On 3 March 2013, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church delivered a sermon in the chapel of Saint Gregory the Enlightener of the Patriarchal Residence in which he explained the significance of the evangelical pericope of the 34th Sunday after the Pentecost, of Saint Evangelist Luke 15:11-32, presenting the return of the prodigal son.
The soul of a human recuperated is more precious than all the material fortunes he devoured
The Patriarch of Romania showed that God-the-Father has merciful love for all those willing to return to Him: “The Father in this parable is the image of the merciful Heavenly Father who has overwhelming love. It would have been right to punish or scold the prodigal son. But God’s kindness forgave him with no reproach or punishment. Thus, this unlimited merciful love of God recuperates a man if he returns to God, the source of life, no matter what life he lived before. The merciful overwhelming love of God-the-Father shows us that the soul of a man recuperated and repented, who comes back to God is more precious than all the material fortunes he has squandered; that nothing in this world or material wealth can have the value of a saved soul, of the soul who re-established the communion of love and obedience with God. The new good coat or the first coat is the coat of light that the soul receives after he has repented, after he prayed to be forgiven for his sins and he was forgiven. It is the coat that does away with all the dark moods of the soul caused by the sins made”, His Beatitude said, as Trinitas Radio station informs us.
Today’s Gospel is the Gospel of repentance as recuperation of the man dead in sin and lost far from God through his alienation from God
The Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church emphasised the fact that the prodigal son realized the state of things and “this realisation is the first step of repentance. It is the awareness of his sinful conscience and of the unnatural mood of the man caused by sin. Here is the most important point of the changing of the passionate thought and of the bad nature through the decision to change the state of his life and his attitude to life. We see the regret for the sinful life lived as a result of the unnatural mood caused by sin as spiritual and material poverty as well as the desire of improvement, and the wish to confess the sin. Today’s Gospel is the Gospel of repentance of the man dead in sin and lost far from God through his alienation from God”. “The joy caused by the recuperation of the prodigal son, his resurrection from the death of sin, and his return as a member of the family caused joy to his father and to his servants. But the elder son who was in the field heard music and dancing when he came back and asked one of the servants what was going on. This one told him that his brother returned and his father had a party rejoicing that his son was dead and resurrected and lost and found. The elder brother or the elder son of his father became angry because it did not seem fair to him that a sinful man who devoured his father’s property with the prostitutes be forgiven instead of being scolded. His father came out of the house and asked the elder son to come in telling him: “My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So, we see that the elder brother was somehow jealous. He stands for the faithful of the Church who love God, are diligent and obedient, but not always merciful enough or forgiving to the sinful men who come back to God. In this sense, we can say that today’s Gospel is not only the Gospel for forgiving the prodigal son because he has repented, but also for the improvement of the obedient son who remained at home meaning that the father urges him to be not only diligent and obedient, but also merciful and forgiving”, His Beatitude also pointed out.
The fatted calf stands for the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist
The Patriarch of Romania has also said that the gifts offered by the Father in the Gospel are symbols with special spiritual significance related to the Holy Sacrament of Repentance or Confession: “The shape of the ring put on the finger means the uninterrupted love, undiminished and unchanged of God. Therefore, the golden ring means the grace of the re-adoption of man who sinned after baptism, but rose through repentance because sin alienated man, while repentance, forgiveness and grace of God re-adopts man in the uninterrupted, undiminished and unchanged love of God. According to the interpretation of the Holy Fathers, the new footwear means the power of the grace given to help man to walk on the thorns of many temptations and his present ability as a result of the grace received through the Mystery of Repentance to walk straight on the way of salvation not on round about ways. So, new footwear means: help of God to overcome temptation and light of God, as well as strengthening of the will to follow the way of salvation. The fatted calf stands for the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. This is why after confession and repentance, after the confession of the sins man is allowed to have the Body and Blood of the Lord. This rich dinner is a foretaste of the dinner in the Kingdom of God, the dinner that God generously offers to all those who came back to Him, although they used to be sinners, but they fulfilled His will afterwards. This is why Jesus Christ, our Saviour, says that “it is great joy in Heaven when a sinner comes back to God”. Today’s Gospel urges us to repentance for all the period of the triode and for all our life, to repent more often, to confess our sins more often and have our sins forgiven more often through the more often Holy Communion with the Body and Blood of the Lord. So, whoever prepares more for having the Holy Eucharist he can have the Holy Communion more often. May God help us understand that the fatherly merciful love of God-the-Father is in the Church of Christ just like the joy of forgiveness as recuperation of the sinful man and raising him from the his fallen state, to his illumination from the state of darkness and his raising by God who gathers in His fatherly house all the righteous as well as the sinners who repented and were re-adopted through the love of the Most Holy Trinity! Amen!”
Next Sunday the Orthodox Church will be on the Sunday of the Frightful Judgement.