Parables as Imagination 8

The parables of Jesus summon us to the edge of the world in order to imagine a world that can only be called “kingdom.”

One scholar says Luke 7:41-43 is one of the treasured religious possessions of the Western world, while I’d say it was originally Eastern! Still, he’s onto something. It’s brief enough for me to quote in full:
7:41 “A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. 7:42 When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 7:43 Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

As always, context shapes intent and impact: A Pharisee is being picked out by Jesus for his unforgiving attitude toward a sinful woman who is showing extravagant love toward Jesus. Simon is cornered by the words of Jesus, but what we need to do something special: instead of pointing our finger at Simon, instead of joining in on the fun and guffaws of those around Simon (who surely must have said, “Ouch!” or something like it), we are to identify with the woman and to take pity on Simon. We are to make sure we are not like Simon.

Imagine a world, Jesus is saying, where the religious prigs show compassion, mercy and love toward the biggest of sinners. Imagine a world where we are united by our gratitude for forgiveness instead of our triumph over those who have sinned so much.
Imagine a world, then, where the grace of forgiveness overwhelms all sins but that same forgiveness has the grace to transform us into people who, unlike Simon, welcome the sinner and take joy in the sinner’s extravagant love.

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  • Patrick Mitchel

    The banker’s prayer. “Forgive us our debts as we will not forgive those who are indebted to us”. (context Ireland: where all the big national banks have been bailed out by the taxpayer).