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Speaking to the Soul: Petty Debts

Speaking to the Soul: Petty Debts

Week of Proper 6, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 88 (morning) // 91, 92 (evening)

Numbers 13:1-3,21-30

Romans 2:25-3:8

Matthew 18:21-35

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells a parable about God’s mercy. It seems that God’s mercy toward us is directly proportional to the mercy we show to others. The parable starts with a slave begging his lord for patience, for he owes his lord a debt of ten thousand talents (about sixteen years’ worth of wages). Moved with pity, the lord releases the slave and forgives his debt. This forgiveness frees not only the slave, but also his wife and children, who would have been sold in order to pay the debt.

However, the slave doesn’t pass this forgiveness on to others. Rather, he finds a fellow slave who owes him one hundred denarii, a mere fraction of the amount that the creditor slave has just been forgiven. The slave seizes his debtor by the throat and throws him into prison for failing to pay what he owes.

When the lord hears that his forgiven slave is requiring payment in full from this debtor, the lord subjects the forgiven slave to his own dose of punishment and imprisonment. Jesus concludes that God will do likewise to us “if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” The mercy we receive depends on the mercy that we show.

How do the petty debts and grudges that we hold against others measure up to the forgiveness lavished on us by God? God is not a debt collector who demands payment; rather, God extends compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. Instead of calculating debts ourselves, we are invited to pass on grace. What petty debts can we forgive today?

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with adult formation and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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