The Patriarch of Romania during the Divine Liturgy on Palm Sunday told the faithful that the beautiful vestments, liturgical objects, icons and painting are signs of Christ’s adoration, which does not oppose the care for the poor as the Saviour Himself said.
Patriarch Daniel explained this fact by recalling that Mary took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus.
“Following the example of Mary who kept the expensive ointment to honour the Saviour Jesus Christ, beautiful gifts are brought to the Church for our Saviour Jesus Christ: beautiful, sacred vestments, liturgical objects in the Holy Altar, beautiful icons and painting.”
“Everything what is beautiful in a church is like the myrrh of great price kept by Mary, the sister of Lazarus, to anoint the feet of our Saviour Jesus Christ as a sign of honour and gratitude.”
Our Saviour Jesus Christ does not consider that taking care of the poor opposes His veneration by those who love Him, the patriarch explained reflecting on Christ’s words, “The poor you will always have with you” (John 12:8).
“So we must take care of the poor, but also show thankfulness and respect for Christ and His Church,” His Beatitude underscored.
When we bring gifts to the Church, the Patriarch noted, “we resemble Mary, who anointed the Saviour’s feet not with ordinary and cheap ointment, but with expensive ointment or myrrh.”
Patriarch Daniel reminded these aspects related to the Sunday Gospel reading from John 12:1-18 because on Maundy Thursday the Patriarch and the other members of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church will perform the sanctification of the Holy Chrism.
The Primate of the Romanian Church noted that the ointment made from pure nard symbolizes the Holy Chrism, but also the splendour of the Church because “the beautiful items in the church direct us to a permanent splendour, the beauty of the glory of the Kingdom of Heaven, since the Church is the image of the heavenly Jerusalem.”
Christians offer myrrh and flowers to the Saviour
Mary’s myrrh of great price symbolizes “a pure life, a soul and body purified from sins by fasting for forty days during Great Lent. So the expensive ointment we bring these days is our own spiritual life,” he said.
Patriarch Daniel pointed to the flowers usually carried together with palm or willow branches on Palm Sunday saying that “they represent the flowers of faith and the flowers of virtues gathered in the soul through more prayer, many prostrations, tears of repentance, intense listening to the divine services, frequent reading of holy texts, often partaking of Holy Communion, more alms-giving.”
“These are the flowers of Palm Sunday,” Patriarch Daniel said using a wordplay to reinforce the Romanian meaning of Florii (Palm Sunday), which is literally translated as Flowers’ Sunday.
“The branches that we are carrying in our hands symbolize the commemoration of the Entrance of our Lord into Jerusalem, as well as the expression of the joy that Christ the Lord does not enter only into Jerusalem, but also into our soul, which becomes a spiritual Jerusalem,” the Patriarch of Romania said quoting a passage from the Akathist of the feast.
“Like the innocent children we cry out to Thee: Hosanna!, we sing: God is the Lord and He revealed Himself to us; we prepare to Thee a spiritual feast with lights and tree branches, because You entered into the inner temple of our souls.”
At the end of his homily at the Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest, Patriarch Daniel congratulated all those celebrating their name’s day on Palm Sunday and listed common names used by Romanians inspired by flower names.