April 11, 2022


A Priest reflects on the Brutal War in Ukraine...

As we enter deep into the Holy Week, we devote our prayers, fasting, and almsgiving to the swift end to the atrocities that war brings to the people of Ukraine. After the footage from Bucha and other Ukrainian cities, the people closest to me ask the question: where was God? Why didn't He stop it? How could He allow this kind crime against humanity, His sacred creation? Friends to be honest with you, this question is very difficult to answer, because there are not enough words. A few days ago, I was able to talk with Father Provincial from Ukraine, he told me: "It is better to be silent at this time". At this point it is better to sympathize, to be close with those who are hurting, cry with them, be with them. At this point, it is better to cry with these people and ask the same questions they ask. King David was asking the same questions. If you open the book of Psalms, then you hear the same cry, the same pain, the same question. When you open the Book of Job, you see the same thing, you see the same subject, and it speaks today more than thousands of words. But the fact that I refer to the lyrics does not lessen the pain. So, I will not so much try to answer the questions, this cry, this pain and the cries of our women and children, as I will try to decide for myself in which God I believe. Who is this God? Why is this happening now? Paradoxically, it is in this confession of my own faith that I find the answer.

I believe in God, who became a human person like myself. When He was a small baby, evil people also wanted to kill him. He became a refugee with his family. Moreover, when He and His family fled, in this place where He was, many babies paid the ultimate price, they were killed, because of the plots and the misuse of the power of these evil people. Then Christ came to the people, preaching to them peace, calling them to conversion from bad to good, and teaching them how to live by God's law, the law of God's love. But what did these evil people do? They betrayed Him, condemned Him unjustly, imprisoned Him, bound Him, tortured Him, and finally crucified Him, after which He died.

I believe in God, who died on the cross. This is the reality. This is the same reality as the death that lurks in Ukrainian cities today. God died there. God died in Ukrainian cities, as he once did on the cross. As once God became man, and then the humanity of God, the Church, came into existence. I believe that God is now people, His body, who believe in Him, who do no evil, who suffer, who are killed. He went through it Himself and is feeling that pain now. His mother was also a refugee, rescuing her baby. Then Mother of God watched her Son being crucified, dying on the cross, being taken down from the cross. That is why the Mother of God understands better than me those mothers whose grief is now inconsolable.

The question of many are hanging over their shoulders, but why doesn't God stop such a war crime? Precisely because it is God who created human being free to choose between good and evil. This is God who gave human being this opportunity. This is not some architect who created a typewriter in which everyone is a cog. It is not a mechanism that controls everything, that knows everything, that has calculated everything from beginning to end, and knows in advance what will happen. I believe that we choose how it will be. God knows many possible options, but we make the choice. According to this free choice, good continues to fight and defeat evil. Because God is life. Life of God, in spite of everything, continues. Because it is love, and it is this love that wins.

God is helping our defenders, because of their bravery, many cities are now liberated. On the one hand we perceive as a miracle, and on the other hand we understand that behind this miracle are the efforts of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and the help of the whole world, our defenders, our guardian angels. May our God be with them and for them now. For they defend good from evil, life from death. I believe that these cities will be resurrected, that the memory of those people who have now departed to God, who did not only die on the Cross, but also rose from the dead, their memories will live continually in Eternity with Him and in our memories. After all, I also believe in the Resurrection of Christ. My God not only died but overcame death. He rose from the dead. And this means that life wins, that love wins. We will live, do good, revive with our own hands and with God's help all that has been destroyed. Because what is happening is a divine-human process. God and humanity are cooperating, cooperating to create, to fill the world with life and love. Evil is trying so hard to oppose all of this, which tries to destroy, overpower, slave, oppress and kill, but good will surely win.

Today I read a post from my friend in which she writes that there is no God. I am, in a sense, ready to agree with her. Because this feeling of abandonment of God is natural. It is also described in the Holy Scriptures. When we read the Book of Job, it is about all this, complete abandonment. When we read the Psalms, it is there that King David cries out to God. He calls for the destruction of enemies who attack him from all sides. He cries out for protection and does not understand why he is abandoned, why He does nothing? Moreover, Christ himself on the cross in the last seconds of his life addresses God the Father with the words: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46) Even God has survived this abandonment of God. Friends, that is why it is a natural reaction of our people to ask these questions, to make such harsh statements. It is not words that will convince us, but the fact that we continue to live, continue to love, support and pray for each other. We believe in God, Who is among us, Who is in us, Who is with us, Who is the God of love, Who is the God of sacrifice. Our God is with us. He is with us even when it seems to us that He has left us.

Fr. Gabriel Haber, OSBM

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