The Pardon

It is as shocking as the Glorietta blast. I had to read the news headline many times before it sank in. “Arroyo pardons Erap.” I leave it to legal experts to debate the pros and cons of the executive clemency extended to the former president, who was convicted of plunder. It still does not make sense to me, though.

I recall a similar situation in the Bible (Matthew 18:21-35). A king ordered an audit on all the governors ruling in the different provinces of his region. One was found guilty of plunder. He embezzled 10,000 talents. To give you an idea, a talent was equivalent to 75 pounds of silver. That’s astronomical considering that the total amount of taxes collected annually by Rome from the province of Galilee alone was only 300 talents. But this governor stole ten thousand talents! If we compute that, he owed the king millions or maybe even billions of pesos. Obviously, the governor squandered it all. “Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.” (v. 25)

The governor pleaded for mercy. (Yes, I know. Here is where the analogy breaks down. This governor did admit his crime, offered to pay up and, in a sense, signed his own request for pardon instead of his lawyer.) Shockingly, the king “took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.” (v. 27) I believe people who heard the king’s pardon asked many times, “The king did what? Are you kidding me?” It did not make sense to them also. But, mercy does not really need to make sense. The only thing that mercy asks is that we receive mercy and extend it to others. Sort of a “pay it forward” deal. In fact, when the governor refused to be merciful to a fellow governor who owed him 100 denarii (a denarius was a day’s wage for a laborer or a foot soldier), the king got so angry that he ordered the merciless governor “tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.” (v. 34)

Whether President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s decision was an act of mercy or not is debatable. But never ever doubt God’s act of mercy of sending His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to die for our sins.

Brethren, we already received God’s mercy. So, let us declare it to others.

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