This year, as we contemplate the meaning of Easter, our thoughts are heavily influenced by what went on in Ukraine in the past months. There is no doubt that in the Maidan event, we saw all the elements of Holy Week, Good Friday, and then the Resurrection.
As we so often sing in church – “Rejoice all you nations for God is with us. “ From the very beginning of Maidan, God was with the Ukrainian people and nation.
It was a classic struggle against evil, corruption, injustice, oppression, a lack of democracy, lack of financial responsibility, a lack of health care, and all the sins which were imposed on Ukraine by a self-serving government.
As we read in the Poklony service during the fourth week of Lent: “My soul is wounded, my body is sickly, and my spirit is weak.” But we prayed and remembered the words of our prayer: “Rejoice for God is with us!” We maintained our faith. We knew that God would save us. There was a Good Friday. There was a crucifixion. Over 100 heroes died, many more have shed their blood and continue to suffer in pain.
The revolution on the Maidan was different and effective. Where else would you see members of the clergy, of all ranks and all faiths, stand in the midst of gunfire and violence between the people and the authorities. It became very hard to perform violent acts when the loud speakers at top volume carried the prayers of church leaders.
Jesus reminded us: “My own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give.” John 14.27
The Maidan in Kyiv was strong and effective because it was one body, united in the grace of God, standing in prayer for peace, justice, unity and a compassion that the world cannot give. It is a gift from God. That is why as Jesus promises that our hearts will not be troubled or afraid – for God is with us.
Jesus rose from the dead. His Good Friday suffering was effective as it bought us salvation from evil.
In the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete, we read: “Behold I am your God, who searches the hearts and corrects thoughts, who lays open deeds and burns away sins, who renders injustice to orphans, the weak and the little ones.”
The Resurrection of Christ is the message of justice, decency, and honesty. It is the message of living in a God – centred, Christian community. May our prayers join the prayers of the Heavenly Hundred, who gave their lives for the cause of a better life for Ukraine.
Recently, we renewed the Consecration of Ukraine to the Protection of the Most Holy Mother of God. By doing so, we exhibited another very important trait of Ukrainian spirituality: our love for Mary the Mother of God. She was with Jesus at the crucifixion and was also there for the Resurrection. Throughout history, she has protected her children in Ukraine from disaster. She was there at the Maidan, and will be with Ukraine as we rebuild our nation in the great faith of the future. We would be very wise to keep praying that she intercede before her son in all of our needs.
While so many of us have been affected by what went on in Ukraine recently, there are also so many positive blessings. We feel that we as a nation have a chance that Ukraine will change for the better.
We have the sympathy and prayers of so many people in the world. We will receive help, we will grow, we will also resurrect.
I conclude with another prayer from our Pokrov service: “Enlighten my heart, O Lord, that I may sing to you, teach me to do your will.”
Christ is Risen
Indeed he is Risen
+ Bishop Peter Stasiuk