‘Prayer and fast change physical hunger and thirst into spiritual hunger and thirst for God’s love’, Patriarch Daniel says

During his homily delivered on the fourth Sunday of Great Lent at the Chapel of the National Cathedral, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel said that ‘prayer united with fasting changes man’s physical hunger and thirst into a spiritual hunger and thirst for the love of God.’

The Patriarch of Romania offered his reflections on the day’s gospel reading noting that the passage was ordained by the Church to be proclaimed during Great Lent ‘in order to strengthen us in our faith and in the fight against sin, selfish passions, and evil spirits.’

Christ heals doubt, sickness, spiritual ignorance

The Gospel relates three major works of Christ. ‘He healed the doubt of the sick boy’s father; He healed the boy of his infirmity freeing him from the impure spirit; He healed his disciples of spiritual ignorance regarding casting out demons from people,’ the Patriarch added.

The father of the possessed boy asked Lord Jesus Christ to heal his son, but he had a weak faith and a feeble hope. In a ‘prompt, repellent, and yet encouraging way,’ the Saviour replied that ‘everything is possible for one who believes.’ (Mark 9:23)

‘Even when reproaching people with a weak faith, Jesus still remained in a state of love with the suffering,’ His Beatitude noted.

Help me overcome my unbelief

The words ‘I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief, show that the father strengthened his faith, and that he humbled himself.’

The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church reflected on the link between fast and prayer, noting that they are needed when ‘we ask demons to come out of people.’

The healing of the possessed boy happened not for Christ’s self-recognition but in order to strengthen the people, thus showing his ‘merciful, healing love.’

A symbol of parents watching over sick children

Because the mute spirit did not let the boy speak, the father became ‘the voice of the suffering boy who could not express himself.’

‘We see the father’s care to bring his child to Christ for healing. This father is the symbol of all parents who watch over their sick children. After using all medications or the attempts made by doctors, they realize that the only hope of healing is God’s help, and thus they draw close to Christ, the Physician of our bodies and souls. But if they faithfully and prayerfully approach to Christ they receive His help,’ the Patriarch added.

Lenten season recommendations

Reflecting on the gospel reading, Patriarch Daniel made some recommendations for the Lenten season. In order to strengthen our faith, Patriarch Daniel urged for ‘the reading of Holy Scripture and the writings of Saints,’ for a more intense church attendance, and for almsgiving.

Since on Sunday the Church commemorated Saint John Climacus, the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church spoke about the saint’s life and encouraged everyone to ask that through his intercessions ‘we may feel how great the power of prayer, fasting and repentance is, and to continue the spiritual ascent to the Holy Pascha.’

‘There is a constant struggle’

At the end of his homily, Patriarch Daniel appreciated the activities carried out at the National Cathedral’s Chapel, where ‘there is a constant struggle’ through the divine services officiated there, and through the social programs carried out by the Chapel’s volunteers.

The patriarch recalled the following programs: ‘Give blood. Save life!’, ‘Health for villages’, ‘Health Prevention and Education’, and ‘Cervical Cancer Prevention and Detection’ Campaigns.

Patriarch Daniel noted that ‘the National Cathedral is being spiritually built through prayer and merciful love shown towards our neighbours’ at the same time as it is actually built near the Chapel.

The Chapel points to ‘the link between social and spiritual, between prayer and the power of good deed, because through prayer we receive Christ’s merciful, humble love that we show to our neighbours through good deeds.’

Photograhy courtesy of Robert Nicolae / Basilica.ro

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