Peter asks Jesus a question about forgiveness. In response, Jesus tells the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant. The exaggerations, hyperbole, huge numbers, and extreme reactions, push us into a theater of the absurd. A huge debt is forgiven freely, then a small one is choked out of a second debtor, and then the first debt is reinstated - plus torture! No forgiveness holiday here, not once a line is crossed. But it all goes to show up the real absurdity: trying to quantify grace, trying to qualify mercy. Only how often do I forgive another member of the church? Seven times - that’s a lot! To put up with. Fool me once, twice… but seventy-seven times is extravagant, absurd: it’s past counting. It’s almost as if… almost as much… as God has already forgiven us. Not you or me individually, guilty, but the whole human race, the whole creation, is in need of reconciliation that is beyond its own means to achieve. Anselm of Canterbury said only man must pay the price, but only God can do it. (Cur Deus Homo) So how often, how can we…? Only in the capacity of God’s grace, which is ever abundant and always new.
September 17, 2017.
Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost