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be converted to their children ; and the hearts of the children to their fathers; and that shall be fulfilled which the apostle saith : “ The fulness of the Gentiles shall come in, and so all Israel shall be saved.” (Rom. xi. 25.) And Isaias saith, “ If thy people, O Israel, shall be as the sand of the sea, a remnant of them shall be converted.” (Isaiah x. 22.) Yea, to the truth they shall be converted, in Christ Jesus. Amen.
In Fest. Sti. Augustini, 1842.
HOMILY OF AN UNCERTAIN AUTHOR, ON THE GOSPEL FOR THE TWENTY-FIRST SUNDAY
Gospel.- St. Matth. xviii. 23-35.—“At that time Jesus spake to his disciples this parable:—The kingdom of heaven is likened to a king, who would take an account of his servants. And when he had begun to take the account, one was brought to him that owed him ten thousand talents; and as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment be made. But that servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And the lord of that servant being moved with pity, let him go, and forgave him the debt. But when that servant was gone out, he found one of his fellow-servants, that owed him a hundred pence, and laying hold of him, he throttled him, saying : Pay what thou owest. And his fellow-servant falling down, besought him, saying: Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. And he would not, but went and cast him into prison, till he paid the debt. Now his fellow-servants seeing what was done, were much grieved ; and came and told their lord what was done. Then his lord called him, and saith to him: Thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all the debt, because thou besoughtest me; shouldst not thou then have had compassion also on thy fellow-servant, even as I had compassion on thee? And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers, until he paid all the debt. So also, shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts.” Our Saviour, most beloved brethren, when he conversed with men, not only taught us how to avoid sin, but also how we might be absolved from the guilt of our sins, and took care to instruct us by merciful and salutary counsel. Now his counsel was to this effect : that if we would be absolved from the debt of our sins before God, we ought also to forgive ;
those who have offended us, the faults they have committed against
To this he not only vouchsafed to exhort us by words, but also by example. He exhorted us by words, when he said : “Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.” (St. Luke vii. 37.) And again,“ When you shall stand to pray, forgive, if you have ought against any man.” (St. Mark xi. 25.) And again, “ If you will forgive men their offences, your heavenly Father will forgive you also your offences." (St. Matth. vi. 14.) And when he was asked by St. Peter, how often he should forgive his brother, “I say not to thee till seven times, but till seventy times seven times.” (St. Matth. xviii. 22.) By his works also, he gave us a great and memorable example. For what did he say to those that crucified him, when they brought to him myrrh and gall to drink? “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." (St. Luke xxiii. 34.) Thus, my brethren, our Lord Jesus Christ has become to us, “ As the eagle enticing her young to fly, and hovering over them.” (Deut. xxxii. 11.) It seemed little to him, in words, only to entice us to fly, even to that perfection, by which our enemies are loved; but he pardons his own debtors, that in him we might have an example how we ought to forgive; and as it were, by a lofty flight, entices us to an imitation of what he has done. Assuredly to a thoughtful man,—to one whose heart is not hardened,—this example should have been sufficient, had he not already propounded it by his words. But still, though by his words he inviteth us most plainly and distinctly to aim at that perfection which his example enforces; nevertheless, he tells it also in parables, and such is that which is written in the Gospel, now in our hands, for he says :
“ The kingdom of heaven is likened, &c." What is heaven?_and what is this kingdom of heaven which is here likened to a king? If, as the Scripture says, “ The soul of the just man is the throne of God" (Sap. vii. 8), it follows that the souls of the saints is heaven. So also the angelic spirits are called heaven, whom the Psalmist inviteth to the praise of God, saying : “ Praise him, ye heaven of heavens.” (Psalm cxlviii. 4.) The kingdom of heaven,—that is, of the blessed, what is it but eternal life? But Christ is eternal life, as he
Ia am the way, the truth, and the life.” (St. John xiv. 6.) He is especially the land of the living—the inheritance of the saints ; he is the paradise of pleasure, the wide space wherein he hath set the foot of the faithful. He is both the king, and the kingdom of the saints: in whom, with whom, and by whom all his elect reign. Thus Christ is the kingdom of heaven. And well is this kingdom of heaven likened to a man who was a king, seeing
that he who was merciful in forgiving his debtors, was also just in punishing the ungrateful: since Christ, who is both man and the King of kings, showeth much mercy to those that seek him, and is also a severe judge to such as are ungrateful.
“Who would take an account of his servants. There are three kinds of servants of our king, with whom he taketh an account of his debts. One is he who never asks or deserves to be absolved from his debt; another is he who is indeed absolved at the time, but becomes ungrateful; the third is he who is absolved, and remaineth grateful. The servant who is never loosed from his debt, represents all the race of the unfaithful; who though bound by an incalculable debt to their Creator, yet never eserve, nor ever find absolution, for they are already judged by God. The two other servants are two kinds of men who come to the faith of the Church. For since both the elect and the reprobate daily receive the sacraments of the Church, both in like manner are nourished in the bosom of the Church ; but like adversaries, some cease not to oppress the good with many sorrows; and Esau straiteneth Jacob in the bosom of their mother; for the third, of whom we spoke above, is cast out. All are indeed servants of the sovereign king,—who, that he might be served and praised by all, made all after his own image; but two have gone away from his service,—one only remaineth. Now what is this debt which each oweth to his lord ?
We gather from holy Scripture, that under the name of debt sin is so called; for when our Lord thus taught us how to pray : Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors;" it is added, a little after, “ If you will not forgive men, neither will your heavenly Father forgive you your offences.” (St. Matth. vi. 15.) Under this debt is every man bound unto GOD,—for we are all conceived in sin, all are born in sin, all live continually in sin. Now our Lord taketh an account of his servants, when by the mouth of his preachers, or even by a secret inspiration, he reproves the faults of those that have offended him, and exacteth satisfaction for sins. The faithless servant heareth, and despiseth, and is hardened at the rebuke: he neither seeketh nor findeth pardon, but is condemned in his unbelief. The elect servant heareth, is struck with compunction, maketh satisfaction, is absolved from his sins, and remaineth in grace; and forgiveth willingly the offences of his fellow. servants. But how does that wicked servant act, whom indeed he keeps in his Church with the elect, for a time? Let us hear from the words of the Gospel, for he it is of whom it is said : “One was brought to him, that owed him ten thousand talents.” He that is a debtor of many talents, is he who is guilty of many crimes, and grievous sins ;such as adultery, manslaughter, sacrilege, theft, perjury, robbery, yea, even infidelity, and the like. They are well called by the name of a talent, for they are very grievous (heavy), seeing that this weight of all those that are used in barter, is the heaviest; whence the prophet Zacharias calleth impiety by the name of a talent, when he saith : “Behold a talent of lead was carried, and behold a woman sitting in the midst of the vessel. And he said, this is wickedness.” (Zach. v. 7, 8.)
Again, as there are divers kinds of talents, so are there divers kinds of crime. And truly as those more grievous sins are designated by the talents; he does not define them as talents of gold, or of silver, seeing that such are significative of precious things,---as of virtues or knowledge-but simply as ten talents. Verily, it might be said, a thousand talents; for so often as a great sin is repeated, so it begets a habit : for, as from units we proceed to tens, from tens to hundreds, from hundreds to thousands ; so, from the delight of sin, which is the first stage, we go on to consent; from consent to the act--from one act to the habit of sin. Again, he may be said to owe ten thousand talents, who hath violated the whole decalogue, by his wicked habit; and already hath made himself a despiser of all justice. For as the ten thousand is the fifth figure in the sum after the thousand, which is the fourth, so, after the habit of sinning, contempt procures for him the fifth place in the sum of his debts, according to what is said elsewhere. “ The wicked, man when he is come into the depth of sin, contemneth.” (Prov. viii. 3.) But if this exposition be thought too long by some, he may simply understand, that he who owes ten thousand talents, is he who committeth many sins; a finite number being put for an infinite.
It follows: “ And as he had not wherewith to pay it, his lord commanded that he should be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.” The sinner, when he is reproved by the Lord, by the mouth of his minister, or by his own conscience, has not wherewith to pay his debt, while he yet hardeneth his heart after corruption ; while, as yet, he is not struck with fear, nor feels compunction with wholesome sorrow, nor as yet is enkindled even to tears. Therefore our Lord commandeth such an one, by his ministers, to be sold, with his wife, and his children, and all that he had, that his debt might be paid. Now, according to the mode of speaking, he that is living is said to be alive; and he that is dead to be dead; 80, not inaptly, are the ministers of the Lord said to sell the sinner;
when, after mild and simple admonition, with severe invective, they terrify them with threats of hell, and pronounce that they are sold under the power of Satan. Moneta quidem diaboli, peccatum ; the devil's coin is sin,--for the short delight of which, man, when he sins, delivers himself into his hands. Whence, in the person of the sinner, the apostle says: “ But I am carnal, sold under sin,' (Rom. vii. 14); and by his prophet, the Lord says to sinners : “ You were sold gratis " (Isaias lii. 3), yea, especially gratis ; for sin for which he sells himself is of no value, and is nothing; and men gain nothing when they sin. The wife of the sinner shall be sold along with his children; that is, he shows in strong language, that his wicked concupiscence, and the works of iniquity that spring therefrom, are sold to eternal torments. Again; another mode of selling may be noted in this passage. The ecclesiastical rule commands those who are detained in open crimes, and who take not correction, to be driven by the sentence of excommunication, as strangers from the communion of the Church, that their soul may be saved in their punishment. Is not this, then, a good selling ; when we deliver the sinner to Satan, that we may receive again a just penitent? Thus it was that the apostle told the fornicator, of whom he speaks to the Corinthians, saying: “I, indeed, absent in body, but present in spirit, have already judged, as though I were present, him that hath done so, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one to Satan, for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved, in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. v. 3.) But when he received again, as it were, another man in his place ; when, on doing penance, he was received again to the communion of the Church, he writeth to the Corinthians 'to comfort him, “and to confirm their charity towards him.” (2 Cor. ii. 8.) He orders the wife of the obstinate sinner to be sold with him, because he is cast out, not only from the spiritual but the carnal communion of the Church, that he may seem wholly to be delivered to Satan, namely, both in spirit and in flesh; under which we may understand the wife. Hence the apostle says : “ If any man, that is named a brother, be a fornicator, or covetous, or a server of idols, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one not so much as to eat.” (1 Cor. v. 11.) Now, to sell the children, is to inflict the same sentence on those who consent and hold communion with those that are excommunicated. It is a terrible mode, but yet sometimes it softens the hardest hearts of the most abandoned; so that, casting aside their iniquity, they humble themselves in tears before the ministers of the Lord, and perform