Bishop Basil (Nesterenko)

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Glory to Jesus Christ, dear brothers and sisters!

Today we have heard the Gospel of Matthew (Mt., XVIII:23-35) about the unmerciful debtor. In this parable God teaches us that forgiveness is one of the bases of the Christian. And last Sunday we have heard the Gospel about the faith (Mk., XVII:14-23). The faith is the basis, but also forgiveness. Because the faith can’t exist without forgiveness. What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is the act of love. You can forgive a person with your mind, because you know that you have to do it. But in your heart you can’t forgive. And that is why it is not forgiveness. When you come to God, He won’t forgive you, because you didn’t forgive.

We can see in this parable people. And the master forgave the debtor a lot of money. I think it is one million dollars in our time. The master forgave the debt, because he saw how difficult it was for servant to give back so much money. He forgave, because he had love to his servant. But the servant did not have love in his heart. That is why he did not forgive his friend’s debt, but he put him into the prison.

We all know that we are debtors in this world. We have great debts in front of Our Lord. We know that He gave us this beautiful Earth, this nature, gave life on the Earth and gave happiness. We have the great debt in front of God. But who can judge his own life? Everyone thinks in such way: “What did I do wrong? I live religiously.” But God has so huge love to everyone, that He forgives all our sins. He does not demand much from us. We should live how it is written in the Gospel and fulfill Ten Commandments, which God gave to Moses. God has so huge Love, that He forgives all our sins, if we sincerely confess.

We read in the Gospel earlier how can we forgive the sins of our close people. One of the Apostles asked Jesus Christ: “How often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times”. It doesn’t mean that we have to forgive 49 times. It means that we must always forgive. If the person comes and asks for forgiveness, we have to forgive, despite it happens many times. But it does not mean that we must forget about it. We have to be wise concerning that person and do not let him do bad things against us.

We see that if we were ruled by the Old Testament – “tit for tat”, so it would be very difficult life, like in hell. We would revenge each other all the time. But thanks God, people have understanding, love and forgive each other.

One man asked: “If he was the dictator, who killed many people in the world. How can we forgive?” And he was answered: “Can you forgive all your enemies? Could you forgive that entire people, who took part in that war?” And we see that the time passed after war, when all nations forgave each other for the awful war, for grandparents.

Now we have very difficult time, when one nation tries to kill another. And we have to understand that even from the other side there are sheep, who do not know all circumstances. That is why we have to forgive with great understanding even if people do evil things to us. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the example of the endless love and forgiveness. When He was crucified on the cross, He asked God for His executioners: “Oh God, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing.”

That is why Our Savior Jesus Christ has to be the example of forgiveness in our life. And we must try with all our life to approach to that Truth, which the Lord gave to us.

Let the Lord save you!