Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Matthew 18:21-35

The figure of the servant who is forced to settle a debt and doesn’t have the means to do so unsettles me from the very beginning of this parable. His earnest pleas are heard and to my relief his huge debt is cancelled. It would be good if the parable stopped there.

The shaft of light created by the cancelling of the debt quickly disappears and now the scene is set in shadow. The servant hasn’t internalised the mercy that was shown him. He hasn’t internalised the words of the Psalmist: The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy. The servant has chosen to stay firmly in the world of debt-keeping and vengeance. He has missed an opportunity for grace.

Matthew’s uncompromising parable addresses a community who were learning the cost of discipleship. That there were disagreements is a given. The parable form is designed to shock and jolt its hearers. Matthew is telling his audience that forgiveness is the key that will unlock the dynamics of the Kingdom. The parable is an invitation to step into the the world of grace.

How can you step into the grace of the Kingdom this week?