Beloved in the Lord, Brothers and Sisters!
Today the eyes of many of us are affixed to varying sources of information, and our hearts, numb and in bitter distress, behold the events presently unfolding in the God-preserved land of Ukraine. Seeing everything that is taking place, we instinctively call to mind the words of our Saviour, “of wars and rumors of wars,” and His warning: “see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6). These words of the Son of God before His suffering on the Cross have resounded in our churches for many years, but it seemed to us that they were describing events from the distant past or some future beyond our reach. Today, however, we see that they are bearing their witness to each of us.
In these sorrowful days, it is impossible to disregard a mother’s tears, the wives and children that have lost their homes, or our family and friends who are caught up in this fratricidal war. Therefore every one of us is called to express love and compassion to our neighbour. The Apostle Paul summons us, that “having gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us,” we must use them: “if ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness… rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality,” so that “your love would not be unfeigned” (Romans 12:7-13).
But at the same time, it is not proper for us to forget that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12), and that the enemy of Mankind is overcome only by “prayer and fasting” (Matthew 17:21). Therefore, “do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:19-21).
Dear in the Lord, father-shepherds, brothers and sisters, in the course of the last century, our Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia has passed through many difficulties, wars and adversities, yet has always borne witness to the light of Apostolic Faith and service to each and everyone throughout the entire world.
The life of a Christian is an unceasing search for and performance of the will of God. The will of God is revealed to us in the soul-saving Commandments and through an earnest quest in personal prayer. Pain, death, tears, wars are all the consequences of sin, the consequence of the waxing-cold of love. The will of God is not found in these. “Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, compassion, faith, meekness, temperance” (Galatians 5:22-23) are the fruit of the Holy Spirit. These are the virtues that direct us to the will of God. The way of Christ is a path of enduring disputes, murders, enmities, heresies, and striving to reach the light of God’s love! The devil, scribes, Pharisees, leaders of the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate queried and tempted our Saviour with questions about “life on Earth.” But, our Lord always turned these questions to one goal: attaining to the Heavenly Kingdom. So also today we, Orthodox brothers and sisters – inheritors of Grace from the Holy Fount of the Dnieper – should turn everything that is taking place toward one goal, toward our Saviour Jesus Christ.
+ KYRILL, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America