Homily of His Beatitude Sviatoslav at the Episcopal Consecration of Reverend Father Michael Smolinski, C. S.s. R.

January 20, 2024, 23:00 65

Homily of His Beatitude Sviatoslav at the Episcopal Consecration of Reverend Father Michael Smolinski, C. S.s. R.

“O Shepherd of Israel, lend an ear, …
Stir up your power, and come to save us”
(Ps. 80, 2–3, NAB).

Dear worthy confreres in the episcopal and in priestly ministry!
Dear Bishop Michael!
Venerable Religious sisters and brothers!
Honorable representatives of various organizations
of the Ukrainian community of the Saskatoon Eparchy!
Beloved sons and daughters of our Church in Canada!
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, all the guests of this celebration!

Christ is born!

First of all, with tears in my eyes, I convey to you my most sincere greetings from Ukraine, from scarred and wounded Kyiv, from your brothers and sisters who, living in constant danger of death, learned to trust God above all else. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for the sleepless nights, for the prayers and efforts for Ukraine’s victory over the godless Russian aggressor, for your hospitality, sacrifice, work and prayer. To all of you and those who hear me, I personally and loudly want to say: Ukraine stands! Ukraine is fighting! Ukraine is praying!

Today we have became participants and witnesses of a special historical event. The Lord sends a shepherd to His people. The event of episcopal consecration is an outpouring of God’s love on people, a visible manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ’s care for His Church, and for us present here. It is also a moment of communion, the union of the Mother Church in Ukraine with bishops, clergy and laity in Canada. The appearance of a new Ukrainian bishop in Canada is a special light of hope for the entire Ukrainian nation, who today pays the highest price for freedom and the very right to exist in its native land.

The word of the Divine Gospel, which we have just heard, points us to Jesus Christ, who has just begun his preaching in Galilee. A large number of people from everywhere has come to Him. What draws them to Jesus? Do they want to learn something new or be informed about the latest news? No! Perhaps they are forced to do so by religious duty or custom? No! These people were led to Him by the need for healing, recovery, liberation from the captivity of the evil spirit, the power of evil, which deprives them of everything: consciousness, knowledge and intelligence, health and personal freedom. The evangelist Luke says about this in a very brief, but insightful and apt manner: “Everyone in the crowd sought to touch him because power came forth from him and healed them all” (Lk. 6, 19).

What kind of power was coming out of Jesus, that freed and healed everyone? Was it the power of medical expertise or human wisdom? No! Was it the power of state government or political influence? No! Was it the power of a renowned person who became known on the wave of popular sympathy or temporary wealth? Not at all! None of these powers, which by their nature come from man or from any other created being, can deliver from evil, sickness and everything else that leads to decay and death. They cannot deliver from the sufferings, which the evil one inflicts spirit.

Regarding the pouring out of this special power, for which everyone wanted to touch Him, Jesus Christ speaks in the Beatitudes: “Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.” (Lk. 6, 20–23).

We know that only the Holy Scripture refers to the Lord God as holy and blessed. Therefore, the power that emanates from Jesus Christ and makes blessed everyone who is filled with it, is nothing else but the power of the one almighty God! This is the power with which the Creator gave life to everything that exists today and restores and heals man. What a miracle (surprise?)! God is present there, where, as one may think, He is not, — in the poor, the hungry, the one who cries and is rejected precisely (because of and?) for the sake of Christ!

Who can in the name of Christ dare to be weak while having full trust in God’s power and good? Who will have the courage to fight for true freedom, cry and expose himself to human scorn, being absolutely sure of God’s power to bring victory over the forces of evil and darkness? It will be only the one, who senses the sweet foretaste of the bliss of God himself and will be blessed, even if experiencing pain and suffering! That is the reason why in looking at Jesus, full of the power of the incomprehensible God, the whole nation saw, heard and experienced the fulfillment of the Psalmist’s prayer: “O Shepherd of Israel, lend an ear, you who guide Joseph like a flock! Seated upon the cherubim, shine forth upon Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh. Stir up your power, and come to save us. O God, restore us; light up your face and we shall be saved.” (Ps. 80, 2–4).

Listening to this word of God today, when we consecrate a new bishop for our Church, we see with our own eyes what we heard about in the Gospel. The Lord awakened His power today and gave us His shepherd with the same power of the Holy Spirit, which came from Him and healed everyone on the Mount of Beatitudes in Galilee!

Many people may ask: what power and authority can a bishop have in the modern world, if he does not have wealth and political influence and is not able to force anyone to do anything, even according to church or civil law? Bishop Michael, you received much more today in the fullness of the Sacrament of Christ’s Priesthood. It is the same power of the grace of the Holy Spirit that people once sought in Galilee and are now seeking in Saskatchewan! But I ask you: accept it humbly and in fullness.

It is the power of grace that will make you blessed when you are poor and feel that the needs of your eparchy will exceed the resources that you possess. It will make you satisfied when you are hungry and thirsty not only for daily bread, but also for ordinary human justice or support. It is the power of grace that will give you joy in the Holy Spirit when you cry with your people and carry their wounds, pains and sufferings. Finally, this is the power of grace that, by creating in you today to the heart of a good shepherd — Christ himself, will give you hope that “when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man,” the gentle voice of Jesus will sound in your heart like the quiet murmur of a stream of living water, as described by St. Ignatius the God-bearer in his letter to the Romans (chapter 7). This voice will say to you: “Rejoice and leap for joy! Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.”

The venerable and god-bearing Euthymius the Great, whose memory we celebrate today, also teaches about this sacramental beatitude of the bishop. The community of martyrs and blessed ones of our persecuted Church during the communist era reminds us. And this is what we are now telling all of you here, in Canada, our Church in Ukraine, which endures and cries with its people in this greatest war of modern humanity, which the Russian criminal brought to our land. It is today, when being a true Christian often means to swim against the tide, hope against any human hope, we say: Christ’s Church has no other power and authority in this world other than the power of the crucified, of the dead and risen Christ, which is present in the veins of our Church and our people. It is a guarantee of our stability, indestructibility and hope for victory.

Dear Bishop, you will probably thank God, your parents and God’s people today for everything you have received from them. However, on behalf of your Mother Church in Ukraine and our faithful around the world, allow me to thank you for your courage. In order to receive God’s power, one must be brave. Thank you for believing and completely trusting the Lord as a Redemptorist monk and priest. Thank you for not being afraid to accept God’s power, which called you to the episcopal ministry and today has made you a shepherd who will sanctify, teach God’s people and lead them in the image and likeness of Christ himself.

We all rejoice together with our new bishop and pray for him: “[Lord] God of hosts; look down from heaven and see; May your hand be with the man on your right, with the son of man whom you made strong for yourself. Then we will not withdraw from you; revive us, and we will call on your name. Lord God of hosts, restore us; light up your face and we shall be saved.” (Ps. 80, 15–20). Amen.


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