another fruit of the action of the Holy Spirit in the human person. The fruit of the Spirit, which for us today is a ray of hope. This fruit of the action of the Holy Spirit is called mercy.
We know from the Holy Scriptures that the word and the concept of mercy best expresses God’s attitude to the human person. We believe in the God who first loved us. We believe in a God Who is merciful towards us when He sees our weakness, when He sees our sin.
Yesterday, as we pondered the fruit of the Holy Spirit called goodness, we said that God is good, He is goodness, and He created all things good. Speaking of the next fruit of the Holy Spirit as mercy, we speak of a certain ability of the human person not only to be a good creation of God, but a certain feature of the godlikeness of man, who, like his creator, is also capable of doing good. Mercy as a gift of the Holy Spirit is not just sympathy, something that only belongs to our personal sentimental perception of reality or another needy person. It is about the human person’s ability to multiply the good that the Lord God has created and to spread it. Because in fact evil in the world also comes from the evil will of man and is nothing but the absence of good. Where you and I do not do good, there we give room for evil. Just as when we turn off the light, great darkness comes in its place.
Therefore, today, in order to resist evil, to defeat it, we need to actively, daily, personally multiply good. To do good, to do those works of mercy that deal the strongest blow to the devil and his servants.
Moreover, God’s Word calls the works of mercy, the mercy of man, “works that have value in eternity,” because those deeds will remain for us, they will be our inheritance, they will be our reward after the end of this earthly life.
I want to share with you my experiences from reading one letter that I received just yesterday. An ordinary Ukrainian pensioner from the Zaporizhzhia region, from the city of Orikhiv, wrote to me. This gentleman’s name is Serhiy Volodymyrovych Shkolyarenko and he writes about the horrors of war experienced by people living in the city of Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhia region. (When it comes to missile strikes on big cities, then everyone knows about it, the media write about it; but about the indescribable suffering of people in small towns and villages of Ukraine, sometimes few people know.) And so, Mr. Serhiy writes that their city of Orikhiv before the war had about 14 thousand inhabitants, today there are only 600 people left, who are constantly hiding and living in cellars. He writes, “our modern life is hell on earth.” On the one hand, his letter is a voice of despair and a cry for help, and on the other it is an appeal to the clergy, to the global community, to international institutions, about the need to stop evil as soon as possible, stop the Russian aggressor, to do everything to end the war.
Today we pass on the request of this good man, who shares his misery with Ukraine and the world, into the hands of God. I convey this voice to the hearts of millions of people around the world: “Let’s stop the war together, let’s do good!” Let’s do good for Ukraine, however we can do it, everyone in their own place. And then let us be sure that evil will be defeated.
O God, bless Ukraine. O God, bless Ukrainian children. O God, grant us all peace.
May the blessing of the Lord be upon you through His grace and love of humankind, always, now and ever, and for ages of ages. Amen.
Glory to Jesus Christ!