«Save, Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance!
Grant victory to your faithful people against enemies,
and protect Your people by Your cross»
(Troparion to the Cross of the Lord)
Christ is Risen!
Beloved in Christ!
This is the second year in a row that we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ in the conditions of a full-scale war, where the enemy seeks to destroy our people, our freedom, and our Christian values. The sounds of sirens, constant shelling, life without light, and very often seeking refuge in bomb shelters, have regrettably become the normal everyday life of our brothers and sisters in Ukraine. At the same time, holding many demonstrations, conveying true information, manifesting an admirable unity – has become the daily work of the Ukrainian diaspora around the world. We have all changed. Our country is regaining its independence, shedding blood and losing the blossom of the Ukrainian people.
We Christians are aware that without God’s help we will not defeat the occupier. In the glorious Resurrection of Christ, we see the Lord’s cross as a powerful symbol of salvation. The cross on which Jesus redeems the human race from sin. The cross that today gives our people hope for victory in the fight against evil. The cross, which is the protection of our soldiers against the aggressor. That is why our defenders wear a cross on their chests and depict this sign on military equipment, and most importantly, they draw strength to fight the visible and invisible enemy.
In the struggle for our independence, the best sons and daughters of the Ukrainian people die every day. We all have many questions about this: Why is this happening? Why do innocent people die? We find the answer in the figure of Jesus Christ. He, as God and man, was innocent. However, He was unjustly condemned and crucified on the cross. It was in such a shameful way that the Lord showed mankind His boundless love. Our soldiers are doing something similar now, giving their lives for us, because “greater love has no man than this, to lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15, 13).
The feast of Holy Pascha is a celebration of God’s victory over the devil, of life over death, of peace over war, of good over evil, and of holiness over sinfulness. Therefore, looking at the icon of the glorious Resurrection of Christ, Ukrainians do not lose faith and work diligently every day: soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, who defend free and independent Ukraine; doctors who treat the terrible wounds of war; volunteers who collect the necessary help from everywhere; chaplains, who are a special sign of God’s presence for the courageous defenders of our Motherland. Therefore, Ukrainians scattered all over the world sincerely hope and believe in victory over the aggressor in the year of our Salvation 2023, and expect a just peace.
Celebrating Christ’s victory over death, we must remember that this joy was given to us through His suffering, “for by His wounds we are healed” (Is. 53, 5). We will not experience the true joy of victory until we heal the wounds of war: violence, anger, hatred, unforgiveness, hopelessness, and inner emptiness. That is why the Synod of UGCC, in its pastoral plan for the period until 2030, “Hope to which the Lord calls us”, emphasizes in advance the importance of healing wounds and treating war injuries. This is a great challenge for our Church and Ukraine; the path that we must walk together with Jesus Christ, remembering His suffering, His death on the cross, and His glorious Resurrection from the dead on the third day.
The victory of Ukraine depends on the efforts of each of us, namely on the three most important good deeds: prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Therefore, let us take an active part in joint prayer, in particular in the Divine Liturgy, receiving the Body and Blood of Christ as we make our requests to our Lord and God. We generously give alms for the needs of the suffering Ukrainian people and our Church. Let us remember the importance of fasting every Friday in our Eparchy, in order to achieve a just peace in Ukraine.
Let us pray together for our victory over the occupier, for the healing of wounds and war injuries, saying the words of prayer: Save, Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance! Grant victory to your faithful people against enemies, and protect Your people by Your cross.
I sincerely greet the clergy, religious and all the faithful with the great feast of the Resurrection of Christ. I wish you all a blessed Pascha, as we cleave to the unfading vision of victory over the enemy, a strong hope for a better future, and the peace that comes from the Risen Christ.
Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!
The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
+ MYKOLA BYCHOK, CSsR
Eparch of Melbourne
Given in Melbourne,
at our Cathedral of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul,
on the 7th day of April, in the Year of Our Lord 2023,
The Feast of the Annunciation of the Holy Mother of God.