The words Hosanna in the highest, sung during Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, hold special significance for the Ukrainian people during this time of crisis, said Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk during his homily on Palm Sunday.
The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) added that as the crisis in Ukraine continues to escalate, there are those who may feel forsaken by God. “But no, He is coming to us today, He is entering into Kyiv, which is the ‘new Jerusalem.'”
Archbishop Shevchuk’s words came as Ukraine’s acting president Oleksandr Turchynov decided to launch an anti-terrorist campaign against pro-Russian separatists. The decision is the latest chapter in a conflict that began with peaceful protests last November against the then-president Viktor Yanukovych.
“How specially these words sound in the ears of Ukrainians today,” he said. “Perhaps, today, when we are filled with anxiety, we are getting the different messages from Eastern Ukraine, including Donetsk region, where the anti-terrorist operation in Slovyans’k is going on … How much anxiety today our nation has!”
Meanwhile, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I issued a Palm Sunday message to civil and Church leaders in Ukraine.
“The Holy Mother and Great Church of Christ of Constantinople regards the Ukrainian nation and people as Her precious sons and daughters, born from the baptismal waters that flowed through the banks of the Dnepr River,” he said.
“This is why we take this opportunity, on the celebration of our Lord’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, to exhort all the pious Orthodox Christians of Ukraine that they maintain ‘the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,’” he continued. “The Kingdom of Christ is not of this world … We encourage you to place your faith in the words of the Psalmist: ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!’”