Sermon of St Jerome
It is a way much in use with the Syrians, and especially with the inhabitants of Palestine, to illustrate their discourse with parables, that what their hearers may not be able to catch so easily when spoken plainly, they may lay hold on by dint of comparisons and examples. Thus it was that the Lord, by an allegory about a Royal master and a servant who owed him ten thousand talents, and who obtained by entreaty forgiveness of the debt, taught Peter how it was his duty to forgive his fellow-servants for their comparatively trifling offences. For if that Royal master so readily forgave his servant his debt of ten thousand talents, should not his servants much more forgive lesser debts unto their fellows?
To put this more clearly, let us take a case. If one of us were to commit adultery, or murder, or sacrilege, our sin, great like a debt of ten thousand talents, would be forgiven us in answer to prayer, if we also from our heart forgive our brethren their trespasses against us. But if we refuse to forgive a slight, and keep up unceasing enmity because of an unkind word, how just doth it appear that we should be cast into prison, and entail on ourselves, by the example of our own deeds, that our great debt should not be forgiven unto us.
So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. God's awful purpose can be turned and changed; but if we will not forgive unto our brethren small things, God will not forgive us great things. And if we forgive them, it must be from our hearts. Any one can say: I have nothing against such-an-one; he knoweth what he hath done, and God will judge will him for it; I do not care what he doeth; I have forgiven him. But the Lord maketh his sentence clear, and destroyeth such a mockery of peace as this, where he saith: So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.