The unforgiving servant parable


#1

From the window seat where my wife does her morning readings I can see the hummingbird feeder I have hung on the window, as well as a tree about six feet away. I keep the feeder full, to provide food for any hummingbird that happens to come by. It has always given me great joy to watch these tiny beautiful birds as they hover at the feeder.

There is a single hummingbird though that comes to the feeder throughout the day and then perches on one of the branches of the nearby tree, driving away any other hummingbird that comes to feed. That bird did not provide the food, nor does it have any special claim to it, yet it refuses to share its bounty with the other birds for whom I also put it there.

It occurred to me this morning as I sat on the window seat how similar this was to the parable of the unforgiving servant, which happened to be the reading I had just finished. God spreads His grace throughout the world liberally, calling all to “drink” of His living water, just as I keep that feeder full and call any and all of those beautiful birds to come and be nourished. The saints of the world find that amazing grace and can’t wait to bring everyone they know to the “feeder” to share in this undeserved and unending bounty. I was blessed to come in contact with some of those saints who have brought me grace on top of grace.

But I still see far, far too many that are like that hummingbird perched in the tree. They discover this font of grace and then keep it to themselves, or at most share it with a few friends that they deem “worthy”. All others are essentially proclaimed “unclean” and driven away, at least until they can bring themselves up to the worthiness standard. Often this is expressed as the need for the “smaller, purer Church”, as if any of them would be pure enough to enter the True Church that is God’s Kingdom.

In the parable, the servant is forgiven his entire debt–an act of complete grace—but responds by brutalizing his fellow servant. Just as that hummingbird does at the feeder, he tries to hoard the grace to himself rather than to share the totally undeserved gift with anyone else. There is a total lack of understanding that each of us special because God has proclaimed us special and calls every one of us.

The parable ends with a warning that our failure to extend the grace given to us to those around us will imperil our final destiny. It is very similar in message to the parable of the sheep and goats that “what you did—or didn’t do—for the least of my brothers you did—or didn’t do—for me.” It is the very consistent message of Jesus that the mercy that we measure out to others is the measure that will accrue to us.

It gives me great pause to think how often I might be perching like a hummingbird, driving away God’s other hummingbirds from His feeder.


#2

Originally posted by ncjohn
………There is a single hummingbird though that comes to the feeder throughout the day and then perches on one of the branches of the nearby tree, driving away any other hummingbird that comes to feed. That bird did not provide the food, nor does it have any special claim to it, yet it refuses to share its bounty with the other birds for whom I also put it there.

It occurred to me this morning as I sat on the window seat how similar this was to the parable of the unforgiving servant, which happened to be the reading I had just finished. God spreads His grace throughout the world liberally, calling all to “drink” of His living water, just as I keep that feeder full and call any and all of those beautiful birds to come and be nourished. The saints of the world find that amazing grace and can’t wait to bring everyone they know to the “feeder” to share in this undeserved and unending bounty

I have been thinking about your post. How interesting it is to see the “fallen natures” in the animals. Although they did not have our original sin, the animals all have their own territorial complex, the animal version of selfishness. My cat will hiss away the neighbor’s cat if it dares to step into our deck. Just want to mention this. I know this is not your point, neither mine.:slight_smile:

God tells us when we receive freely, we ought to give freely. This giving, in addition to
forgiveness, also includes sharing of the Gospel and salvation, as well as our other blessings with people we come to contact with.

Great insight, John.


#3

Great insight, John.

:thumbsup: …Plenty of food for thought and points to ponder in your reflection, John…for sure. As I began to read it did remind me of some homilies given in convents/monasteries which often began as a reflection on life as observed by the homily giver - and often life as observed in nature and drawing from the simplicity of those observations, lessons that are quite profound for the whole of life…it passes on a desire to be more observant of life around one and in nature, hoping that The Lord has something quite profound to say through such simplicities… not that I think you were observing the behaviour of your hummingbirds looking for the profound, cause I don’t. I think if one is observant of life and nature looking for the profound, it just could evade. Often rather when life is going on around one in an ordinary sort of way, we are totally surprised by the voice of The Holy Spirit speaking profoundly through such simplicities as in your post…

Quoting InLight

I have been thinking about your post. How interesting it is to see the “fallen natures” in the animals. Although they did not have our original sin, the animals all have their own territorial complex, the animal version of selfishness. My cat will hiss away the neighbor’s cat if it dares to step into our deck. Just want to mention this. I know this is not your point, neither mine.:slight_smile:

Another profound reflection on the simplicities of life around us…makes me wonder, which comes first, the chicken or the egg. Does nature reflect us, or do we reflect nature?..or are we poured in the same mould, only humanity gifted something extra…i.e. same, but only different…after all St. Paul said “the whole of creation groans in a common travail”…it reminds me of the words of "The Desiderata

"…“you are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the starts. You have a right to be here and whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should”…

and again that great hymn of praise The Canticle of St. Francis. It is only in our own day really that we have really woken up to the fact that we are intimately connected to nature and its destruction is our own…not that it was never ‘preached’ in the long ago - just not really listened to and ‘heard’ I think. “Listen you that have ears to hear” - one of those sentences in Scripture that doesn’t leave one and continually comes to mind…but I am off topic again!!!:o

Canticle of St. Francis
Most high, all-powerful, all good, Lord!
All praise is yours, all glory, all honor
And all blessing.
To you alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy
To pronounce your name.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through all that you have made,
And first my lord Brother Sun,
Who brings the day; and light you give to us through him.
How beautiful is he, how radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Moon and Stars;
In the heavens you have made them, bright
And precious and fair.

All praise be yours, My Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
And fair and stormy, all the weather’s moods,
By which you cherish all that you have made.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Water,
So useful, lowly, precious and pure.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
Through whom you brighten up the night.
How beautiful is he, how gay! Full of power and strength.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Earth, our mother,
Who feeds us in her sovereignty and produces
Various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through those who grant pardon
For love of you; through those who endure
Sickness and trial.
Happy those who endure in peace,
By you, Most High, they will be crowned.

All praise be yours, my Lord, through Sister Death,
From whose embrace no mortal can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those She finds doing your will!
The second death can do no harm to them.
Praise and bless my Lord, and give him thanks,
And serve him with great humility.

I too go away thinking about both posts and with many things to muse about and ponder over. Thank you both very much for sharing…


#4

I have found that to be very true Barb. Most often when I am involved in praying in a way that “seeks” conversation with God, I find myself almost disappointed in that I seem to get no “response”. God is indeed responding, but for whatever reason I am not able to recognize it at the time.

On the contrary, I have had 3 or 4 times in my life where God has audibly broken into my mind, plus many, many times when He has broken through in allowing me such observations as I had with the hummingbird. All of those times have been times when I was just being quiet and open, with no conscious effort to “find” anything. Always it has been a quick and succinct message, and in all cases–or at least all I can remember–something I needed to hear right at that moment.

In saying this, of course, I don’t mean to diminish the importance of praying or meditation. I am only commenting on what many here already know, that the contemplative union is pure gift from God and comes on HIS schedule when He knows the need and acceptance to be there. The most we can do is to cultivate a mind that can hopefully recognize that still, small voice when it whispers to us.

Peace,


#5

I loved your post and wanted to say thank you for taking the time to write it. It was very touching and really made a lot of sense to me. I had been struggling with something personal for quite some time and by reading your post I have been able to find peace.
I know this doesn’t make a lot of sense to you but your post was an answer to a prayer for me. Thanks again and THANKS BE TO GOD!!!


#6

Actually, it does make sense to me. Most of what I post is stuff that I just feel “called” to. I usually understand it as a “love letter” that God is asking me to deliver to someone, though I often have no idea to whom it is directed.

Regardless, I’m always happy to be the “mailman” and occasionally get to smile when I see that it has been picked up. :slight_smile:

Peace be with you!


#7

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