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Two Debtors



This is part of the adventure of Jesus with a woman who came and anointed his feet with oil.
She was, says Luke, a sinner and the pundits put her sin as sexual (a prostitute).
Some even name her as Mary Magdalene - perhaps part of the spin to blacken her name,
for a female church leader in the Early Church was a threat to male-domination. In some places it still is.

The story by Luke is adapted from that in Mark (c14v3), Matthew and John
of a meal at Simon the Leper's house (in Bethany),
but only Luke says anything detrimental about the woman.
The Lukan version also places the meal in a different time and setting.

The point of the brief parable is obvious, and its teaching seems plain.
But the question is not really so easy. Which of them will LOVE him more?
In reality I'm not sure. How much will guilt, or power, impact the situation?
When will indebtedness turn to something else - something ugly but very human?
Can Love come from a transaction, when all the power lies in the hand of the one that forgives?
Can we trust the forgiver not to take advantage of the situation to exploit it.
Does our view of a sinner come from a position of condemnation, or care?
Does forgiveness lie in acceptance of the other as they are,
or in a focus on redemption of their errant ways?

Many churches focus on condemnation of sin, and of sinners, and extract a price.
We have surrendered our freedom to go sailing on a Sunday morning.
We have surrendered our money to replace the church roof.
We have surrendered freedom in exchange for forgiveness;
Given to the churches to ensure our eternal salvation.
It is what made the medieval church rich.

It is often not the Kingdom of God that rules in our surrendered hearts but the Christian Empire,
And the Empire demands a price in terms of cash and human lifestyle for our membership.
It is often a price that we are willing to pay, out of Love or maybe indebtedness
but it is put forward, though seldom directly, as the cost of the transaction.
Forgiveness purchased with our blood is not free.
God does not demand that of us,
but man does.

The obvious explanation of the parable displays the ways of this world.
The forgiven will be grateful and forever indebted, but God's way is free grace.
That grace has been corrupted, misused to the benefit of those who presume to mediate it.
Thank God that we, just like those early Church Fathers, are free to get it wrong,
in the knowledge that God still loves us despite our failings,
even if She does not always approve.