THE LORD TOLD 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 who owed him ten thousand talents (one talent was worth more than fifteen years’ wages of a laborer) was brought to him. And, as he could not pay, his master ordered the servant to be sold, together with his wife and children, and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees before the king, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And with compassion for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt.
“But that servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii (one denarius was the usual day’s wage for a laborer), and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay me what you owe.’ Then his fellow servant fell down and begged him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused. Then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt.
“When his fellow servants saw what had happened, they were very distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not have had mercy also on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt.
“So My heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive, from your heart, the trespasses of your brother or sister.”
The main theme of the parable is forgiveness. The telling of it was provoked by Saint Peter's question, "How often should I forgive my brother or sister who sin against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus' answer was shocking, "Not seven times, but seventy times seven" (Matthew 18:21-22). We can imagine the disciples taking out their calculators to figure out how many times exactly that is... Just kidding, of course they didn't. They also did not think that Christ actually meant that we are supposed to forgive 490 times.
To illustrate how much "seventy times seven" is, Jesus told the parable about the merciful king and unforgiving servant. The parable talks about unlimited forgiveness. Since God forgives us, we in turn are required to grant the gift of forgiveness to others. Jesus summarizes the moral of the story in the last sentence, “So My heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive, from your heart, the trespasses of your brother or sister.”
Being the creatures of God we can't, by default, become gods. However, God has given us a gift to exercise something that only He can do - forgive. Therefore, when we forgive others, we do what only God does (and what He has blessed us to do). And the point is rather clear - if we fail to forgive, we have no one else to blame for God's refusal to forgive us.
Last year's reflection can be found here.
Yours in the Lord,
Father Aleksey - your friendly Singac priest