“Today the Church needs your spontaneity and your intuitive sense of God’s presence. It is you who are the mouth the Church greets today her King with singing “Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the Lord!” With these words His Beatitude Sviatoslav appealed to the youth in his first message after enthronement on the occasion of Palm Sunday. This is the occasion when the Church celebrates the incredible, triumphant entrance of the Lord to Jerusalem.
As the Primate of the UGCC indicates, a custom has been established within the Catholic Church that on Palm Sunday special attention is paid to our youth. On this day young people from all over the world gather for a prayer with the Holy Father on St. Peter’s square. “Taking this opportunity, I would like to address you through this message, assuring you in my special care and inviting you to a dialogue with the Word of God which the Holy Church preaches us” – the Head of the UGCC pointed out in his message to the youth.
“Today Almighty God is meeting his people, but not through some inanimate object. Today the Son of the Heavenly Father, who is filled with the Holy Spirit, is coming personally and in a highly visible way! Jesus Christ opens up for us a possibility to meet Him personally” – emphasizes His Beatitude Sviatoslav. He also notes that the Church of Christ prepares and invites us for this very meeting, calling our attention the words of St. Andrew of Crete: “Let us go and climb the Mount of Olives together. Let us make advances to Christ, the One who is drawing nearer today of his own free will, drawing us to His holy and blessed sufferings in order to accomplish the mystery of our salvation” (Sermon 9 on Palm Sunday). According to the Head of the UGCC with this appeal, Venerable Andrew highlights the spontaneity of such a meeting from both sides. “From God’s side – it is a movement of love by the Creator to His creation. A movement of the pure love which will lead to the suffering and self-sacrifice of the Son of God for the salvation of each of us. From the side of humanity – it is a spontaneous reply, a reply of the youth to God’s drawing near” – says the Head of the UGCC.
As His Beatitude points out, these were young people of Jerusalem who felt this movement of love towards them. He remarks, “Their reaction was spontaneous, unintentional and even inconceivable to the religious-political elite of that time. These were children and youth who recognized in Jesus Christ the incarnated God of Israel and started to cry out, ‘Hosanna!’ – which means ‘Save us!’ ” – stated the Head of the UGCC. “The desire of youth to love and to be loved opened them up to divine love, because to save means to present ones life in love, i.e. eternal life” – stressed His Beatitude Sviatoslav.
He also points out that in our times, this natural religious pursuit, this search for eternal Love among young people, is often wounded and impoverished. “It is difficult for us to allow to ourselves be loved. We are afraid of being cheated and used. We are often unable to love. We look for a tangible life reality in the intangible objects of our modern world. Objects like virtual entertainment and communication in social networks rather than real, live people who are next to us” – says the Head of the UGCC.
According to His Beatitude Sviatoslav, these features of modern culture isolate us, they close us into ourselves and make us incapable of meeting others. “That is why our modern young person finds often himself, or herself, so deeply saddened even in the most joyful setting. Without meeting the Lord, he/she cannot meet himself/herself” – sums up the Head of the UGCC.
“The Lord today is triumphantly entering Jerusalem, so let us move to meet and greet Him!” – says his Beatitude Sviatoslav. He calls these green twigs, with which we greet our Lord on Palm Sunday, a symbol of victory over the isolation and loneliness of a person in relation to God and neighbour: “We need so much this green sign of awakening today, this breath of spring which breaks down stereotypes and prejudices. It cancels all the doubts and suspicions of our world, and recognizes the One who is coming to each of us” – emphasized the Primate of the UGCC.
On this sacred day of feasting, the Head of the Church calls on all of us. He implores us: “Be not afraid to meet Christ. Be not ashamed to acknowledge yourself Christians even before those who prohibit you to do it. If you are silent, then ‘stones will cry out!’ No matter how weird it sounds in modern youth culture today, let us not be afraid to cry out to Him: ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ Today we are not only carrying the blessed twigs signifying spring awakening, but we are carrying a symbol of victory over the sin and death. Through them we accept the One who is going to resurrection. Let us live together inside this blessed meeting we will share. We will be inspired by the power of Love with which we will build up together our future” – concludes the Father and the Head of the UGCC, His Beatitude Sviatoslav, his first after enthronement pastoral message to the youth.