The Parable of the Merciless Servant
“Should you not have had compassion (pity) on your fellow servant as I had compassion (pity) on you?”
Today’s Gospel is one of the “Kingdom of Heaven” parables.
These parables not only give us a glimpse into what the Kingdom of Heaven is like, but also give instruction as to how we are to live here and now on earth. Examples are taken from ordinary life at the time of Jesus’ earthly life. This was done so that we the children of God could relate to the mystery of Heaven, our final destination and future inheritance.
The Kingdom of Heaven parables begin with the words: “The Kingdom of Heaven may be likened to…” In this instance, Heaven is likened to “a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants.”
(Matthew 18:23) As the king began his accounting, there was a servant who owed a huge amount and absolutely had no way of paying it back. The servant begged his master to be patient and that he would repay the master in full. Moved with compassion, the master forgave him the entire debt.
As the servant leaves, he encounters a fellow servant who owed him a mere fraction of the amount he himself was just forgiven. What was his treatment of his fellow servant? It definitely was not one of compassion. Instead of showing compassion as he was just shown, he acts in a merciless manner – seizes, chokes and demands: “Pay back what you owe!”
The fellow servant begged him to be patient, but he refused to hear it and had him punished. The other fellow servants were appalled and did not remain silent. They report the entire situation to the master. Whenever we witness someone mistreating another, we are not to remain silent. We should seek to restore peace, love and justice, the kind that only the Lord God can provide. We are to be instruments of God’s love, peace and justice towards all His children.
As Christians, we pray the Lord’s Prayer: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” If we want Our Heavenly Father to mercifully forgive us our sins, our misdeeds, our acts that lack charity or appropriate care and attention, then we must be merciful, kind and forgiving as the Lord God. Yes, this we are called to do even to one who was not so to us.
Do not act as the merciless servant who was forgiven but then acts without mercy towards others. But rather, having experienced the loving kindness of Our Lord God, may we forgive our neighbor who wronged us in any way. Pray for the conversion of sinners, especially those who out of malice hurt or injure another. Also, let us try to rid ourselves of any sin or sinfulness in our own daily lives. In the words of St. Paul: “Cling to what is good.” For they will know that we are Christians by the way we love one another.
Rev. D. George Worschak