I returned this week from Kyiv to Lviv as the observance of the Epiphany – the Baptism of Jesus according to the Old Julian Calendar is about to be observed on Jan. 19. The word epiphany has come to mean "a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization". So, what am I sensing?

 Despite the most recent Russian missile attacks on targets throughout Ukraine, including the Western cities of Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk, there is much cause for optimism. The nation’s spirit is unbroken. Children are out singing Ukrainian songs in Kyiv and Lviv. Western tanks and Patriot anti-missile systems are on the horizon.

 Ukrainians are indeed an indomitable people. Sure, they complain as much as anyone, but they invariably manage to grasp the positive. One of their favourite phrases is that heroes never die even though Ukraine's heroes are dying every day.

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 My wife spoke with a friend in Kyiv who told her that her brother had just been killed at the front. They decided not to tell her mother but they did tell her father. The heartbroken father died the following day. The mother remains alive hoping to see her child again.

This whole year has been an Epiphany for many.

 The previous day I met with first year students at the Kyiv National University. We devised a strategy for victory and the dismemberment of the world's last empire. They were very excited to contribute.

 We spoke about America as well. They were grateful but circumspect. They felt that America owed them something because it was at America's insistence that Ukraine surrendered the world's third largest nuclear arsenal. I assured them that America and Americans were with them.

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Ukraine has endured Russia’s missile attacks for over two years, but Western powers have not shown the same political will to protect Ukrainian skies as in the case of Israel.

 We also spoke about their own future. They were proud to be part of the Ukrainian nation, not only because of its manifest courage but also because it so strongly believes in genuine freedom and democracy.

 Ukrainians believe that they are saving the world and they have aaccepted this mission. They are grateful for the support they receive from the very people they believe they are saving and whose battles as well as their own they fight.

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 Still, some would-be allies are puzzling. Perhaps not so much Hungary, with a leader whose seems to see Vladimir Putin as his role model, but is a member of both NATO and the EU.

 Belgium seems an aberration, selling out for diamonds despite being the seat of both the EU and NATO and benefiting therefrom financially as well as politically.

 Germany and France have been less than fully supportive, still perhaps more than in the past.

 Israel has been in a quandary. Iran, Israel's worst nightmare, is a staunch ally of the Russian aggressor. 

 Unfortunately, Israel is notorious for its self-interest, but in this case appears to be blind as well in its ambivalence towards Ukraine as a victim of Russia-Iranian collusion.

 The Ukrainian European diaspora has been less than vocal, it seems to me. A recent conference of European Ukrainians held in Serbia failed to address the less than meaningful support for Ukraine by some European countries.

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 No need to mention Serbia itself. It is, of course, a known quantity, often referred to as the Russia of the Balkans. 

 Last Sunday I went to St. Andrew's Ukrainian Catholic Church in Lviv and prayed four times for the Pope as prescribed by the Ukrainian liturgy, asking for God's mercy.

 In the past I had been dismayed by these incantations because of the Pope's lack of tangible concern for the people of Ukraine. But now I have had an epiphany regarding the Pope. Perhaps Pope Francis will have one too.

 As the liturgical Christmas season draws to an end, as well as my stay on this occasion with my Ukrainian brethren in Ukraine, I too am optimistic but concerned. The New Year offers much hope, but is fraught with challenges.   

 The feast of the Epiphany, the coming of the Magi and the Baptism of Christ provides much focus. This year, 2023, could be one of a lasting global epiphany freeing us of war crimes, aggression, tyrants and empires.

 But we must first rid ourselves of the Herods and Pharisees who want to kill the children of freedom.

 The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.  

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