For three Sundays we have been preparing for Lent of repentance, considering its biblical examples at the Liturgy. However, neither the story of Zacchaeus, who distributed half the estate to the poor (LK. 19: 1-10), nor the story of another publican who initiated the Jesus prayer (LK. 18:10-14) are as impressive as today’s parable of the prodigal son (LK. 15:11-32). This one contains the whole history of our salvation, from the fall of Adam to eternal joy in the Father’s house. It is sad that the way to God for many passes through the country of swines, and only troubles make us remember that we have a Helper and a Protector. But it is even more terrible that formal righteousness kills love, and, because of envy, itself refuses the feast of eternal life, leading to spiritual suicide.
The reason is that the formalist, alike Pharisee, while fulfilling the commandments, wants justice from God in return. But… he doesn’t need God himself! While God wishes love from us. Because He is a Person, not a soulless karma. And what is love? Here it is: “I want not your possessions but you”(2 Cor.12:14). Love forgives everything, covers everything, and pays for everything; you should not expect “justice” from love. The father’s love for the unlucky son cost him a large part of his estate and tears, while the Heavenly Father paid for his love for us with the blood of His Son. Since He did not condemn either the prodigal or the publican, we can only imitate them in repentance and forgive everyone, remembering: “All that you have done to people, you have done to Me” (see Mt.25: 40, the Sunday of the Last Judgment).
By the decision of the of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church (statement № 97) His Eminence Paul, Metropolitan of Khanty-Mansiisk and Surgut, became the head of the Philippines and Vietnam diocese in the Patriarch’s Exarchate of the South-East Asia and had acquired the status «Metropolitan of Manila and Hanoi» in the limits of this diocese.