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Further thoughts on this week’s gospel lesson

September 7, 2005

I read a chapter in William Herzog’s excellent book, Parables as Subversive Speech regarding this parable. The chapter is entitled, “What if the messiah came and nothing changed?” A scholarly work, the chapter describes the economic and political climate in which the gospel was written. In short, the king or lord in this story was likely a “client king” and the slave was sort of an upper-mid level manager. The amount owed to the king is an exuberant, exaggerated sum so his forgiveness of the debt is an astounding act of mercy – a messianic act, so to speak. But in the Kingdom of God, social changes are not made from the top down; they are made across the board. The Kingdom 0f God is a more egalitarian empire than what we experience in this realm. So if the Lord shows us the way to live and we refuse, like the first slave, to change, the Kingdom of God will not be embodied among us. I have taken some liberties with Herzog’s work just for the sake of brevity.

Crossan asks an important question: if this parable is to demonstrate how we are to forgive “seventy times seven,” how come this wicked slave only gets one shot from the lord?

That one sets my mind to reeling……

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