Macedonia prays for peace in Ukraine

Dear brothers Priests, esteemed Ambassadors, brothers and sisters in Christ.

Today’s Holy Eucharist here in Skopje, as well as in all our Catholic Churches in the Republic of Macedonia, is dedicated for peace in Ukraine.The riotsthat have been happening for quite a long time now have already turned into unpleasant events in which many innocent people lost their lives.

The Holy Father Pope Francis has repeatedly been calling for peace in the world, particularly in Ukraine, Syria and Nigeria. In his traditional Easter message to “the city and the world” among other things, he said: “All those involved in the crisis in Ukraine will have to make every possible effort to prevent violence. The International Community will also have to make their best efforts to support the peace process. The future of Ukraine can only be based on “the spirit of unity and dialogue”

We, the people of Macedonia, didn’t ignore these appeals of the Holy Father, but we actively took part and joined the myriad of people in the world with our prayer for end of the bloodshed and giving space to dialogue. As the situation is getting to its boiling point, we decided to pray throughout the Catholic Churches in the Republic of Macedonia for peace and reconciliation in Ukraine, under the motto: “Macedonia prays for peace in Ukraine”, hoping that dialogue will take the place of arms.

These days, when we pray and talk about peace, we usually refer to the absence of war. We seek peace and we talk about peace. No one in the world wants war, yet it happens. Peace is a massive word nowadays. Politicians endeavor for peace. Where there is a war, the diplomacy attempts to stop the war by negotiations. Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it doesn’t. But why does it come to a war, when they are all talking about peace and peaceful solution of the hostilities and when they are looking for peace formula? Why there is no peace?

The answer lies in the Holy Bible or the Holy Scripture. There is no peace because it is absent in the hearts of men. God wants to dwell in the heart of man, butif we wouldn’t let him to do so, then emptiness occurs in the human’s heart and it is filled with restlessness, displeasure, envy and all other vices or sins described in the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Galatians 5:19-21.

We find the best example about the evil in the world in the Bible, in the Epistle of James 4:1-3: “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but cannot get what you want; so you commit murder. You envy and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel, but you cannot obtain because you do not pray. You pray and you cannot obtain because you seek evil to spend it in your pleasures.

Every day, we hear in the media and we read in the newspapers about violence in the family, among the children in school, violence on the streets, thefts, robberies and so on. It takes a great deal of effort to establish order. What is the reason behind all this?

The reason is the man and his alienation from God and from his fellow human beings. Man chose his own way, which is a resistance towards God as principle authority in his life. God gave man free will and man used that free will for evil. He took the path of evil which leads to destruction and eternal alienation from God, which certainly isn’t the Will of God. Perhaps this will get to those who don’t have peace of mind, who long for peace, love, tolerance, to those who are lonely, ill or those who have financial problems. How do we cope with all this? There isn’t a man without a problem. Even multimillionaires have problems. How can one help himself to overcome or to at least soothe this unpleasant situation?

We read in the Bible – it is a great satisfaction to be content with what we have, and then we will have peace. If we strive for something unattainable, it only brings unrest and leads us to something which is not good for us. The Bible or the Word of God has an answer for all our difficulties, as long as we want to keep to it and to believe in the One who sent us these answers. God is a source of peace and joy and He wants to come in our heart and to bring peace and joy in it. He wants to fill that void which He prepared for Himself, but we drove Him away.

The psalmist says: „My soul rests in God alone“ (Ps 62,2). When we have the peace of God in our heart, which is different from the earthly peace, then we are at peace with the others and with ourselves. God loves us and as his creatures he wants us to be happy, but for that to happen we have to go back to God and to believe in Him.

The prophesied Word of God testifies how God brings peace through man, not through arms. Hatred, selfish interests, taking the side of violence against the others and murders have its basis in the human heart which is harmed by evil. Thus, people are deluded that if they harm the others they can achieve their own goals or happiness.

 “War must always be considered a defeat: a defeat of reason and humanity” – thus spoke Saint John Paul the Second. Instead of bloodshed, he was tirelessly calling for reconciliation and forgiveness, but not only did he speak about this, he also practiced it. “Peace is inseparable from justice, whereas justice is irreconcilable with evil”. Pope Francis, on the other hand, is keenly calling to the warring sides to renounce their weapons because it will only deepen the violence which will threaten to bring even greater suffering. War can only be stopped by negotiations of the sides in the conflict and in this way the aspired peace can be reached.

 The Most Holy Virgin Mary is an example of the evangelic peacemaking because she accepted Jesus Christ with all her heart and assisted by His love, she also won over evil and death. On these grounds, we righteously call her Queen of Peace, because she serves peace when she helps us to embrace the reconciliation of Jesus. She advised us that we have to testify that reconciliation in real life situations of many mutual misunderstandings which often end in conflicts and other wrong actions.

The present situation in Ukraine of political and many other unreasonable conflicts, bloodsheds and divisions is an evidence of the lack of the culture of peace. Hence, dear believers, let us pray for peace in Ukraine, so that the evangelical spirit can be reestablished in that society. Let them believe in the peace of God and let them be peacemakers themselves so that they can contribute for peace in their country and in the world. Let the bloodshed, hatred and misunderstanding be stopped and let it be replaced by God’s love, mutual respect and forgiveness for the good of Ukraine and its bereaved people.

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