His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Primate and Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, delivered a homily on the eighth day following commemoration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. His overall message was that “To get peace, you have to believe in the risen Jesus Christ.” Comparing the days following the Passion, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, in which the disciples were sorely afraid and confused, His Beatitude said that the last two years in Central Europe have also been marked by fear. During a Hierarchical Divine Liturgy that was celebrated at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection, His Beatitude Sviatoslav said, "Today we are afraid, we are frightened when we hear about the war years, tears and suffering;each of us feels instinctively that tomorrow I might be the next."
The Evangelist John admitted that that day Christ’s disciples after the experienced events were full of fear. The Evangelist John, said His Beatitude Sviatoslav, very briefly but accurately describes their condition: they gathered behind a locked door because of their fear. They knew that their Teacher was killed yesterday, and tomorrow they might be the next. The Primate noted that in today’s Gospel reading we can clearly hear that the first word with which Jesus Christ refers to His disciples, frightened apostles, is the word “peace”. “He said to them twice: Peace be with you! Obviously, in the Jewish mode of life “Shalom” (peace) was a way of greeting. But in the context
of an incredible meeting with the risen Christ, the word has quite different meaning. In Scripture the word “peace” does not mean any external circumstances, but inner state of the person.
First of all peace means inner harmony, we would say - well-being and harmony of earthly prosperity, harmony in the family, beneficial behavior. That person who really feels himself confident where he is, who he is and what he does know what peace is. In the social meaning peace means harmony, harmony in relationships with other
people and confidence in the coming days”, - explained His Beatitude Sviatoslav, adding that this is why the apostles understood as all the other inhabitants of Jerusalem, that peace – is God’s gift.
“This world and even the man himself – is convincing the Preacher - cannot gain this peace with their human efforts. So the apostles were always brining the news about peace as God’s gift and blessing of God. Jesus Christ - the risen Savior does not only talk about peace to His apostles, but He gave them peace. It is passed as a sign of God’s blessing and absolute certainty that as Christ is risen from the dead, He will remain with them until the end of the world. So Apostle Paul says: Christ is our peace. And sending disciples to the world to carry good news about the Resurrection of Christ, He makes them the carriers of peace”.
“We talk so much about peace - continued the Head of the Church - so much we pray for peace. But today is what we can hear in the gospel of Christ occurs during this Divine Liturgy. The Risen Lord is present among us. And in order to get peace, we should believe in Him, believe in the Savior, Who says: Blessed you are, who may not have seen as Thomas, but believed. Only through faith we can touch the risen Christ and be filled with His peace”.
During the liturgy, His Beatitude Sviatoslav also expressed solidarity with the Armenian people as they commemorated the hundredth anniversary of the massacre of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. In a letter he sent to His Holiness Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II, Archbishop Sviatoslav said “On April 24th the whole world will be united with the Armenian community to commemorate the mass killings of 1.5 million Armenians which took place exactly one hundred years ago in the Ottoman Empire.
On behalf of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church I would like to express our words of solidarity and assure Your Holiness of our prayers for the innocently killed victims of “Medz Yeghern”, sons and daughters of the Armenian people. The 20th century has been one of the most cruel periods in the history of humanity when the evil and hatred
targeted the most vulnerable and unprotected people. Millions of people killed by Nazi and Communist regimes as well as mass killings of the Armenians are victims to these ideologies of hatred in the last century."
The letter further stated, "Pope Francis has rightly called the tragedy of your people “the first Genocide of the 20th century”. Extermination of 1.5 million Armenians has changed the religious map of that part of the world where Christianity once flourished. During those persecutions a great number of monuments of Christian culture has been destroyed forever. We are saddened by the fact that the persecutions of the Christians still continues in the Middle East even nowadays,and the Armenian community is again a subject of sufferings in Syria and Iraq. We invoke our prayers to the Heavenly Father for all the martyrs of the 20th century and for all those who are
being persecuted for their Christian faith. We, Ukrainians, know very well the pain and the suffering of the Armenian people."
"The painful wounds from the past as well as innocent victims of the present unite our communities and can serve as a foundation for further cooperation in search of mutual recognition of the sufferings inflicted upon our nations. One of the places where Ukrainian and Armenian communities not only co-exist but also serve one another with brotherly love is Lviv. I cherish very pleasant memories of visiting the Armenian Cathedral in Lviv where our Christian unity becomes more visible during common prayers. Our Churches and peoples face great future, because the history of the martyrdom reveals that its seeds bring about abundant fruits. May our peoples become worthy heirs of the great sacrifice of our innocently killed ancestors and build the future of our societies founded on Christian values keeping in mind our responsibility before our ancestors”.