"The Kingdom of Heaven is Likened Unto a Certain King"

My beloved spiritual children in Our Risen Lord and Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


By Saint Gregory Palamas, Archbishop of Thessaloniki

When God formed man with free will, He deigned to make careful provision for him so that, by using his freedom rightly, he would incline not towards evil, but towards the good. From the very beginning He made him in His own image and likeness (Generation 1:26), that looking towards his good archetype, man might not fall away from goodness, and God might thereafter justly show him, as His own image, the riches of His likeness to a greater extent than He would to the rest of His creatures. Thus would He draw more and more towards goodness commensurate and compatible with His own. It is possible for man, by imitating His Creator, to be good in His image, though no one can equal God in goodness...

Urging us to give to others, not just by these words but also with a parable, He brings before our eyes that terrible future advent, and shows us Himself as King sitting upon His throne of glory (St. Matthew 25:31-46). He sets those who have been generous on His right hand, as they have acted rightly. The rest He set on His left, reproaches them for not giving, call them cursed, as though by failing to help the needy they had shown unkindness to Him Himself, and dispatches them into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. As for those who have been generous, He praises them openly and accepts their benevolence to the poor as if it had been offered to Himself. He bears witness that they have His Father's blessing, and makes them heirs of the Kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world. By making such statements in the Gospels the Lord urges us towards one type of mercy, giving alms to those in need...

"The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents" (St. Matthew 18:23-24).

He is here referring to His Father as a man who is a king, just as He refers to Himself as such when He speaks of the end of the world (St. Matthew 13:40-41; and 16:28). Although the Father is likened to a human being, this is only by way of a parable. Christ Himself, however, was not just likened to a man in a parable, but was actually made man like us. Of course, the Son and the Father have the same throne and the same Kingdom, but since, in His words about doing good to our neighbor, the Lord said, "I was an hungered", "I was thirsty", and so on, and called the destitute His brethren (cf. St. Matthew 25:35-40), in addition to making other allusions to His Incarnation, that is why He speaks of Himself there as the King sitting before us. And by referring to sheep and goats in that parable, He set Himself before us as King and Shepherd. Here, by contrast, as He makes mention of servants, accounts, and money from the royal treasury, He is speaking of His Father sitting before us, balancing accounts and calling in debts.

Why is it that the first passage says the king shall sit, the nations shall be gathered, He shall separate them and shall speak, with everything in the future tense (St. Matthew 25:3146), whereas here the kingdom is likened to a king who wanted to settle accounts, the debtor was brought, and the Lord gave orders, with all the words referring to the past (St. Matthew 18:23-35)? Because those things related in the former parable belong to the age to come, whereas most of the events in this one take place here and now: When the man owing ten thousand talents was brought before the king, without being able to pay, "His Lord", it says, "commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made" (St. Matthew 18:25). But when he fell down, asked him to have patience and promised to pay, the Lord was moved with compassion, released him and forgave him the debt. In the age to come there will be no such thing as postponement, promises from the debtor, settlement of debts, or any sort of forgiveness from the giver of all, who will demand an account to all.

Even the fact that the man owing ten thousand talents was brought when the king began balancing accounts is not compatible with the age to come. Then all things will come to end, whereas here they are just beginning. The subsequent events in the parable also belong to the present. "But the same servant went out", it says, "and found one of his fellow servants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, "Pay me that thou owest" (St. Matthew 18:28). And when the fellow-servant fell down before him, pleading with him and promising to pay, he was not in the least merciful, but went and threw him into prison, until he should pay all he owed. What way out will there be when that time comes? What debts will then be owed to fellow-servants? Will payment be demanded or attacks made? "And his fellow servant", it says, "fell down at his feet, and 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 should pay the debt" (St. Matthew 18:29-30). In the age to come we shall not suffer violence from one another, nor shall we fall down one before the other with entreaties. For then there will be one before Whom "every knee shall bow, of things in heaven and things on earth, and things under the earth" (cf. Phil. 2:10). But the other fellow-servants, it says, were very sorry on account of the man's heartlessness to his fellow-servant, and told their lord all that had happened. He angrily accused the pitiless servant, and handed him over to the tormentors, until he should pay all that he owed (St. Matthew 18:31-34)...

In the same way, the spiritual enemy of all Christians people, who is far more savage than any barbarian, invisibly attacks us. He cuts off the soul on all sides from everything it needs for salvation, surrounds it with a dearth of virtue, crushes it with despair because of its lack of good deeds, and so conquers and destroys it. Then, obviously, by the providence of the Savior of sinners, someone comes along who has wronged us and needs our compassion, and when he has received it from us, he makes all the devil's malice against us of no effect, reconciles us with God, offers us abundant supplies of mercy and salvation, and gives us a promise of eternal life.

May we all attain to this through the grace and love for mankind of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom belong all glory, power, honor and worship together with His Father without beginning and His All-Holy, Good and Life-Giving Spirit, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen. [Source: Saint Gregory Palamas The Homilies]


"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom


With sincere agape in His Holy Resurrection,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George