HOW ARE THE MIGHTY FALLEN IN THE MIDST OF THE BATTLE!
In the Second Book of Samuel we read how David the second king of Israel dealt with the news of the death of his fierce opponent the first king of Israel, Saul. He rent his clothes, mourned and wept and fasted until evening. He even composed a lamentation to be taught to the people of Judah. A part of it has become a famous line in many languages: "How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!" (2 Sam. 1:25).
Parts of the Old Testament challenge the vision of God we have received in Jesus Christ. Here, however, we find the Spirit of the sweet Lamb Who was slain for us. There is no exulting in the death of the "enemy". Saul died as a consequence of his unjust actions and his sin is shown. But his death is seen as a tragedy - understandable but a tragedy nonetheless.
This harmonizes with the message of the Synod of Bishops of our Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada regarding the crisis in Yugoslavia:
News of NATO's decision to bomb Yugoslavia fills our hearts with great sadness and conflict...As Christians, we must always seek peaceful means for resolving conflicts; we can look at the use of violence in conflict resolution only as a failure. This failure is particularly profound when both sides in the dispute claim to be people of God...Once again history witnesses human beings bringing down all manner of tribulation and atrocity upon other human beings in the name of God. This is completely unacceptable for people of any faith tradition, who call upon the All-Merciful One as their Creator and Sustainer. Military action, whether it is a bombing mission or a guerilla raid, even when looked upon as a "last ditch effort", cannot be condoned by people of faith. Even those who accept such things as "necessary evils" must accept that they are evil nonetheless.
In keeping with the Spirit of Christ our Bishops do not do that which is so tempting: they do not choose one side and make them heroes and the other side villains. They say:
Today's victims were yesterday's aggressors, and today's antagonists were yesterday's protagonists. This rhythm of the oppressed becoming the oppressor will be broken only if, and when, public opinion sees the truth and futility of this vicious cycle and we understand the need to comfort both (emphasis - IK) sides in their pain, and to hold both sides accountable for their transgressions.
It is very difficult to do or say the right thing at a time when every alternative looks bad. But we can prepare the way for peace in our hearts by refusing - absolutely refusing to give way to hatred and simple solutions. And we can PRAY as do our bishops:
Our prayers are with the men and women of our armed forces involved in the air raids over Yugoslavia and with their loved ones; they are with our Serbian brothers and sisters in the Orthodox faith throughout the world, and with all those innocents, of all faith traditions, who find themselves trapped in the grasp of this violence. May God's comforting presence be felt in your lives. May peace return to Kosovo. And may God's justice, mercy and peace which surpasses all human understanding reign supreme in our hearts, and in the world.
V. Rev. Ihor George Kutash