Forgiven of 150 years hard labour – Thursday, 19th week in ordinary time – Mt 18:21–19:1
Perhaps some of the little details of this parable are lost in the larger message of forgiveness that we are rightly attuned to hear. So the question we need to ask at first is, how in God’s name did the servant of the King end up with a debt so high and even more how did the King permit such a debt to accumulate?
Ten thousand talents is no small amount. One talent is equal to 5,475 denarii (a day’s labour) and the debt had stacked up to 54,750 denarii or about 150 years of labour. So how did the King slip up in overlooking the debt of his servant, or did he?
I want to flip this parable a bit. Nothing misses the eye of the King or for that matter, Jesus our King. If our own debt to Jesus has so greatly accumulated to 150 years of labour then it clearly indicates that we have not been prudent with our life choices and so have had to over borrow mercy from Him. It is more than clear that the borrowing has now become a habit, permitting a mounting debt to reach astronomical proportions, so much so that it can’t be paid. Ironically we borrow again.
The King on the other hand is fully aware of the debt owed and even more fully aware that the debt can’t be paid back to Him. His magnanimous heart has already figured this out and he knows that He will have to cancel the debt even though the threat of punishment is part of the deal. Yet he forgive and waves off the debt; an act of generosity unmatched by human kindness.
The question to be asked is this; are we taking advantage of Jesus? Are we permitting sin to accumulate to a ridiculous amount where no matter what we do, reparation would never be able to match to the debt owed? Are we banking on getting a ‘get out of jail card’ from Jesus because he has revealed to us his generous and forgiving heart in this parable? Do we continue to live in sin because we know the parable speaks of a generous and forgiving King?
Finally, the parable is also reciprocal, for if He forgives us our many, many trespasses are we not bound to overlook the little hurts that we hold against our brothers and sisters which we often insist on making a mountain of a mole hill?
Fr Warner D’Souza
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