Утреня із читанням Страсних Євангелій в Українській Православній катедрі св. Володимира в Чікаго, ІЛ
Each year, Orthodox Christians gather on Holy and Great Thursday to relive the story of Christ – what we call the Passion Narrative – commonly known 12 Passion Gospels. Each gospel offers a slightly different view of what happened on that day nearly 2,000 years ago.
His Eminence Archbishop Daniel, the spiritual father of the Western Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA marked the beginning of last three days of Holy Week on Thursday, April 21, 2022 at the Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral of Holy Equal-to-the-Apostles Great Prince Volodymyr in Chicago, IL (Very Rev. Fr. Ivan Lymar – pastor).
This year brought another unique spiritual dimension to the liturgical prayer life of the Holy Week. His Eminence Archbishop Daniel brought to Chicago the Myrrh-streaming icon of the Mother of God, known as Kardiotissa – “The Softener of Heart” in order to enable the faithful to offer fervent prayers for their loved ones – especially the people of Ukraine in time of Russian aggression against the innocent lives of millions – in fact, the lives of humanity.
Following the liturgical service, while people approached the Cross and the icon for veneration, Archbishop Daniel reflected:
Have you ever noticed the change that happens to someone when they fall in love?
Let the love of Jesus lead you into and intimate relationship with Him and humble service of others.
Tonight, we remember the events that surrounded the sacrifice of our Lord on the night before he died to show His love for all humankind.
Very significant for us to pay attention to the whole passion of Christ Jesus - His focus on love, rather than the physical suffering that awaits Him. It is all about love for His creation – all of us.
The lesson for us is that we are to imitate Jesus, the Lord and Master, to become a carbon copy of Him, to do as He did, to let go of any need for possessions, prestige and power, to let go of any need to make a name for ourselves, and to give our lives in humble service out of love for Him and for each other. We are to take off our outer robes as well, and to wash each other’s feet - as He taught by example His disciples during the Holy Supper…
…Days earlier, on Palm Sunday, Jesus triumphantly entered Jerusalem as the King of kings. The crowd gathered to watch the humble entry of our Lord on a donkey. Some spread their cloaks on the road, others cutting branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Going ahead, some were shouting, "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
Four days later, on Thursday, Jesus was celebrating the Last Supper with his Apostles. Later on that day, Jesus' disciples joined Him in the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Tired, they went to sleep, leaving Jesus alone in His last moments of agony.
As today's long readings tell us, shortly after, Jesus was betrayed by Judas of Iscariot, He was arrested, interrogated, struck, insulted, spit on, and finally crucified on the next day, Friday.
Five days earlier, the voices of Jerusalem echoed Jesus as their new King; the next moment they treated Him as the worst of criminals. Death on the cross was the worse form of punishment that could be inflicted on anyone, reserved for the worse of criminals. Being found in human form, for the fulfilment of the Scriptures, Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross.
In today's Gospel readings, we see the love of Jesus for us. He who was sinless, offered Himself on the cross for our sins so we may enjoy eternal life with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom.
Today's readings are readings of sadness. It is difficult to fully appreciate how people could have been so blind as to crucify the Son of God. It makes us wonder, "Would we have done the same thing?" Are we even treating others as Jesus was treated by lacking in Christian love?
These days we do know a few things about darkness in today’s world. We see it from far off, we see it up close and personal. The tragedy of the war in Ukraine and the ruthless slaughter of innocent lives in Donbas and Kyiv regions; we see it in friends and family members who suffer from ailments like cancer and Alzheimer’s, we see it in young men whose lives are so broken they go on senseless shooting sprees in schools, movie theaters, churches and shopping malls.
There is darkness for those who have lost their jobs, for the child born of a mother addicted to crack cocaine, for the homeless, the hungry, the destitute and those without jobs here and around the world. For those who live under oppressive military dictatorships, for those mothers, fathers, sisters or brothers who sit on death row, for those who live with COVID-19 and HIV/AIDS. We know something about darkness in this present world.
At the same time, the readings are joyful because through Christ, we now have our hope of salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of God. They are readings that draw us on our knees in thanksgiving. In our spiritual gathering, they draw us to confess in our hearts and loudly that Jesus Christ is our Lord to the glory of God the Father.
As we go home later, we should reflect on today's readings. We should allow the Holy Spirit to speak in our hearts, telling us what we should learn from the death of Christ, the King of kings. To one, the Holy Spirit may give a message of repentance. To another, it may be a message of joy. Yet, to others, it may be the strength they need in their hope of eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
This is the wonder of the mystery of the Word of God. While we all hear the same message, the Word of God speaks differently in the heart of each one of us to sanctify us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Blessed is the Most Holy Name of Christ Jesus, He who came in the name of the Lord!”
Serving with Vladyka Daniel were the clergy of St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, IL: Very Rev. Fr. Ivan Lymar – pastor, Very Rev. Fr. Mykola Lymar (pastor of the Protection of the Birth-Giver of God UOC parish in Milwaukee, WI) as well as Protodeacon Andriy Fronchak of St. Volodymyr Cathedral, assisted by the seminarians of the Church Subdeacons Yaroslav Bilohan and Pavlo Vysotskyi, Reader Maksym Zhuravchyk and seminarian Roman Marchyshak.
Those, in attendance at St. Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Chicago, IL, had an opportunity to once again participate in the prayers and the historical sequence of the events, as related in the Gospels and hymns, providing a vivid foundation for the great events yet to come.