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St. Matthew 18:21-35 The Fourth Sunday after Michaelmass, 2016 A.D

October 23, 2016

Passage: Matthew 18:22–18:35

St. Matthew 18:21-35 The Fourth Sunday after Michaelmass, 2016 A.D

In the Name of the Father, and of theSon, and of the Holy Ghost.

The master had earlier shown mercy to the servant. The servant’s debt to him was very large. The servant had no means by which to repay the debt. Rather than selling him into slavery with his wife and children to satisfy the debt, at the begging of the servant the master was moved with compassion. He forgave the man’s significant debt. He released him and his family. The man was free.

But the compassion shown the servant by the master was quickly forgotten by the servant. He was forceful and aggressive with one who was indebted to him, although that debt was very small. Even though his debtor begged, using the same words the servant had used with the master, still that wicked servant felt no compassion. His heart was cold. He who had been pardoned much had his debtor of little imprisoned.

When the servant’s cruel actions were reported to him, he summoned the servant, and spoke those horrible words. The master’s Words are neither irenic nor pardoning. His patience is gone; his wrath is manifest. His rebuke of the servant is harsh; he speaks words that are quite jarring. “You wicked servant! Should you not have had compassion on your fellow servant?” Having been shown mercy, the servant should have learned mercy. He should have extended that mercy to others.

Truth be told, it was a question of love. That is the summary of the Commandments. Love fulfills the Law. Against love there is no Law. The master’s love was shown in his compassion. Although it would have been just to have him punished, the master, in love for his brother, absolved him and set him free. The servant however, loved money more than men. So the Law had mastery over him. He was handed over to the torturers. That is the work of the Law.

The ability to forgive your fellow servants flows from your love of them. Your love for others is not your own, it has a source. The one who loves his neighbor as himself forgives as he desires to be forgiven. You are not without fault. Your shortcomings, your imperfections, have hurt others. But more to the point, they have offended God. They have separated you from God.

But to say that your sins have separated you from God sounds a little like your sins have a life of their own. The don’t. It is you who have sinned, you who have separated yourself from God. And that from a failure of love, which is a rejection of the love that God has shown you.

The sinful world defines love differently than the Holy Scriptures do. To the world love is a personal emotion, something you feel and enjoy. It is a warming of the heart that you experience, and it benefits you. So you can say you love the outdoors, because the outdoors bring you pleasure. To the world loving someone is receiving from them to your advantage.

But that is self-serving and egocentric. That is not what real love is. And that is why divorce is so prevalent even among those who consider themselves Christians. They are selfishly unwilling to do the hard work of love. And that is also why so many couples hesitate to marry. They have no fear of God, and they are unwilling to suffer the inconveniences of true love.