Orthodox Bishop, Ukrainian Church, Moscow Patriarchate
In the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit!
Most reverend Bishops, Fathers, Brothers and Sisters!
Today we have heard the reading of the Gospel in which our Lord, Jesus Christ talks with the apostles at the vigil of his agony in Gethsemane. The apostles are bewildered, because their Master said to them: “My children, I will be with you only a little longer” (John 13,33). The pain paralyses the disciples’ heart. The hope of Israel – they think – is about to abandon his House.
How often do we – with our perplexities – act similarly to the disciples of our Savior! How often do we have the same impression, as if the sense of the events seems to slip away, leaving us behind as orphans (John 14, 18).
During the past few days we have reflected about the tragedy which took place ten years ago in New York. Often life leads us through sickness, infirmity, incomprehension and pain. And we would like to exclaim together with the Saint apostle Peter: “Lord, where are You going?” (John 13,36). God our Lord, what is the sense of all the suffering of the human kind?
The Savior knows the perturbations of the apostles, and He knows us, his disciples. He cautions us for the future darkness, he announces “the prince of this world is coming” (John 14, 30), and then he calls us gently: “My Children!”. And little later he announces: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14, 27).
The peace given by the Lord is connected with the coming of the Divine Consoler, the Holy Spirit. He will come on that day (John 14,20) and will teach you all things and will remind you (John 14, 26) the words of Christ: “that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14, 20).
This is what the Lord will give to us: peace, which consist in the participation in the divine life, in the everlasting love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit!
Why then is this gift so important to us, habitants of this world? It is important because it consolidates the model of new relationships, based upon a love full of abnegation.
The Lord shows us through the facts what the love towards the Father is: He says: “the Father is greater than I” (John 14, 28). In these words we can see how Christ, equal to the Father in force and in glory, is not upset to call Him greater than himself. Little after he confesses: “I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me” (John 14, 31). The son offers his own life as a sacrifice to accomplish the will of his beloved Father and by doing so he safes the human kind.
This same model of love has been taught to us by the apostle Paul: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves” (Phil 2, 3).
The peace given by the Lord, in which the apostle exhorts us to live, stops the action of the will to sin. When we show respect among us, we won’t be bewildered, but at the contrary, we will gain a blessed liberation in Christ. The liberation of passions and fear, which will be a liberation full of joy and love.
I believe that the contemporary world is experimenting an acute deficit of this liberation given by God. Our society is filled up by its multiform surrogates, which are distracting our soul, but they are not able to give this spiritual peace and serenity. It’s getting always more difficult to talk about simple truths. The difficulty lies in the fact that all the truths are gradually becoming goods on the market of consumerism. Words are losing their value, gestures are becoming superfluous. And in this situation only the crisis results to be the way to direct us again towards the sources, to help us to see each rather than anonymous business partners, as persons who are searching the sense of life in God.
I am profoundly convinced that the global problems will be resolved on the level of concrete human hearts. And today’s common prayer constitutes the testimony of the importance of these solutions.
Today we are experiencing the joy of being together in the “bond of peace” (Eph 4, 3), and we will share this generously with our families, far away or close by. We will give testimony of the existence of the spiritual dimension of our life, of the possibility to build up relationships based on trust and love, and of the fact that we are called to live together in the dialogue between religions and cultures.
This way we will become more efficient collaborators of Christ, we will be Blessed peacemakers (Mt 5,9), who will be the winners of all times. “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5, 4).
Christ be with us, now and ever!