Sermon 11th Sunday after Pentecost

August 23, 2009

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Icon unmerciful servantMy dear brothers and sisters in Christ in today’s Gospel we hear the parable of a man that is in debt. He is called before the king that he is indebted to settle his account. He does not have the resources to settle the debt and pleads for mercy. The king was merciful and forgave the man his debt. This same man as soon as he received mercy from the king is confronted with the same situation with one of his fellow servants. His fellow servant asks for mercy in the repayment of his debt. However rather than giving mercy to his fellow servant he gives judgment; he has his fellow servant cast into prison until he can pay the debt.

The other fellow servants saw the mercy that king had given this man and the harshness that he treated his fellow servant. They reported this to the king. The king then called the man before him and asked why he did not show the same mercy to his fellow servant that the king had shown to him. Then the king then judged the man according to his actions and had him put into prison until he could pay the debt. The Gospel ends with “So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if you from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.” (Matthew 18:35)

This Gospel reminds us that we have a merciful God that is ready to forgive our trespasses. All we need to do to receive this forgiveness is to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. For many of us this is a difficult thing because our self pride gets in the way.

Our pride gets in the way because we driven by our self will that we can solve all of our own problems. We don’t need the help of others or God. As result of this pride we struggle with life.

At some point in time in each of our lives something happens to us that makes us give an accounting for our life. Many of us turn to God at this point in our lives and ask for His mercy. While others would rather not give up their will to God and continue to struggle until the end.

When we are ready to ask for forgiveness and mercy God is there for us ready to receive us and show mercy. This is so clearly illustrated for us in the Gospel of the Prodigal Son that we hear every year as we prepare to enter into Great Lent.

Today’s Gospel reminds us that not only must we be willing to ask for mercy or forgiveness but we must be willing to practice forgiveness and mercy. The Gospel of Saint Luke further reminds us of this when our Lord says “Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) Our Lord even reminds us of this when He teaches us to how pray in the prayer Our Father; “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

The greatest example of practicing forgiveness that we have is when our Lord is on the Cross and says “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) This shows the extent that we should be willing to forgive. We need to be willing to forgive those who persecute us without a justifiable cause.

When it comes to practicing forgiveness and mercy we often become impatient with our fellow man. This is because we often do not see any progress. We see the person doing the same thing over and over again.

When our Lord was asked by the Apostle Peter how often he should forgive sin our Lord replied “Until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:22) When our Lord said this he did not mean a specific number of times. He was using the biblical understanding of numbers to explain how patient we should be with the sinner or the one that trespassed against us.
The number seven in biblical terms means fullness. Thus, seventy times seven means that we are to be willing forgive forever. This truly shows the extent of God’s love for us and the extent that we must be willing to love the sinner. Saint Nikolaj Velimirovic says “He who has no patience with us when we sin does not love us” to illustrate the importance of patience. He further states “Patience, forgiveness and joy are the three greatest characteristics of divine love…..Without these three characteristics love is not love. If you give the name love to anything else, it is as though you were giving the name sheep to a goat or a pig.”

So my dear brothers and sisters in Christ my prayer for you is that that you may love your fellow man with patience and for give his trespasses as you ask your heavenly Father to forgive your trespasses.

Amen

Delivered by Fr. Milan Medakovic at Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church on the 11th Sunday after Pentecost 2009.


Sermon 9th Sunday After Pentecost

August 10, 2009

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

Jesus+Walks+on+Water+IconMy dear brothers and sisters in Christ in today’s Gospel we hear how our Lord came to His disciples walking on the water in the midst of a storm. We hear how Saint Peter through faith joins Him on the water. Then Saint Peter becomes distracted by the storm and cries out “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30) Our Lord reaches out and catches him and says “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

In this Gospel we see the power of faith. We see that if we have faith we can perform miraculous things. Our Lord reminds of this when he says the following “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” (Matthew 17:20) and again “Truly I say unto you, If you have faith, and doubt not, you shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if you shall say unto this mountain, be removed, and be cast into the sea; it shall be done.” (Matthew 21:21)

When we have faith we embark on a spiritual path that leads to God. That path often appears dangerous. As we see with Saint Peter getting out of the boat and walking on water in the midst of a storm.

If we have any doubt as we walk this spiritual path then the troubles and cares of this world overwhelm us. We become preoccupied with the storms that are around us because we lose our focus on God. This is what happened to Saint Peter when he began to sink. He lost his focus on the Savior and placed his focus on the storm around him. When he did this he lost the grace that was given to him when he stepped out of the boat in faith. This should remind us as our Lord said “without me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

When we lose our focus on the Lord and get caught up in the storm of temptations around us we have a choice to make. That choice is, do we place our trust in the Savior to help us or do we allow the temptations to overcome us. This is the same choice that Saint Peter was confronted with as he was sinking in the water. When we are in this situation we can do two things the first is call out as Peter did “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30) or “curse God, and die.” (Job 2:9) as Job’s wife told him in the midst of his afflictions.

If we choose to follow Saint Peter’s example and cry out “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30) then we will find that the Savior is ready to reach out His hand and pull us out of the storm of temptations just like he did for Saint Peter in the Gospel. This example shows us that the Lord is always there for us.

If we know that the Lord is there for us then why do we doubt? It is because we are fainthearted and do not place our trust in the Lord. There are many example for us in the scripture that show us that we should rejoice in the Lord and trust in Him when we are in our greatest affliction. When we are in great affliction we should

Remember how Abraham was free of doubt when he took his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice and how God saved him. (Genesis 22:1-18)

Remember how Jonah glorified God in the belly of the whale and was saved. (Jonah 2:7)

Remember how the Three Holy Children sang the glories of God in the fiery furnace and were saved (Daniel 3:19-26)

Remember how Daniel was saved in the lion’s den (Daniel 6:16-23)

Remember how the Blessed Job praised God in his affliction. (Job 2:7-10)

With the remembrance these examples we should not be given over to despair but should be strengthened in our faith that the Lord will save us so that we can say as the Blessed King David said “In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me. Your vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto You. For You have delivered my soul from death: will not You deliver my feet from falling.” (Psalm 56:11-13)

Amen

Delivered by Fr. Milan Medakovic at Holy Trinity Serbian Orthodox Church on the 9th Sunday after Pentecost 2009.