In this heartfelt message, Metropolitan Jonah (Paffhausen) addresses the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine, Palestine, and Israel, urging Christians to show compassion to all those who suffer, regardless of their affiliations. He emphasizes the importance of unity and love in the sight of God and highlights the dangers of perpetuating cycles of violence and hatred. Join us as we explore the message of peace and empathy in the face of conflict and pray for the well-being of all those affected. Metropolitan Jonah is a retired American Eastern Orthodox bishop who served as the primate of the Orthodox Church in America until his resignation on July 7, 2012.
Video source: Saint Herman of Alaska Orthodox Church, Stafford, Virginia, October 2023
I think everyone is very aware of the wars that are going on in Ukraine, the wars in Palestine and Israel and the most important thing, I think, as Christians, is that we have compassion on those who are suffering, regardless of which side, because in the sight of God there are no sides, no sides, no, there’s no nationalities, there’s no ethnic groups, there’s no races, there’s one race, the human race, there’s one people, the people of God: that they may be one, as we are one. [John 17:21]
We have to pray for all of those who are suffering in Ukraine, not only for all of the innocent civilians who have have died and have suffered, have been displaced, have been cast into exile, have been brutalized, but also for the troops on both sides, who suffered and many who have died.
In Israel it’s the same thing, we can get all caught up in this evil of vengeance and retribution of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”, which only leaves us blind and toothless, right?
But what it does is it creates a never ending cycle of violence and hatred and one group oppresses the other and the other group gets back at them and then oppresses them and on and on and on… and as Christians we have to recognize evil as it’s being perpetrated by people in this world who have forgotten God or who hate God.
In this one Gospel of today from St. James, who died as a martyr, the Lord said: “he who despises or he who hates you, hates Me, and he who hates Me, hates Him who sent Me.” [John 15:23]
In other words, if people hate us for being Christians, their hatred is for Jesus Christ and if they hate Jesus Christ, they hate God, this is the very essence of evil and we have to, in so far as we’re able, especially in our own hearts, to cleanse and purify ourselves of any of this hatred, of any of this evil that is being perpetrated largely on completely innocent people, on women and children and non-combatants and then on the soldiers themselves.
Our first and primary loyalty, above everything else, is our loyalty to Jesus Christ and to the Gospel and if we allow hatred and malice and bitterness and anger and all of these things into our hearts and taking sides and condemning others and dissing others because they, you know, support the other team, does not that mean that we also have forgotten God?
We have to keep everything we have in perspective, and that perspective always has to be first and foremost the Kingdom of God so we need to pray for those who are suffering, we need to pray for those who’ve gotten caught up into the passion of hatred and so fired up they’re going out and killing people, that they may come to repentance so that the cycle of violence doesn’t escalate and turn into a Third World War from which nothing nothing good can come for anyone.
So brothers and sisters, let’s pray that the leaders may come to repentance that they may realize the value of human life, of every human life, whatever their political party, whatever their ethnicity, whatever their race, whatever… none of that matters.
Literally, none of that matters, the only thing that matters is that these are human beings who are the image of God.
For them, as Christians, we need to have compassion and we need to pray.