During his homily marking the beginning of the Triodion, Patriarch Daniel said that the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee is an appeal to humble prayer.
Offer prayers with humility
‘Not every prayer is received by God, only the humble prayer, offered in humility,’ the Patriarch of Romania stressed quoting the Gospel of Luke saying that ‘all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’
In other words, the prayer that exalts is offered with humility by recognizing our limitations and mistakes. But the prayer that prevents us from approaching God and injures us spiritually is a prayer offered with pride, self-praise and over-appreciation, the Patriarch noted.
On the first Sunday of the Triodion, February 9, Patriarch Daniel attended the Divine Liturgy celebrated at the St Gregory the Enlightener Chapel of his patriarchal residence.
Prayer of repentance
The prayer of repentance is “a spiritual work of the soul and the body at the same time,” the Patriarch said.
“Following the example of the sinful, but humble Publican, during the Lenten season, we Christians do many prostrations, bending our eyes and body to the earth, as a sign of humility and repentance, recognizing that sin draws us to the earth and death. But God’s mercy or grace and His forgiveness lift us to the heavenly things, that is, to the light of eternal life.”
Righteous and proud vs. sinful but humble
The Patriarch stressed that the gospel passage reflects that the Pharisee was a righteous but proud man, while the Publican was a sinful but humble man.
“The first conclusion we can draw when hearing this gospel reading is that God prefers a humble sinner to a proud righteous man,” the Patriarch said.
“However,” Patriarch Daniel went on saying, the hymns of the Triodion referring to this Sunday’s Gospel “let us understand that God’s preference for humility does not mean the approval of the sins of the publican or the disregard of the good deeds of the Pharisee.”
“For this reason, the Book of the Triodion urges us to imitate the Pharisee’s virtues or good deeds, and, at the same time, to cultivate the Publican’s humility. Therefore, the Church urges us, at the same time, to good deeds and humility.”
Patriarch Daniel listed the four Sundays of the Pre-Lenten period, noting that they correspond to four virtues: ‘humble prayer, sincere repentance, generous mercy, and fasting or self-control.’
Prayer for a humble prayer
The Patriarch ended his sermon with a prayer so that the first Sunday of the Triodion will be ‘a good start for humble prayer, which includes the prayer for all people because God wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.’