On the 11th Sunday after Pentecost and the 11th Sunday of Matthew, Fr. Matthew Howell talks very briefly about forgiveness and the need to forgive our neighbors unlike the wicked servant mention in the gospel reading. Fr. Matthew then preaches about the Prophet Samuel who is commemorated on this day. He points out the power of Samuel’s faithfulness and availability to God when, as a child, Samuel responds to God’s call by saying “Here I Am.” Fr. Matthew highlights other passages in the Bible that show saints responding to God’s call with those words, and shows how this availability to God comes full circle when God tells us that He will be available to us when we call on him (Isaiah 58:6-11). Along the way Fr. Matthew quotes Orthodox blogger Fr. Stephen Freeman and former NFL head coach Tony Dungy.
Text from Isaiah 58:6-11, which is quoted in the homily (taken from the Orthodox Study Bible)
6 “Loose every bond of wrongdoing; untie the knots of violent dealings; cancel the debts of the oppressed; and tear apart every unjust contract.
7 Break your bread for the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house. If you see a naked man, clothe him, nor shall you disregard your offspring in your own household.
8 Then your light shall break forth as the morning, and your healing shall spring forth quickly. Your righteousness shall go before you, and the glory of God shall cover you.
9 Then you shall cry out, and God will hear you. While you are still speaking, He will say, ‘Behold, I am here.’ If you take away your fetter and the pointing of the finger, and the word of grumbling,
10 and if you give bread to the hungry from your soul, and satisfy the humble soul, then your light shall rise up in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as midday.
11 God shall be with you continually, and you shall be satisfied as your soul desires.”
Previous homilies on this Gospel passage:
1 Corinthians 9:2-12
Brethren, you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. This is my defense to those who would examine me. Do we not have the right to our food and drink? Do we not have the right to be accompanied by a wife, as the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law say the same? For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of a share in the crop. If we have sown spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap your material benefits? If others share this rightful claim upon you, do not we still more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ.
The Lord said this parable: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began the reckoning, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents; and as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him the lord of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But that same servant, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and besought him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison till he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you besought me; and should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord delivered him to the torturers, till he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”