Anyone who works in personal finance knows that even after a generous solution is found to high credit card bills, those relieved of their debt are likely to be underwater again in a matter of months: their income simply will not meet their expenses, however reasonable.
The king can afford to be merciful, even for a large debt. In his security he knows there is no point to pursuing the case. The servant, on the other hand, while momentarily relieved, remains caught in a spiral. He still has no money, other than the small debts owed him by his peers. He knows well that the waters that had parted for him so miraculously will soon return, lapping ominously against his ankles. Engaging the tension of this story allows us to see the depth of mercy to which God is calling us. Facing his debtor, the king is indulgent; facing his debtor, the servant faces a crisis.
From the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has invited us on this path of mercy. He knows well that it is hard. We are called to be merciful not out of our wealth, but out of our poverty, overcoming our own panic to see Christ in those who cannot pay us back.
We are called to be agents of mercy in our communities, extending the social capital of a gentle welcome to others, even as we may feel sidelined, outcast, or alone.
We are called to forgive others, not once but seventy-seven times. Even when the world has judged us harshly, we are called to respond in loving invitation to others, our “accounts” settled by the God who is merciful love itself.