11th Sunday of Matt. (1 Cor. 9:2-12, Matt. 18:23-35)
St. Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians 3:4-11
The words of the Lord: Regarding Sin, debt and Forgiveness
The Lord said this parable: "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents;
1. 10k Talent; more than could be earned in a lifetime
2. Illustrates the fallen nature of man, our debt cannot be overcome through payment, but rather through the Lord's infinite mercy and forgiveness.
3. Debt originated by neglecting God's will
4. God is not Cosmic accountant with "T chart" of debits and credits, the illustration of debt is for finite human understanding, b/c of our inability to comprehend God's Love and Mercy and Forgiveness.
5. There is no "end of month" reconciliation per sa, there is only an unmitigated call to His Love. In this case, "repayment" is to return God's love, through obedience to His will, in Love, not out of senseless mechanical forms.
6. Can a young child understand that Discipline stems from Love? Yet, when we discipline our children, is it not out of Love? The fact that they do not recognize this is ancillary. Is this discipline taken out of a demand for payment?
...and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made.
7. Illustrates the Lord's strictness – which depends on our willingness to forgive our brothers and sisters.
"So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
8. Falling on his knees – reminiscent of that prayer of desperation that we learned about in the parable of the man with an Epileptic son... but the man goes only half way; not "Lord have Mercy on Me", or "Lord Save me" – again "Meshiro, o Zot" that shorts and perhaps most effective of all prayers, but rather, "Lord have patience with me" – this shows the man does not fully understand or known His Master, but makes an effort nonetheless.
9. And how does the Master respond? How does the Lord respond – quite simply: He forgave him the debt. – this is a debt for which represented an enormous sum in the parable – remember, more than a laborer could earn in a lifetime. This is no ordinary accountant, again, as in the parable of the man with the paralytic son, and the parable of the Lord walking on the water – the Lord responds to the earnest request without pause – in this case, even to what amounts to half the prayer we heard before.
But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, 'Pay what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt.
10. The fellow servant owed him merely 100 denarii, now this was an achievable amount, quite finite indeed – and the response is many orders of magnitude greater than the servants own master.
11. This servant needless to say, had missed the point of the debt which had just been forgiven him – that is to say, if we knew the debt that has and will be forgiven us, the debt the Lord will forgive time and again, we would know that we are obligated to grant this gift of forgiveness to others.
12. This action requires actually considerably less mental energy, the keeping of debt is a laborious and tedious task, something like being a real accountant - which distracts our mental energy from greater things. It is often senseless and irrational, and our heart calls from deep inside us, pleading to do that which is easy, that which lightens our spirit and sets both the other and ourselves free.
13. The hypocrisy may seem evident in the parable, but are we not also capable of the same thing?
When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his lord delivered him to the jailors, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to everyone of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.
14. If forgiving is a problem, remember that the Lord forgives first – and how can we bind, what the lord has already loosened, how can we keep accounts, when the Lord has already cleared the slate? Is this possible, is it logical?
15. But what is meant by "if you do not forgive your brother from the Heart"? – this means, we cannot have true reconciliation and healing come to the Church by God's grace, if this forgiveness is not real, if it is not true, if it is not heartfelt, and if it is not done in awareness of the acute forgiveness of our own sins which took place first. We can not say of our brother, this guy is rotten, he's a rat, and I can't stand him... but I love him anyway, because I'm a Christian – does that come from the heart?
16. But why is the illustration of debt used, because to the extent we veer from the will of God, we ought to respond in turn to Him in Love – the expression of "debt" is to take account in our own consciousness of the unavoidable requirement of repentance, of turning to the Lord, of a change of mind, so that we might meet his merciful, loving forgiveness. This is the prerequisite step to true forgiveness, our own repentance, our own acknowledgement of our great debt, indeed more than could be earned and repaid in a lifetime – when we set our gaze to this reality, forgiveness of the heart, true forgiveness along with true reconciliation and healing come quite easily