This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the UGCC coming out from the underground. And we see very clearly that the supreme witness given to the communion of the Kyivan Church with Peter is the blood of the martyrs of our Church. This blood is a spiritual testament, a covenant of faith of our parents. This was stated by the Father and Head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church His Beatitude Sviatoslav during the homily to the faithful at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ on the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul.
Today, the Church of Christ, said the preacher, celebrates the Feast of the Supreme Apostles Peter and Paul – the feast of two special people whom Jesus Christ commissioned to preach the same gospel. They were carriers of the same Holy Spirit, disciples of the same Savior. They preached the gospel of eternal life, which is from the one God and Father.
But as people, according to the Primate, in their personal history, they were completely different. However, we celebrate their holiday on the same day. By the marvelous divine work, they both died as martyrs in Rome during the persecution of Emperor Nero.
What today does the Lord God want to say to us through the two apostles? “Let’s look at them,” asks the Head of the Church. – “Peter came from the lowest strata of the society. Apparently, he was an illiterate man. We know that by his profession he was an ordinary fisherman who had never gone beyond the Galilean Sea. But Christ calls him to be the foundation, the cornerstone of His Church. He changes his name. And it was in Simon that Christ saw a true deep faith, a faith that is as solid as a rock. Such a faith is a special gift from the Lord,” said His Beatitude Sviatoslav.
“But Paul, on the contrary,” proceeded the preacher, “came from the top of the Jewish society of that time. He was a Jew from the diaspora, as we would say today. His family was wealthy, since he was a Roman citizen from his very birth. He was, perhaps, the most learned person of his time.
It was Paul who helped the apostles and early disciples understand that the Church of Christ is the Church for all; that it is universal in its nature, its mission and its vocation.”
“Today, we, Ukrainians, are Christians thanks to the special charisma and mission of the Apostle Paul. Peter was sent to preach the gospel to the Jews. His preaching was recorded by Mark the Evangelist. Paul was sent to the other nations. His preaching was recorded by Luke the Evangelist,” said His Beatitude Sviatoslav.
According to the Head of the Church, the memory of Peter and Paul is celebrated on the same day, because from the earliest times the Church wanted to emphasize that we can find Christ’s Church when we are in unity, in communion with the Apostle Peter of our days. Paul could fulfill his
mission only in unity and communion with Peter, whom Christ had established as the foundation of his Church.
“Today, on the Feast of Peter and Paul,” emphasized the spiritual leader of Ukrainians, “we can rediscover the special calling of our Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Our Church has survived the violent times of persecution only through unity with the Apostle Peter of our days – the Holy Father, the Pope of Rome. Ukraine became free because there was such a Church that did not shake, never withdrew from the stone of Peter’s faith.”
“Just a few days ago,” said the Head of the UGCC, “with the Metropolitans of our Church, we were able to verify the compass of our faith with the Holy Father, the Pope Francis. Greeting him, I said: ‘The unity with Peter is not only a fruit of some political expediency or an order of law, because nobody will give up their lives for political expediency.’”
This year, our Beatitude Sviatoslav, reminds us, we celebrate 30 years of UGCC coming out from the underground. And this very year we see especially clearly that this communion of the Kyivan Church with Peter was testified with the blood of the martyrs of our Church. This blood is the spiritual testament of the faith of our parents. At the time when in the modern world we see church divisions and doubts, it is so important for us to rely on the rock of Peter’s faith,” reiterated the Head of the UGCC.