On August 16, on the 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Rector of St. George Church, Archpriest Igor Tarasov served the Divine Liturgy in our parish. After the Gospel reading he preached a homily in English:
“Our Gospel lesson for today is telling us a story, a parable about a merciful king and an unmerciful lender (Mt. 18, 23-35). It is supposed to teach us to forgive. Let us interpret that parable to understand it better.”
“The king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants is God. He is our Master and Benefactor, and we are His servants and we owe Him a lot. But God is merciful and forgiving. His mercy is unlimited. That unlimited mercy and forgiveness of God is illustrated by today’s parable. The king forgives the debt of his servant, so God forgives a multitude of our sins. Thus, a debt to the king described in today’s parable is a sin against God. We are in debt to God because we commit sins. This debt originates with our neglect of God’s will.”
“Ten thousand talents the servant owed to the king is an impossible sum. It was more than a laborer could earn during his all lifetime! Thinking of that we may see that we owe God all our life. It is a gift from God. But this life of ours is full of sins and mistakes. It could be impossible to pay this debt off. But God is merciful as the king in this parable. A hundred denarii is contrasted to the 10,000 talents. It was equivalent to about a hundred days’ wages. Thinking of that we may understand that our fellow men are usually owing us much less than we owe God.”
“Just as the king in the parable showed mercy toward his servant who fell down before him and asked to have patience with him (Mt. 18, 26), so does God show love toward us if we ask for forgiveness, if we repent. Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, we need to fall before God asking Him to be patient with us, we need to ask for His mercy. The best way is to show not only humility and sorrow, but true repentance – a desire to make things better, a desire to change for better. We need to practice receiving the Mystery of Confession. True confession provides that no matter how great and terrible our sins are, if we sincerely repent, we receive forgiveness, our sins are absolved. Our debt is written off.”
“And on the other hand, just as the king showed strictness toward the servant when he found out that the servant himself had no compassion, so does God shows strictness toward us if we do not repent our own sins or do not forgive others for their trespasses against us. Our Lord Jesus Christ concludes today’s parable saying, “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.” (Mt. 18, 35).”
“Dear brothers and sisters! Today’s Gospel parable teaches us that because God forgives us, we in return are obliged to grant this gift of forgiveness to others. When each Christian forgives from his heart, true reconciliation and healing come to the Church by God’s grace. Therefore, let us ask God to forgive our debts to Him which are great, and let us forgive others their debts to us which are certainly not so great. Let us grow in love and forgiveness, so the Lord will bestow His mercy and compassion on us.”
Following the dismissal of the Divine Liturgy the Rector preached a brief sermon in Russian to stress the main thoughts of today’s Gospel lesson. He also reminded parishioners about the Dormition fast that began on the past Friday, as well as invited them to attend the Liturgy on the coming feast of Transfiguration (on Wednesday, August 19).