48 - The Unforgiving Servant, Aug 12, 2018

August 12, 2018

1 Corinthians 9:2-12

Matthew 18:23-35

What mother holds a grudge against her children? What mother does not have every reason to hold a grudge against her children? From the time we are conceived, we give our mothers grief: all the physical discomforts we cause them when we are in the womb; and then, when we are born, the crying, the sleepless nights, demanding constant attention; and, as we grow older, the temper tantrums, the whining, the innumerable acts of selfishness, disobedience, talking back and disrespect (if the mom allows it!); and, as we grow older still, the ingratitude, the indifference toward our moms who in a very real way, denied themselves and gave up their lives for us.

Perhaps you begin to see why motherhood is the highest vocation on earth. It was the woman, not the man, who became Theotokos!

What do we owe our mothers for all the grief they suffered for us – beyond whatever human failings and sins they may be guilty of?

What do we owe the Theotokos through whom we have been raised from death to life in the joy of Christ’s Heavenly Kingdom? It is in the motherly embrace of the Most Blessed Theotokos that Our LORD Jesus Christ was conceived and became flesh and suffered on the Cross for our salvation. It is in the motherly tenderness and merciful compassion of the Theotokos that the Kingdom of Heaven is in us, that Christ God is in us! In the last Ikos of her Akathist, we call the Theotokos the “inviolable walls of the kingdom.”

When we descend into the font, we descend into the motherly embrace of the Most Blessed Theotokos; when we are raised up, born from above as children of God, we are raised up into the love of Christ for His Holy Mother and of the Mother for her Son.

Again, what mother holds a grudge against her children? Does she not look beyond all of our misbehaviors and love us as being not what but who we are, her children? I set our mothers before us, dear faithful, because in the love of our mothers for us, we see the likeness of the Kingdom of Heaven; for, it exists in heaven and on earth in the love of the Theotokos for her Son and of the Son for His Mother.

Let us stop and ponder the inexpressible wonder of our creation. We are made in the image and likeness of God. Divinity is what we are like in our very essence. That means that we are in our human essence essentially beautiful, full of grace and truth, royal, noble – in every way like God in whose Image we are made. I am caught by St John Chrysostom’s comment on yesterday’s epistle lesson: “You have been called into the fellowship of the Only-Begotten, and do you addict yourselves to men?”

We have been called into communion with the God who is love; we have been received into the loving embrace of His Holy Mother. Contemplate the image this draws in your mind. Contemplate what this reveals about you, what you are essentially. Do you not see that you are a child of divine light, created in light, created for light? You are a creature of divine beauty, for you are in the image and likeness of God. And, we would addict ourselves to the meanness of hatred, enmity, criticalness, fault-finding, holding a grudge, ingratitude, indifference?

But, we have addicted ourselves to all of these things. Is this what we owe the LORD Jesus Christ who created us, and His Mother, through whom He became one with us and filled us with Himself, with His love and grace and truth? And yet, in the sacraments of the Church, when we draw near to Him in repentance and confession, He forgives us all. He cleanses us, He restores us to the joy and love of His communion, and He does so with eagerness, as does any mother.

So, when we hold the grudge, when we refuse even the effort to forgive those who have wronged us, when we are quick to judge and criticize, quick to point out the errors and faults of others even as we are quick to excuse ourselves – is this how we want to appear before our Heavenly Father and our Beloved Mother Theotokos and their Son, our LORD, God and Savior, Jesus Christ, on the Last Day when we will be called to give account for how we have managed the “talents”, the divine graces and beauties, that we were given, in which we were brought into being?

Let us be occupied in this life more with correcting ourselves than with others; more with loving our LORD Jesus Christ and His Holy Mother than with holding a grudge against those who have wronged us, more with laboring to become like Christ in love for His Holy Mother than with securing our “rights” and privileges over others. Amen!