Christ is Risen!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
Today is 5 May 2022 and Ukraine is already experiencing 71 days of nationwide confrontation against the inhuman, brutal Russian aggression against our homeland.
Feeling the dynamics of this war, there is an understanding from all sides that the intensity of hostilities is increasing. The enemy is trying at all costs to advance deep into Ukraine. But the Ukrainian army is defending itself.
Again, many parts of our Ukraine were shelled by Russian missiles. This morning, Ukrainian Kramatorsk came under fire and 25 people were injured.
We all pray for our Mariupol, for the heroic Azovstal, for the civilians and the military, who are desperately resisting the Russian occupiers there. Indeed, the entire world community is trying to save lives, in a place the enemy has turned into a great cemetery.
Every day new mass graves and common burials are found, in particular in those territories that were liberated from the Russian occupier. It hurts the most to see the signs of inhuman torture: people with shot and broken limbs, people with torn nails, and their hands tied. And these are ordinary, civilian people.
Today, in their place, in that mass grave, it could have been me or you. That is why today we are praying for all those innocently killed and we do everything to save human life.
Today, in the midst of despair, war, and pain, I would like to reflect with you on the final Beatitude of the Gospel, which sounds as an encouragement and blessing. A Beatitude that sums up and then crowns all those proclaimed Gospel Beatitudes about the action of God in the human person.
This Beatitude says, “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.” Today, even though we are celebrating Pascha, it is not easy for us to rejoice and be glad. Rather, we feel like being sad and crying. But we feel that this joy that Jesus Christ tells us as a beatitude is not just a human emotion. This is not entertainment.
This joy is the presence of the Kingdom of Heaven among us and the presence of the eternal and joyous life already in man today. This is a reward we should rejoice in. The reward that will be in its fullness in heaven is not something distant and unknown to us. We already have this heavenly reward as a deposit. Like that seed, perhaps the seed that has yet to fall to the ground and must die and be born. But that seed is already there. And the very feeling of the presence of heavenly power, of God’s life, here, among us, in this valley of tears, in the midst of the grief of death, is the cause of our joy. We hope for the fullness of that which we already have. We rejoice in that which the Lord God has already begun, His work, His presence, that He began His Kingdom here on earth, among us. And that is why we are called to build and spread this joy.
Joy will be in heaven and we must strive for it. But let us, with this power of God, with these Gospel Beatitudes we have been pondering over the last nine days, let us strengthen ourselves and each other with them.
May God complete in us the work He has already begun! May He complete and reveal in our Ukrainian people this victory over the devil and his servants and his angels, victory over evil and death, which He has already begun, rising from the grave!
O God, bless Ukraine! O God, bless the Ukrainian army! O God, strengthen us all in spirit! Send Your Holy Spirit upon us as the Spirit of Joy in our hearts. May this Your Heavenly Joy be our invincible force and may it become our strength and lead us to victory!
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!