21 July 2007

Mercy Gives Time to Make Amends

In one of his homilies on the parable of the unjust steward, St Peter Chrysologus ascribes the summoning of the fraudulent man and the quick judgment of the rich man to mercy. "[The rich man] summoned [the unjust steward] by means of the Gospel." The summoning, then, is not mean-spirit or vengeful or even an attempt to "be done" with him. Rather, it is motivated purely by love. How can this be, given the quick sentence that is passed? Here is how the blessed saint describes it:

Give an account of your stewardship; you will no longer be able to be steward. Why does he join such severity with such kindness? Why does he remove him from stewardship before receiving his report? … As man he now asks for an account, as God he announces what is now at hand and what will be. … He asks for an account, not to exact, but to forgive. He asks, in order to be asked; he asks here, so as not to ask there; he asks in this age, so as not to ask at the judgment; he is in a hurry to ask, in order that the time of punishment not preclude time to make amends.

Read a larger excerpt of St Peter Chrysologus' sermon on Luke 16.1-9.

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