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Article Index
The ‘Our Father’ of My Childhood
The Contexts of the Story
The Historical Context of the Our Father
My Historical Context
Blending Contexts in an On-going History
Companions on the Way
The Word ‘Debt/Indebted’ in the Our Father
Main Focus on Luke 11:4
Usual Interpretation of ‘Sin’ and ‘Debt’
Larger Than Sin
Indebtedness in Jesus’ Historical Setting
Where has the Jubilee Year Gone?
Rabbi Hillel’s Prosbul
The Significance of the Word ‘Debt’
The Jubilee Year in the Lk 4:16-30
More Than Sin-Orientation: The Kingdom of God
Breaking Fixed or Petrified Perspectives
Re-reading Lk 11:4 Through Jesus’ Eyes
Re-reading Lk 11:4 Through the Eyes of an Awakened, Poor Jew
Re-reading Lk 11:4 in the Larger Context of Luke’s Gospel
Lk 18: 18-27: a Commentary on Luke’s ‘Our Father’.
Social Justice in the Larger Context of Luke-Acts
Re-reading Lk 11:4 in the Context of Acts 2 and 4
Re-reading Luke 11:4 in My Context
The Need for an Alternative Spirituality
Before We Part Ways: Time to Recharge and Refresh
As We Part
All Pages
Lk 18: 18-27: a Commentary on Luke’s ‘Our Father’. At this point, let us sharpen an insight: we may also say that Lk 18: 18-27 is a commentary on Luke’s ‘Our Father’. Why? We remember that in our alternative reading of Luke 11:4, the sin referred to is social injustice and the condition for its forgiveness is the practice of social justice, which is concretely done when the poor are forgiven or released from oppressive indebtedness (or any form of social injustice). We hear the echo of the alternative reading reverberating in Jesus’ challenge to the rich who wanted to enter into the Kingdom. How? When Jesus said that there is one thing lacking in the rich ruler’s practice of his religion, Jesus in fact meant that the rich ruler had failed to do something; the rich ruler sinned because he missed or neglected to do what he ought to do. Interestingly, the Greek word for sin, which is ??????? (hamartia), also means ‘missing the mark’ or ‘neglect of duty.’ We may paraphrase Jesus’ challenge thus: “Don’t you know that it is sinful to accumulate wealth while many are oppressed and destitute? So, if you want to enter the Kingdom, repent of your sin of social injustice and be converted by practicing social justice. Distribute then your wealth to the poor. In so doing, you can worthily ask God: “And forgive me of my sins, for I myself forgive everyone indebted to me.”


Contrary to the story of the rich ruler is the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10:

He entered Jericho and was passing through it. A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Then Jesus said to him, Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector. He was an official who saw to it that oppressive tributes were collected accordingly. Soldiers were with him to ensure that everybody paid tribute against all odds. Zacchaeus therefore was very instrumental in the poor Jews’ situation of heavy indebtedness that resulted in their slavery.

But Zacchaeus listened to and obeyed the message of Jesus. He promised to give justice back to those whom he cheated. Also, he was very willing to radically share his wealth with the poor. He was willing to practice social justice. Because of this, Jesus pronounced salvation for Zacchaeus, which, in effect means that Zacchaeus was worthy to enter into the Kingdom of God or eternal life.

Like in the story of the rich ruler, we find in the story of Zacchaeus a very meaningful commentary on Luke’s ‘Our Father.’ Zacchaeus was saved, that is, he was worthy of the Kingdom because his sins of social injustice (fraudulent tax collection causing poor people’s indebtedness) were forgiven; this was so because Zacchaeus practiced social justice by giving back to those whom he cheated and by radically sharing his wealth with the poor.


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