This Sunday and Monday is when we bring in our gifts of warm scarfs and greeting cards that will be sent to all the residents of the orphanage in Petryky, Ukraine. We have forged a bond of caring with these institutionalized girls, letting them know that we remember them and wish them joy. Our attention has caused positive ripples for everyone involved with this internat. We too are enriched by the opportunity to reach out to these girls living so far from us.
I also had hoped to send a reminder about the Little Pantry on our church property. This is a small way that we can contribute to individuals whose lives are less fortunate than our own. Whenever we are near the church, why not add a grocery item to the pantry, either from the bin at the church, or from your own home? Please leave grocery items at the church entrance whenever you can. A neighbour on the street told me how delighted she was that we had set up this pantry. It is a great way to help people get by in these difficult times. Food is essential to everyone.
Having our parish initiatives in mind, you can imagine my surprise when I read this Sunday’s parable about Lazarus and the rich man. The Parable’s lesson is unequivocal. Do I see the person who is homeless? Do I respond to him as I do to my family members? Do I see the addict living in the tent? Do I know her name? Lazarus is the only named character in all the Gospel parables! Lazarus means “whom God helps”. God calls the suffering individual by name, while the rich man simply ignores him.
While we like to think that living well is a heavenly reward, the reality is different. God is with us in our suffering as well as in our joy. And we experience the living Christ through acts of kindness and love. You and I can bridge that chasm between the rich man’s hell and the heaven of Lazarus and Abraham.
As a community we are taking small but beautiful steps towards, rather than away from those in need: each card we write to the orphanage in Ukraine addresses a person by name. We can see God in them. Each item of food I put in the pantry is a selfless, anonymous gift to someone who is hungry.
Each prayer and donation to aid Ukraine is a light in darkness. With each step of kindness, Good prevails over evil. Our patriarch Sviatoslav assures us that Ukraine will win by being spiritually and morally stronger than our enemy: we transform hate into courage and love for our homeland. We cultivate love. “ . . . hatred gives birth to criminals, but love gives birth to heroes. Ukraine is revealing itself to be a nation of heroes”.
May we find joy in revealing Christ within us!