24th Sun A
The Commentaries Summarised
As a Church we are in a web of wisdom that comes to us both from tradition and contemporary writers. This section offers a summary of some commentaries on the Gospel. Also below is a list of the books and articles that have been consulted in compiling this Sunday's "Pray As You Can" and which could be used for further reading.
This Sunday's Commentary
This week’s Gospel reading continues the theme of forgiveness from last Sunday, with this reading focussing more closely on a personal forgiveness that does not involve intervention by the community. Peter certainly thinks well of himself, offering to forgive seven times, but that simply isn’t good enough. The standard Jesus offers can be read as either 77 or 490 times. What Jesus expects is a forgiveness that has no limits, that is the forgiveness that God offers to us.
The parable, like so many parables, has a fantastic, improbable element. The amount the official runs up in debt to the king is more that the amount of money that would have been in a Middle Eastern kingdom of that day. There is simply no way he would pay. Indulgent as the king has been in allowing him to run up the debt, he is even more so in writing it off. The official simply does not understand what has happened to him. He has no sense of the mercy that has been shown to him. As he goes out of the king’s presence he meets a servant who owes him the equivalent of a few weeks’ wages of an ordinary employee. The servant’s request is virtually identical to the request he had made to the king but in this instance the request is utterly reasonable. Given time the servant could pay off such a debt. But the official is intransigent and, ironically, in putting the servant into prison actually creates a situation in which it is unlikely that payment could be paid. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face! The reaction of the other servants is horror at the lack of justice shown to the servant. The king’s horror is that his mercy has not flowed through to the servant.
The point of Jesus’ parable is that we each have experienced an extraordinary mercy from God. Awareness of this will make us merciful towards others. Lack of mercy towards others is the sin that will exempt us from salvation.