Catholic Husband

Love / Lead / Serve


Every priest has a unique gift that he offers the Church. Young men who go straight from high school to seminary offer their youth, extending their priestly ministry by years. Men who enter in middle age or even later in life bring their lived experience to inform their ministry. Some are great preachers, others stunning academics, and still others are driven to give a profound witness through audacious outreach.

Recently, one of our diocese’s scholarly priests celebrated a daily Mass that I attended. Daily Mass is known to be short, mostly owing to the truncated homily. This Mass, however, was different. The readings were on the servant for who his master forgave his “great” debt. The forgiven servant immediately goes out, finds someone who owes him a tiny amount, and throws him into debtors prison. The master finds out and has the wicked servants “handed over to the torturers” until the full debt is repaid.

The homily first took aim at the translation, a “great” or “huge” debt. Going back to ancient translations, he discovered that the debt was originally described in Talents, an ancient denomination. One Talent was equal to 20-30 years wages. Essentially, a laborer, through their whole working life, would earn the equivalent of one Talent. The wicked servant owed his master 10,000 Talents. Not great, not huge, but impossible!

The wicked servant’s debtor, however, owed him 100 Denarii, about 100 days wages.

The entire lifetime of wages for 10,000 laborers vs. 100 days wages for 1 worker.

This somewhat painful parable immediately highlights two things. First, we are indebted to God’s mercy for a debt that we could never hope to repay. Even though we frequent the Sacrament of Reconciliation and experience the wonderment of being in a State of Grace, we keep falling into the same trap. The Passion and death of Jesus, which we’ll soon celebrate, is the payment for the debt of sin that is impossible for us to repay of our accord.

Second, these parables put on full display the genius of Jesus that can only be attributable to the omniscience of God Himself. In a backwater, dusty, hot town 2,000 years ago, Jesus crafted a parable that was readily understood by his illiterate followers and is equally understandable by me, in the most technologically advanced society in the history of the world. They built buildings with simple tools and fished with literal rope. I wrote this blog on a computer only slightly larger than a magazine, using a keyboard that has no physical connections. Yet, the parable still fits exactly to my life.

The parable is reinforced through the Lord’s Prayer, the perfect prayer, “…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”