Prince Antonio

Prince Antonio is 20 today.

He has lived his score of years with severe mental and physical
disabilities. Now he is seriously ill. In Zimbabwe today it is hard to get treatment and
medicine when you are poor. He lies on a foam rubber mat in the yard unable to brush away
the flies that constantly bother him. I am called to bring him the Church’s anointing of holy
oil. He brightened up and smiled but I felt my own poverty as there was little I could do to
help him. He used to board at a school called Tose, all of us (together), but they had to close
because of Covid 19.

So now he is at home reliant on what help his poor family can find.
This Sunday we read one of Jesus’ stories about a man who was heavily in debt. Pay-back
time came and the man was at his wits end to know what to do. He went to his boss and, with
extravagant gestures, begged for more time. The boss was touched and decided to cancel the
debt. The man was effusive in his thanks but his heart was not touched. Shortly after he met
someone who owed him a paltry sum and he could not find it within himself to cancel the
debt. Instead he threatened him with legal proceedings if he did not pay immediately. When
the boss heard of it he was furious and condemned the man to the worst imaginable fate.
We are all bound up with one another. What I do to others will either bring a blessing or a

Insofar as I fail it has a knock on effect that, most likely, I am not aware of. Insofar
as I succeed and show compassion that too has a knock on effect I may never know. But who,
among our decision makers, spares a thought for Prince whose life is threatened by a lack of
medical care? We are responsible for each other and the parable of Jesus we will read points
to how he cancelled the debt that we all incur. His desire to pay the price of our infidelity to
God removed us from the worst imaginable fate. Israel’s refusal to accept the reign of God,
which Jesus announced, threatened to squander its – and our – salvation, that is, the
unimaginable happiness God has in store for us.

‘Jesus interprets his death as a final and definitive saving decree of God. … he does not
withdraw election for his people but instead truly allows that people to live even though it has
forfeited its life’ (Gerhard Lohfink). God holds fast to the covenant with Israel in Jesus in
spite of everything. Jesus invites us to find and take our place in this struggle in which he is
engaged in the world today.

The man in the story was forgiven but he forgot his debt has consequences which are

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