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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Those Who are Forgiven Much Should Love Much

By Simon Tugwell

Our Lord gives us a severe warning in his parable of the servant who owed his master an incredibly large sum of money and was let off (Matthew 18:23ff). The fact that we refer to it as the parable of the unforgiving servant already lays us open to the danger of misunderstanding it. Our Lord presents it, not as a story about servants, but as a story about their master. It was because he was too concerned about himself that the first servant, having been let off his enormous debt, went straight out to demand payment from one of his fellow servants. We are not told what was going on in his mind, but it is easy to guess. Presumably he had been worried to distraction by his colossal debt, and came into his master’s presence thinking only of that, only of his own prospects. When he had heard that all was remitted, he did not give a thought to his master’s generosity, he went away still thinking of himself; and feeling shaky and in need of reassurance, he went off, as we so often do, to take it out on somebody else, to restore his self-esteem by the exercise of power. He had missed the essential point of what had happened to him . . . Forgiveness, then, is something to do with the penetration of the totality of God’s life into our fallen world . . . The center of forgiveness is God himself.

Fr. Simon Tugwell is Dominican priest and the author of several books, including The Beatitudes: Soundings in Christian Traditions.

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