Forgiveness is the good beginning of the Lent

March 2014

On 2 March 2014, the Orthodox Church is on the Sunday of Adam’s expulsion from Paradise, the fourth one during the Triode period, the beginning of the Lent.

The Church scheduled the pericope of the Gospel according to Matthew 6:14-21 to be read at the Divine Liturgy.

His Beatitude delivered a sermon in the chapel of the Saint Gregory the Enlightener, patriarchal chapel, in which he explained the symbolism of today’s Gospel.

The fellow beings’ love enlightens the human soul for the communion with God

His Beatitude emphasised the importance of the good beginning of the Lent and showed that this Gospel teaches us that the relationship with God depends on the man’s relationship with his fellow beings, because man cannot come close to God neglecting his fellow beings, as every human is created in the image of the Merciful God.

“This Sunday’s Gospel is a light for our soul during the whole period of the Lent we are just beginning. This Sunday has a major importance because a long period of spiritual ascension to the Resurrection begins next day. The forgiveness of the fellow beings enlightens the human soul for the communion with God. This day’s Gospel is deep in meaning in simple and few words. Jesus Christ, our Lord, shows us that forgiveness is the good beginning of the Lent; we forgive one another’s mistakes so that God should also forgive our sins and mistakes; we forgive other people’s mistakes to be in peace and communion with all people and resemble the merciful forgiving God”, His Beatitude said.

Forgiveness of the fellow beings’ mistakes often involves crucifixion of one’s own selfishness

The Patriarch of Romania has also shown that while forgiving the neighbour’s mistakes the soul is opened to a new state of communication and communion with God and with one’s own fellow beings. This is why on this Sunday’s Vesper we ask everybody to forgive our mistakes and we forgive all their mistakes.

We fast in order to come close to God

The Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church pointed out the fact that fasting is devotion to God as gratitude for the gifts of life and as desire to deify life: „As for fasting, the Gospel shows us that we must fast not sad, but cheerful. While fasting, don’t be sad like the hypocrite, says the Saviour; when you fast, oil your head and wash your face, not to show the people you are fasting, but to your Father who is hidden; and your Father who sees the hidden things will reward you. Thus, we do not fast to be seen or praised by the people, but to come close to God.

Fasting is also the sign of the faithful man’s desire to rid of greed for material things to unite through more intense prayer with the eternal God

The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church has also emphasised the relationship between prayer and fasting showing that if somebody is fasting but not praying, that one does not gather spiritual light in his soul, but remains only at the level of spiritual and psychological exercise, hygienically or aesthetically motivated.

“Your Father who sees the hidden things will reward you”, says the Saviour. That is to say that He mysteriously sees how the faithful fasting man loves God, the Giver, more than his own gifts. Thus, fasting is a sacrificial spiritual state, or offering of the fasting one, a state cultivated free and according to one’s own abilities. Fasting is also the sign of the faithful man’s desire to unite with God through more intense prayer and rid of the greedless for material things, limited and temporary, to unite with the Unlimited, Eternal God, the Source of eternal life and joy. Lowliness and joy are the signs of the true fasting”, His Beatitude also said.

Fasting must be an inner spiritual work of personal communion of man with God

Fasting is a spiritual work pleasant to God when practiced out of love for Him, not when we fast to be praised or felt sorry for and admired too for the long strict fasting, His Beatitude also said: “The Savour says: when you fast oil your head and wash your face not to show the people you are fasting. To oil the head meant in the Jewish tradition to show that life is blessing and joy from God. To wash one’s face meant to have a natural attitude, while meeting and communicating with the people, without drawing their attention through a sad gloomy look. Thus, fasting must be an inner intimate spiritual work of personal communion of man with God who mysteriously and silently sees the soul and deeds of the faithful man, sacrificial, prayerful and fasting too”.

True fasting is designed to raise man over the material goods in order to unite with God through prayer and often Eucharistic communion

This Sunday’s Gospel shows, in fact, the motivation of fasting, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel also said in his sermon, showing that we fast because we love God of Heaven, the Giver of eternal life better than all the temporary material gifts: “Thus, the true fasting brings about a change of man’s nature, a passage or moving away from the greed or passionate love for material things, to wishing or loving the spiritual things in order to practice more often prayer or communion of love with the Non-material, Unlimited and Eternal God. True fasting is designed to raise man over the material or earthly goods in order to receive heavenly spiritual goods, to join in prayer and often Eucharistic communion the God of Heaven, the source of eternal life and joy in the Kingdom of God.

Obedience of Christ, the New Adam, heals the disobedience of the Old Adam

The Patriarch of Romania explained why this Sunday is called “of Adam’s expulsion from Heaven” and showed the relationship between the fallen Adam and the New Adam – Christ, the Lord: “Adam was expelled from Heaven because he has not fasted. There is a deep spiritual relationship between the fasting of Jesus Christ, our Lord, in the desert for 40 days time, on one hand, and the expulsion of Adam from Paradise, on the other hand. The Lent also refers to the mistake of the first Adam and its amending by Christ, the New Adam. It is not by accident that this Sunday which precedes the Lent is called the Sunday of Adam’s Expulsion from Paradise. Why was Adam expelled from Paradise? It was for three great mistakes: because he did not obey God, did not fast, namely he did not restrain himself and repent, and after he made mistakes he blamed Eve, and Eve the snake, in her turn. From that time till today the sinful man has always had the tendency to apologize himself accusing others. Due to this reason, he cannot save himself without repentance, namely without regretting the sin committed and praying to be forgiven. The obedience of Christ, the New Adam, heals the disobedience of the Old Adam. The Holy Fathers of the Church say that Jesus Christ, our Saviour, accepted to be crucified at the 6th hour of the day, namely at noon, when He stretched out His hands on the cross as sign of obedience in order to save the fallen Adam, who at noon time too, stretched out his hand to the forbidden tree in the middle of the garden of Paradise, committed the sin of disobedience to God, of greed and not admitting the mistake made, his nature defiled by sin having been inherited by the entire human race”.

The Lent time is a period of renewal and improvement on the way of salvation, showed His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel in his sermon. His Beatitude has also urged the faithful to pray and help their fellow beings: “We are called, especially during the Lent period, to improve the behaviour of the Old Adam in us not blaming other people for our sins, not accusing and judging other sinners, but admitting and regretting our own sins, judging ourselves in the Mystery of Repentance or Confession in order to have our sins forgiven. This forgiveness means, in fact, getting rid of a dark tormenting past in order to live a new life in the joy and light of Christ as foretaste of the Resurrection for the glory of God and our salvation”.