Glory to Jesus Christ!
In today’s Gospel, the Lord instructs us with a parable. In the parable, we have a king who is settling accounts with his servants. One servant is brought before the king, and this servant owes the king a huge amount of money – ten thousand talents. Now, ten thousand talents would be the equivalent of about a half a billion dollars if we’re talking silver talents, and if they’re gold talents, then more than thirty-seven and a half billion dollars. So this is no small debt – and this servant had no means to pay the debt, the parable tells us. The king at first demands that the servant and his family be sold off as slaves, in order to make good the debt. But the servant fell down before the king and begged him to have patience, and he would pay the entire debt. The king was moved with pity and forgave the debt of his servant.
Then, as we heard, the servant goes out and meets a fellow-servant. And this fellow-servant happened to owe him a hundred pence – a dollar. And the servant who was owed a dollar throttles the fellow-servant, and demands to be paid what he was owed.
The fellow-servant, fell down before him and begged him to be patient, and he would repay him all, just as this servant himself had just done before the king.
The servant would have none of it, and had the fellow-servant, the one who owed him all of one hundred pence, thrown into prison until he had 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. So also shall My heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.
A sobering parable, for before God, we all owe a debt of ten thousand talents, because of the good things and gifts we receive from Him and for which we have no concern. Every day itself is a precious gift that no amount of money could purchase. We are given each day the gift of life, and in our ingratitude 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 take the days we have, the gifts we receive, the opportunities in our grasp, even each other, for granted, not appreciating the preciousness of every moment.
And in our lack of appreciation, we fall into chains of our own making. Our debt before God is unfathomable, nearly incomprehensible, much like the ten thousand talents owed to the king by the wicked servant.
The debts and the offenses of our brothers and sisters against us often are, in comparison, minuscule, like the hundred pence owed by the fellow-servant.
Seeing how great a debt it is that we owe before God, then if we ourselves 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 that we have squandered, all that we have wasted.
This is the heart of the parable. This is how we must live with the precious time that we have been given.
Our vocation is two-fold: We must acknowledge our own debt before the eternal King and just judge, and we forgive others their trespasses.
The state of grace in the soul is quickly lost when one refuses the charity of forgiveness to another. One who is truly honest, truly humbled, truly mindful of his or her own failings is 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.
And we stand in sore, sore need of forgiveness – both the forgiveness of God for our many, many grave and public sins, and the forgiveness of each of us one to another. If we cannot forgive each other, then we make a lie out of and mock the forgiveness that God offers us.
Let us be honest about the kind of person we have been, and how many good things we have received from the Lord. And then how is it that we don’t have any appreciation for these good things that we have received – at least until they are taken away from us?
All of us have in our lives gone astray, every one of us for his or her own purposes. In our ingratitude we then commit sins of bringing other people into disgrace, injuring others and ourselves, fostering and spreading this 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 we must.
So let us, then, come to our senses. Let us joyfully forgive the little debts of our neighbours, whether it be a matter of money, or contempt, or abusive words, or anything else. Let us never return ingratitude for ingratitude. Let us joyfully forgive the little debts of our neighbours, that we may receive the greater forgiveness from God, and become heirs of His kingdom, of which may we all be counted worthy, please God, in the world to come.