August 28, 2022

Homily for the Eleventh Sunday of Matthew - The Mystery of the Divine Eucharist (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 Homily for the Eleventh Sunday of Matthew

The Mystery of the Divine Eucharist

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

"Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?" (Matt. 18:33)

The parable of the ungrateful and cruel servant shows us the great philanthropy of God and the great inhumanity of man. That is, while God with His love forgives all our big sins, we cannot forgive the small sins of our brothers.

Some aspects of this truth will be highlighted below.

Saint Gregory Palamas, comparing the passage of the Second Coming of Christ with the parable of the ungrateful servant with the debt of the ten thousand talents, says that the passage of the Second Coming refers to the future judgment, while the events narrated in the parable of the debt of the ten thousand talents, "the present is eternity". In fact, the forgiveness of the servant's debt, his cruelty to his servant, his re-punishment, etc. cannot be referred to the terrible, impartial and final judgment, but to the present life.

Explaining how the events of the parable refer to the present life, Saint Gregory Palamas says that the Holy Temple is heaven and within the curtain - Holy Bema - there is the despotic throne on which the King of all sits and "speaks invisibly to his servants".

All of us who enter the Holy Temple are before Christ. From what is said during the worship and the Divine Liturgy, we understand the great debt we have towards the Despot Christ. At the same time we see the punishments that await us. Being in the Temple we repent, we fall to the ground, we pray to God, we promise that we will change our behavior and live godly for the rest of our lives and then Christ forgives all our debt. However, we, usually, coming out of the Holy Temple, "are burdensome to them (our brothers) and unrelenting and merciless", thinking of the small debt they owe us. Thus, Christ, seeing "unsympathetic and unyielding human beings, is justly angry with us" and hands us over to the torturers. That is, He delivers us on the one hand to present temptations, on the other hand to eternal and endless hell.

This eucharistic analysis has a deep meaning and is very topical. In the Divine Liturgy we experience the great love of God. Our heart captures His mercy and compassion. It is very characteristic that all the troparia of Orthodox worship ask for our mercy or end with God's mercy. Also, the incessant cry of our Church is "Lord have mercy".

Thus, coming out of the Divine Liturgy, we must be merciful to our brothers. Let us not remember what others did to us. Everything must be transformed. Not only to "attend" the Divine Liturgy, but to leave liturgical and to continue the Divine Liturgy in our lives. Whatever you liturgize, is liturgized properly and whatever is offered, is what is offered. The case of Christians, who leave the church with hatred and revenge, shows that they have not been liturgized. They stayed a few hours in the Temple, without understanding anything.

The parable of the ungrateful servant clearly shows the content of the Orthodox ethos. We can say with certainty that this is closely related to mercy. We stand before God to ask for mercy for the multitude of our transgressions, for wasting the many gifts He has given us, and we approach our brothers to offer mercy. It is observed that those who have spiritual senses and feel the mercy of God, they constantly spread mercy to their brothers. Those who love God also love others.

We, however, do not have an Orthodox ethos and, unfortunately, do the opposite. We do not approach God to ask for mercy, nor do we approach our brothers to offer mercy. Separated from God, we are also separated from our brother. This explains why we are cruel and merciless towards our brothers.

The case of the ungrateful servant also reveals another side. The slave was hard-hearted. He had no sensitive heart at all to be moved by the pain of others. In modern society, there is a lot of talk about sensitivity, about empathy. Because young people live in a "rational" society, which is full of cruelty and self-interest, they are looking for something sensitive. They make an effort to escape from the cruel rope of hypocrisy and inhumanity. They want to become sensitive people and they try to do so in many ways, with the result that they fall into various fallacies.

However, when we talk about sensitivity and empathy, we don't mean an emotional state or when we speak of the heart, we don't mean a feeling, just as when we talk about escaping from the coldness of reason, we don't mean a passage into the land of dreams and illusions. We mainly mean the arrival of divine Grace in the heart. The heart, when it is purified, becomes very sensitive, perceives all the problems of the world with pain, which is connected with love and peace, and prays for the whole world. Like a transmitter, he captures the pain of the world and offers effective help through prayer.

When we feel the mercy of God, then we will become truly merciful. We will have spiritual sensitivity, we will experience the Orthodox ethos and we will not be ungrateful and cruel slaves.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.