On 17 April 2016, the Orthodox Church celebrates the 5thSunday of the Lent or of the Saint Pious Mary of Egypt. His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of Romania delivered a sermon in the chapel of the Patriarchal Residence dedicated to Saint Gregory the Enlightener, in which he emphasised the spiritual meanings of the Bible texts read today (Mark10:32-45 and Luke7:36-50).
The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church said that yearning for primacy and vain glory can be healed through humble service for one’s fellow human being and explained that it is not the personal knowing of Jesus that brings about glory and honour, but humbleness and good deeds.
It is only the sacrificial love that is credible and worth honouring
“There is no other primacy, honour, than the one developed through the humbleness of the sacrificial love. The one who sacrifices himself for others is worth honouring and respecting. It is only the sacrificial love that is credible and worth honouring.It is only the power of the sacrificial love that is true spiritual power. The other power, that of the world, is domination over others and the Saviour wants to tell His disciples that the true power is not domination over others, but serving others”, His Beatitude said.
God the Father gives primacy
The Gospel text of this Sunday, the Patriarch of Romania showed too, also teaches us that primacy among humans is not sought, but received. Jesus Christ, our Saviour, asks us to wage a permanent fight against the desire of primacy through service and self-offering and here He gives His example. He makes Himself an example for all the others through the very sacrificial love He shows. The Gospel text of the day develops in few words an essential teaching of Jesus Christ, our Saviour, namely that receiving honour, primacy in a community must not be the result of selfish ambition, of the desire of vain glory, but it should come from the community for having shown sacrificial love, service for many.
Saint Pious Mary of Egypt – an example of humbleness achieved through prayer united with fasting and repentance
The Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church has also spoken about Saint Pious Mary of Egypt celebrated today.
“The true saint does not know that he or she is saint but only God does. He knows he or she is a sinner. This is why we use in the Orthodox Church, in the prayer for communion, the words of Saint Paul the Apostle who says: “God came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first”. He did not say that others were more sinful than he was. An example of humbleness reached through prayer united with repentance is Saint Pious Mary of Egypt. It is very important to know her conversion, her change of life in quite an unexpected way, in such a divine way that she was given as example of repentance, and although she is celebrated on 1 April every year, the Church has scheduled, since the 11thcentury, to celebrate her today too, in the 5thSunday of Lent”, His Beatitude said.
Next Sunday, the Orthodox Church will celebratePalm Sunday.