Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), October 22, 2017 - Matthew 22:15-22 and Exodus 33:12-23


(Matthew 22:15-22)

USA Today Sports / Reuters

Coin of the Realm

Some say that players should not take the knee
When others rise for "Oh, say can you see?"
They say that it's a mark of disrespect,
And verbally abuse those they'd correct.

It's something like when Jesus' enemies
Pulled out a coin for everyone to see,
And asked if he might choose to pay the tax
And thus the Law on idols he'd relax.

Instead, it was a broader truth he chose,
Which was that Caesar's head is juxtaposed
Against a faith God's sovereign over all,
Therefore, to Caesar, none should be in thrall.

These players don't forsake the waving flag,
But state a truth about which none should brag,
Which is that in this land made of the free,
Some cops give blacks more than the third degree.

They kneel in sorrow so opinions change,
So all for justice might now be engaged.
Not flag, but what it stands for is what saves:
Say kneelers who act out "home of the brave."

We are not free because arms make it so,
The Declaration's clear that we're bestowed
With rights by God, however you perceive;
So stand and kneel for all that you believe.

Scott L. Barton

Then the Pharisees went and plotted to entrap [Jesus] in what he said. So they sent their disciples to him, along with the Herodians, saying, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere, and teach the way of God in accordance with truth, and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality. Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?” But Jesus, aware of their malice, said, “Why are you putting me to the test, you hypocrites? Show me the coin used for the tax.” And they brought him a denarius. Then he said to them, “Whose head is this, and whose title?” They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”When they heard this, they were amazed; and they left him and went away.

+  +  +

(Exodus 33:12-23)


Rembrandt: Moses and the Burning Bush (ca. 1655)


The Conversation

Moses keeps upping the ante,
He asks the LORD for more and more.
Though it seems this LORD knows his name -
What are your ways? How keep favor?
(Besides they're YOUR baby, not mine)
And really, who will go with me?
The LORD says, I'll go.
                                         Moses: Mean it?
The LORD says, Yes, yes; as you'll see.
       We'll really stand out, that's for sure.
The LORD says, Yes, yes; you I bless.
        But where is the proof positive?
The LORD says, My glory's my goodness,
Which means, I choose you, not you, me;
Mercy and graciousness are mine.
Such giving's what my goodness means;
The back you see, will be your sign.

A couple on a recent flight
Told me the Lord they also seek,
This text, however makes me think,
When Moses sees the LORD, oblique,
It's not that Moses just was mooned,
But it's the other way around -
The Lord's the one who seeks you out,
Let not your search such truth confound.

Scott L. Barton 
(Dedicated to that delightful couple, Steve and Caroline.)

Moses said to the Lord, “See, you have said to me, ‘Bring up this people’; but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. Yet you have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found favor in my sight.’ Now if I have found favor in your sight, show me your ways, so that I may know you and find favor in your sight. Consider too that this nation is your people.” He said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” And he said to him, “If your presence will not go, do not carry us up from here. For how shall it be known that I have found favor in your sight, I and your people, unless you go with us? In this way, we shall be distinct, I and your people, from every people on the face of the earth.” The Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” Moses said, “Show me your glory, I pray.” And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. But,” he said, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.” And the Lord continued, “See, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by; then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen.”

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), October 15, 2017 - Matthew 22:1-14 and Exodus 32:1-14 [15-20]




Looking Like a Million Dollars

I'm not sure how the punishment
Described by Jesus fits the crime -
The killing and the burning here
Should not be told in children's time!
But those who will not recognize
The lavish gift of every day
Are doomed to miss the best of life,
And find themselves, in time, dismayed. 

It's not so much the underdressed
Wore shorts, say, but that they were short
On caring for why they'd been called,
And thus, God's purposes would thwart;
In Christ's an invitation to 
A life that's clothed by love, transformed,
So that your heart is made anew,
And garbed for grace for all, your norm.

Scott L. Barton

Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. Again he sent other slaves, saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited: Look, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready; come to the wedding banquet.’ But they made light of it and went away, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his slaves, mistreated them, and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his troops, destroyed those murderers, and burned their city. Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore into the main streets, and invite everyone you find to the wedding banquet.’ Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered all whom they found, both good and bad; so the wedding hall was filled with guests. “But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing a wedding robe, and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding robe?’ And he was speechless.Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.”

+  +  +

Matthew 22:1-14


 Emile Nolde: Dance Around the Golden Calf (1910)

[Note: This poem highlights how important it is for the reader of the text in worship to speak with conviction, with surprise at the news proclaimed, and most of all, a palpable sense that the reader believes this stuff he or she is proclaiming. The reader in the poem was one of my daughters, Lindsay Barton Cassidy - who, by the way, is getting married in the first picture above!]

Unforgettable Reading

She must have been just eight years-old,
I asked her if she'd read that day;
Her voice, so strong and so controlled,
I hear it in my mind's replay
(An octave higher than 'tis now)
It woke the people up, so clear!
With bold expression, furrowed brow,
Her Moses pleads the LORD might hear,
And change his mind! But grace not cheap,
Her rising voice described the scene
Of reveling and dancers' leaps,
And Moses, hot - not church serene! -
With tablets smashed - and calf all burned -
To powder, ground - and then in rage -
The most bizarre - how Israel learned
No idol can our thirst assuage!

I love the passion of that day;
No age can take such faith away.

Scott L. Barton

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.” They rose early the next day, and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt! The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.” But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’“ And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

[Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain, carrying the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, written on the front and on the back. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved upon the tablets. When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” But he said, “It is not the sound made by victors, or the sound made by losers; it is the sound of revelers that I hear.” As soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets from his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf that they had made, burned it with fire, ground it to powder, scattered it on the water, and made the Israelites drink it.]

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), October 8, 2017 - Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 and Matthew 21:33-46



Illustrated wood relief, Catholic Church, Paszyn, Poland
Vanderbilt Divinity Library: Art in the Christian Tradition

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20

Ten Little Words

These words, so old, are easy to ignore
Because we think they bear the force of Law,
(As thought by people such as Judge Roy Moore
Suspended - twice - because his thinking's flawed!)
While we, the church, are people who think grace
Implies God does not tell us what to do.
And yet these words are one more classic case
Revealing One whose passion still breaks through.

For these "commandments" simply say what's true
About a way of life that's good for all;
It's mostly common sense that's so construed
By holy writ, in hopes it might forestall
Our self-destructive acts which jeopardize
Community! Because deep down, God yearns 
Such rules might save this human enterprise,
'Till love for all, from God, we might discern.  

Scott L. Barton

Then God spoke all these words: 
I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. 
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. 
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. 
You shall not murder. 
You shall not commit adultery. 
You shall not steal. 
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. 
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.”

+  +  +

Matthew 21:33-46
Van Gogh: The Red Vineyard at Arles (c. 1888)

The Landowner

Our view of God's so saccharine
We shrink from such a God where sin
Results in consequence! So hence,
We think this tale's about the Jews
Who, like those tenants, didn't choose
To follow Jesus, but instead
Made sure that he'd be silenced - dead!

But what if all this violence
Is in itself the great offense,
Where not just Jews, but those in pews
And pulpit, too, can be ensnared,
If ever, all our wealth we dare
To think is ours! And we refuse
To think that God is owed God's dues?

God's mercy is forever sure,
Not just for those who think they're pure,
And God can offer all God owns
To all who thought they were disowned.

Scott L. Barton

“Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a fence around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a watchtower. Then he leased it to tenants and went to another country. When the harvest time had come, he sent his slaves to the tenants to collect his produce. But the tenants seized his slaves and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other slaves, more than the first; and they treated them in the same way. Finally he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and get his inheritance.” So they seized him, threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him. Now when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the produce at the harvest time.” Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom. The one who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard his parables, they realized that he was speaking about them. They wanted to arrest him, but they feared the crowds, because they regarded him as a prophet.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), October 1, 2017 - Exodus 17:1-7 and Matthew 21:23-32


Exodus 17:1-7 
 
Nicolas Poussin: Moses Striking the Rock (1649)
The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

Is the LORD Among Us or Not?

Is the LORD among us or not?
Is a question everyone's asked,
In the face of suffering and pain, 
When by loss and grief you're harassed.

When life sucks, and death hits your gut,
It's so clear that God is no more;
Just mentioning God seems absurd -
Until there's a knock at the door.

There, a neighbor friend has come by,
And with kindness touches your heart,
Uninvited, out of the blue,
You taste what this Moses imparts.

And you've found you won't die of thirst,
And for now, you really believe,
For the best of love is the kind
That by grace you've simply received.

Scott L. Barton

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

+  +  +

Matthew 21:23-32 

A portrayal of John's baptism by He Qi, currently of Minnesota, who was the first among Mainland Chinese to earn a Ph.D. in religious art after the cultural revolution.

Brand New: Not Just a Slogan Anymore

Since, if anyone is in Christ,
There's a new creation -
Since the past is finished and gone,
And everything's brand new -
There's no need not to change your mind!
Old convictions don't count,
Don't worry about precedents,
Don't worry you'll look weak,
Who you are today is what counts;
Maybe you were dead wrong,
Or maybe even partly right,
But that was then, before;
And God is not above getting
Down on hands and knees to
Bring the least of us around to
The here and now of love.

Scott L. Barton

When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

“What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Bonus Poem: Reclaiming the Benediction for the Church


Reclaiming the Benediction for the Church
(Or: What's this business of sitting for the postlude?)

I've noticed in more congregations
A new addition to the service,
Purporting to be part of praying,
But counter to the church's purpose.

The benediction by the pastor -
Good words to all (by definition) -
Should be the people's marching orders
To be the church, a commendation.

It sets them on their path of foll'wing
The One from whom the blessing's given,
Have courage, now; in peace be going,
Be brave, let not your light be hidden!

But then imagine you're not going,
As if your prayers before were lacking?
Or you'd not heard enough fine playing,
And now the organist, you're thanking?

I was all pumped to love! you're thinking, 
But now the steam is gone in sitting;
Oh, pastors, please reclaim an ending
For followers of Christ, more fitting!

Scott L. Barton

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), September 24, 2017 - Exodus 16:2-15 and Matthew 20:1-16


Ercole de' Roberti: Israelites Gathering Manna (1490's), London National Gallery

Jesus Mafa: The Late-arriving Workers (1973), Cameroon

Manna (For Late Workers, Too)

They said, "What is it?" each to each,
For they did not know what it was;

(Some workers, the owner beseeched
With their clear but self-righteous cause;)

The kingdom's hard to recognize,
Though it be in front of our nose;

(The generous Giver defies
When we think we know how things go;)

We never know when we might see
New gifts rained right down on our heads;

(Others, too, have had answered pleas:
"Give us this day our daily bread;")

To you it will come, and to all,
And each and all hungers erase;

(The last will be first, the first last,
Surprise is the hallmark of grace.)

Scott L. Barton
(The poem is a re-write from the one for 9/21/14)

The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.” Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat.”

+ + +

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, ‘Why are you standing here idle all day?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You also go into the vineyard.’ When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’ But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (A), September 17, 2017 - Exodus 14:19-31 and Matthew 18:21-35




Marc Chagall: Crossing the Red Sea (1955) 
National Museum Marc Chagall, Nice

Exodus 14:19-31
 
Dead on the Seashore

This text, awash in vividness,
Reveals the LORD's omnipotence,
But maybe not in how it seems;
It's not just that the waters cleared,
But that the LORD here persevered
To see the still enslaved, redeemed.

The program of this one we laud 
Is less that we, the act applaud,
And more we're grounded in the why:
God always stands with those oppressed,
While those who cause others' distress
God with a mighty arm, defies.

Scott L. Barton

The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, so that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and chariot drivers.” So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at dawn the sea returned to its normal depth. As the Egyptians fled before it, the Lord tossed the Egyptians into the sea. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained. But the Israelites walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.Israel saw the great work that the Lord did against the Egyptians. So the people feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.

+  +  +

Matthew 18:21-35
 


For Your Own Good

Beware the preacher who pontificates,
The one who has to tell the people what to do;
Beware bad news, when we are in bad straights:
"Forgiveness is the thing to which we all must hew
Or else!"
                For though the text appears to say
That God is like a king who'll throw you into jail -
Who, if you don't forgive, will make you pay -
If Jesus said it, he means evil will prevail
Within our hearts, 'cause that's the way things are!
It's how God made it; enmity will eat away,
Forever burning, evermore to scar,
Until its hold by you is loosed; and that's the day
When you discover that what God holds dear
Is you! 
               Forgiveness is what puts you in the clear.

Scott L. Barton

Then Peter came and said to him, “Lord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. “For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made. So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt. But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, ‘Pay what you owe.’ Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. Then his lord summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”