Christ is Risen!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is 1 May 2022 and Ukraine is already going through 67 days of this brutal war, this confrontation of our people with the Russian aggressor.
Again, last night and the day before, the east and south of Ukraine were on fire. Again our Odesa was wounded by missiles and the Odessa airport was virtually destroyed. Kharkiv and Mykolayiv continue to be bombed and shot at by various types of weapons.
But Ukraine is standing. Ukraine is fighting. Ukraine is praying. Moreover, the Ukrainian army is gradually liberating our land from the Russian occupier.
Yesterday we saw joyful footage from several villages around Kharkiv, from where the Russians had shelled this city of several million people, which had now been liberated by the Ukrainian army. We saw tears of joy on the faces of older women who kissed and hugged their liberators. Ukraine prays for an end to this war.
Our Mariupol continues to be a particular pain for us, from which people are rescued by different roads and in different ways. But the enemy is trying to do everything to make the city a big cemetery, digging new mass graves, abusing the local population.
Today, this Sunday, we celebrate the Sunday of the Apostle Thomas, the Sunday of Antipascha. This is a special day when we feel present among us in the community of the faithful the Risen Christ, Who comes to our fears through locked doors, Who comes to our unbelief, gives Himself to touch and see, that we may not be unbelievers but believers.
Precisely today, on this day, on this feast, in the context of the bright time of the Feast of Christ’s Resurrection, I want to reflect with you on the Gospel Beatitudes about the pure heart. Christ says, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.” We know that seeing God is one of the most important aspirations of every human being. For to see God, to live before His face, to contemplate Him means to be eternally happy. It means to have eternal life and to be in the fullness of that life. But the Lord God created man as his visible image. The human heart, which is the core of human thoughts, decisions, the core of humanity, the mirror that depicts, shows this world the glory of the invisible God.
Saint Irenaeus of Lyons said: “That the glory of God is a living human being,” a person living in fullness. And here that invisible God becomes visible in a pure heart. This means in a pure relationship, in the purity of man’s relationship to God, and hence in the purity of the relationship of one person to another. Once, when Moses was looking for the face of God, God revealed His name to him, saying, “I am Who I am.” I am here for you.
And so, to be pure in heart really means to see God present in my heart. To build a pure relationship with Him, not a selfish one. Not using God as a means of achieving one’s own goals or satisfying one’s own lusts and passions.
To see God in your heart means to share in His Resurrection. We talked about this gift of the Resurrection, which the Lord God gives to man in the Sacrament of Baptism. And that fullness of God’s presence must be manifested in our relationship with God and our neighbour.
May the Lord God show His face in Ukraine. May He bless Ukraine through pure-hearted people who, even in the circumstances of a brutal war, know how to maintain their purity. People who look into the face of God and then see His image in every person and they try to serve God present in another person. Such people are already blessed. Such people rejoice in the purity of their hearts and see God.
We know that our Blessed Priest-Martyr Emilian Kovch, in the Majdanek concentration camp, said: “Here I see God, Who is one and the same for all.” He was able to keep a pure heart, even in the depths of the hell of a Nazi concentration camp.
May purity of heart be our strength in these military circumstances so that it might be our guarantee of victory over evil.
O God, bless Ukraine! O God, bless the Ukrainian army! O God, bless all those who seek Your face! O God, bless all those who glorify Your most holy Name with a pure heart!
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!