Christ is Risen!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is Thursday 12 May 2022 and the Ukrainian land has been flowing with blood for 78 days, repelling this full-scale aggression, the attack of the Russian army on our homeland, on our land.
Ukraine is standing. Ukraine is fighting. But in the east and south of Ukraine, in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, in the east of the Kharkiv region, in Zaporizhzhia, in the Kherson region there is high-intensity fighting.
Perhaps we, who live in relatively quiet cities and villages of Ukraine, or someone living in peaceful countries abroad, even find it difficult to imagine what it means when tens of thousands of tons of bombs, various explosives, missiles, and shells constantly fall on our heads, both our military as well as civilians in these territories, not even able to save our lives.
But Ukraine is standing. Ukraine is fighting, because she believes in God. And she feels support, the support of her brothers and sisters. We feel we are defending our land. And that is why we have the moral right to protect our loved ones from this cruel enemy, who is destroying everything in his path.
Today, I would like to reflect with you on another act of charity. The work of charity, which Jesus Christ calls the work that man does not only for man but also for himself. This act of charity is called “visiting those in prison.” Christ speaks of Himself in the description of the Last Judgment, telling everyone, “I was in prison and you visited me.”
This work of charity is important in wartime. Being in prison is a special drama—personal as well as public. It is obvious that today we are trying to envelop those who are in places of imprisonment in Ukraine with pastoral care. But especially today we pray and think of those who are unjustly held captive by Russia. About those who were taken hostage in the context of hostilities. Those who are experiencing bullying and violence today, even in their own homes, because the enemy came to their house.
Today we especially pray for the prisoners of war, in particular, for those about whom we have no information. The pits have evidence of horrific abuse of prisoners of war: terrible violence, all kinds of torture. This will be known to mankind in due time and it should also be condemned as a crime against humanity and a violation of the rules of war.
We are especially worried about our prisoners of war, about whom we have no complete information. An example of this is our guards who defended the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the first days of the war, during the Russian invasion of this area. We have no information about them. But together with their wives, their children, we pray for the salvation of their loved ones.
Especially, today we think of the defenders of Mariupol who are also surrounded. And today we are asking for miracles from the Lord God and the intervention of the international community to rescue them.
Yesterday, their wives had the opportunity to meet Pope Francis in person and pass on all the pain of these families to him. Who pray and mourn for their loved ones in Mariupol.
Today, I would like to thank all those who are helping to free innocent prisoners from captivity, those who rescue prisoners of war. Today, I would like to especially thank our prison chaplains who serve to help prisoners find their way to freedom. The care of prisoners has been a special service of Christian communities since ancient times, from the time of the early church. And in this difficult time of war in Ukraine, let us be able to serve Christ Himself, Who tells us: “I was a prisoner, and you come to Me.”
O God, bless Ukraine! O God, save our prisoners of war! O God, bless our army! O God, grant peace to Ukraine and the world!
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.
Christ is risen! Truly He is risen!