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25th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C: 19 September 2010)

Forgive. What? Why?


Reading
Luke 16.1-13

There’s a Spanish story of a father and son who had become estranged. The son ran away, and the father set off to find him. He searched for months to no avail. Finally, in a last desperate effort to find him, the father put an ad in a Madrid newspaper. The ad read:

Dear Paco, meet me in front of this newspaper office at noon on Saturday. All is forgiven. I love you. Your Father.

On the Saturday 800 Pacos showed up, looking for forgiveness and love from their fathers.

We all need forgiveness.

For three weeks, I want to concentrate on forgiveness. This week, what is forgiveness and why forgive? Next week, on Social Justice Sunday, forgiveness between nations and peoples; and in two weeks’ time, what do we do when it’s too hard to forgive?

Today, we heard the Parable of the Unjust Steward. This parable is not Jesus’ teaching on small business practice. Please don’t write to Nick Sherry, the Minister for Small Business, or to Bruce Billson, shadow minister for small business, asking either one to implement the business principles found in this parable.

This parable isn’t about managing a small business, but it is about what this rather cartoonish figure of a steward does with his master’s abundance. He spreads it around! Specifically, he forgives debts: ‘Quick,’ he says, ‘let’s adjust your debt downwards. A hundred jugs of olive oil? Make it fifty! A hundred containers of wheat? Let’s call it eighty!’

The steward is very generous indeed with his master’s stuff.

This is a parable about forgiving others. In Luke’s version of the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus says:

…forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone
indebted to us.

This parable says that it’s always a good time to forgive debts. It’s always a good time to forgive people. It’s always a good time to share God’s forgiving love. Continue reading

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