The Prayer for other people heals sufferance and loneliness

Church of Romania 

On 6 July 2014, the Orthodox Christians are on the 4th Sunday after the Pentecost. According to the good order of our Church, the evangelical pericope of Saint Matthew the Evangelist, 8:5-13, was read at the Divine Liturgy, presenting the Healing of the centurion’s servant.

His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romanian delivered a sermon at the historical chapel of the Patriarchal Residence dedicated to Saint Great Martyr George in which he showed that “the Gospel of the 4th Sunday after Pentecost shows how Jesus Christ, our Lord, healed the servant of a Roman centurion in Capernaum. This wonder has a deeply charitable meaning and a missionary one too. The healing of a sick man has a deeply charitable meaning and a missionary meaning as well. The healing of a sick man of a different religion but Judaic has a symbolical missionary meaning. It predicts the fact that the Gospel of Christ will be preached all over the world, to all peoples, because God loves all people. Jesus Christ, our Lord, shows now to his disciples that He can find strong faith at other peoples too, not only at the Jewish people. The centurion represents the other ethnic groups which will believe in Christ. Having seen the great faith of the centurion, Jesus Christ, our Lord, says: “I assure you that many will come from the east and the west and sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven.” This prophecy will not be fulfilled sometime in the far future, but now, when Jesus praises the faith of the Roman centurion. The centurion of today’s Gospel represents the peoples, others than the people of Israel, who will come to Christ, will believe in Him and will be saved. Therefore, they will believe in Him and many will be saved whom the Jews considered impure and unfaithful”.

The Gospel shows us that merciful love for the sick one strengthens the centurion’s faith that Jesus can heal his servant, explained His Beatitude, showing that one of the spiritual qualities of the centurion is the merciful kindness: “We see that although the centurion is chief over one hundred soldiers and can replace a sick soldier with a healthy one, yet he is concerned with the health of his faithful servant when he is sick. For Jesus Christ, the centurion expresses the sufferance of the servant who cannot ask Jesus directly to heal him. A Roman centurion pays such great heed to his servant, that his kindness and faith are praised by Jesus publicly. This centurion is a good hearted man, merciful and full of compassion, so that this merciful kindness gives him the courage to go to Jesus about whom he heard He healed lots of sick people and ask Him to heal his servant”.

The healing word of Christ is saving word 

The Gospel shows that besides the great virtue of his kindness, this centurion has another virtue too, namely lowliness, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel said: “Although he is commander over one hundred soldiers and represents the ruling power of Rome over the Holy Land, the centurion lowers himself saying: I do not deserve to have you come into my house. Just give the order, and my servant will get well. Then, he motivates: “I, too, am a man under the authority of superior officers, and I have soldiers under me. I order this one, ‘Go!’, and he goes, and I order that one, ‘Come!’ and he comes; and I order my slave ‘Do this!’ and he does”. Starting from the mobilizing power of the word which moves the person, the centurion wants, in fact, to express his faith in the healing power of Jesus about whom he heard he had healed lots of sick people. Although the centurion speaks about the mobilizing power of his word, yet he admits he has no healing power over the human body. This is why the centurion asks Jesus now for a healing word. Thus, the centurion confesses indirectly that Jesus is not an ordinary man, like all the other ones, but He has a special power, different from the human mobilizing word. The healing word of Christ is a saving word, namely it raises man from his state of sickness to the state of good health, from sin to holiness and from death to life”.

The third spiritual quality of the centurion is his deep faith: “When Jesus Christ, our Saviour, notices that the pagan centurion admits that He is the Healing God he reveals to all people the third virtue of this centurion, namely his deep faith, that Jesus Christ is the Master of Life. Thus, after Christ, our Lord, sees in the centurion’s soul merciful kindness, deep lowliness and strong faith, He rewards these virtues with the joy caused by the healing of his servant for whom he prayed Jesus to heal. Thus, the Gospel shows us that we must not pray only for ourselves, but also for others too”, His Beatitude Daniel said.

The Church asks us to pray not only for us, but also for all the sick ones

The Patriarch of Romania underlined the fact that today’s Gospel shows us the importance of the prayer for other people, especially when the people are so sick that they cannot move anymore and their sufferance is overwhelming: “Because they have merciful love for their fellow beings the really faithful people become the voice of the sorrow of those who cannot express their sufferance anymore, who are prayers for good health and salvation of their sick fellow beings. In this sense, we can say that the Church has learned a lot from the centurion of today’s Gospel and from other people just like him. Therefore, the Church asks us to pray not only for ourselves, but also for all the sick ones, for those who know how to pray and for those who do not know how to, for those who can and for those who cannot come to the church and for those who can no longer come to the Church, but lie bed ridden in their homes, in hospital or in old people’s homes. Because the prayer for other people is healer of sufferance and loneliness, the Church calls us to participate in all her prayers and services for the sick, as well as to help the sick”.

We must use the word with all responsibility because the word can either hurt or spiritually heal

To end with, the Patriarch of Romania urged to use the word with responsibility: “The centurion of today’s Gospel speaks about the power of the mobilizing word, but asks for Jesus’ healing word that gives good health and life. Therefore, we must use the word with all responsibility because it can either hurt or spiritually heal. A bad word said to an innocent person can hurt him/her, while a good word told to somebody sad can heal hidden wounds or change moods. There are lots of people who were spiritually hurt in their childhood, youth or at time of trial, and their wound is hard to heal, especially if the one who hurt somebody does not apologize and does not change his/her attitude towards him/her or does not pray for him/her. Thus, the good word can heal, while the bad word can hurt. This is why we must think not only of the bed ridden ones, but also of those who suffer because they are spiritually hurt. We must think how we use the words: do we hurt or heal through words?, despise or appreciate?, lower or raise our fellow beings through the words addressed to them?, improve or remove those whom we reproof using harsh words? Today’s Gospel calls us to use the word only to heal the sick one, to raise the fallen one, to improve the one who made a mistake, to help and strengthen the weak and to cultivate the communion of the people with God and among themselves.”

Next Sunday our Church is on the 5th Sunday after the Pentecost, also called of the Holy Fathers of the 4th Ecumenical Synod.