|Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost|
he Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians, vi. 10-17. Brethren: Be strengthened in the Lord, and in the might of his power. Put you on the armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the deceits of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places. Therefore take unto you the armour of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and to stand in all things perfect. Stand, therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of justice, and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace: in all things taking the shield of faith, wherewith you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one. And take unto you the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (which is the word of God).
In this epistle the holy apostle encourages us to the combat against evil, and points out both our enemy and the weapons we are to use. He exhorts us to protect ourselves by, 1, the girdle - that is, truth, by virtue of which we despise the goods of earth; 2, the breastplate - that is, justice, which renders to God, our neighbor, and ourselves what is due to each; 3, the shoes - that is, readiness in regulating our lives by the Gospel; 4, the shield - that is, faith, by the doctrines and promises of which we render harmless the fiery darts of the devil; 5, the helmet - that is, the hope of eternal salvation, which enables us to endure all temporal misfortune; 6, the sword - that is, the word of God, which, when we use it after the example of Jesus, the most powerful enemy cannot resist (Matt. iv.). Thus armed, we shall be conquerors in the combat with Satan, and gain the crown of victory.
he Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, According to St. Matthew, xviii. 23-35. At that time Jesus spoke to His disciples this parable: The kingdom of heaven likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. And when he had begun to take the account, one was brought to him, that owed him ten thousand talents. And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And the lord of that servant being moved with pity, let him go and forgave him the debt. But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow servants that owed him an hundred pence: and laying hold of him, throttled him, saying: Pay what thou owest. And his fellow servant falling down, 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 paid the debt. Now his fellow servants seeing what was done, were very much grieved, and they came and told their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him; and said to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me: Shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow servant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.
What would Jesus teach by this parable?
The king is God; the servant is mankind; the ten thousand talents, equal to ten millions of dollars, signify the enormous and excessive debts which men contract by their sins against God: a sum so exceedingly great as to show clearly that the debt of man to God is without limit, and truly overwhelming. The hundred pence, a small sum, equal to perhaps six or seven dollars, denotes the offences which others have given to us, and which, in comparison with our offences against God, are insignificant. By this parable, therefore, Jesus intended to say: As God forgives your immense debts if you sorrowfully pray for forgiveness, so ought you to forgive your fellow-men their comparatively light debts when they ask forgiveness of you. Unless you grant it, you shall receive no pardon from My Father.
Who are like that unmerciful servant?
All unmerciful and hard-hearted persons; particularly, 1, rulers who oppress the people by excessive taxes; 2, those who oppress widows and orphans, and keep from servants the wages due them; 3, those who have no patience with their debtors, but deprive them of house and goods rather than be indulgent to them. God will deal with such men in the other world as they have dealt with their neighbors in this. 4. Finally, all persons who will not forgive injuries done them, but preserve hatred in their hearts; who bring such as have injured them before the courts, and even seek to injure them our of revenge. How can they hope to obtain mercy?
What is meant by forgiving from the heart?
It is to banish from the heart all hatred and desire of revenge; to bear in our hearts a sincere love towards our enemy, and to manifest it by works of charity. If we think of the multitude of sins which God has forgiven us, how can we refuse to forgive trifling wrongs against ourselves? At any rate, let us not forget that God forgives us only when we also forgive from the heart.
Ejaculation - Merciful God, grant me grace to be truly merciful towards my fellow-men, as Thou art towards me.
O God, Who, through the patience of Thine only-begotten Son, hast humbled the pride of our old enemy, mercifully grant that, by considering what He has suffered for us, we may cheerfully and patiently bear our adversities, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.