My dear friends in our Lord: Glory to Jesus Christ!
In today’s Gospel, our instructs us with a parable. In the parable, we have a king, settling accounts with his servants. One servant is brought to the king, and this servant owed the king an amazing amount of money – ten thousand talents – the equivalent of over a billion dollars in our day, and this servant had no means to pay back to king what he owed. The king at first demands that the servant and servant’s family be sold off, in order to make good the debt. But the servant falls down before the king and he begs him to have patience, and promises him that he would pay off the entire debt. The king was so moved with pity that he forgave the debt of his servant.
Then, as we hear, this same servant goes out and he meets a fellow-servant. And this fellow-servant happened to owe him a hundred pence – about a dollar. And the servant who was owed a dollar throttles his fellow-servant, and he demands to be paid what he was owed.
The fellow-servant falls down before him and begs him to be patient, and he would repay him all, just as the servant who was owed these hundred pence had just done before the king.
The servant would have none of it, and he had his fellow-servant, the one who owed him all of one hundred pence, thrown into prison until he paid the debt.
Then, as the Gospel tell us:
[H]is fellow servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and they came and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him; and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me: shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt.
Our Lord concludes: So also shall My heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.
A very sobering parable, for we see that before God, we are all of us debtors to the sum of ten thousand talents, because of the good things and the gifts we have received from God and which we have squandered away. For every day itself is a gift that no amount of money could purchase. We are given each day the priceless gift of life, and by sin we choose death. We have the gift of our free will – something not even then thousand talents could purchase – and yet we use it to sin against the One Who gave it to us.
For, like the ten thousand talents owed to the king by the wicked servant, our sins against God are innumerable. But like the hundred pence owed by the fellow-servant to the wicked servant, the offenses of our brethren so often, in comparison, are minuscule.
Each of us is responsible for a great and heavy debt, on account of our and great and many sins. Each one of us owes God ten thousand talents, having offended against Him.
Those who offend against us, they owe us but a hundred pence. Seeing that we owe God so great a debt, if we do not show mercy to those who desire forgiveness of us, then we will quickly lose the pardon which God grants us when we pray and entreat Him, and we will be required to answer for all our transgressions.
And this is the heart of the lesson. It is for this sake and for this truth that our Lord proposes this parable to us, so that we might understand it and live it.
In living the lesson, on our part the Lord asks two things: first, that We acknowledge our own debt before the eternal King and just judge, and second, that we forgive others their trespasses.
The state of grace in the soul is quickly lost when one refuses the charity of forgiveness for another. One who is truly honest, truly humbled, truly mindful of his or her own failings ought to be quick to forgive a neighbour. And in this, the Lord does not seek the forgiveness which comes merely from the lips; He commands us to grant forgiveness which is from the heart.
This world today stands in the midst of what seems like unending conflict. Wars, contentions, personal abuses of every kind, petty bickering, antagonism, fighting, fighting, fighting. This world stands in sore, sore need of forgiveness – both the forgiveness of God for our many, many grave and public sins, but also the forgiveness of each of us to one another. If we cannot forgive each other, then we make a lie and mock the forgiveness that God offers us.
Let us today consider what manner of persons we have been, and what we have done, and how many good things we have received from the Lord. And how is it that we daily set out, then, to transgress God’s laws and despise His commandments? All of us have in our lives gone astray, every one of us for his or her own purposes. And even further, we commit sins of bringing other people into disgrace, injuring others and ourselves, and fostering a deadly spirit of ingratitude. Each of us alone can answer in our hearts to what we have done with the great and many talents we have received from the eternal King.
And so let us, then, come to our senses. Let us resolve to run far away from all sinful deeds. Let us be quick to incline our ears to hear the word of God, and let us strive to carry out the word in our deeds.
Let us joyfully forgive the small debts of our neighbours, whether it be a matter of money, or contempt, or abusive words, or anything else, let us joyfully forgive the little debts of our neighbours, that we may receive the greater forgiveness from God, and be counted heirs of His kingdom, of which may we all be counted worthy, please God, ultimately, in the world to come.