11th SUNDAY OF MATTHEW, Matthew 18: 23-35
The parable challenges purely rationalistic logic by saying love is of extreme importance, far more important to Jesus than justice.
Note, the Master does not call the servant wicked for accruing a 10,000 talent debt (the amount of money is phenomenal, 10,000 years worth of wages), but calls him evil when he refuses to forgive his fellow servant. Think about that – what was really the great problem, the important problem, the insurmountable problem of the parable? The debt is far beyond anyone’s ability to repay, the servant had indebted himself beyond all reason, and just that foolishness deserved punishment, but the Master forgives. Why? Because he is of that upside-down Kingdom of heaven, where love reigns supreme to such an extent that it is almost absurd.
The fellow servant uses exactly the same words the servant used in begging for mercy from the master, but the servant does not recognize himself or his own words! What about us? We hope for God’s mercy daily, yet do we show mercy to others in our daily transactions? How many times do we ask for God’s mercy in the Liturgy? Lord, have mercy! How many times do we have opportunity to show mercy to others each week?
Christ demands more from us, His disciples. Even forgiving isn’t enough – we must forgive from our hearts. We are to drop all claims to those indebted to us. This isn’t saying, “Forget about it.” Rather, it is acknowledging the debt, the loss and the pain but then still forgiving with that trespass.
We know how people can get under our skin and just irritate us. Christ though says forget about them just getting under your skin – instead allow them to get into your heart, where despite their foibles and failures you forgive them. You turn your heart into the Kingdom of God.
If we cannot behave in a manner befitting the Kingdom of God right now in this life by practicing love and forgiveness, we will find no entrance into that Kingdom. We will not find the Kingdom either welcoming nor a place we want to be. We will find instead only that bitterness of exact justice that we demand in this world being given to us for all eternity. That is unlike the Kingdom in which complete and undeserved and unearned love and forgiveness is how God runs His Kingdom.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” He didn’t say blessed are the peace lovers. We have to take the action that brings about peace, not evade or avoid the problems of community.