[COLUMN] Renouncing the evil of war in Ukraine 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, causing the horrific destruction of human lives and the country, has stunned the world. The Holy Father calls it diabolical and urges us all to pray for the end of this aggression against Ukraine and peace in the world.

On Ash Wednesday evening this past week, our parish responded to the call of the Holy Father to dedicate a special Holy Hour of Prayer for Ukraine. Thanks to those who came to pray for this intention. We continue our earnest prayers for the people of Ukraine.

As I reflect on this ongoing tragic event, I cannot help but think of our common humanity and our solidarity with one another. We hurt when we see other people fleeing their countries and being denied human rights. Seeing the bombings in Ukraine and the fleeing of thousands of people, including children, from their homeland breaks our hearts and puts us to tears. This sin against humanity should have never happened! As Pope Francis said:

The one who makes war forgets humanity. He doesn’t look at the concrete life of people, but he puts before this all the partisan interests of power. He entrusts himself to the diabolical and perverse logic of arms, which is farthest from the will of God, and he distances himself from ordinary people who want peace.

We decry and renounce this evil that the Russian government inflicted upon Ukraine. Deep in our hearts, we know when something is evil. It’s because we have the Law of love on our lips and in our hearts. As St. Paul tells us in his Letter to the  Romans this Sunday:

Brothers and sisters: What does Scripture say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart—that is, the word of faith that we preach—, for, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Jesus came to sanctify our mouths, minds, and hearts, configuring them according to his holy will. It’s why he teaches us to forgive our enemies, to love even those who are not related to us, and to do to others as we would have them do to us.

As we celebrate Lent this year, we pray for the softening and sanctifying of the hearts of world leaders to bring peace and order to our world. We pray for the end of the threat of war and the use of nuclear arms. We pray for the demise of autocracy in all countries that deprive people of their freedom and human dignity.

The temptations of inordinate power and wealth really exist in the minds and hearts of some people. It’s the fundamental reason for chaos, poverty, and inequalities in our world. That’s why Jesus showed resistance to these temptations in the Gospel this Sunday. So may all leaders in governments, business, and yes, even in the church receive the grace of belief in Christ to resist these worldly temptations and renounce all forms of evil!


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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Fr. Rodel “Odey” Balagtas is the pastor of Incarnation Church in Glendale, California.


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