Beloved Brothers and Sisters, Fathers, Concelebrants, fellow Citizens!
Our country finds herself on the brink of chaos. We are witnessing an escalation of confrontation and violence, which encompasses wider and wider circles of our citizens. We mourn and pray for the repose of the people who were killed during clashes or perished of illegal actions. There can be no excuse for murder, violence, abuse and neglect of human dignity no matter in the name of what and by whom it is done.
Despite calls by the leaders of the Ukrainian churches and personally by the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine Vladimir, the government has not taken steps to resolve the conflict, stop the violence and start a real dialogue. The situation escalated to the limit when it appears that the opposition is unable to control the mood of the protesters. “Disband the Maidan [Independence Square]” in such a situation is impossible, and forceful dispersal will lead to the beginning of the Civil War, in which there will be neither losers nor heroes.
What is happening in Ukraine today is judgment day for all parties and for everyone: for authorities, opposition, churches, public figures and for each person. “For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God” – says the Lord. In this situation, we Christians must be the first to take responsibility for our actions, emotions, calls and prayers.
“For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy; yet mercy triumphs over judgment. ” – the Orthodox Church reminds us of these words today in the liturgical reading of the Epistle of the Apostle James (2:13). Yet instead of mercy we often become today witnesses to lawlessness, abuse, cruelty. We implore everyone: Come to your senses! The judgment of God is for everyone. The Lord might not give us time to repent. The measure of lawlessness overflows very quickly when it is filled by those who consider themselves Christians.
Listen to the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter .... Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and smote them, and the mountains quaked; and their corpses were as refuse in the midst of the streets. For all this his anger is not turned away and his hand is stretched out still. He will raise a signal for a nation afar off, and whistle for it from the ends of the earth; and lo, swiftly, speedily it comes!” (Isaiah 5:20-26).
Is this the future we want for ouselves and our children? There is still time to stop. We call on all parties to end the violence and illegal actions. Only truth and goodness can defeat evil that is encompassing us...
From politicians we demand the restoration of dialogue to find a peaceful way out of the social crisis. Our politicians – pro-government and opposition – must come to their senses, must begin to live according to the rules of law and solidarity, to stop cheating and deceiving. Only the restoration of mutual confidence among politicians and in the community can be the beginning of a new page of history of Ukraine.
We call all Christians to fervent prayer for Ukraine! Our country, like ancient Israel, will either find the strength for the peaceful transformation and start living according to God’s commandments, or will become a thing of the past as one who has turned away from God’s blessing.
Still, our efforts are not enough. There is still a need for political agreement to begin to live heeding the law of God and of man, while respecting the rights and dignity of citizens, and maintaining social cohesion.
Today our political leaders will determine whether this nation will be blessed. And we all need to pray that politicians have the wisdom, courage, and mutual trust to start a new life. Whatever decision politicians adopt, the people, and especially Christians today must prove themselves as people with dignity and conscience.
Wow! There was no attempt to soft-sell the message here! The Church in Ukraine has taken the bold step of calling the government to account for their injustices, and the people for their failure to live according to God's commandments. In addition, they are calling Christians to pray for their leaders and to react in Christian love and mercy. They are not afraid to call out the evil that is threatening to encompass them, nor proclaim that the Judgment of the Lord has come to their land. That is what the Church is supposed to do! They remind their fellow countrymen what could happen if they turn away from God's blessings, and they pray that He will give them one more opportunity to repent.
This is a message that could just as easily apply to the United States of America. Where are our Church leaders? Where are these bold pronouncements against our transgressions? Oh, that this cry for cooperation, repentance, and regeneration would sweep our land; from church pulpit to the heart of government. I do not want to wait until we are on the precipice of what the Ukrainians are experiencing before we hear these warnings from the Church! I'm afraid that, by then, it may well be too late.
Revelation 2:4-5 "But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent."