Skip to main content

The Parable of Juan and Maria's One-Peso Loan


Juan and Maria deposit their hard-earned peso in a bank. Government propaganda have convinced them how helpful banks are and being poor farm-folk, they have identified with bank commercials that go, "Ayokong maging dukha!" (I do not want to be poor!). The bank pays them 5% a year. That's 5 centavos less final tax of 20% so they net 4 centavos. The economy being what it is drives the couple to ask a one peso loan from the same bank. Again, government sponsored info commercials that went, "Isip entreprenyur!" (Think entrepreneur!) helped. Their peso deposit serves as collateral. The bank charges them 30% on the loan. In effect, on the peso they deposited and actually loaned, the bank earned 25 centavos. From another perspective, Juan and Maria paid the bank 25 centavos for allowing them to use their own money!

It's no wonder banks and lending institutions are among the most profitable businesses in the country today. (Don’t get me going on the oil cartels that bleed our economy dry.). But let's go back to that one-peso loan of Maria and Juan.

The couple earns a peso so they go back to the bank to pay their loan. 30 centavos is used to pay for the interest. 70 is left for the principal. They still owe the bank 30 so they get another peso loan. 30 centavos of that is used to pay for the balance of the first loan. They leave the bank with 70. If this cycle continues, Juan and Maria will be perpetually making new loans just to pay their maturing loans. But what if tragedy strikes, in the form of pestilence, typhoons, sickness, or worse, death? They cannot pay their loan and the bank forfeits their collateral. Without collateral, loans require higher interests. The cycle continues at a much painful level: Maria and Juan take new loans just to meet the interest on their maturing loans. This happens every day: at the level of the 5/6 operators, at the local banks, in the IMF and the World Bank. Most people do not know that private banks actually run the economies of many countries. Think Hong Kong.

Leviticus 25 is probably one of the best pieces of Israelite legislation ever written. Most scholars believe that it was never actually implemented. Nevertheless, the celebration of the Sabbatical year, and more importantly, the Jubilee meant restoration when all slaves were set free, all lands returned to their rightful stewards (God being owner of the land), all debts canceled.1

The issue of Jesus' parable of the estate manager in Luke 16:1-9 is the cancellation or at least the reduction of debt. The machinations of the steward led to a lowering of debt. It was a temporary respite for the debtors but still a foretaste of a time when all debts will be canceled.

When someone is up to one's neck in debt; someone else is wallowing in surplus. When someone is up to one's neck in debt, getting through today is the most important thing; to that someone who is wallowing in surplus, today does not matter, tomorrow's gains do.

The past is very important to those whose only hope is God. It is something we can look back to. It is the past where most of us draw strength for today. If we survived yesterday, we, hopefully, can survive today. Tomorrow is in God's hands. It is therefore fascinating to note that Filipinos call God "Bathala" which, some have argued, literally translates "God WILL take care."

James 4:15 echoes the same faith: "...you ought to say, 'If the Lord WILLS, we shall live and we shall do this and that.'" Tomorrow is in God's hands.The rich though, like the foolish one in Luke 12: 16-21, live for the future as if the future is in their hands. It was not then. It still is not. James 5:1-6 compared to the Lukan parable, I think, is a more powerful tirade against the rich:

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure for the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have killed the innocent; they cannot resist you.

“Scattered across the countryside one may observe certain wild animals, male and female, dark, livid and burnt by the sun, attached to the earth which they dig and turn over with invincible stubbornness. However, they have something like an articulated voice and when they stand up they reveal a human face. Indeed, they are human beings...Thanks to them the other human beings need not sow, labour and harvest in order to live. That is why they ought not to lack the bread which they have sown.”2

They ought not to lack the bread which they have sown, but in the Philippines, and in many parts of the world, they, unfortunately, do and it’s worse.

Notes

1 John Dominic Crossan in his lecture on method (as part of the Jesus Seminar Workshop held at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza, New Orleans, 23 November 1996) believes that Jesus' message of God's reign has for its context the Israelite peasantry's thirst for justice; justice as demanded by God in the Sabbatical year and the Jubilee.

2 Jean la Bruyere, French moralist of the late seventeenth century (cited in J.D. Crossan's The Essential Jesus (New York: HarperCollins, 1994), v.

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Parables book now on Amazon!

Reading the Parables of Jesus inside a Jeepney

Thank you very much for all your generous support. Maraming salamat po!

In its first week the book was #1 in Hot New Releases in New Testament Criticism and #11 in the 100 Bestselling Books in New Testament Criticism.  After 30 days the book was #2 in Hot New Releases in New Testament Criticism. And #5 in Hot New Releases in Jesus, Gospels, and Acts.

During its Holy Week Sale last March 22-26, the book went back to #1 in New Testament Criticism, #4 in Biblical History and Culture, and #7 in Jesus, the Gospels, and Acts.

Jesus has AIDS

If I said Jesus has cancer. Or diabetes. Or asthma. No one will give a fuss. I have, in the past, argued that Jesus might have been gay, a woman, a Palestinian, and an African.

But most of us have problems when we hear that Jesus has AIDS. Because we have been socialized to identify AIDS with promiscuity, with illicit drug use, with divine punishment, with sin. And the Jesus many of us worship cannot be promiscuous, will not touch or even be in the same room with weed, and, of course, is a perpetual virgin, and sinless.

What is the international symbol for HIV AIDS prevention? When you turn the red symbol on its side, what does the symbol represent?

My dear friends, the world has AIDS. Close to 40 million of our sisters and brothers are living with HIV. About 1% of all our sisters and brothers, aged 15 to 49, are living with HIV. Since the beginning of the epidemic, 35 million of our sisters and brothers have died. One million last year.

"For God so loved the world with AIDS t…

FORGIVE US, TISOY! A Letter to Genesis. From Revelation

Tisoy, when you went out to buy load last June 15th no one expected that you won't be able to come back home. No one expected that you will land in jail. No one expected you will die a senseless, violent death shortly thereafter. Not you. Not your loved ones. No one!

No one expected you, a young man who walked 17 steps from where you lived to buy prepaid cellphone load, to be arrested for alarm and scandal. And no one expected you to be beaten to death while in the custody of those legally sworn to protect you. NO ONE!

In Genesis 22 there's this story about a father and a son. Those of us who call ourselves Christian know this story. The father was expected to offer his son. The son expected to be sacrificed. But both expectations did not come to pass. We care so much for Abraham and Isaac to let the story run as expected. It was a ram that was killed. An animal was sacrificed. And we do not care!

A culture of impunity pervades our world. Worse in our country. The present dis…