I know a Bishop in Western Ukraine – Bishop Komar. I met him in 2015 He is remaining with his people and with all of his priests in his native war torn country of the Ukraine. Since March 1st, he has been sending me emails describing for me the horror of the war, which is happening in his native land. In one of his last emails to me, where many of his sentences are just a few words indicating to me that he is writing very rapidly under pressure. He wrote the following,
Tired. My people are tired.
BUT We ARE NOT GIVING UP.
Please remember all our martyrs in your prayers
I am struck by his courage and by the fact that he is not running away but remaining with his people. In a very real sense, he is following the Good Shepherd who speaks to us today from the pages of St. John’s Gospel, “I am the Good Shepherd”, he says, “the sheep that belong to me, listen to my voice”
Should we therefore not do just that and listen to his voice?
Everyday there are many voices which claim our attention, screaming at us from all kinds of electronic devices and media outlets. Voices which can draw us away from good, from beauty, from what is true. But the only voice that really matters, is the voice of God, the voice of the Lord Jesus who whispers to us, who tell us I am the way. I know your deepest longings. I and only I can bind up your broken heart. I know your wounds, I too have wounds he says.
I will remain with you always. I have given my life for you. I think of those haunting and inspiring words of the bishop of western Ukraine :
“The beauty of the spirit. The help. The love….
These are infinite. “
Bishop Komar has in the midst of dreadful suffering and chaos seen the things that really last, that really matter. Physical things will come and go but the spirit lasts and love and beauty endure. Friends -Jesus Christ offers us these things, in himself. – something beyond this world, though that something begins here.
Christ offered us an example to bring us to shepherd us , not so much to bring us to safety as to bring us salvation and he has promised always to remain with us, he sticks by us. He speaks to us, to your heart and mine. Make time. Listen to Him. You will know his voice. With him we are never alone and we also have the company of those who have gone before us, marked with the sign of faith.
Jesus invites us, you and me to listen to his voice in prayer through scripture, through the lives of the Saints, through the teachings of the Church which he founded, and through so many daily events, through our conscience, through things which happen to us, – he calls us to follow him in charity, in generosity, in faithfulness to our particular vocations in life. In marriage, in priesthood, religious life, permanent diaconate and the single life.
As we pray for the people of Ukraine and my brother Bishop there and all of his priests, who are staying with their people, all the priests in our own country who have been with their people in this pandemic, let us pray also that we will stay with the Lord. We will listen to his voice, allow him to change us and try with his grace follow him faithfully in our own vocations, our own calling in life.