Circle the Stories: Parables of the Great Parabler

Thursday, March 10, 2022

The Two Debtors, by Christine V. Hides

“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts for both of them. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the greater debt.” And Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Luke 7:41–43

Reflection: Perhaps you know the feeling of finally receiving the title to your car or freedom after years of student loan debt. Maybe you offered a prayer of thanks when your company’s PPP loan was forgiven. This parable invites us to consider how our love of God compares to the experience of becoming debt free without having paid an installment and without having filed any paperwork requesting relief.

“Jesus eats and drinks with sinners, evoking different responses from people who understand themselves to have been forgiven much and people who understand themselves to have been forgiven little, or not at all.” [1]Again Luke has us circled around a table to observe something out of the ordinary. This time Simon, a faithful Pharisee, is the host. An uninvited woman who has committed some publicly-known transgression arrives with a jar of ointment. She proceeds to bathe Jesus’ feet with her tears and dry them with her hair. The unusual yet extravagantly welcoming behavior makes Simon question whether Jesus is a prophet. If he is, he should already know about this woman and her misdeeds! After this parable, Jesus points out Simon’s own shortcomings as a host.

Are we the readers, Simon or the woman? Are we weeping for joy or disconsolate over our trespasses? With an accounting ledger understanding of God replaced with extravagant grace, how might we respond with expressions of love unhindered by social customs?

Abundant God, free us to receive and share your grace.

[1] Smith, Ted, Feasting on the Gospels: Luke Volume 1, p.469.

March 10, 2022

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