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The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant - Matthew 18:23-35



Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshiped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellow-servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellow-servant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow-servants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow-servant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. Matthew 18:23-35

When we hear this sad parable, we might wonder how it is that our Lord compared this story to the Kingdom of Heaven. It is amazing how our Lord could teach the whole Gospel with each of His illustrations.


We can we see the importance of the Church and her Life-giving Mysteries clearly taught in this parable.


We see a man that has a debt of 10,000 talents which symbolize man's many sins, especially the sins that we Christians have incurred from hearing the thousands of Life-giving words read and sung in Church and not putting these talents to good use.


But fortunately our Loving Lord calls each of us to Himself, requiring a settlement of accounts. He does this knowing that He will forgive our debt on the condition that we repent and begin to use the Life-giving talents in a useful way, imitating the self-sacrificing example of our Lord, Jesus. He gives us the Mysteries of Baptism for those coming to Christ, and Confession, the baptism of tears, for Christians that have fallen into sin.


Our Lord threatens us with being stripped of our family and being sold to help us see our miserable condition, that of being stripped of the gifts of God, namely the Holy Spirit.


But as the great St. John Chrysostom says, this was said "to alarm him by this threat, that He might bring him to supplication, not that he should be sold."


He also wanted to teach man how great a deliverance was bestowed upon him, so that he would become more mild towards his fellow-servants.


The story, sadly ends with the man going straight from being forgiven his debt to punishing a fellow-servant for not paying an insignificant debt. We learn that it is a great error to believe the heresy of "once saved, always saved." We must struggle against sin the rest of our lives, but we have the Church and Her Mysteries and the Holy angels and Saints as our aid.


Up until this point, the illustration was about life currently before our death or our Lord's second coming, but at this point it transitions to the time of our death or the Lord's coming.


We know that at our death, angels and demons will battle over ownership of our soul, and whether we are more Godlike or Devil-like, we will be claimed by one or the other. Our lord will allow the demons to take away those that did not come to repentance and imitate our Lord's mercy to his fellow man.


And although God is all-knowing, he allows man and the angels the opportunity to pray to God about these problems to help them to practice their love of good and hatred of evil.


We see that now, God calls the man wicked, whereas before even though he owed him 10,000 talents in sin he didn't call him wicked or reproach him, but showed mercy on him. How important it is to show mercy to our fellow-servants.


Then we see the terrifying threat of Hell taught by the words, "The Lord delivered him to the tormentors till he should pay all that was due unto him." That is forever; for he will never repay.


May we always turn to the Lord in repentance for our many transgressions, trusting in His great mercy, while imitating such mercy to our fellow man, so that our Lord will grant us passage to the heavenly Kingdom, the Church Triumphant. Amen.

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