“THE LORD FORGIVES INIQUITIES”
Saint Matthew 18. 23-35
Trinity 22 Propers (Michaelmas Skip)
21st Sunday after Trinity: 20 October Anno Domini 2013
Fr. Jay Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
“If Thou, Lord shouldest mark iniquities.” If He did who would stand? No one would stand but all would fall into a burning lake to be righteously judged for all their perfidy and evil. That should be your fate.
The Lord is quite clear both in His words to Adam and Eve, and in His words to the Israelites of old and the New Israel (all of you) through the words of His servant Moses. When you are told to love your neighbor as yourself, He means it. When the Lord tells Peter “I say unto you not seven times but seventy times seven” He means it. If repentance is not met with absolution then there is no Gospel, no Christ, no faith, no salvation, and you go to hell.
But as clear as His words are, the fog of sin and the broken, infected and turned in senses of all of you needs more. So Christ in His mercy tells a story.
Being saved, Heaven, is the Kingdom in His parable. Being saved, Heaven, is the King in His parable; the Kingdom/King is God—The Lord Himself.
Like a good and decent earthly King would take an account, so too, The Lord takes account. God will judge and reckon up accounts; He will settle all according to perfect justice and righteousness. The Good will be saved and taken to be with Him in paradise and the evil will go their own way to hell as they desire. The good are good because they trust in the King. Their trust is a gift given them and worked by the Holy Ghost—Grace through faith. The evil are the ones who don’t trust the King. Those who believe in their benefactor and forgiving God forgive all who have debts with them. The evil unbelieving ones refuse to forgive others because they don’t believe in their own forgiveness.
The first servant in the parable who owes the King ten thousand talents is the symbol of all men who owe God perfect and total obedience. Augustine is correct in pointing out the numerology typology: the number 10, of the Commandments, is multiplied by the number for the complete period of time, one thousand. This means his debt is infinite and cannot be repaid by anything he could ever do! This is your debt also for breaking both tables of the Law; for daily transgressing all ten of the Commandments every day of your life.
It is what it is. Reality is real and must be faced. In the day you eat from the tree of life you will die. He who does the Commandments will live; he who breaks the law must pay—must settle up in full.
Pay, obey and settle the Law thunders to you from Sinai.
The key, crux, and joy of this Gospel pericope is contained in verse 27: “…the Lord…was moved with compassion and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.”
The Lord was moved with compassion for Adam and Eve and promised them a Savior Who would come and forgive them their debt, loose them from the prison house of death and the grave (and the Serpent) and bring them to Heaven and its banquet of Life and Light!
Repent and believe the Word of The Lord. Let the Law’s death sentence (settle up, pay) drive you to your knees in guilt confessed. Believe the remission of your debt by the Love and Grace of your King.
The servant in the parable was headed for hell since being sold into prison is Christ’s way to show the end of all indebtedness to the King.
Was the servant’s worship of the King, his plea for patience and entreaty for mercy genuine and sincere, or was it feigned—produced by terror and natural self-preservation? It did not matter to the King. Ones apology and confession of sin are always, ALWAYS to be taken at face value. If you look behind a man’s words of confession to you, you are of the devil.
Rather we do well to look at the words of the servant when he says: “I will pay all.” This is a tip, a harbinger of what is to come in the conclusion of the parable. For the debt was metaphysically incapable of being paid off by his own efforts or works.
The servant asked for time but the King gave infinitely more than earthly time. The King knew the servant could not “work off” the account of failure and treason but simply out of mercy forgave the bill and loosed him from guilt and punishment. Grace—pure Grace. The Gospel produces faith and trust. The servant in his own black heart did not truly repent and believe but rather rejected this mercy and the merciful Lord who granted it.
Where there is forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation. When an apple tree is planted it produces apples: period!
Forgiveness produces more forgiveness; freedom produces more freedom; and love produces more love. Be what you are—a forgiven Saint forgiving others. This parable of the King/Kingdom being heaven is true but it’s also equally true for the Church on earth—the Kingdom of Faith, for Christ the Groom and the Church is Bride is now one flesh by Grace through faith.
Of course you’re going to sin every day. This too needs to be daily repented of. And guess what? The King will go on and daily remit your sins and cancel the debt!!! But the sins of lust, thievery, lying, cheating, anger, and others, while showing a lack of perfect love for the neighbor are not the sin of automatic apostasy and rejection of The faith (although un-repented of they will lead to death and hell to be sure). But if you refuse to forgive, if you hold grudges and demand vengeful “come-uppance” and “just deserts” for the malefactors that you refuse to forgive when they come to you and confess their sins…well, that isn’t just a matter of sin it’s an indication that you are falling, or have fallen, from saving faith.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” May it be ever so.
In The Name of The Father and + of The Son and of The Holy Ghost