A reading of the Holy Gospel according to  Luke 24:36-53 

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost. Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have.” And as he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish;he took it and ate it in front of them. He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. And he said to them, “Thus it is written that the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins, would be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And [behold] I am sending the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.” Then he led them [out] as far as Bethany, raised his hands, and blessed them. As he blessed them he parted from them and was taken up to heaven. They did him homage and then returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and they were continually in the temple praising God.

Invitation. On this solemn day of the great feast of the Ascension of Christ, we encourage everyone to respond to the invitation of His Beatitude Sviatoslav and properly prepare for the feast of Pentecost. Over the next ten days, we will be reading the texts from the Gospel of John, and as a parish community, we will attentively listen to the wise guidance that the Lord offers us during this time of war. The themes addressed by the evangelist John resonate with the themes of healing and the treatment of wounds inflicted by war, and they encourage us to take practical steps aimed at the poor, marginalized, wounded, and forcibly displaced. We will devote special attention to the Christian family, the domestic church, as they are the first and immediate environment for healing the human heart and are currently experiencing the greatest crisis and trials.

Reflections during the war. It has been already the second year that we celebrate Easter and Pentecost amidst the military confrontation of our Ukrainian people against the large-scale invasion of Russian forces on our land. Just like the disciples of Christ who, after the Resurrection, hid in the room out of fear and trembling in the face of death, we, too, being ‘startled and terrified,’ anxious and filled with doubts that arise in our hearts (cf. Lk 24:37-38), experience what lies ahead when this war comes to an end. However, Christ, both then and now, shows us His wounds, allows us to touch them, and shares in our suffering. He is beside us in our anguish and experiences, helping us to transform fear into peace, anxiety into endurance, confusion into the ability to quickly and effectively make the right decisions. He gives us the Holy Spirit and His peace, and grants us the mission to preach ‘repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations’ (Lk 24:47). In this way, people, having received the power of the Holy Spirit in their purified hearts, will be able to prepare themselves for the Second Coming of Christ and His reign in the Kingdom of God.

Prayer intention. Let us pray for the endurance of our people in prayer for victory in the war.

Mission task. Let us reflect on what helps me to maintain peace amidst the war. Let’s talk about our experiences with those closest to us or support those who currently need our help.