Sunday, September 7, 2014

Forgiving Debts

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?  -Matthew 18:32-33

The teaching from this parable is voiced differently twelve chapters earlier in Matthew's gospel. In Matthew 6:12, Jesus says, When you pray, say...forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

French artist Andre Girard illustrated the passage from the Lord's Prayer and in effect illustrated what the unforgiving servant should have done. A silkscreen print for the illustrated book "Sayings of Jesus", the work below places a single figure, dressed in blue, at the center of the composition. On the left side of the composition that figure is in the supplicant's position (head lower, face looking up). On the right side the figure looks down on a lower figure.

Andre Girard. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors, numbered page 45 and first page of the twelfth folio in the unbound book Sayings of Jesus (Milwaukee: Chirho Press, Marquette University, 1956). Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco.

That central figure is shown with two faces but is not two-faced in the negative sense of that phrase. The same general expression is shown on the two versions of the central figure's face. This is the consistency that the parable's king wanted to see in his servants. It is the consistency with which we should live if we are going to pray the Lord's Prayer.

If you are preaching the Exodus text for Proper 19/Ordinary 24/Pentecost +14, see Art&Faith Matters' Facebook page for an image of the Red Sea in the sky:

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