The Choice before Russia is not unlike the choice before Israel. Putin and his followers like Tatian have made their choice. Will the Russian people choose life and prosperity or death and doom? In today’s readings, Deuteronomy 30:5 tells that “Moses said to the people: “Today I have set before you life and prosperity, death and doom. If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin on you today, loving him, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes, and decrees, you will live and grow numerous, and the LORD, your God, will bless you in the land you are entering to occupy. If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not listen, but are led astray and adore and serve other gods, I tell you now that you will certainly perish; you will not have a long life on the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy. I call heaven and earth today to witness against you.”
In 2016, Putin signed into law a number of severe restrictions to religious freedom, banning preaching, praying, proselytizing, and disseminating religious materials outside of officially-designated areas but the Ukrainian people have stood valiantly with faith and courage facing a relentless aggressor, due in great measure to the Catholic and Orthodox roots of Ukraine, not the Russian Church as Tatiana would like you to believe. We have witnessed everyday heroes of Ukraine, like Father Oleksander, the Catholic Priest who runs the Ukrainian Catholic EWTN network, and refused to leave, the elderly man who offered to give a broken down Russian tank a lift back to Russia, the young married couple who wed early so they could fight together and if necessary die together before God. We have watched President Zelensky refuse an offer from President Joe Biden to have him and his family evacuated, saying ‘I need ammunition, not a ride.’
Today as the Russian invasion rages on, the on, the 20- something soldiers sent by Vladimir Putin to massacre civilians in Ukraine have a choice before them: life and prosperity, death and doom. Will they make the right choice, or will they continue to martyr innocent Ukrainians?
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