On 5 February 2012, the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost, the evangelical pericope of Saint Luke the Evangelist, chapter 18, lines 10-14, the example of the tax collector and of the Pharisee was read in all the places of worship of the Romanian Patriarchate.
His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, delivered a sermon in “Saint Gregory the Enlightener” chapel of the Patriarchal Residence, in which he emphasised the teaching of the evangelical pericope:
“This Sunday’s Gospel shows us three great virtues, namely the humble prayer, sincere repentance and merciful love. These three virtues are emphasised in the story of the tax collector and of the Pharisee, read on the Sunday of the Prodigal Son and on that of the Frightful Judgement. We see that these three great virtues or spiritual works of the soul willing to be risen from the death of sin are permanent works in the Christian’s life, especially during the Easter Lent, not only on the first three Sundays, but also during the entire period of the Lent. These three virtues must be cultivated all our life. Today’s Gospel presents us two ways of praying: the Pharisee’s prayer who rather brags himself in front of God than glorifying God for the gifts received from Him; the other sort of prayer is the humble prayer of the tax collector who did not dare look up to heaven and admitted his sins saying: ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel underlined the importance of the virtue of lowliness in the life of the faithful: “From the point of view of the Christian life, lowliness is a great benefit. First of all, lowliness is the foundation of the true prayer which God loves and receives. When the prayer is united with lowliness, man is completely transparent to the merciful love of Christ and so, he opens himself to Him who fills the soul of the humble man, who is not full but empty of himself, becoming full of the humble merciful love of Christ. The sign of this humble merciful presence of the love of Christ in the human’s soul who prays in lowliness is the presence of peace and joy in one’s soul.
In this sense, the Patriarch of Romania has also said: “Today’s Gospel calls us to cultivate lowliness as a gift of God, as well as man’s effort who must watch over his mood. He must not be proud of his good deeds, but acknowledge the presence of God in the good deed, not to blame his fellow beings before helping them, let the judgment to God and cultivate lowliness as the best way of reaching salvation.
This Sunday is the first in the period of the Triode. The Triode precedes the Pentecostarion period and follows another period, the longest of the church year, the Octoechos. The Triode period is the only one of the liturgical year in which all the three Divine Liturgies of the Eastern Church are celebrated and it lasts 10 weeks, from the Sunday of the tax collector and of the Pharisee till Great Holy Saturday.