During his homily delivered on the fourth Sunday after Pentecost, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania, urged the faithful to manifest merciful love, deep humility, and strong faith, resembling the centurion to whom the daily gospel reading refers.
His Beatitude also offered the example of faith of Ruler Prince Saint Stephen the Great, whom he called a lover of the nation and the homeland, a protector of faith and a great founder of holy places.
The Patriarch of Romania attended the Divine Liturgy celebrated on 2 July 2017 at St George Chapel of his patriarchal residence. On this occasion, he offered his reflections on the Gospel passage from Matthew in which Jesus met a centurion who asked the Lord to heal his paralyzed servant.
In his speech, the Patriarch focused on the fact that Christ’s merciful and healing love awakens a strong faith in pagans.
The patriarch explained that Christ healed the paralyzed servant as a response to the centurion’s loving-kindness, who suffered and prayed for the recovery of his servant.
This centurion has a particularly merciful, compassionate behavior, suffering together with his sick servant. His compassion shows that what counts in life is not an important rank or function, but the human dignity of each person. To this kindness manifested by the centurion, Patriarch Daniel added, Jesus responds with kindness.
The head of the Romanian Orthodox Church pointed to the importance of praying for others, especially for the sick and troubled.
The Saviour Jesus Christ appreciates when others are praying for the sick and that the centurion did not ask selfishly something for himself, but for a servant whom he could easily replace with another.
The gospel passage in which the faith of the Roman military is revealed also has a prophetic and missionary character, His Beatitude noted. Jesus Christ sets the beginning of the mission among pagans, and anticipates the conversion of the Gentiles to Christianity, by saying that “many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness.” (Matthew 8:11-12).
Reflecting on the Saviour’s healing word, the patriarch said that God has given us words for a positive use. The Gospel urges us to use words for healing, for strengthening, for consolation, for the promotion of communion, not for disunion, humiliation or debauchery.
In the second part of his sermon, Patriarch Daniel pointed to the spiritual qualities of Ruler Prince Saint Stephen the Great, known for his faith, sacrificial attitude and devoutness.
His Beatitude recalled the long reign of Ruler Prince of Moldavia, his numerous foundations, but also his courage and devoutness that were known all over the world. The patriarch stressed the reputation of the ruler from the Muşatin family by quoting the Polish chronicler Jan Długosz who in his work The History of Poland called St Stephen the Great “the most praised Christian Prince of Europe to whom the leadership of all Christendom should be entrusted”.
The patriarch noted that the victories of the Great Ruler Prince were due to his special spiritual life and to the advice of his confessor (spiritual director), Saint Daniel the Hermit.
St Stephen the Great has been exposed many times in a state of sacrifice on the battlefield that very often he was struggling between life and death. However, he often escaped death in a miraculous way through God’s protection.
His spiritual director was the great clairvoyant Saint Daniel the Hermit who counseled St Stephen, and who told him that in defeat he ought to restore the army, resume the battle and never give up.
Saint Stephen remains for us a model of strong faith, of love for the people and the homeland, a model of how to protect Christian faith, and a great founder, the Patriarch said closing his remarks.
In the end, the Patriarch conveyed best wishes of health, joy, and longevity to those who bear the name of Saint Stephen.