Patriarch Daniel: Christ values the faith and the humble love of those who are helping the sick

Patriarch Daniel homily at St Gregory the Enlightener Chapel

The Gospel passage read on the Second Sunday of the Great Lent dedicated to Saint Gregory Palamas shows that forgiveness of sins is the starting point for recovering from illness, the Romanian Patriarch said March 12.

In his homily delivered at the Chapel of the Patriarchal Residence, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel pointed out the spiritual significance of the Gospel saying that it reflects Jesus Christ’s healing power.

Mark’s Gospel reports that a sick man was brought to Christ the Saviour. Because the crowd, the men who were bringing the paralysed made an opening in the roof above Jesus and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralysed man “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2: 4-5).

Forgiveness of sins is the beginning of healing for a sick person. Sin itself is an illness, a spiritual suffering, the Patriarch noted. Jesus first offers health for the soul by forgiving the sins, and then He heals the body.

Reflecting on the gospel reading, Patriarch Daniel said that Christ the Saviour did not ask the paralysed man whether he has faith or not. Jesus knew that his much suffering brought him to faith and humility. Calling Christ a perfect confessor, the Patriarch said that He does not reveal publicly the paralysed man’s sins, He only tells him his sins are forgiven.

A sinner who faithfully comes to Jesus Christ and asks for healing becomes a spiritual son of divine love. Through the remission of sins, humans receive the grace of adoption. In this gospel, we observe both what remission of sins means, and how man’s dignity is restored. When we confess our sins with humbleness and sincerity, the Patriarch said, we receive both remission of sins and the grace of adoption: we become God’s spiritual sons and daughters.

Sickness is not necessary the effect of sins, the Patriarch said. Many people are gravely ill ever since childhood. Some others are carrying the burden of sickness all their life without being great sinners.  Sickness often works pedagogically; it can be a divine work through which man is kept away from sinning. Sometimes sickness brings much humility and compassion. A suffering man can better understand those who are suffering.

Explaining the spiritual meaning of the divine wisdom, the Romanian Patriarch emphasised that sickness can become a way to teach man that health is a gift from God and not a human right.  We must constantly cultivate this gift. In some cases, illness is a mystical work of God, an urge to draw nearer to the Lord. By coming close to God, His Beatitude noted, sick people transform their suffering in a hope of recovery.

The Patriarch offered Saint Paul the Apostle as an example, taking into account that he suffered from a heavy illness almost his entire life. Saint Paul pleaded with the Lord three times to take it away from him. However, God answered to him that His grace was sufficient for him. Thus, Saint Paul understood that his illness was an invitation to humbleness and to becoming spiritually perfect.

Patriarch Daniel stressed that our Saviour values the faith and the humble love of those who are helping the sick. The healing of the paralysed man was made possible by the faith of his four friends who brought him to Jesus. These four men represent all those who have taken care of suffering people throughout the ages.

At the end of his speech, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel emphasised that the Church has established that Saint Gregory Palamas, a great teacher of Orthodox Athonite Hesychasm, be commemorated on the Second Sunday of Great Lent. His Beatitude called St Gregory the theologian of the unfading glory of God.

Photo credit: Lumina Newspaper

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