A few days ago, our Patriarch Sviatoslav was asked the following question. Why did the Maidan Movement in Ukraine a few years ago bring out the very best in our people – the ability to organize, to help, to extend our hands and hearts to others. While when the coronavirus came to Ukraine, people organized themselves into a mob, threw stones at the buses carrying the people and then stoned the houses of the sick.

Our Patriarch answered the question in an interesting way. He said Maidan was ruled by a sense of injustice and it was our obligation to correct it together.

The virus reaction was mostly motivated by fear, uncertainty, a lack of peace in our hearts.

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Before we say that we in Australia would never do something like that to the sick, just look at what we have been seeing a lot of in Australia in the last few weeks. People are abusing anyone who is from Asia and especially from China. They do damage to their homes and tell them to leave the country, even though these people were born in Australia. We also can be no different to that what we saw in Ukraine.

Today we are celebrating Thomas Sunday. We speak of the Apostles who have fear, uncertainty, and all kinds of emotions, from the fact that Jesus has died on the cross, the leaders and people of Israel had turned against them. They are afraid. They are in a locked room. They do not go outside on the street. Not all are convinced that Jesus has risen from the dead.

The lack of peace in our soul, leads us to sin. The Holy Spirit shows us clearly who is my brother and sister, this leads to harmony in the Christian community.

Jesus comes to them through the walls of quarantine. And the first thing He says, and He says it four times in a few minutes. “Peace be with you”. Peace is the most often instruction we get from God in the Bible. It is repeated 100s of times throughout the scriptures.

“My Peace I leave with you”. Jesus says to the Apostles. Peace is a result of being in the unity with Christ. It is one and the same thing. Peace like love comes from God and we get it through faith.

We cannot allow the coronavirus to infect our faith. If it does, we will be very afraid. We will do things like we saw in Ukraine and are now seeking in Australia. That is why Jesus keeps saying “Peace be with you”. We must be in personal turmoil, stress, and feel as if we are alone. The word of God is true and real, if we believe that, then we will be in peace in our hearts.

We, because we believe, do our part to build the church where even God has placed us.

But there is more in today’s gospel. St. John tells us that then Jesus breathes on them saying “As the Father has sent me, so I send you. Receive the Holy Spirit”. (John 20, 21-22)

The Holy Spirit is the spiritual presence of God Himself in us. The church is a sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives us gifts, He changes us, gives us the power to overcome sin. That is why in today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that priests have the power to forgive sins.

The lack of peace in our soul, leads us to sin. The Holy Spirit shows us clearly who is my brother and sister, this leads to harmony in the Christian community.

I finish by quoting 1 Cor 15:14, where St. Paul says – “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is void of content and your faith is empty too”.

In the end, Thomas believes and goes on to build Jesus’ Church in the Middle East and India. We, because we believe, do our part to build the church where even God has placed us.

This post is also available in: Ukrainian