Tonight starts the fast of Tammuz 17 commemorating in the Jewish community the first breaches through the walls of Jerusalem by the time of the Second Temple. It is reputed to have occurred on Tammuz 9 for the First Temple. It is thus a time of reflection and conversion to God, fasting and also expectation for the consolation that God has shown after the full destruction on Tisha Be’Av (Ninth off Av, in three weeks).
The main purpose is how to serve God and why. There is a real need in our generation to understand how we are handling over our heritage, not as a privilege, but as received for granted by the Most High only by His Will; there is something evident and still a matter for deeper envision of what serving means and implies. We are chains, links, connections and each has to teach, to educate, to repair and build up something that never happened before, for the benefit of more and more people.
In 1932, late Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky [Андрий Шептицський] addressed these lines to the Ukrainian youth. It was a time of very great turbulence for the country. He had been heading the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church for a long time. In that very year, hunger was decided by the Soviet communist authorities. It is known as the “Holodomor=голодомор – mass murder through hunger, famine”. I often relate to the event without making it a nationalistic combat for any internationally recognized “genocide”. This can evolve into a serious subject of debate and contest among the nations. Indeed, millions of inhabitants of the Ukraine were killed by famine over these years, mainly Ukrainians but also Czech, Gypsies, Jews and other nations.
The outstanding character of Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky proposed to answer these years of turmoil and nonsense with faith and by transmitting the values of human respect for life and dignity. If we have a real look at today’s situation in Israel, it should be noted that there do exist a lot of similar points. I always mention, wherever it is possible, that Sheptytsky’s personality and actions embraced much wide insights than those required for the development of Ukraine. In his country and through the great diversity of its inhabitants, he reminded all about the divine laws and human rules that should govern our lives.
These are the excerpts (cited by Andrii Krawchuk, Christian Social Ethics in the Ukraine) :
“… to do one’s duty in the face of adversity, to bear the heat of the day, the scorching rays of the sun, the ill will of people, the hatred of enemies, the absence of trust from among one’s own, the want of assistance from one’s closest friends – and in the midst of such work, to fulfill one’s task to the very end, without expecting any laurels for the triumph or any reward for the service… In our hands is only one moment we do not link up our work without those who came before us, and if those who come after us do not link up their work in their time with our work and with the work of those who came before us, then what can our nation achieve, even after centuries?”
(Metropolitan Andrii Sheptytsky)