Monday, August 5, 2013

Forgive us our debts

Commenting on a post about Pope Francis's emphasis on mercy, KC Mulville:
Mercy has two sides, i.e., two perspectives, that we shouldn't mix. The first Christians, following their Jewish backgrounds, portrayed sin as a debt. From the debtor's point of view, no matter what the debt-holder does, he still owes the debt. On the other side, whether the debt-holder chooses to demand full repayment is entirely up to him.

Mercy is in the hands of the debt-holder. The debtor has no right to demand it. And, more importantly, if the debt-holder chooses to release it, the debtor cannot say that he never owed anything. That's why mercy doesn't contradict justice; the debtor can't deny his indebtedness. Whether the debt-holder forces him to repay is another matter.

On the other side, I disagree with those who say that Christ's attitude was to demand repentance before he would forgive. If anything, Jesus frequently reminds us that our own debt is enormous, and urges us to remember our own debt while we're deciding whether to squeeze others to repay theirs.

When Jesus said, "turn the other cheek," nowhere does it say "after he apologizes to you."