On March 10, 2019, while reflecting on the Gospel reading for Forgiveness Sunday, Patriarch Daniel of Romania highlighted the following three teachings:
- Forgiveness: “Let’s forgive our neighbor’s faults, so that God may forgive our own faults”.
- Fasting: “When we fast, let’s not look somber as the hypocrites do, and let’s not show others that we fast, but instead, let’s perfume our head and wash our face. And the Father in Heaven will see the sacrifice of our fast and will reward us”.
- Freedom from greed for material things: “Do not store up treasures on earth, where moths and vermin may destroy them, and where thieves break in and steal”.
About the first teaching, the primate explained that “forgiveness is the good way of beginning Great Lent”. Why? Because “by forgiving others, we cultivate humility and inner freedom in order to live in God’s merciful love”.
“When we forgive, we free ourselves from a state of sadness, hatred or hostility towards others. If we forgive, we are free in our soul and we can truly pray and show that we desire God’s merciful love to forgive our own sins”.
“When we forgive people, we recognize they should not be reduced to the bad actions they committed at one point upsetting someone, because the same people can do also much good”.
‘Forgiving our neighbor’s faults often involves the crucifixion of our own selfishness and opens the door to the Resurrection, to a new state of human communication and communion with God and with our neighbors”.
About fasting, he said, “We must fast with joy, not with sadness”. We can easily know if our fasting is true and sanctifying “if we have humility and joy in our soul”. The soul of those who fast becomes humble and joyful. Then they understand they get more nourished with God’s merciful love through prayer than with by eating limited and fleeting food”.
“Fasting should not be understood as an obligation, but rather as free joyful self-offering to God, as gratitude for the gift of life and as desire to sanctify our life”. Through this self-offering, “we show we love God more than His transient and material gifts like food. We entrust ourselves to Him, because He is the source of our life”.
Finally, about freedom from greed for material things, Patriarch Daniel said, “We often become slaves of material things through covetousness, through the desire to dominate others, through the desire to selfishly assert ourselves in relation to others”.
He added that “Fasting refers not only to abstaining from food, but also from everything that diminishes our love for God and for our neighbor”. “Fasting is a work of liberation from greed for material, limited, and transient goods in order to unite ourselves through more intense prayer with the unlimited and eternal God, the Source of Life and eternal joy”.
“We have to gather spiritual treasures in our soul, not around us: humility, strong faith, love for God and for our neighbor, mercy, kindness, purity, and holiness”.
At the end of his homily, the patriarch recommended to be attentive to the three major faults that caused Adam to be expelled from paradise: “Why was Adam expelled from paradise? Because he didn’t obey God, he didn’t fast, that is, he didn’t abstain, and didn’t repent after sin, but instead he attributed the fault to the woman whom God had given him, and the woman attributed it to the serpent”.
The primate explained that penance heals the tendency of sinners to justify themselves and to accuse others, since Adam and Eve: “The period of fasting together with prayer is the period in which we judge ourselves, not others. We see our own faults, our shortcomings, our deficiencies, our defects, not those of others”. “Sin is selfish and arrogant existence”.
To conclude, the Patriarch Daniel urged to be “merciful and humble in order to be like God, to attain the joy and glory of the Lord’s Resurrection, the joy of the resurrection of our soul from its death brought about by sin”.
Source in Romanian