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3. Parables about Good Works and Virtues.

Having absolutely no need, God created this world and man out of His excessive goodness alone. He gave people life, adorned them with His divine image and gave them free will so that they could participate in His beatitude. When they sinned, He did not in His just judgement reject them completely, but, in His infinite mercy He desired to lead them out of the abyss of the Fall and return them to eternal life, through His Only-Begotten Son. With his Creator and Savior as the ideal of perfect love, a man must in turn forgive and love his own neighbors, because we are all brothers by substance.

In the following four parables, the Lord Jesus Christ gives us instructions on how we must evince our love for people. These are the parable about the wicked servant, the good Samaritan, the rich man and Lazarus, and the unjust steward. The conclusion of these parables is that the works of mercy may be very different in their visible manifestations. The works of mercy may include all the good things we may do for others: forgive those who offend us, help the suffering, comfort the sorrowful, give good advice, pray for our neighbors and a variety of other things. External indications alone do not allow us to judge which good works are worth more in Godís eye. Good works are not counted but given value according to the spiritual content, the depth of love and the power of will which a man applies to perform them. The first and most vital, though not the easiest work of mercy, is the forgiveness of offences. The Lord teaches us to forgive our neighbors in His parable about the wicked servant.

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