24 February 2014
Santa Maria in Trastevere
Prayer for peace in Ukraine
Mark 9, 14-29
When they came to the disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and scribes arguing with them. Immediately on seeing him, the whole crowd was utterly amazed. They ran up to him and greeted him. He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I have brought to you my son possessed by a mute spirit.Wherever it seizes him, it throws him down; he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they were unable to do so.” He said to them in reply, “O faithless generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him to me.” They brought the boy to him. And when he saw him, the spirit immediately threw the boy into convulsions. As he fell to the ground, he began to roll around and foam at the mouth. Then he questioned his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” He replied, “Since childhood. It has often thrown him into fire and into water to kill him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Jesus said to him, “‘If you can!’ Everything is possible to one who has faith.” Then the boy’s father cried out, “I do believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus, on seeing a crowd rapidly gathering, rebuked the unclean spirit and said to it, “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you: come out of him and never enter him again!”Shouting and throwing the boy into convulsions, it came out. He became like a corpse, which caused many to say, “He is dead!” But Jesus took him by the hand, raised him, and he stood up. When he entered the house, his disciples asked him in private, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “This kind can only come out through prayer.”
Homily by Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyč, primate of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Good evening to all.
Coming up in this church, praying with you, I feel at home. I am now your
brother. I remember last time, when we came to pray in your Community we deposited our treasure in the basilica of San Bartolomeo: the relics of our martyrs.
But at that moment it never crossed my mind that we would have new
martyrs, that violence would be manifested in our land.
Just in these three months Ukraine has lived perhaps the most difficult moments in its history.
People finally rebelled against lies, corruption, dictatorship, against a despotic government that, for political purposes, has used the pain and the blood of that
people that it should serve.
As you know well, we experienced moments of peaceful protest in Ukraine for three months. Some said that the Ukrainians had discovered a new way of protest: just staying in the square not moving and hundreds of thousands of people stayed even when the temperature dropped to 29 degrees below zero.
But in the past week, darkness covered the city of Kiev, a sniper, killed more than 100 people in cold blood. People helping others, who wanted to save the lives of the wounded. Truly these victims awakened the country a little. We listened to a deep rejection of violence. All the Churches in Ukraine openly said no to violence. On Wednesday and Thursday our Latin and Greek-Catholic cathedrals, in the city of Kiev, became operating rooms, where people that could not be transported elsewhere were operated on.
But these days of suffering, of tears awakened solidarity in a surprising way. Our Churches became the centres of human and Christian solidarity and thanks to this unanimity we could put an end to violence. Some say for the moment. Because no one knows how it will end. For this I came to you to ask for your solidarity.
The Community of Sant'Egidio is known throughout the world because it knows how to pray for peace. I ask you, perhaps every day, at least one Our Father and one Hail Mary for peace in Ukraine.
But you do not just pray, but you also make peace. In many conflicts in the world your
Community was truly a mediator and a builder of peace. Also in this conflict, we ask for your solidarity, your hand.
I am convinced that the Lord is present alongside those that suffer. Before leaving
for Rome, I visited these clandestine hospitals in the city centre. I walked into the
Lutheran church, right next to the administration building of the president, and there, in
the Lutheran church, there had always been at least 10 people injured. When I wanted to
thank the Lutheran pastor, he said to me: you do not have to thank because we have
realised that there on the square and here Christ is present in the person of this wounded man that we now see between us.
Christ is present, operative, he is our hope. And he is our peace, he is our light and he really opens, with the others, a peaceful possibility: to cure wounds. Not only those of the body.
Actually now there are thousands of wounded. Some neighbouring European countries , such as Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Lithuania too, have welcomed dozens wounded. 20-year-old youths have lost one arm, one eye.
This possibility of healing the wounds of the body is important, but even the souls were injured in a spiritual way. We must stop hatred, rancor. We must heal all that hinders the construction of true peace.
May Christ, who is our peace, be with us all.Amen.