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His Beatitude Sviatoslav’s Sermon at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York

March 11, 2024, 00:57 467

His Beatitude Sviatoslav’s Sermon at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York

For God so loved the world that He gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish
but might have eternal life
(John 3, 16)

Your Eminence,
Your Excellencies,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ!

In today’s readings, the Lord announces to us a profound message of hope. Christ is our hope, his words and love are our hope. His death and resurrection are our hope.

Hope is what we all need — every human soul navigating life’s challenges and moments of despair. А refugee migrant looking for safe haven, the homeless and unemployed, those trying to make ends meet, parents or children of a drug-addict, someone whose life is degraded by obstinate racism, the starving in Africa, Christians in China, women in Afghanistan, families suffering division or a mental or mortal disease of a loved one, a society torn asunder by a polarizing public discourse. All of us who are facing our own sinfulness. We all need hope!

Hope is what the hearts of my people long for. It sustains soldiers in foxholes defending the freedom of fellow citizens and the God-given dignity of family members, POW’s and civilians under occupation, grieving mothers and fathers, young widows, orphans, and traumatized children who bravely endure daily air raid sirens while in school.

Allow me to be their voice today and express gratitude to Catholics in the US and worldwide, to His Eminence Cardinal Dolan, and to Aid to the Church in Need and for the support we experience every day.

The humanitarian aid you provide feeds, warms, and heals millions. In his cathedral, I thank Cardinal Dolan, the first US bishop to visit Ukraine after Russia’s full-scale invasion. Your Eminence, your visit to Ukraine in spring 2022 was a profound display of solidarity. You so much wanted to be with the suffering people of Ukraine.

I thank Aid to the Church in Need. Many of our bishops and most of our priests were supported by scholarships from your donors. Among those lucky students I was the one. Church in Need has demonstrated singular generosity to the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for three generations. We thank you for your prayer, advocacy and aid. By God’s grace we stand. Thanks to God and to you, Ukraine fights for freedom, peace, and justice and, be sure, Ukraine will prevail.

In the Letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul reminds us of the immeasurable riches of God’s grace. He emphasizes that it is by God’s grace alone that we are saved, not by our own merit or works. This grace is a gift freely given to us out of God’s great love.

Paul declares that we are God’s handiwork, each with a purpose. God has prepared good works for us to do. It is our calling to live in accordance with His will.

The Gospel of John expresses God’s ultimate love for us. This love is supreme and sublime. God sends His Only Begotten Son into the world, who freely gives His life on the cross to save us. Lent invites us into Jesus’s Paschal pilgrimage from death to life. A passage that turns us away from sin and brings us salvation.

Alas, Jesus acknowledges the fact that some people choose darkness over light because their works are evil. We all have a choice to make. We can either embrace the light of Christ and live in truth, or we can dwell in darkness and sin.

Allow me to address the Ukrainian faithful, the soldiers, the injured, the traumatized and refugees here in The Big Apple and those dispersed globally.

Dear sisters and brothers, in a time of pain, fear and despair, the Lord gives us hope and promises us life. And this is not just a promise, it is backed up by God’s action — He gives his Only Begotten Son so that we may live. The incomprehensible sacrifice of the Son of God gives us life. God loves the world so much, He loves us so much.

We are loved by God, and no enemy can overcome us. We have experienced this during these two years — mutual love, care, and protection.

Thank you for expressing this love through your prayer, action and sacrifice. Let’s not give up! Hold your checkpoints.

Don’t let the devil or enemy propaganda capture your heart, but pray and work, as His Beatitude Liubomyr commanded us.

God’s truth will win, Ukraine will win, do not doubt it!

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.”

These are among the most powerful Gospel words that bring us hope in times of despair — we will not perish; in Christ we will have eternal life.

God has granted eternal life to all who suffer for the truth — to the man in Bucha who was shot with his hands tied behind his back in March 2022, to the mother killed a week ago in Odesa by a Russian drone while holding her 4-month-old son in her embrace, to helpless prisoners of war and those who were tortured to death, to you and to me.

Today, I would also like to remind you of another powerful quote from the Gospel of John: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Ukrainians call every person their friends as they lay down their lives protecting the world from the diabolical evil manifested in this genocidal invasion. For more than two years, Ukraine has been sacrificing its precious people, rich lands, schools, hospitals, roads, and bridges.

On behalf of the people of Ukraine — wounded yet unbroken, tired yet resilient — I ask you to be a sign of hope.

As a professor of moral theology, I often explained to my seminarians and students that hope is a theological virtue. It means placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Hope is our weapon, hope is our shield.

The Ukrainian soldiers defending the innocent in Chasiv Yar, Robotyno, Kupiansk at this very moment “put on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet, the hope of salvation”.

In its essence, hope is utterly practical. To flourish hope needs us — our hands, voices, prayer and effort. I ask you to do everything in your power, and believe me, you can do a lot, to invoke God’s power to intercede for the people of Ukraine, for peace and justice.

A visionary American, Martin Luther King Jr. stated that no one is free until we are all free. No one is at peace until we are all at peace. There is no justice if someone continues to suffer from injustice.

Be people of hope, keeping in your minds and hearts the ultimate hope and promise — we will not perish; we will have eternal life. Amen.

† SVIATOSLAV

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