September 5, 2021

Reflection on the Eleventh Sunday of Matthew (St. Theophan the Recluse)

 By St. Theophan the Recluse

The Lord concluded the parable about the two debtors with the following words: "So likewise shall My Heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses." It would seem that such a small thing is needed: "forgive and you will be forgiven." When you are forgiven, you are brought into mercy; and when you are brought into mercy, you have become a participant in all the treasures of mercy. So here is salvation, and paradise, and eternal bliss. What a great acquisition for such a small thing as forgiving!…Yes, it is a small thing, but for our self-love there is nothing more difficult than to forgive. We still perhaps forgive some unintentional annoyance dealt us in private so that nobody sees; but if it is just a bit more sensitive, and in front of people, do not even ask — no forgiveness. There are circumstances when whether you want to or not, you are not allowed to express your displeasure — and so you remain silent. However, only your tongue is silent—meanwhile your heart speaks and builds evil plans. Raise the annoyance yet another degree — and there is no restraint. Neither shame, nor fear, nor loss, nor any other thing will restrain you. Egoism which has reached the boiling point makes a person as though insane, and he who gives in to it begins to talk foolishness. The people most subject to this misfortunate state are usually not just anybody — the more civilized one is, the more sensitive he is to insults, and the less forgiving. Relations will often remain smooth on the surface, but inwardly there is clearly discord. Meanwhile, the Lord requires that we forgive with our whole heart.